Whether educators are talking about iPads, Chromebooks, smartphones, or a full-out Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative, we constantly hear of mobile learning’s increasing presence in today’s schools and classrooms.
And this buzz is with good reason! Through mobile learning technology, students gain the ability to truly learn anywhere and everywhere (often at their own self-driven pace and preference). This makes student progress more evident inside and outside the classroom, as noted in the recent white paper, “The Power of Mobile Learning in K-12: Success Stories Outside the Classroom”.
However, there are a few steps that must be taken to ensure your mobile learning infrastructure is ready to provide your students full (and easy) online learning access.
7 Key Questions to Ask of Your Infrastructure
To help your school build and maintain a sound mobile learning infrastructure, we have put these steps together in this handy checklist.
✘ Is our IT team in place and up-to-speed?
This step seems obvious, but it’s of utmost importance. Your Information Technology (IT) professionals are the backbone of any mobile learning initiative. Your school/district’s educational technology specialists serve as both a knowledge and support base for all students and educators. This team oversees installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting of all technology-related matters, including your mobile learning infrastructure.
✘ Is our wireless network and bandwidth sufficient?
Your school’s wireless network will likely require a tune-up to ensure mobile learning is possible. Strive to provide students and educators access to a strong and balanced wi-fi signal, regardless of where they are within the building. The rule of thumb is to overestimate your need for wireless capacity, rather than underestimate. Click here to learn how the at El Capitan High School in central California addressed their bandwidth needs to ensure each student and educator had ample Internet access to mobile learning tools.
✘ Is all needed software installed and/or updated?
There's a good chance your students will require a variety of software to make your mobile learning network a reality. Although cloud-based solutions and apps will compose a majority of the mobile learning experience, software hubs are going to be an important part of the network. You will need time to troubleshoot software before hand, help students download needed apps and software onto their own devices, and seek out any bugs or glitches.
✘ Are our classroom environments and settings conducive to mobile learning?
Can students move freely from class-to-class? Are you going to need to reconfigure your classroom seating and furniture to provide more space for collaborative learning via mobile technology? Take time to position classrooms to enhance the learn anywhere/everywhere ability.
✘ Have we developed open lines of communications between all stakeholders?
This process may also seem basic, but the lack of top-to-bottom communication and understanding can turn the best of mobile learning intentions into a chaotic process. You need to maintain open communications between involved parties such as IT, educational technologists, administration, teachers, staff, parents, and students. Do so through technology plans, professional development settings, meetings, open houses, etc.
✘ Have we established Train-the-Trainer workshops and sit-downs?
Give your tech-savvy educators a chance to do what they do best, educator others. Allow your educators to become the go-to tech coaches on the new technology. This gives other educators (who may not be as confortable with mobile learning techniques) a fellow peer to consult and rely on for questions and help.
✘ Have we put the infrastructure and software through a dry-run or pilot?
Once your school is comfortable with the new systems in place, be sure to complete a trial run or pilot program to stress test the infrastructure. This will be an opportunity to catch any issues with the system or functionality before it becomes a concern that can make your instructional process grind to a halt.
More Mobile Learning Resources from Wowzers
Hopefully, these check points are things that your school has already addressed or is working to address. We are certain that incoprating these general pieces will certainly enhance your student's in-school mobile learning abilities.
Also, don't forget to check out the blended learning section of the Wowzers Blog to learn more about mobile learning and the value of blended learning in the classroom.