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Using mobile technologies to enhance your teaching does not need to be complicated. In fact, some of the easiest ways to use these technologies can improve your communication and relationship with students, enable higher-order thinking in your assignments, engage your learners, and save you quite a bit of time. Here are 10 easy tips to get started:
- Twitter to Communicate: Set up separate Twitter (http://twitter.com) accounts for each of your classes. (You will need to have different email addresses for each Twitter account). Tell your students how to follow your class account on Twitter and show them how to enable mobile alerts on their phones. (I have a handy Twitter tutorial you can adapt for this purpose.) Then, tell them you will use this service to provide important updates, such as if you need to cancel class. Tell them if they set up mobile alerts or check Twitter through an aggregator (try Tweetdeck), they won’t have to drive to a canceled class. Use this system to remind them of important assignment due dates or changes in assignments.
- Gmail Chat to Answer Questions and Reduce Email Overload: Tell students to invite you to their Boise State Gmail and contact you when you are online using Gmail chat. Also show them how to install the Voice/Video plugin (http://www.google.com/chat/video) so you can talk. Encourage them to use this instead of email, to quickly answer questions and cut down on the number of emails you need to answer.
- Google Voice to preserve your privacy but offer quick communication: Set up a Google Voice number (http://voice.google.com) and provide this to your students instead of your personal cell phone number. You can see who is calling you by enabling Call Screening with Google Voice, so you can decide if you want to answer the call or not. The messages are transcribed in Google Voice, and you can even have them forward to your email or SMS.
- Encourage cell phone and laptops in your classroom: Allow your students to freely use mobile devices in the classroom for all kinds of uses: taking instructional videos and sharing them on YouTube, writing notes during class, using Twitter to back-channel discussions during lectures and other presentations, looking up concepts online to answer quick questions, participating in polls, taking pictures of whiteboards for review (try Evernote for this), recording lectures, instant blogging, taking quizzes, taking and uploading pictures, checking the spelling of a word, researching and reporting on new mobile apps, recording a classroom session live using ustream–you get it, the list can go on almost endlessly.
- Set up alternative options for attendance in your face-to-face classroom: If students cannot attend your live classes, you can easily set up a web meeting to enhance your classes or now use an iPod Touch and FaceTime to communicate. Tell your students to contact you via SMS if they cannot attend live so you have time to plug them in through mobile devices. Or use ustream’s mobile app to record and stream your classroom meeting.
- Show your students how to use RSS to bring media and information to them: If you don’t know, go to our library, where any of the reference librarians can provide training. Have them subscribe to at least 5 blogs or websites that they can follow throughout the semester.
- Encourage your students to write to a blog at least once a week on a topic of interest to them: Show them how to use mobile devices to upload and publish content. Direct them to Blogger mobile and show them how easy it is to post from anywhere: http://www.blogger.com/mobile-start.g
- Use QR codes to facilitate communication and marketing: Create a QR code for your website and publish that to your business card, course syllabus, office door, or any other location where students might need to get more information about you. Here’s the QR code to our Mobile Learning Syllabus for Summer 1010:
- Show students how to access and use the mobile version of the Albertsons Library website: http://library.boisestate.edu/m Schedule a session with the library for your class so they can learn how to use this fabulous resource.
- Ask your university to offer your LMS in a mobile platform/option: Blackboard and Moodlerooms now have options for mobile conversion of course sites and interactive mobile communication and updates. Keep pushing for more innovation and options for students, who are, after all, our customers.
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