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Using mobile learning to increase environmental awareness

Paper outline

Introduction
Mobile learning devices
Mobile learning in classrooms
Mobile learning and environmental awareness
Teachers too can be learners
Using QR Codes and Mobile Dictionaries in English lesson
Conclusion

Using mobile learning to increase environmental awareness
Introduction
Mobile learning, also called m-learning, can be described as the learning that involves mobile technology. This learning does not require one to be in a certain place with people and at a given time. In this case, individuals learn from anywhere with the help of portable lightweight devices. Both educators and learners can access learning materials and relevant information, anywhere and at any time in mobile learning. To create an environment for mobile learning, a student or an educator should incorporate or integrate tools for communication. For example, the whats App, twitter,text messaging emails, and many others.students also benefit from scaffoldslearning support tools such as dictionaries, advice for electronic references, microblogging and many others, anywhere and at any time (Ryu & Parsons, 2009).
The increase in growth and development of information and communication technologies and the evolution of learning behavior has made institutions of learning to consider changing their way of delivering knowledge to learners. The schools are now looking at focusing more on individuals, and not the shared time and place through networking. Technology has provided systems that have been framed to facilitate engagement of and personalization of learning. mobile learning can help learningadapting to more student-centered. The teaching methods align with mobile technology easily A good example is in test preparation for elementary school students, where mobile learning easily adapts to design multiple choice tests and fill in the blank answers (Qiang, Pitt & Ayers, 2004).
Mobile learning devices
Globally, it has been acknowledged that mobile devices are rapeidly becoming the main computing device of people. In institutions, students use devices that best suit their course and their level of education. But there are times or circumstances where students in elementary schools can use the same devices with students in high schools for instance, in communication, they can use the same devices in twitting, face booking e. t. c . they can still retrieve content or information using the same devices. Also , while learning, there are devices that students of elementary schools share with those in high schools for example the use of ipads. The ipads can be used by people of all ages. Some of the mobile learning devices have been used in my classroom of elementary schools to create environmental awareness. Some of them nclude the QR codes, the Google maps, Ever note peak, Study Blue Flashcards, Trello, I Books, and Google Docs among many others. The use of the mobile Learning devices to bring technology into class is cheaper compared to the traditional mode. In this case, the devices are cheap and easy to carry around (Rogers, 2011).
Mobile learning in classrooms
Schools that are not employing technology in learning are creating a big difference in environmental awareness compared to those that have integrated technology in learning. No one wants to be left behind, teachers, and students are both learners in this scenario. The use of mobile technologies is becoming more critical in accessing information and communication within learning institutions. Schools that oppose desktop and other mobile technologies end up opening a way for cell phone technology. The society has also stepped in in providing mobile technology. In most parts of the world, cyber cafes have been developed. Young children can go there and enjoy playing games through internets, facebook, twit etc. most of the students of elementary schools who are denied or don’t have access to mobile learningtake advantage of these cyber cafes in learning. The cyber community operates for twenty four hours. Therefore, learners can access any information they may need at any moment (Mitra, 2010). The control of technology by gatekeepers prevents learners (students, teachers and schools) from noticing the importance of engaging with technology (Woodhill, 2011).
The authority or control that schools had is gradually fading away since the mobile technology has given learners freedom to study from anywhere and at any time. For instance, with the use of study blue flashcards, studying is made efficient and effective for students. The study blue flashcards give immediate feedback and helps the students to go through their class notes wherever and whenever they have time to spare. This is most preferred to be supervised by a teacher or a guardian who signs up and monitors the student doing his or her studies. The schools now focus on individuals and not the shared time and place through networking. Technology has provided systems that have been framed to facilitate the retrieval of information (Zust & Troxler, 2006).
Children are involved in education while using the technological devices other than when they are taught using the formal educational system. Notably, mobile learning technology may be of great importance to schools, students, the society and the whole world at large. Technology in education is critical and can yield very meaningful results. There are various benefits associated with technology in education. It improves students’ achievement in reading, math, and writing (Tipps, 2011) As students get motivation in learning by using technological devices, their performance enhances (tipps, 2011). Their attendance in class improves, cases of drop out decreases, and the society gets involved because of the facilitation of technology. Mobile learning fits many learning styles such as in reading, videos, animations, internet searching, listening to broadcasts,internet radios, internet podcasts and vodcasts and many others. It also improves social learning, which includes talking to peers and experts.
The iPad has an easy to use multi-touch interface like the iPod Touch, and is more portable than the laptop. Nonetheless, it lacks support for websites that control Adobe Flash operations and low power processing compared to a laptop. Despite all these, it is still perceived as an ideal constituent or addition to the classroom. The use of the iPad in a one to one learning is good for improving students’ performance. This is especially for teachers who teach English reading, math and science in elementary schools. For example in my classroom, I have been an English teacher for 5 years.with the use of the Ipads I can teach my elementary school students on how to write. I use bluster which is a word matching game that developes vocabulary and word understanding for children, I also use the futupa , a fantastic multiplayer gameand a fun way to help children learn new words, sight words to help children learn to read and many others.
environmental awareness
Mobile learning has greatly influenced or facilitated environmental awareness in very many ways. Elementary schools and other academic institutions are using mobile learning devices to educate their students about environmental awareness. For instance, the Google maps have helped teachers with their students in answering questions on environmental research, cultural information, or explore the whole world to familiarize themselves with different types of environment. Students get a map and spatial literacy with the help of the Google maps. Through the Google maps, the students get to learn about conserving and how to improve the environment and the ways forward in case of disasters (Kitchenham, 2011).
