When evaluating mobile technology for its use in education, these 7 questions should guide you towards well-made decisions. The trick will be in making a decision that strikes a balance amongst all your answers.
Although there are many factors to address prior to making any decisions relating to mobile technology in education, I consider these 7 questions to be most important:
1. What provides the most learning gains and opportunities?
Successful integration boils down to performance gains of students and professional development of teachers. If your proposed mobile technology can’t do either of these very well, scrap it and look for something else. In my opinion, this is the first and most important criterion to consider. If this question can’t be satisfactorily addressed, start brainstorming for new ideas.
2. What requires the least expenditure of student & teacher time?
You’ll find it easier to gain support if the learning curve isn’t very steep. Try and find mobile technology that builds on learners’ prior knowledge.
3. What requires the least amount of school funds for purchase?
Like most educators, I’d like iPads for every student in our school, too. But I’m not holding my breath. Obviously, affordability is a huge determining factor when deciding what mobile technology to integrate in your school or classroom. Check your balance sheet before committing to major purchases, and keep in mind that expensive technology is also a gateway opportunity for companies to try and sell you even more expensive technology to supplement their product.
4. Is there a large community supporting it?
Remember Sega’s Dreamcast? It had great potential, but ultimately failed because of the lack of support. Bearing that in mind, this question doesn’t just apply to mobile technology. Make sure the software or hardware you’re evaluating has wide community support that will promote longevity.
That being considered, check out the current trends of the mobile technology you’re speculating about – try not to integrate anything that has waning support.
5. Can scalability be supported?
Can you (as a teacher or administrator) ensure that support will be provided once your mobile technology goes mainstream into the classroom? It may be easy for you to use, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easy for everyone to use. Simplicity should be a goal, along with a strong support team to address unforeseen issues.
6. Does it respect privacy laws specific to education?
Ensure your proposed mobile technology doesn’t violate FERPA or any other local and federal policies. No matter how good your technology may be, if isn’t aligned with privacy laws (or all laws for that matter), it isn’t allowable.
7. What’s the expected life cycle before necessary upgrades?
With free software, this isn’t really an issue; however, it’s a huge issue with mobile hardware. Of course, you could play into this factor and make it work in your favor. Today, it’s far cheaper to buy the older iPod Touch models than it was three years ago, which is still receiving continued support through the Apple App Store.
Please consider this is not an exhaustive list. Additionally, this only reflects my personal opinions as to what qualifies as the most important criteria to observe prior to integrating mobile technology in education.
Are there any other important factors to consider that I didn’t address? Feel free to add your comments below.
What do I believe strikes the best balance amongst all these factors? Check back tomorrow!