Learning via handheld devices

14 January 2017

Today, learning is defined by certain skills such as collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Those schools who focus on teaching these skills to their students are helping them to thrive in today’s competent and technology-driven world. Introduction of handheld devices in the classrooms has enabled the schools to transform the way they teach. A variety of mobile handhelds are personalised, flexible and allow students to collaborate with others and synthesise information with their learning environment.

The first handheld device to make its way into classrooms was Personal Data Assistant (PDA) such as PocketPC. It opened up a new world for teachers — email, grade books, and attendance logs could fit in their pockets and were accessible at any time. However, now devices like cell phones, video game consoles, personal response devices, and handheld computers have become an important pedagogical tool for schools. Some schools are replacing their mobile laptop labs with iTouch labs. Other schools are using Nintendo DS systems to quiz students and engage them in learning games. Further, we have several educational applications available for smartphones and tablets that sell games and programs intended to help students learn foreign languages, math, science, history, and more.


Learning via handheld devices


Here’s what role these devices play in the classrooms:


These are designed to give you a digital reading experience of books. Not only are eReaders convenient, but they help students as they read. They have built in dictionaries and note-taking applications, so the students can prepare notes as they read. Popular models are the Kindle, the Sony Reader, and the Nook. However, these days we have too many players in this domain which has helped in bringing its price down, making a good eReader affordable.

Game console

Games add a fun factor to learning without taking away the essence of what is being taught. Many game providers like Sony, Nintendo, and Xbox have jumped into the education arena, working with educators to make their systems useful in the classroom. They have handheld systems which can be programmed with learning games that are customised with teacher materials.

Rapid Feedback Systems (RFS)

They are also called Personal Response Devices, and look a little like television remote controls. These devices are ideal for situations where the teachers want to assess students as it generates real time reports during the class. Here’s how it works: Consider a class where the teacher is talking about the world war II. During her lecture, she asks the students a question related to world war I. The students press an answer button on their remotes, and the teacher sees the answers on the projection screen. Teachers love these systems especially in large classes because they can know mid-lesson whether they should move on or not, and every student must respond before the numbers are projected. Many systems come with simple yes/no buttons that allow teachers to check for understanding.