Sunday, December 6, 2015

Implementing Mobile Devices With a Focus on Learning

The following post is a modified excerpt from Uncommon Learning.

Mobile learning provides enhanced collaboration among learners, access to information, and a deeper contextualization of learning. Hypothetically, effective mobile learning can empower learners by enabling them to better assess and select relevant information, redefine their goals, and reconsider their understanding of concepts within a shifting and growing frame of reference (the information context).” — Marguerite L. Koole (2009) 

No one will deny the impact that mobile is having on the world.  All one has to do is take a look at how mobile devices are changing everyone’s perception of computing as it is more accessible and personal than ever. Over the years I have written extensively on the topic, including a chapter in my new book Uncommon Learning.  As a principal I quickly saw the potential in mobile learning and as a result our school became the first to embrace Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) back in 2010. 

Mobile devices offer a new and exciting avenue to engage students and promote learning while increasing academic achievement. Research by Cristol and Gimbert (2013) found that students utilizing mobile learning devices scored, on average, 52.34 points higher on the state assessments than their peers who did not use them. Students are more connected than ever with their devices, and it is necessary for teachers to capitalize on this opportunity to drive student learning and outcomes.  With any initiative, especially BYOD or 1:1, the focus has to be on learning. 

Koole’s (2009) Framework for the Rational Analysis of Mobile Education (FRAME) model provides a more holistic framework for mobile learning. In this framework, mobile learning is a combination of the interactions among learners, their devices, and other people. Koole provides a useful checklist that schools and educators can refer to when looking to integrate mobile learning effectively as part of a BYOD or 1:1 initiative. 

Image credit:

Have you considered the following in your mobile learning ecosystem? 

  1. How use of mobile devices might change the process of interactions among learners, communities, and systems 

  2. How learners may most effectively use mobile access to other learners, systems, and devices to recognize and evaluate information and processes to achieve their goals 

  3. How learners can become more independent in navigating through and filtering information; how to prepare them for that change 

Be aware of the many pitfalls that are associated with educational technology. Access alone will not translate into enhanced student learning outcomes.  At the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE) my team and I work with schools and districts to get mobile learning initiatives right before an all out rollout. It is critical to plan well ahead of any major BYOD or 1:1 initiative at least a year in advance to ensure that all the necessary elements are in place to support student learning. These elements are listed below, but I encourage you to read this post that provides more detail on each:

  • Infrastructure
  • Shared Vision
  • Strategic Plan
  • Policy Development
  • Professional Development
  • Student/Parent Programs
  • Budget Allocations

I encourage you to take a critical look at the mobile learning initiatives in your district and determine what can be done to improve them. In education there is no such thing as perfection and as such we must always look for opportunities to improve existing initiatives, not just new ones to be implemented. 

Cristol, D., & Gimbert, B. (2013). Academic achievement in BYOD classrooms. Proceedings from QScience 12th World     
          Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning. mLearn, 15.

Koole, M. L. (2009). A model for framing mobile learning. In M. Ally (Ed.), Mobile learning: Transforming the delivery of 
          education and training (pp. 25–47). Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press.


  1. Can you share a little more about how you have approached parent programs? We're beginning to craft this now.

    1. Sure can! During the beginning of the year I addressed the majority of our parents at back to school night. It was the perfect opportunity to reinforce what I had already sent out virtually. My advice is to try to find a time when you already have a large audience of parents and use that opportunity to educate your parents on the mobile learning initiative.