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Mobile Technology in the Classroom

on February 17, 2013

I had the pleasure of interviewing a colleague who happens to also be my triathlon partner. Dr. Sheila Halpin. She is the Parental Involvement, Family Literacy and Compliance Coordinator of Manatee County Schools. Her only experience with mobile devices within her county is in regards to professional development which involved being able to connect directly to other educators in China. While there is professional development with mobile devices, it is not reaching down to the classroom level. There are concerns about barriers and privacy issues. The most blatant challenges at the professional development conference was that not everyone had the same kinds of phones. Matter-of-fact, Dr. Halpin, shared that unless you had an iPhone of a Droid with apps, you could not participate. For some educators, this was unfulfilling. The same problem exist with students: students have different technology. The conference highlighted that the county can no longer think linearly or continue to do business as usual. The world is becoming smaller because of how digital technology connects people. One of the difficulties that public education faces on the technology front is while students are supposed to have a “free and accessible education,” technological creates an uneven playing field.

I learned two interesting thoughts from our conversation: technology and education have not really merged at the classroom level in all districts, and mobile technology isn’t evenly distributed. There is too much variety which makes it difficult to use it in the classroom efficiently. There are ways to shift this, but it takes so much extra effort on the part of the teachers who are already overloaded and stressed by tight, unbreathable boundaries.

Resource:

Halpin, S. (2013, February 15). Interview by A.F. Weinberger [Personal Interview]. Mobile

technology in the classroom.

 


One Response to “Mobile Technology in the Classroom”

  1. amyfweinberger says:

    I also had another opportunity to interview Jeannine Martin, Instructional Technology specialist in Manatee County, Florida. She certainly had much to say in way of how the administration and teachers manage technology. She clarified for me that “the [Manatee] district policy is that students are not allowed to bring their own devices and connect them to the internet. However, it is different at each school. For example, Southeast High School has a guest network which allows students to bring their own devices and connect. This gives them the chance to do Edmoto, Polleverywhere, and other online teaching and learning applications.”
    There are many technological obstacles in the district as Jeannine explained to me. One discrepancy “is that the teachers need the education to know what devices the students have and which applications will allow them to access the content. Teachers, so often use what they have known forever, and technology changes so fast. Most teachers are not staying current. The ones that do meet the technology challenges have engaged and motivated students, but there are not enough of those teachers in my district.” Another overriding barrier is “that many teachers don’t even have the basic skills to operate apps and easily transfer their learning to a new one.” She went further to say, “If the teacher has to know how to learn the program before introducing it to the students, she’s already behind the eight ball.”
    A critical issue in Manatee County is the lack of a current superintendent. Jeannine is hoping that the one chosen will have allegiance to how technology applies to the students. Students need to be engage differently, and technology allows that, “but teachers in high school are still lecturing for 45 minutes and wondering why kids are dropping out. Students engaged and working with integrated technology projects tend to use higher level thinking skills.”
    The best situation for Jeanne is when she finds a teacher is who is willing to train alongside her students which makes them learners with their kids.

    This particular interview made me feel frustrated for Jeanine and other tech specialists in Manatee County. It also opened my eyes to why schools need tech partnerships for teachers so that they can catch up. Technology has been part of my life since 1985 when the MacIntosh computer landed at Emory University. After this interview, I have a better understanding about why educators and technology are converging at a tortoise’s pace.

    Resource:
    Martin, S. (2013, February 18). Interview by A.F. Weinberger [Personal Interview]. Mobile

    technology in Manatee County.

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