The elementary school teachers, with the help of the Google maps can easily teach their students about maps. For example, pupils in grades 5 to 8 may learn map concepts. There are many teaching strategies that are appropriate for teaching environmental awareness through the use of mobile technology. Mobile learning makes students both in class and out of class to be more engaged in learning, creating a friendly environment, or atmosphere of discussions and interrogation.
Teachers, trainers, managers and staff developers are provided with case studies to help them plan for both the present and future. This was done following the revelation that mobile learning can be used as a way of creating environmental awareness. The students benefit from the case studies by getting course support through an integrated learning technology (Gillham, 2001).
Therwe is a study we carried out over an academic year to find out how students use GPS equipped mobile phones in exploring, creating and sharing georeferenced multisensory information, to increase environmental awareness. The main objective was to show how mobile phones could be used in environmental education. In the experiment, two elementary schools, Viseu School and Porto school were involved. The Viseu elementary school was represented by one class of 7 girls and 5 boys aged 10 and 11respectively. On the other hand, the Porto elementary school was represented by 16 girls and 23 boys aged between 8 and 10 from two its two classes. Before the study started, the students did not have contacts for one another because the schools were 100 km away from one another (Druin, 2009).
The students of each class were then invited to choose their partners. They formed groups of girls and boys, and left one pair to have a boy and a girl. During the activity, the dialogues, comments and the attitudes of pupils from both elementary schools were recorded. Four workshops were run, two in the Viseu elementary school and the other two in the Porto elementary school. Then, the students were told to create Senses@School game. The challenge encouraged the student to share multi-sensory information about the environment of their different two schools since this was an open-ended activity. They used GPS-equipped mobile phones and other models to create multi-sensory messages that were put on display automatically in the GE found on the project website. While creating their multi-sensory messages to their mobile phones, most students took pictures and added text and sound to their messages.
It was confirmed that the use of mobile learning enabled the children to be creative in their assigned work. They were also able to share their views on the environment of their schools in a collaborative manner. It also engaged teachers and children sharing environmental views, hence promoting environmental awareness.
Teachers too can be learners
Teachers too are learners when it comes to mobile learning. Technology allows differentiation if combined with great teaching. The roles that the teachers play require them to be in the new era of education. Therefore, they should choose a technology they can share with their students. Integrating mobile technology in their studies will help them have a classroom that is interactive, collaborative, and an innovative place of discovery. Teachers without skills of technology drag their students far behind. Teachers should be trained and supported to go high-tech and adopt the use of modern technology (Benjamin, 2005).
It is true that there are many challenges that teachers go through before they adapt to this mode of learning. It is sometimes hard to accept change. While introducing mobile learning in a school, teachers should be approached first so that they can prepare themselves. They should find time to get used to the technological devices before they start teaching. It is a shame for a teacher to be outdone by a student. This is with regard to the one who understands the mobile devices more than the other.
Considerable training is needed to ensure that teachers become competent in dealing with the technologies. He or she should also identify the right mobile tools and resources that fit every course. Another major challenge is the study habits. It is hard for educators to understand studying in different modes. Since mobile learning involves studying at anywhere and at any time, it becomes harder for teachers to adopt this change. (Cornish, 1985).
A study was conducted to show teachers the need of mobile learning as a tool for creating environmental awareness. The focus of the study was on how action learning sets would help the pre-service teachers (PST) to use mobile technologies to see to what level they understood mobile technology. This was to help them gauge themselves and know the steps forward. The schools that participated were five. Four of them had 4 pre-service instructors. The remaining one school had a set of six. They amounted to 22 teachers, one male and the others were females (Moyle, 2010).
The participants had access to Andriod mobile phones, with features such as email, messaging and web access. The devices could also be useful during contacting and taking snapshots. They could also be used for making calendars. In addition, the devices could be used for audio and video recordings among many other things. The device also supported Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files. The 22 participants were supposed to work in pairs. They also needed to organize, implement and asses their work in a comprehensive manner. All the pre-service teachers jointly used the telephones available to them. They even let students to use their mobile phones. The pre-service teachers were asked to use their own SIM cards. This was prompted by lack of funds to provide free SIM cards.
The computer lab, which had twenty PCs, was used to train the teachers. The teachers were based in a school based learning sets to plan on how they could use the mobile device in recording and put reflection on their teaching. They were also instructed to figure out how they could use the device that was issued to them with their students in class. The views were shared with other learning sets. It was found that some school policies could not allow students using the mobile phones. The facilitator conducted a two hour session on the use of mobile phones and came out with a user friendly manual that the teachers used till the end of the training session (Powell, 2012).
The teachers were also given USB card readers. They were also taught how they could use the USB gadgets. The facilitator used to attend those meetings, and when they shared again about mobile phone using, additional training was added by a combination of peer teaching, teaching by the facilitator and teaching from one academic expert who knew all features of the phone (Pogue, 2010).
In each week, one pair of pre-service teacher was assigned the job of leading the discussions with others. The facilitator acted as an observer, another pair of teacher recorded their views during meetings. They then emailed the summary for more sharing. At the end of the study, conclusions were made. The first conclusion was that the use of mobile phones was not preferable in class rooms by students. This could raise issues because of the many features the device had some of which could affect students while learning. They were preferable outside the classroom only when recommended. The third and last conclusion was that teachers realized the need of mobile learning in increasing environmental awareness. They also learnt the need of choosing the right technology to help their students in learning (Ally, 2009).
Using QR Codes and Mobile Dictionaries in English lesson
 
