The days of students secretly passing notes behind the teacher’s back are in steady decline. Instead, students are tech-savvy and online, using their smartphones and iPads to send each other instant messages, tweet, snap, google – you name it.
While mobile devices have great potential for teachers in terms of supplementing their lessons with interactive tools and resources, they can just as easily fuel distraction and undermine the teaching process.
In this blog post, we’ll outline four key tips for managing devices in the classroom so that teachers can create a safe, productive educational environment.
Give your students an Acceptable Use Policy.
First and foremost, it’s important to have an official Acceptable Use Policy for mobile devices in the classroom , during school hours and on campus . This will ensure that the students are aware of what they are and aren’t allowed to do, and give teachers leverage for disciplinary action should the need arise.
A comprehensive Acceptable Use Policy should cover topics like social media usage; plagiarism, piracy and copyright; internet content that is inappropriate or deemed unsafe; network security best practices, such as anti malware and data protection on student devices; as well as disciplinary measures that students can expect if they fail to comply. The policy should also include day-to-day classroom usage, such as having students place their devices face down on their desks when the teacher asks for their attention.
Make sure key staff know how to use devices.
Teachers and educators can’t be expected to enforce an Acceptable Usage Policy for mobile devices effectively if they don’t understand how their students’ devices work. Not only is it frustrating for the teacher, but such a knowledge gap will likely be identified and exploited by opportunistic students. Teachers should have access to comprehensive training that includes best practice for managing devices in the classroom, as well as how to use mobile technology effectively in an educational environment and recognise and navigate common applications used by students. Teachers should also take it upon themselves to learn key information online; there are many dedicated resources for teachers available, such as this collection from The Guardian.
Move around the classroom during lessons.
On a more practical note, teachers should structure their lessons in a way that makes managing devices in the classroom easy. For example, by being active and walking around the classroom, teachers can keep an eye on their students and their mobile device habits. The key is to be unpredictable, as a student is more likely to err on the safe side if they’re not sure when their teacher will walk by them. Teachers should arrange the class so that it’s easy to move around and monitor their students, and so that there aren’t any blind spots.
Invest in a Mobile Device Management system.
Perhaps the most effective tip for managing devices in the classroom is to invest in dedicated technological infrastructure; specifically, a Mobile Device Management (MDM) system. Using an MDM, teachers can supervise, manage and control how their students use mobile devices in the classroom and during school hours. By locking out applications that aren’t needed for the class, like Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube, teachers can remove the temptation altogether.