We are in the midst of another change in the world of business. When the development of the Internet and it’s widespread use in the the 1990’s initiated the information age, we saw companies scrambling to move their advertising and sales agents from physical spaces to online spaces. With smartphones ushering in the mobile revolution, companies again are scrambling to shift their strategies and to format their advertising and sales access points from computer to mobile and from computer browsers to mobile apps. I recently read an article on TechCrunch which described how big brands struggled to connect to customers and leverage their audience during Super Bowl XLVII as they used a computer browser strategy to try and connect with mobile users. While this does demonstrate that shifts in strategies do not occur without some growing pains, it is clear that there is huge growth potential for business to connect with their customers online through mobile devices. People always have their mobile devices with them and more and more, mobile devices are becoming the access gateway to information and other content. This is especially the case in situations where someone cannot afford a wide variety of technology hardware and their only access to the Internet is through a mobile device.
Many of those same customers are also students or other education partners and shifting to a mobile strategy in education can help us connect with those students and partners. Developing a mobile strategy in education does not come without effort. Just as there are growing pains for business, there will also be growing pains for school in shifting cultural practices to include a mobile strategy. However, there is great potential in engaging students and community partners so any more forward is a positive step.
Here are some ideas that we can use as a stepping stones to a grander mobile strategy in education:
- Allowing students to access mobile devices to research information for assignments using mobile learning apps (i.e. Wikipedia, HowStuffWork, Dictionary.com, news apps, etc.);
- Allowing students to access their mobile devices to publish their work online and reach a larger audience (and to learn the concept of a target audience) though mobiles apps such as WordPress (blogging), Twitter (microblogging), etc.;
- Allowing students to use their mobile devices to document their learning in new ways using media apps such as voice recorders or camera apps and then use that data to create multimedia presentations using either available apps (i.e. iMovie for iPhone) or other available apps on a computer;
- Using social media (i.e. Twitter) to encourage students to collaborate;
- Teacher can publish relevant pieces of classroom events and other information to keep students focused and parents informed through mobiles apps such as WordPress (blogging), Twitter (microblogging), etc.;
- Schools can keep parents and other community partners informed of school events by publishing relevant information online through mobile apps such as WordPress (blogging), Twitter (microblogging), FaceBook (social networking) etc.
- Schools can help families plan around school events by using mobile apps to maintain an online school calendar (i.e. Google Calendar)
- Collect input from the community by creating surveys or providing another method of education partners to share information with the school through Google Forms – Forms can be completed on a mobile or computer browser and the collected data can be viewed on both a mobile and computer browser
- Creating and posting QR Codes around the school and in school newsletters to provide the community with quick access to school news online, newsletters online, online calendar, etc.
Just as important in using mobile devices and mobile apps is a discussion around acceptable use with students and community partners and the adherence to school/board policies. However, we can still work within acceptable use polices and implement a mobile strategy in education that engages students in their learning and engages community partners in education of their children.