eTech Ohio 2010: Mobile Technology Sessions

 

I attended a variety of mobile learning sessions during the two days I spent at eTech Ohio, including: 

What you Should be Uusing: A Look at Innovative, Collaborative, and Interactive web 2.0 Tools
Date/Time: Monday, February 01, 2010 > 10:45 AM – 11:30 AM

Presenters:  McCorkle, Sarah – Ohio Dominican University
  Weaver, Mark – Ohio Dominican University

See also the WYSBU site

Using Mobile Computing Devices and Cellphones in Education
Date/Time: Monday, February 01, 2010 > 03:45 PM – 04:30 PM

Presenters:  Collins, Ryan – Kenton City SD (Hardin)
  Dean, John – Kenton City Schools
  Abbott, Rick – Kenton City Schools

(see also this website)

Got IPod?
Date/Time: Tuesday, February 02, 2010 > 08:00 AM – 08:45 AM

Presenters:  Collopy, Renea – Liberty Union High School (Liberty Union-Thurston Local S)

Stepping into the Future With Mobile Learning Devices
Date/Time: Tuesday, February 02, 2010 > 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM

Presenters:  Menchhofer, Kyle – St Marys City SD (Auglaize)

 

Instead of providing details for each, I’d like to offer some general impressions here (the last session listed here was basically a repeat of the one on Monday, which I blogged about in detail. While most of these sessions looked quite interesting on the surface, I was somewhat disappointed in what I saw. Most sessions were of the here-are-ten-cool-mobile-tools variety. While it is important that educators are exposed to mobile technologies, what we really need much more of is demonstrating the power of these tools within an educational context, i.e. demonstrating how with good curriculum and learning activities, wireless mobile devices can be very powerful learning tools. As much as I support the use of technology for learning, it should never become the focus of it. Unfortunately, audience questions for the most part followed the session content, i.e. most of the questions I heard were about logistics such as charging devices and blocking inappropriate content, not about how they can be effectively utilized for purposes of learning.

I came to this realization during our own presentation on the use of mobile phones and QR codes, when somebody asked us how the use of these mobile tools at the NECC SIGML Forum in Washington DC (bottom of page) went above and beyond just using traditional media (see also this video, and this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education).

The importance of a focus on curriculum and learning as opposed to the digital tools used becomes even more important when considering the two opposing views related to the use of mobile phones in schools, as described in the MSNBC story Some Schools Rethink Bans on Cell Phones, or THE Journal’s Mobile Devices: Facing Challenges and Opportunities for Learning. We will never be able to implement the use of mobile phones for learning if we don’t focus on creating a curriculum (including assessment) and environment for learning that makes appropriate use of wireless mobile devices relevant, meaningful, ethical, and safe.

Image Credit: eTech Ohio: http://www.etech.ohio.gov/images/conference/2010/2010_ohio_etc_logo

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