QR codes hold a considerable amount of data such as numerical and alphabetical characters. his is when it is compared to the bar code. Thus, the QR codes can be useful in holding Weblinks and texts among other things. The use of these codes is known to motivate the students in a tremendous way eg dropbox. In this case, the students carry themselves around the school with sharp minds. Thus, they are able to explore and anticipate about the future. The lesson below was used with seventh grade students to address the goals of using m-learning in teaching language. We were to use the QR codes and mobile dictionaries in the study. We asked the school for permission and were granted. We made sure that the QR codes and the mobile dictionaries were ready and could help us in our study.The assignment lasted for one week. The 7th grade students assisted one another on how to use mobile dictionaries. They assisted one another in using the QR codes in the learning process.
The lesson involved revising terminologies that had been taught previously. The lesson aimed at enabling students to revisit what was taught previously before a new term began. They were to fill the anwers in questionnaire that I had organized with three other teachers. I divided the students into six groups Students went out the classroom around the school and use their mobile phones to capture information about the activity of revising vocabulary. The groups were encouraged to converge and share their views. I used large chart pads to record the groups work. In addition, I encouraged students to evaluate their progress. They were also encouraged to establish a plan for their activities. By the end of the week, each group collected all the vocabulary they had collected and posted the result to the class page on the Facebook. Ramsden (2009) study found the following: There are some very encouraging signs in terms of the potential for students to access QR codes (p. 05). Mobile dictionaries are critical in assisting the learning process. This is especially when they are integrated in the QR codes. Thus, the QR codes motivated the students. They also enabled the students to retain the vocabulary learnt. The codes also led to the autonomy of the students. As with any new technology that allows and encourages sharing data, there is always the chance that identification and financial information may be at risk. QR codes that are scanned to gain instant access to a text message are less likely to place a user’s identity and personal information at risk than near field communication used for a contactless payment.
Conclusion
Mobile learning technology is important in decision making. The mobile services offer information that can help one to make wise decisions and correct judgment. They are also cost effective in that they are cheaper than booking the resources needed for training. In addition, it promotes active learning, portable, and it facilitates a new learning environment. Furthermore, it fits into the lives of learners. Furthermore, it increases accessibility for learners with special educational needs. Teachers are supposed to look for appropriate ways of integrating the new technology into the learning process. It is true that internet serves educators all over the world in meeting up and exchanging ideas about strategies and emerging technologies. With mobile learning, one finds the joy of learning, or teaching. In addition, one will discover the wonders that technology brings to every single day. Through the mobile learning techniques, teachers collaborate online by developing a wiki page that teachers all over the world can view the content page and resources. As education advances, teachers too need to advance. Mobile technologies enhance both teaching and learning.


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