The first international conference on mobile technology in the classroom—MITE 2015—will reveal some of the groundbreaking programmes, apps. and techniques, now out there to improve the learning experience for both students and teachers.
Galway has a poor record compared to other counties such as Limerick, Tipperary and Clare when it comes to integrating computers into secondary schools, according to one of the conference organisers Seán Ó Grádaigh from the School of Education in NUIG.
In its Masters in Education for aspiring teachers, the school now has a full module on mobile technology and provides fifty hours of training for new teachers.
All the research on adopting it points to massive benefits when it comes to improving literacy and numeracy, learning languages and creating a dynamic general learning environment for all students, regardless of ability.
“Mobile technology has the ability to change how we teach, learn and assess. Students can now learn when, where and how suits them best. Information today is free and everywhere students have access to this information at their fingertips, even in their pockets,” explained Seán.
“In the past, there was a limit to knowledge in the classroom which was the book or the teacher who was seen to be the oracle of all knowledge. Mobile technology in schools has broken that knowledge ceiling and has the ability to democratise education as a result.
“Students and teachers now have the tools which facilitate self-directed teaching and learning. This can be personalised, localised and can be tailored to individual learners rather than being controlled within the confines of the book.”
Schools which have introduced iPads or tablets at great cost may not be reaping the full gambit of benefits. This is down to a lack of training for teachers who must be kept up to date with ever-changing trends.
“Schools which get the training do phenomenal things. Other schools which are two or three years down the road are not getting half the possibilities out of it because while they may have had the technical training, they have not had the educational training,” stated Seán.
Before deciding to adopt the technology, schools must have a vision about how to integrate it. They should have a minimum two days of training for teachers a year, he believes. Many teachers are lucky to get an hour or two on how best to utilise the equipment.
The first day of the conference will focus on the most recent academic research with papers from Ireland, the UK, Germany and America. The second day is geared to teachers with practical workshops on how to use the technology in the classroom.
The keynote speaker is Punya Mishra, professor of educational technology at Michigan State University, who is internationally recognised for his work on the theoretical, cognitive and social aspects related to the design and use of computer-based learning environments.
It takes place on Friday 23d January and Saturday 24th January in the Galway Bay Hotel. For more information visit Gratek.ie/mite2015.