We’re having a warm discussion in my classes about mobiles: What is it that makes people say “put them away, they’re a distraction” or at least that they are less than laptops as learning tools before they have played with them enough to know if that claim is true or not; if mobiles are disruptive, what is it exactly they are disrupting? Or is the current mode of teaching and learning actually disrupting a future mode that includes mobiles?
So we’ve decided to go mobile only for a few classes to see what we discover about ourselves and out tools. Well, mobile plus sketchbook actually, in keeping with the idea that the best way to take in information is with paper and pencil:
We noted by our habit of defaulting to a laptop for everything and we’re thinking maybe we should consider building deeper tool chest. So, as Dorothy Sayers points out in her wonderful speech, The Lost Tools of Learning, we are going to doodle around with our mobiles to “give ourselves the feel of the tool.”
We’ll update here as the experiment progresses.
Composed in WordPress app on my iPhone 6
Another mixed bag of activities: teaching, invigilating an exam, work on projects, staff meeting. No serious issues with the phone in any of them.
The only thing I couldn’t do was print. I rarely print anything so this was kind of funny to me.
I’m finding that gesture-based apps like Mailbox and Swipes are better than laptop tools for processing email and tasks.
We’re running a Slack trial and this is turning out to be a boon for mobile work.
Composed in the WordPress app on my iPhone 6
My Day 2 was a typical admin day, one bookended by meetings and two sessions with IT to help Grade 10s ready their laptops for upcoming provincial exams. I used the time in between to set up the back end for the new Centre for Innovation and process a ton of email.
Composed on my iPhone.
I’ve decided to try going a week at work using only my phone, an iPhone 6. I maintain that all we need to run a good school is a smartphone and a notebook, that a laptop is legacy of industrial model learning and that mobiles are transformative.
The signs all point that way at least, and now I want to know where the actual pain points are so I can build a strategy for making the transition to a mobile-first school. I have no doubt that we need a device such as a laptop or desktop for some work, but I’m pretty sure the day-to-day can be done with a mobile phone.
Like a mad scientist I’m running this experiment on myself first. Mostly, I’m just observing and taking notes. Depending how things go, I’ll bring my students in the next week or so.
A typical day with a mix of teaching and meetings.
I take attendance by having my Theory of Knowledge students draw a picture of themselves at the start of class. They have three minutes to do this and if after that time I have no picture it means they were late or absent. (Hat tip to Linda Barry – this has turned out to be a terrific threshold activity.)
One of my students, Danielle, had to be away at a hockey game so she sent this via Twitter–and made the deadline:
I call that being present.
Inspirations reading Cohen, Jonathan. “Branding in the Age of Smart TV and the Second Screen” MISC Magazine. Fall 2014: 32-33. Print.
The potential of the second screen in education is largely unexplored. Students have them–smart phones and laptops–but phones are ignored as learning tools and laptops are used simply as personal productivity tools or mirrors of what the teacher is presenting on the first screen (e.g. the white board or projector.)
There’s an echo here of the a16z Tech Summit I attended in the fall of 2013: digital is bridging itself (in business) and I wondered then how it might augment the in-class experience. I wonder, what in education are the equivalents of rapid market testing, post-purchase loyalty and driving to local shopping (as opposed to buying online.): rapid lesson testing? a desire to dive deeper in classes? connecting the learning across subject domains for a richer experience…?
My students and I have been using Twitter as a go-to tool in classes and though it’s been quite successful it’s still an artifact of the first screen experience. but I think there may be something even richer here…going give the “second screen experience creation” some serious though over the winter break.
Disclaimer: I’m saying all this in full recognition of the financial and practical problems with implementing mobile programs.
If I had a do-over at my school, or any school, I would skip laptops altogether and build a mobile program. That would put my school in a much better position
At one point, I was arguing we should build an ∞ : 1 program. This was my way of saying 1:1 thinking is limited thinking because, wherever we happen to start the journey, we are all moving toward a single user working with multiple devices (a result of the consumerization of technology) and we had to begin building–now–ways of exploiting that in schools. 1:1 is not an end game.
I still say 1:1 is limited and limiting thinking but I’m reversing directions and saying I think we can dispense with laptops altogether. A laptop is a peak technology, a highly refined articulation of a mode of thinking and knowledge structure that is being disrupted by newer technologies, principally the web and mobiles. (See David Weinberger’s, Too Big To Know, for a discussion on the changing structure of knowledge.) They make sense if we want to continue doing things as we have, which is not all bad, but I suspect they might actually inhibit innovation in the classroom. Laptops have been around for a while now. While technically brilliant, their form is not appreciably different from a typewriter and, by and large, I don’t think they’ve transformed or moved our teaching and learning beyond typewriter thinking. (The usual criticism I get is that you can’t write an essay on a smart phone.) Oh sure, they’ve made things more efficient, which is good. But notwithstanding some innovative work by some brilliant teachers here and there, I’ve not seen any systemic transformative change come about by the implementation of a 1:1 laptop program.
Mobiles, and smart phones in particular, are products of the emerging knowledge structure.
Connecting ideas I need to think and say more about:
the evolution of the laptop; I think I can argue is it based on the form of very early books
per Twitter chat with @jonpratt, need to look at whether a laptop program is a necessary step, a catalyst for tech thinking, so to speak, or merely a circumstance of history; could a school go directly to mobiles?
Things I want to try:
A laptop v. mobile smackdown
Like many, I find email a mixed blessing and a while ago I wrote post on how Apple or Google could save us all from drowning by creating a platform that focused on the send, not the receive. GMail now has APIs and now this startup, Inbox, has built an open source platform that also provides an API.
We’re getting closer.