5 Tips for Using Mobile Learning In the Classroom

by Lisa Dabbs


More and more teachers are finding success with using mobile devices in the classroom. Are you or your school considering this option? Mobile learning technologies can offer teachers a flexible approach to learning with their students in a variety of locations, and encourage this learning to continue at home. As schools begin to consider the movement towards mobile learning, however, it’s important to support teachers with strategies for success.

As a former school principal, I’m excited to see how electronic devices such as tablets and cell phones, which offer portability and ease of use, can be implemented to support classroom teaching. If you are interested in moving in this direction, you’ll want to investigate the policy of your school and administration regarding the use of mobile devices for learning. What is the written or spoken policy? And what are other teachers, coaches or administrators in your school doing with regard to the use of these devices?

The successful use of mobile devices in the classroom doesn’t just happen. It takes strategic planning and putting the right building blocks in place for success. This means doing things such as informing parents, teaching responsible use, developing classroom management techniques, carefully planning activities with and for students, and teaching them about safety and digital citizenship.

Let’s take a look at five steps that may support you in smoothly integration mobile devices into your teaching, learning, and connections with students and parents.

1. Talk to Parents

Before getting started with mobile learning, you’ll need to inform your student’s parents. This should include mobile learning ideas to strengthen the school-home connection. You may want to model this notification after others in your school site, write your own, or seek out a great resource written by Lisa Nielsen and Willyn Webb entitled: Teaching Generation Text: Using Cell Phones to Enhance Learning. Nielsen and Webb have some excellent examples of how to get started that I highly recommend.

2. Have a Responsible Use Policy

As with any other classroom tool, teachers need to work with students to establish responsible use policies. In some classrooms, the teacher just explains how the general policies apply to the use of mobile devices; in others, they create a new policy. In some schools, the students help create the policies, and in some classrooms, they invite parental input. However you choose to proceed, remember to ask your site administrator if there is a school-wide policy, and connect with other teachers in your building to discuss the kind of policies they’ve put in place.

3. Establish Mobile Device Procedures

Teachers who use mobile devices for learning must include steps on how to manage the use of mobile devices in the classroom. Talking to fellow teachers and learning what works for them will provide consistency within the building. You may want to even consider suggestions from your students. However, remember that management of devices should be determined with your site administrator and posted in advance of actually using these devices in the classroom.

4. Plan Activities with Students

Once you have approval, a well thought-out plan for embedding mobile devices into classroom instruction is key. Develop a well-crafted outline and description of lessons and activities that could be used for learning with mobile devices. For a great lesson that will involve students in planning how to incorporate mobile devices into their learning, visit  Teaching Generation Text . The plan shared there can be used in your class and/or school website as well as distributed to parents, guardians and school community. In addition, be sure to take advantage of free webinars on the web that support building lessons using mobile devices.

5. Teach Digital Safety and Citizenship

Knowing proper safety and digital citizenship when using mobile devices is an essential 21st century skill. Students need support not only with engaging in and developing safe and appropriate use for themselves, but also with how they may handle a situation when others are not exhibiting appropriate behavior. A fun lesson focusing on good manners with cell phones can be found on Teaching Generation Text , which parents will certainly appreciate!

Taking the time to address each of these 5 steps as you consider using mobile learning technologies in the classroom will be supportive in laying the groundwork for the effective integration of mobile devices in the classroom. Lastly, here is a great free, downloadable, resource guide for beginning the discussion: Mobile Devices for Learning.

Lisa Dabbs

Lisa Dabbs is an educational consultant and former principal who lives in California. She is a Core Blogger at Edutopia.org, founder of New Teacher Chat #ntchat on Twitter and blogs about supporting new teachers at Teaching With Soul.