The application of a new technology entails, to greater or lesser degrees, the re-examination of existing social rules. It happened, for example, with the application of technology to agriculture, or with the advent of the printing press and electricity, and now it is happening again with the Internet and digital technologies. In an increasingly digitised society it is necessary to establish a framework for the correct implementation of mobile technology in every sphere, including education. Children and teenagers form part of a highly-interconnected society – in Catalonia 58% of young people ages 10 to 15 have their own smartphones – so it is necessary to look for a way to adapt today’s educational system to this new social reality.
The Changing Education Together day is an initiative backed by mSchools, a Mobile World Capital Barcelona Foundation programme. The first edition took place as part of the GSMA Mobile World Congress 2015. The event brought together 500 representatives from Catalonian schools, in addition to different public figures and experts on the subject.
The educational sector commits to mobile devices
Irene Rigau, Education Minister for the regional government of Catalonia, participated in the event, demonstrating a clear commitment to the use of mobile telephones as an educational tool. “We want to promote the use of mobiles as pedagogical instruments, and provide educational guidelines favouring students’ work and the instrument’s potential, while assuring that they are set aside when their use is not appropriate,” Rigau stated.
Also at Changing Education Together, Ferran Ruiz, president of the Catalonian School Board presented the document Mobile technologies in schools. This is a tool to orient and provide elements for reflection that can be of use to the educational community. The document contains reflections on the presence and use of mobile devices in Catalonian schools, the development of students’ digital skills, and mobile technologies’ potential to promote learning.
The document is structured around four points:
- Instruments and applications.
- Data processing and the organisation of work and learning settings.
- Interpersonal communication and collaboration.
- Citizenship, habits, civic responsibility, and digital identity.
In broad strokes, what the document presents is a context in which it is necessary to redefine systems and procedures, revise strategies, and create new codes of conduct. Not doing so would mean, in addition to the explicit negation of digital abilities as a key element for the future, widening the distance between students and the educational system. The advantages of the use of mobile devices in the classroom are evident, but their introduction must be regulated so as to ensure that they are used correctly. Schools, through their teaching staffs, face the challenge of taking advantage of all the possibilities smartphones and tablets offer in terms of information processing and communication: personalised learning techniques, according to each student’s capacities; the simplification of evaluation processes that make it possible to dedicate more time to students; and more quality for students facing special educational challenges, like those with visual deficiencies or dyslexia.
A day open to all
You can enjoy the day again on YouTube, with the audio in Catalan or English. The day is divided into four different sessions, available below, “Be responsible! Use your mobile” imparted by representatives of the Joaquima Pla i Farreras Secondary Education School in Sant Cugat del Vallès.
mSchools: a programme featuring multiple initiatives
The initiatives which mSchools has carried out hitherto, such as the app design and conception course Let’s mobilize computer technology, the geolocation project Mobile History Map, and the annual holding of the Mobile Learning Awards are designed to spur teaching staffs and schools to use mobile technologies. Teachers, in addition, have at their disposal the mSchools Toolbox, an online archive where they can find a series of validated contents helping them to incorporate mobile technologies into their teaching methods.
The acquisition of digital skills is essential to prepare for the future. Thanks to programmes like mSchools, Catalonia is one step closer to implementing them.