Mobile Devices in the Classroom

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Mobile Devices in the Classroom


Contact Information: Doreen Pietrantoni
Doreen's Blog -

We are all familiar with the phenomenon of mobile devices as a personal device, but what about its use in the classroom?
Mobile Devices in the Classroom for an example of a project based iPad learning experience or view ABC123 iPads in the Primary Classroomfor a centers based learning experience.

Using Mobile devices such as the Android Tablets, iPad, iPhone, and iPod in the classroom can allow for:

  • Differentiation
  • Mobile Learning
  • Learners choose learning content
  • Expands learning outside the classroom walls

    The Media-Rich Cone of Learning illustrates student retention in regards to receiving information. The interactive nature of mobile devices allows for students to physically engage with the devices.


    NYS Teacher and Technology Standards

    ISTE Nets Standards detail learning standards regarding technology usage by students and educators.

    Nets for Students (click here for a detailed PDF)

    • Creativity and Innovation
    • Communication and Collaboration
    • Research and Information Fluency
    • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making

    There are essential conditions to regard when using technology in the classroom. Click here to learn more.
    Ideas such as Student-Centered learning, empowered leaders, and Curriculum Framework are essential to effectively leverage technology for learning.

    Nets For Teachers (click here for a detailed PDF)

    • Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity
    • Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
    • Model Digital Age Work and Learning
    • Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility
    • Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership

    NYS Teacher Standards
    Attending a professional development opportunity to integrate mobile devices in your classroom will address the following teacher standards.

    • 1.6, 2.2, 2.5, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 4.2, 4.4, 7.2, 7.3, and 7.4
    • For more information on NYS Teacher Standards please view this PDF

    Why Use Mobile Devices?

    Mobile learning is...
  • on-the-go- Learners have the ability to carry the device with them wherever they go.
  • handheld- Learners can hold these devices in their hands. The trend is for mobile devices to become easier to carry around.
  • portable- Learners can carry the devices in a bag or pocket and recharge the device at various locations.
  • lightweight- Learners find the device light in weight and not very heavy.

    With these traits in mind, we can include cellphones, smartphones, iPods, iPads, tablets, gaming consoles, PDAs, handheld computers, media players, e-book readers and more.

    Mobile learning is effective when...
  • Tip 1. Learners choose the learning content.
  • Tip 2. Learners are integrating artifacts, reliable, objects, and experiences that surround their daily lives (real world learning).
  • Tip 3. Learners are moving around with the device.
  • Tip 4. Learners are motivated to expand the learning outside the classroom walls.
  • Tip 5. Learners work collaboratively to explore the world around them.
  • Tip 6. Learners are motivated to search for several possible options, solutions, and answers to problems.
  • Tip 7. Learners are presented with problems in which they must find many possible solutions and are able to test out these solutions.

    These are just some of the ideas behind what constitutes effective mobile learning. You may notice that this list is very similar to what constitutes overall effective learning. (Effective Mobile Learning, Shelly Sanchez Terrell)

    Things to Consider

    Mobile devices pose a specific problems in regards to educational use. Should a district become a BYOD or BYOT (bring your own device/bring your own technology) environment? If so, how is equality of devices created? Does the district provide 3G/4G access? Does the district provide wireless for all devices? As you can see, there are many considerations when using mobile devices in education.

    A few items to consider:

  • Create a code of conduct
  • Establish the devices is for educational use when in school
  • Use Free resources/apps
  • Have parent consent and buy in
  • Establish a school/district policy regarding mobile devices

    I recently stumbled across this valuable resource that uses the following acronym to describe using iPads in the classroom.

    I - Involve
    P - Preparation
    A - Application
    D - Development

    The source - Tech Learning article Involve, Prepare, Apply, and Develop: iPads in the Classroom by Autumn Kelley - is an extremely resourceful article for those who wish to use mobile devices in the classroom.

    Now What?

    There is certainly a lot of reasons why to use mobile devices, but how do you go about using them in the classroom?
    Before you venture into the world of Apps, you may want to learn how other educators are evaluating them prior to using in the classroom: App evaluation rubric #1 or App evaluation rubric #2



    • Project-based learning
    • Differentiation
    • Center Learning
    • Collaboration
    • Students with Special Needs
    • Change a task from traditional to NOW!
    • Content Creation such as video, images, narrated projects
    • Digital Textbook
    • eReading Capabilities
    • Research
    • Discovery
    • Organization of thoughts, research, projects, collaboration
    • Journal writing


    There are several projects that can utilize mobile devices.

