So, you’ve decided to give these new-fangled mobile devices a place at your 21st century education (a term I use because I know so many can’t stand it) table. Your students will thank you. During the initial planning and implementation phase of your work to tap into the potential benefits of mobile learning (such as portability, simplicity, agility and personalisation) I’d like to encourage you to turn your mind, and that of your students even, to problem solving.
Of course any successful integration of 21st century pedagogy (oops said it again) will require plenty of problem solving. But in this post I’m talking specifically about the physical environment into which these devices will need to fit. Is it one thats set up for large PCs and traditional content-transmission teaching? If so, you have a wonderful challenge ahead. And if your school has anything like the strained budget of mine, its a challenge that could be posed like this:
- “How can we creatively adapt to the unique space and accessory needs of a mobile device project, without the total cost of ownership of the project making the whole thing too expensive?”
- Questions stemming from this directly might be: “How will we manage all the cords for syncing and charging or storing styli?” and “is there a stand that works in multiple locations so we don’t have to buy many different kinds?”
Sounds like a great challenge-based or project-based learning task. And here’s where I suggest you start – at one of those cheap web stores full of gadget bibs and bobs – where a bit of creative thinking just net you what you need.
Example 1: the Cable clip
Despite the presence of wifi in more and more device that fall into the mobile learning category, most still require cables for charging if not for syncing as well. It doesn’t take too long before even a few devices means many cords and cables snaking around desks. Big potential workplace health and safety issue. Now, you could try cheap cable ties to group some of the cords or keep them tidy, but these have to be cut every time the cords are moved. Enter the cable clip. By peeling off the adhesive, you can stick it (and re-stick) wherever its needed for grouping power or syncing cables. I’ve also seen it used as a holder for a stylus if your art teacher wants students to use those with you mobile device. Even better, these can be had from some online stores for under $3.00 for a pack of six.
Example 2: The windscreen mount re-purposed as a multi-purpose stand and mount.
With the amount of apps available on many devices these days (wether they be iPod touches, tablets, phones, even Leapster devices), the best return on any schools investment naturally is if students have them at hand to be used as much as possible. Going on the out of site out of mind idea, its especially important in the early stages of a deployment when you and your students aren’t used to having the capabilities of your chosen device to draw on that they be visible. To this end, my idea is to repurpose a windscreen GPS-type mount for holding a variety of gadgets in place around a learning area, especially for viewing podcasts or playing and replaying voice recordings etc. This one that I found (simply called a ‘universal car windshield mount’) has three rotating sections and I’ve been able to angle it pretty much anyway I’d want for devices in both a portrait and landscape mode. Plus despite being cheap (ie. under $9.00), its quite sturdy and the holder can adjust from about 5cm to 10cm wide, meaning it can be used with a variety of devices.
Ok, so there is a couple of ideas. I’d love to hear what others come up with.
PS. I did my ‘creative thinking’ at budgetgadgets.com, which is also where the pricing in this post comes from.