Two Hundred and Sixty-Forth Asic- School Smart with Smart Phones?

A lot of facts can nowadays be easily found on the internet. Rote learning as it was when I went to school, will soon be forgotten and a five-year-old can google just about anything with no help from an adult. I sometimes feel old when I notice how my kids know things I spent a lot of time learning. I do however think that the young generation of today are lucky to be able to browse all these facts and photos and movies and easily finding out about things that took a very long time when I was a child. They can even find friends abroad and getting to know a person on the other side of an ocean, speaking with that person in real time through computers and smart phones and I can’t help remembering my pen-pals in other countries and how I used to wait for days and weeks for their letters back to me… 🙂

All the kids nowadays need to do is Google… At work I notice that the gap between those who know how to handle IT and those who do not is increasing. There will be no equality unless students get their computers thru school and also good instruction from skilled teachers. There will always be students with parents who either cannot afford a new computer, or maybe don’t understand to what extent their kid will be left out in school if they cannot be online and use internet as the rest of the kids. Being curious is a good start!

Even if we may think some things were better THEN than they are NOW, we need to at least try to go with the flow…

Otherwise we, the teachers, would soon be relics, too… Stored and filed side by side with flanellografs,

chalkboards and sandpits with sticks…

griffeltavla.jpg (637×510)

In subjects where a smartphone is a rich resource I don’t fully understand why schools still say students cannot use their phones in class, but I assume it’s a matter of students’ age. The teacher has a great opportunity getting things done a lot more easy by accepting the use of smart phones when it IS smart to use them. If I would stick to the rules of many classrooms today and say ”Don’t use your smart phone in class!” my students would have a tougher time learning Swedish. I do however need to stress that one of the reasons for smart phones to be a good alternative in my classroom is the fact that I teach adults. My subject is Swedish as a Second Language.

I have experience from working with teenagers or younger and having to address several situations each day where students have passed rules for the usage of their smart phones. Not all students respect rules and when students end up in recordings or photos that are posted on the internet that is a problem that takes a lot of important time off from the learning process in class. One way of dealing with problems such as that, is to remove the actual smart phone from the classroom situation. In many Swedish schools teachers collect the students’ phones before each lesson, in order for students not to use them in class. Thus the students are more focused on what their teachers say and what the lesson is all about, which is of course very important. I do however think that it is sad that such an extraordinary tool as the smart phone cannot be effectively used for learning purposes. If it’s a matter of disciplin, then the actual disciplin problem needs to be addressed. From here and on, this blog post is focusing on some of the benefits of using smart phones in learning situations.

Let me share a few examples from my own classroom, which is a language learning classroom with Swedish as a Second Language as the one and only subject. When we don’t find the solutions to meanings of words, the smart phones serve as dictionaries and saves a lot of time, compared to finding out by a visit at the local library, but that is not the only way to save time with a smart phone in a classroom! The students and I talk a lot about things we read, listen to or watch. I always try to help them by writing additional examples on my white board. This is however not a classroom with a SMART BOARD, but just an ordinary poorly equipped in-the-basement-classroom. When the white board is completely filled with comments, words and phrases connected to the topic we discuss,  I ask the students to simply use their smart phones and take a photo of my notes. That’s quick and easy and also a SMART way to use PHONES, although in the future,  I hope to be among the lucky ones who have smart boards in their classrooms.

Another thing with language learning is to use the phone for pronunciation. Many students in my classroom merely meet one person who speaks Swedish and I am that person. Although I try to give them several suggestions to where they can listen to Swedish, or perhaps meet Swedish people and talk to them, it is very difficult for some of them. Their smart phones is thus an excellent way to help them out with at least pronunciation of difficult words or phrases. More than anything else, the quality of the sounds of the nine Swedish vowels, when put in different positions of words or phrases are easy to repeat when students get back home, if they have recorded different examples in class. When students record my pronunciation and go back home and listen and repeat, their own pronunciation improves rapidly.

Ines Uusmann, Minister for Infrastructure, seemed to believe that the internet would be forgotten after a few years, although it is said that the reason why everyone remembers, is that the headline for the article was a fake quote. This is in fact (in Swedish, though…) what she said:

”Jag vågar inte ha någon alldeles bestämd uppfattning men jag tror inte att folk i längden kommer att vilja ägna så mycket tid, som det faktiskt tar, åt att surfa på nätet. […] Att sitta och surfa på nätet tar en himla massa tid. Vad är det bra för? […] Det kanske är så att det är något som vuxit upp nu. Alla pratar om internet men kanske är det övergående och sedan blir inriktningen mer specificerad”

Ines Uusmann citerad i Svenska Dagbladet, 12 maj 1996.

Källa: Rydén, Daniel, ”Dimmor på nätet”, Sydsvenskan, 4 mars 2007.



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