Increasingly we are used to being “connected” every minute of the day. Smart phones are changing the way in which we live. We use them not only to communicate by voice, text and email, but also to keep our calendars, to tell the time, to access the Internet, to navigate, and so on. Mobile Applications (Apps) allow us to do almost anything. For those of us who are educators this is very exciting – smart phones are unbelievably cool - but for those whom we teach, this is normal – they have never known any different. Young people expect to be “connected”.
This is the “Martini generation” (“Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere”) – they conduct their social and working lives on the move. Being “connected” with friends and the Internet is a given. They take it for granted that all they need and want to know is literally at the tip of their fingers. “Sharing” ideas, YouTube clips, webpages etc is not only routine, but, collectively, it defines what is cool and fashionable. Collaboration is just part of the way young people are wired – they may be physically sitting alone, but their world is far from isolated – it is played out with their peers in cyberspace. All of these factors mean that the way in which young people learn is set to change quite markedly. Rather than attempting to retrain (and constrain) young people to the forms of pedagogy that we experienced thirty years ago, schools are going to have to rethink how lessons operate, if they are going to get the best out of their pupils.
Schools would be wise to focus on two areas. First, schools should look to provide as many opportunities for students to collaborate with each other particularly on homeworks. The use of Google Docs shared between the class is an excellent vehicle for this. Secondly, schools needs to consider how they are going to incorporate mobile learning their whole school Independent Learning Strategy.