The education discussions, in the online space, are filled with efforts to find the appropriate role for technology in the classroom. No longer are desktop and laptop computers the main focus; it is the new "kids" on the block, such as the iPhone, iPod and iPad, that have moved the discussion ahead at warp speed. Mobile devices, no matter how excellent, are not an answer onto themselves -- they have to fit into the holistic concept of a teaching system. In response, teachers are literally grappling with these new platforms vis a vis teaching and their integration into the classroom.
Teachers understand the need to have a coherent structure within which mobile technology is incorporated. Therefore, in addition to technology discussions, there are new theories and paradigms on how best to teach students. Or, from the students' perspective, which teaching methods best align with how they actually (naturally) learn. Unlike a computer diagnostic program, students cannot provide teachers with a printout of what works best. There is enough history, however, using real world data, to deduce what has worked and what has not worked.
Several times, parents have asked our company, Niles Technology Group, the following question, "When tested, why do the writing skills of students always seem to be the lowest scoring?" And each time, we reply with two questions of our own, "What made you ask? And, what does your school consider writing skills?" The parents' answer to the first question is invariably the same - either on the SAT or Standards of Learning tests, writing is consistently the lowest score reported by their school. Interestingly enough, the second question also receives an invariable response - "We do not know what you mean? Isn't writing, writing?"
Before dissecting these answers by parents, here is another response we received from a teacher with a Masters in writing, after reviewing our mobile essay writing apps. The teacher said, "I do not get this. An analysis essay is pretty much the same as a critical essay, and I also see no need to have so many forms/versions of what is basically an expository essay." Our company's response was rather stoic, but poignant -- "We accept the fact that they are basically the same to you, a holder of a MA in writing. But, do your students know that 'basically the same' really means there are minute, yet crucial, distinctions depending on the essay type? You have the knowledge to adjust your writing for these differences, but are you teaching your students those finer details?" The teacher’s answer was rather basic, yet defining -- "We teach what is tested." To which we responded, "Colleges are expecting students to know this whether or not it is tested."
In our last post, we discussed how to use apps more effectively and what to look for in a mobile app to achieve better memory retention and thus a higher learning acumen. A couple of questions remain; what does an effective, study-enhancing app really look like and how would it function? In this issue, we examine how mobile apps can enhance study habits as well as help students master independent tasks--and even achieve developmental milestones. There is a great deal of research and discussion amongst experts regarding milestones for the first few years of child development. Unfortunately, the amount of research decreases drastically with regard to pre-adolescents, which is the second highest stage of change (development-wise) and occurs around the age of eleven (averaged for both genders). Puberty usually gets a lot of attention (and blame) for irresponsible behavior; however, I often hear from my students that the real reason that they did not complete an assignment was because they either felt overwhelmed or were unsure how to complete the task--not because they were being disobedient.
This post looks at keeping one's own schedule organized as a developmental milestone resulting from the ability to form abstract thoughts, age, and parental guidance toward independence. We specifically address practical tools using mobile apps to help students during this major transition. When choosing an app, pay close attention to the things that are important not just for functionality and flexibility, but also to visual aesthetics. For students, specifically, it MUST be visually attractive and age appropriate for it to get used! Students have different values when it comes to product selection--often indicative of what the newest technologies offer; follow the current technology trends and compliance from students is improved.
No one can argue that Apple's mobile devices (iPhone, iPod, and iPad) have revolutionized educational technology in the past four years. Web-based applications, compared to mobile apps, look and feel 'old' already--maybe even passé. Most of the advice about mobile apps that we have encountered is focused on the delivery of content and how amazing that is in and of itself. The apps purport to improve upon the teacher's job and the curricula. But, as an avid educational app user/teacher and app developer, we would like to focus on something entirely different; that is, how to effectively use mobile devices and apps as instruments to help improve study skills and improve learning overall.
There is relatively no dispute that studying in short, frequent increments is the most efficient and effective method for understanding and retaining material well. A student learns and retains more from studying a singular subject for twenty minutes a day for seven days than for one-hundred and forty minutes in one day or even seventy minutes over the course of two days. Both short-term and long-term memory are improved with short, frequent, sessions and well-designed mobile apps are truly tailor-made for this type of learning. This also applies and extrapolates to subject variety. Studying multiple subjects back-to-back for twenty minutes increases retention across the board verses doing one subject per day for a week.