Thursday, June 2, 2011

Where is your Classroom?

This is an excellent article written by Meg Wilson over at It is an interesting reflection on the nature of learning and more specifically the way that we now, more than ever have the opportunity to learn anywhere and at any time. It talks of a joyous and life affirming attitude that all school kids should get to experience. I repeat it here in its entirety only to save you another click. But please check out the Edreach site for a range of other insightful and thought provoking articles on education, technology and innovation.
Where is your Classroom?
Every day, I am an active participant in an amazing classroom that is filled with engaging and unique learning opportunities. I learn all kinds of information about a variety of different topics; it all depends on what I find interesting or necessary at the moment. I have access to an incredible wealth of credible resources, and I am given as much time as I need to synthesize information and determine how to best leverage it. I have opportunities to collaborate and learn with, and from, experts all over the world. I have the chance to participate in challenge based learning projects where I work to find solutions to a variety of real world problems, and I do it with individuals in locations that I have never been to. I work hard to publish content that I feel is important to share. I am allowed to be curious, and I am encouraged to be creative. Most importantly, the classroom is always changing and morphing into an even better, more efficient and personalized classroom.
You may be wondering where this amazing classroom is, and my response is unique given the time of day: at home, the gym, my car, the gas station, a school, a picnic table, a friend’s house, my back deck, a restaurant… and that is just a few of today’s locations. With the help of my iPhone and iPad, my classroom can be completely mobile, it can go wherever I go. That means that whenever I want, I can find information, validate it, synthesize it, communicate it, and use it to solve problems collaboratively. Since my classroom is not located within the confines of four walls in a specific building, I am able to learn more simply because I have more opportunities to do so.
So… if I can recognize that my own classroom is mobile, why am I still demanding that my students come and sit in a room to learn? Isn’t it time that educators start discussing how mobile learning devices can really change the educational experience for our students?
I am certainly not saying that mobile learning is not being discussed. In fact, it is currently one of the hottest topics with educators, including myself. Educators can’t seem to stop talking about how to use mobile learning devices in the classroom. But that is part of the problem, we keep talking about using mobile devices IN the classroom. It is a bit absurd to talk about mobile learning taking place in a classroom… unless your definition of a classroom has changed. Thanks to the many types of mobile technologies available today, I can now consider a classroom to be anywhere I can learn or gain experience. I am a huge advocate for using mobile learning devices because I get to experience their educational value on a daily basis in my own mobile classroom. Technology has without a doubt changed how I learn, what I learn, how much I learn, and of course, where I learn. And I am not alone.
I recently had the opportunity to be a part of the Mobile Learning Experience conference, where it was refreshing to talk with a variety of educators who are using technology to transform students’ learning experiences. There is a definite shift happening in education right now, or a ‘disruption’ as some might say. Graham Brown-Martin set the perfect tone for the Mobile Learning Experience with his keynote about disruption, innovation, and learning. His thought-provoking discussion about how disruptive technologies like social media, video games, the Internet, and mobile devices have changed every industry but education was eye-opening for many at the conference. Educators were either inspired or enraged as they thought about how to best answer Graham’s bold question: what would the “napsterfication of learning” look like? I know that I personally left the conference feeling like these disruptive technologies are not only great tools for students, but they are essential tools for students’ future success: disruption will drive student innovation, foster creativity, and offer new learning opportunities.

As educators, we need to embrace and encourage disruption in and out of our classrooms. We need to listen to students like Dan Brown and Travis Allen speak about how institutionalized education has failed them. We need to question what it really means to be educated in a world where facts are free. We need to rethink the location of our classrooms, and recognize the impact mobile devices actually have on the roles of school buildings and educators. We need to understand that the goal is to use technology to empower students so that they will change the world for the better.
Educators need to think about how we can give students the right tools, strategies, and experiences so that they can be the best students possible in their own classrooms, wherever those classrooms may be.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool. Engaging students while delivering content led me to create my first app

    I can't wait to see how others will use iPads in their classrooms!!