As technology – and the opportunities it affords educators – continues to permeate the classroom, educational institutions are faced with a number of challenges. One of these is having to manage multiple types of devices. As classrooms (and teachers) are flooded with a range of mobile devices including smartphones, laptops, iPads, tablets and Chromebooks, balancing the benefits and challenges of mobile technology in the classroom requires a thoroughly informed approach.
The precedent for the use of mobile technology in the classroom is being set by early adopters, the US and Canada
Dubbed ‘educational tech’, US schools have been implementing digital aids into their curricula for several years. The Career and Technical Education Academy in Hutchinson, Kansas has even gone as far as “hiring” another teacher – in the form of a programmable robot named Nao. The Huffington Post reports: “students can program the robot to do whatever they’d like, an asset [that] will look great on résumés and will serve as an early introduction to advanced engineering before the kids head to college.” As far as device preference is concerned, the US and Canada favour Chromebooks, accounting for 51% of devices in US classroom (that’s a massive 85% market share) and 41% in Canadian classrooms. This, compared to the just 9% in the UK.
In the UK, the use of mobile technology in the classroom is becoming more and more prevalent
And our preferred mobile devices are tablets. In a study conducted by Tablets for Schools (TfS), 68% of primary schools, and 69% of secondary schools ‘have adopted the devices “to some degree”’, reports this article from Impero Software. It’s projected that over 900,000 tablets will be used in schools by the end of the year. As far as brand preference is concerned, Apple comes out tops, making up 41% and 35% of primary and secondary school use respectively. Android devices are slowly catching up, used in 26% and 34% respectively. That said, Apple products may fall out of favour, due to the fact that funding remains a colossal obstacle. It’s unclear as to why UK schools favour the pricey iPad over Google’s cheaper – yet many would argue just as capable – Chromebook, but as mobile technology in the classroom becomes commonplace, it’s a safe bet to say that Google’s answer to the iPad will grow in popularity, echoing our US-based peers.
Regardless of the types of mobile devices your school and students choose to use, making the most of mobile technology in the classroom relies not on the brand of tablet or laptop, but on the policies and processes that are implemented
As the use of mobile technology in the classroom gains momentum on British soil, schools will need to implement end-to-end mobile device management strategies if they want to benefit from the use of mobile technology in the classroom. In order to safeguard against loss, theft or abuse of mobile technology in the classroom (as well as to allay the fears of parents), drawing up an exhaustive mobile device policy, as well as investing in the necessary infrastructure is crucial to successfully integrating multiple and varied devices into the curriculum. Besides a robust and secure internet connection, adequate bandwidth and an efficient IT department, you need to be able to provide your students with a means to properly store, sync and charge their devices.