All those who deal with children on a daily basis, whether parents, guardians or educators, have wondered at some point about the best age to introduce them to the use of mobile technology. Whatever their decisions, when children begin school they are now bound to come into contact with mobile devices, as more and more educational centres are changing their teaching methods to bring them into line with our times.
This reformulation of the way students are taught entails not only them using smartphones and tablets in the classroom, but also teachers having more versatile tools at their disposal to teach content, in addition to the traditional blackboard, textbooks and overhead projector. This will require previous work by the educational community, involving the selection of those apps best suited to their classes, and determining how their use can be adapted so as to produce an enhanced educational experience for students. According to Judit Lorita, a 6th-grade primary school teacher at the Escola El Sagrer, “mobile devices offer students a complementary tool that facilitates comprehensive learning. They should not replace, in any case, other tools and resources, but rather add value to content.”
It may be difficult for teachers unfamiliar with the use of mobile applications and solutions to decide what applications are most appropriate to meet their students’ needs. During the 2014-2015 school year the mSchools educational programme, backed by the Mobile World Capital Barcelona Foundation, launched Toolbox, a directory of applications chosen, used and evaluated by teachers and educational professionals in Catalonia. Classified by type, educational level and subject, all the applications included in Toolbox are aligned with the scholastic curriculum. By visiting a platform, teachers of any subject and with all types of needs will be able to find in the collections of applications a good option, for inspiration and to prepare their classes, and once they have put them into practice, they will find that Toolbox is the perfect instrument to evaluate and to share their experiences. “The Toolbox platform helps to plan and to schedule the sessions because it takes into account the real experiences of teachers and students, thereby contributing useful information when choosing one application or another,” observed Lorita. “I believe that Toolbox is an open door through which we teachers can get started in the use of applications. Even if lacking knowledge, anybody can begin to use mobile devices in the classroom if they have colleagues who not only evaluate applications, but also contribute ideas and work proposals.” Although this is a platform made by and for educators, Toolbox is also an excellent work tool for parents and students.
One of Toolbox’s main advantages, in addition, is that the directory is guaranteed to be constantly updated. Thanks to their comments, advice and contributions, the educators themselves are those who gradually enrich the platform day by day, highlighting those apps whose application has allowed them to achieve good results, as compared to less practical ones. From pre-school to image editing, calculus, programming or plastic creativity, the collections available in Toolbox constitute a series of indispensable resources designed to improve the educational experiences of children and adolescents. For the 2015-2016 academic year mSchools’ Toolbox platform will add new functions and more contents associated with the use of applications and technology in classrooms.
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