It wasn’t that long ago that personal learning devices (cell phones, tablets and laptops) were banned from classrooms and schools. As the prevalence and usefulness of personal learning devices has evolved, so has school policy regarding their use. Many schools have adopted BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies or started moving toward a one-to-one technology environment. As educators, it can be challenging to find ways to utilize these devices so they contribute to the learning rather than distract from it.
Here are five ways that you can incorporate personal learning devices into your teaching:
- Student Response Systems. Personalized learning devices can be used as student response systems. Poll Everywhere is a free service that allows teachers to create questions that students can answer via email or text using any device that is connected to the internet. For a small yearly fee, teachers get access to additional features like grading.
- Take Assessments. Using Google Forms, teachers can create assessments that students are able to take via a personal learning device. Depending on the types of questions, these assessments can be taken on any size device. If the assessment is multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank, you can even use an add-on like Flubaroo to automatically grade the assessments.
- QR Code Readers. In a previous blog post I talked about using QR codes to enhance lessons. QR Codes are just pictures that point to a specific web address. The QR codes can be printed and taped to each student’s desk or posted around the classroom. You could also consider having a designated space where students can always find the QR Codes that pertain to the day’s lessons. These are especially useful for teachers of younger students because it helps an entire class get to the same web page quickly.
- Create Videos. Have students use their devices to create videos. These videos can cover a variety of activities, from book reports to newscasts to science projects. They can be used as an assessment tool or a learning tool. For example, a student-created video could be the final project for an assignment. It could also be used to video a science project or a sequence of steps that students need to review multiple times. You could designate a class videographer who takes video of certain teacher instructions. These instructions could then be posted on a classroom webpage for later review or for students that are absent from class.
- Educational Applications. The possibilities for personal learning devices are as endless as the number of educational applications available for use. Many of these apps are free and cover everything from translating languages to creating flash cards to solving math problems. A quick search in Apple or Google online stores will quickly uncover a variety of tools that can be used in the classroom. As an added bonus, most of these tools look like games to the students, so they can be very effective for learning.
Worried about the distraction of personalized learning devices in the classroom? Next week’s blog post will address ways that teachers can minimize those distractions.