Mobile Computing in Education

Mobile computing devices are popular and will become more popular. By mobile devices, I mean smart phones (such as the iPhone) and tablets (such as the iPad). Discussions about whether and how they should be used are going on in schools and businesses across the country.

Just this week, the topic came up Monday at the Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) leadership retreat in Grand Rapids. There, I suggested that MACUL should consider as one of it’s goals over the next five years to help schools develop strategies to best use these devices for educational purposes in educational settings.

Tuesday, I suggested to my Upper School Department Chair colleagues that we develop plans for incorporating mobile devices into our educational program. We already have seen how laptops have transformed our educational setting. Newer, smaller devices are developing into powerful competitors to laptops that can further increase human interaction and knowledge development. Developing and teaching with their advantages will give us educational and competitive advancement.

Many of our students already have smart phones and use them for social and gaming purposes. Students won’t necessarily use mobile devices for educational purposes until we start using them for educational applications in our classrooms. The numbers of mobile devices will continue to increase in our classrooms. The sooner and the more we use them educationally, the better.

The question of how to respond to people bringing their own device (BYOD) is important to information technology (IT) departments, too. Also on Tuesday, Galen Gruman wrote in InfoWorld “Mobile BYOD strategy reveals if your CIO is good or bad: How the CIO handles a bring-your-own-device effort is a good proxy on whether that executive should lead IT in the emerging empowered-user world.” If the CIO (Chief Information Officer) views BYOD as an unauthorized invasion that threatens compliance and security, the CIO is very likely the wrong person to lead IT. On the other hand, if the CIO views BYOD as a positive development that IT can support to benefit users and the organization, this is the best answer. The article details why this is the best answer. It is true for educational organizations as well as purely business organizations.

Making mobile computing devices work in education is one of the best choices we can make.

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