“Put your mobiles away!” Probably, and for many years this has been one of the most repeated phrases in classrooms around the world. And rightly so. Until now, mobile technology in schools represented little more than a distraction.
But the truth is that this same mobile technology has enormous potential to get students more involved in their studies. Somehow, schools have been wasting a great deal of talent by not revising traditional education which in many cases causes demotivation. Both to students and teachers. Mobile technology represents for both a great opportunity to create new forms and methods of learning.
Mobile World Capital and GSMA, in collaboration with the Generalitat of Catalonia, has launched mSchools, an initiative that will be implemented in schools this coming school year. Its purpose is twofold. On the one hand, it seeks to turn students into real technology entrepreneurs, introducing new tools in the classroom and creating new ways to teach and learn. On the other hand, mSchools is designed to reduce dropout rates and improve academic performance in schools. The basis of the project was established last year with a successful pilot program conducted by the same GSMA and the Generalitat of Catalonia in Catalan schools.
Ultimately, mSchools is a project aimed to become the engine to change the way mobile technology is used in schools. In this sense, it will tackle the current academic setting from three aspects: an educational program that will be part of Secondary Education, the Mobile Learning Awards and the promotion of the creation of contents in schools through an app designed for this purpose.
With the active participation of the Generalitat of Catalonia, we have designed a curriculum which will be part of the subject of computer technology in 4th of ESO. The course is based on the conception and design of applications, focusing especially on the first one. The aim of the course is that students face their daily problems using technology. It consists of turning the students into solvers, in technology entrepreneurs capable of devising creative concepts as applications.
App Education has the support of professional developers belonging to the local industry. Some of the names confirmed so far are Softonic, Incubio, King.com, Social Point, Barcelona loves Entrepreneurs and Crowd of Monsters. The role of industry members will be to advise students using their know-how and give a realistic view of the sector in order to, to the extent possible, make the projects viable.
The Mobile Learning recognition is coming this year to its second edition. These awards recognize the best initiatives in education in Catalonia involving all stakeholders: teachers, students and industry. Following the success of the first year, the formula of the event has been revised and expanded with more categories. Now, to the category of videos on Mobile Learning for students , we are adding the category of ideas for apps, the award in the teachers’ category for innovative initiatives in eLearning and the award for initiatives coleadered with private investors for schools.
Despite its name, the awards and the winners are not only relevant for the Mobile Learning Awards. Just as important is that the awards are an excellent opportunity to take the pulse of the educational fabric and collect the trends in Mobile Learning in schools throughout Catalonia.
Regardless of the course for students in 4th of ESO, mSchools has developed another pilot program based on an app for schools. It is called Mobile History Map and involves mapping historic sites near schools. The application ensures that students and teachers act as active developers, since it is they themselves who must geotag points and write a descriptive summary for each of them. Thus, mSchools aims to highlight the possibilities of mobile technology while encouraging research and content creation in schools.
It seems that the sentence “put your mobiles away” will soon give way to “take out your device, let’s start the class”. mSchools bet heavily on it.