Mobile learning

By Chris Kieffer

BOONEVILLE – Tishomingo County High School will be getting new iMac computers in some of its classrooms this year.
The challenge, said TCHS senior English teacher Rene Fowler, is that she doesn’t yet know how to use them.
Wanting to overcome that, Fowler was among about 75 educators who participated in Northeast Mississippi Community College’s Mobile Learning Conference last week.
There, she not only joined lessons on how to use the iMac, but she also learned about using iMovie and making podcasts.
“I thought this would be a good place to learn what these devices have to offer for my classroom,” said Fowler, who has been teaching for 23 years and envisions the technology will change the way she presents lessons.
“I want to implement more,” she said.
This was the fourth year of the Mobile Learning Conference, which was held on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. This year, participants were divided into three groups: K-12, higher education and IT professionals.
“We do this because we want to expand our knowledge of technology, especially instructional technology,” said Jeffrey Powell, webmaster/ technology specialist at Northeast. “We want to keep teachers up to date of the changing technology field.”
The New Albany School District sent 14 participants.
“Technology is very important in our school district,” New Albany Interim Superintendent Jackie Ford said. “If we will be a top district, we need to keep up with the times.”
Alicia Robinson, who teaches world history and communication at New Albany High School, said she is trying to get iPads for her classroom. She’d like to use them to allow students to view primary sources and watch videos.
She attended last week’s conference to be able to better use the devices.
Minerva Graham, an administrator at New Albany’s alternative school, said as her school expands its technology, it is important for her to know how to use it.
Mobile learning could be beneficial for the alternative school, she said, because it could allow students to receive video lessons from their classroom teacher even when they not in that room.
“We are in a separate location, but our responsibility is to contribute to the education of students in grades K-12,” Graham said. “…I’m hoping to be able to make technology an integral part of the alternative school.”
Rankin Elementary School art teacher Jamie Baker also noted the possibilities that technology creates for mobile teleconferencing. Not only can it help students sent to an alternative school still receive content from their primary teachers, but it also can connect campuses or bring together older and younger students, she said.
“This has been incredible,” she said of the conference.
Presentations included the basics of the iPad, applications for the iPhone and iPad, accessibility for students with disabilities, Apple TV, iTunesU and a look at digital textbooks, among other things. Participants also could go on a photo Safari, taking shots with their iPhones.
Baker has attended the conference every year. For the past three, she has been a presenter.
This year, she provided hands-on advice for using iPhoto and iMovie.
“I learn so much every year,” she said. “Technology and education are changing every year.”
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com