    Project Resource Websites:

    Science Example:
    This article discusses a recent project in which iPads were used for an Environment Project - 5th Grade Project The classroom used: Notability (Evernote is Free), Easy Bib, Internet, Voice Thread, iPads camera

    Social Studies Example:
    “The Alternate History Project” was showcased at a poster session at ISTE 2011 What If History Project. Integrating social studies apps such US History Tools or On This Day as well as a graphic organizer app like Popplet and a digital media app such as Discovery Ed Streaming ( can help ELLs meet the goals of this project successfully.

    Social Studies/History Example:
    QR codes are used everywhere! Here is an example of creating a project using a city's QR code. Students can create their own QR codes to create a webquest or like this project QR Footprints In Time

    ELA Example:
    Ever thought of creating a book specific to what you are teaching in your classroom? iBooks Author App is free and great for educators and students to create a book about anything! Here is an example of a project with an instructional video on how to do this on your own! iBooks Author Project

    I Wonder Project:
    This project is a great way to have students use inquiry to create a multimedia project. Voice Thread would be a great way to create this project. This can be used for all curricular areas. I Wonder Project Details

    Book Reviews/Trailers:
    Students can use the iPad to read a book and create a review or trailer from images search on the iPad, notes written in EverNote, and a video created with the video camera in the iPad or using Voice Thread! Book Trailer/Review Project Details

    Photography Project:
    The built in camera on the iPad 2 and iPad 3 make it a great tool to use to capture original images. Here is a project to create original projects using the iPad Camera, DarkRoom App, and Edmodo App to share the images. [ Photography Project Details]

    Library Devices

    Libraries are a great place to use iPads and other mobile devices. There are several reading apps and ways for students to discuss reading.

    For Library Apps visit the following websites:

    Creating App Like Icons

    Librarians can create a shortcut to databases and other resource sites.

    • Open the Safari App
    • Type in the URL of the desired site
    • Click the icon near the web address that is a box with a right arrow
    • Select "Save to Home Page"
    • You can alter the name you wish to appear below the App Icon
    • Select Add
    • You now have an App that is a shortcut to a website

    Suggestions for using this feature:

    • BiblioNasium - GoodReads for students
    • Easy Bib - there is an app, however you can't use the app for websites or magazines
    • Library Databases that do not have an app

    Social Networking and the Library

    Social Networking works well on a mobile device. There are safe resources in which students can network. Apps such as Edmodo, Goodreads, and Subtext bring discussion and reading together. This website discusses Goodreads in the classroom - Goodreads in the Classroom

    Classroom Ideas:

    Center Learning

    Particularly in the elementary classroom, setting up centers for students to enrich ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies learning. Alternatively, centers can be created to enrich other curriculum such as music and art. Using centers can also assist in differentiating learning. Students who need reinforcement in certain curricular areas can have focused, interactive time with the mobile device.

    There are many apps that are leveled. For example, the ABC Magic Spelling app is offered in level (grade) 1, 2, 3.

    Voice thread.png

    Think of a Humanities course. iPads can be used to offer an area for reading historical documents (Common Core Alignment), watching historically relevant video from Video On Demand or History Channel. Another station can offer books or articles using the OverDrive App or iBooks app. To align a project, the students can use Voice Thread App to create a multimedia presentation that represents their learning.

    Creating a video using the iPad can be done by using the camera and video camera option in the iPad and then importing into a video app such as Vimeo (free) iMovie (cost). Vimeo allows you to share.

    Media Creation

    Media creation is an engaging and interactive way to use the iPad with students. Students can illustrate their creativity by using the iPad, apps, and other tools already on the iPad. There are numerous free media creation, editing, and presentation apps, however some do come at a cost. This blog is a great resource for app information, and here is the link for Media Creation

    Students with Special Needs

    Consider the following list of pedagogical goals in order to identify how this device can help promote equitable educational opportunity for ELLs.
    • For Intervention (RtI)
    • For Enrichment
    • For Assistive Technology
    • For Digital Literacy
    • For Reading
    • For Organizing Resources

    Where to find Apps

    Mobile 1 688.jpg
    There are over 500,000 apps - this is both a good and bad number. There are a great variety of resources, however searching for specific apps can be time consuming. There are numerous resources to help guide you to apps (free and costs).

    Additional Resources

    Highly Recommended iPad Lessons (in Pinterest)

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