Why Mobile Devices?
As schools move many services online, what happens to children who do not have a computer in the home? At a recent literacy training, I learned that 15 – 20 % of people are “smartphone dependent” – meaning that they do not have any other access to the internet (no home laptop or desktop computer). Often these children live in an area with no broadband service (so they rely on the phone company data plan) and their primary source for online information is a tablet, smartphone or other mobile device. You can find more information on this at www.pewinternet.org
Include both School and Public Library recommended resources
One way that we can help connect children and caregivers to online learning resources (the schools’, the library’s, or both!) is to hold a workshop with mobile devices along the lines of ALSC’s recent initiative on media mentorship. For example, I held a program at a rural school’s ELAC (English Learners Advisory Committee) parent group meeting. Colleague Cristina Gonzalez and I set up a hands-on workshop to share the resources of the school and the library that are accessible through mobile devices. We brought tablets from the library and our own cell phones to share but everyone had their own mobile devices.
In the presentation we recommended some fun learning apps such as Starfall.com , Bob Books (an app that aligns with beginning readers used by the school), and OverDrive – the library’s e-book platform. Then, we reviewed some of the resource links on the school website such as IXL.com. Our presentation was quite short and we spent most of the time working individually with people to access the apps. Of course, much more is available from school and library online resources – this workshop was only a short introduction. Children who attended were welcome and very helpful!
The media mentorship initiative of ALSC recommends similar steps – evaluating the needs of the community, including the parent or caregiver in use of screen media, and developing skills to access and use digital media.
Key points to remember
I recommend that you always have school staff present, know the Wi-Fi password, and partner with someone who speaks the primary language if you do not. Plan to spend most of your time in participative work centered on media mentorship and in responding to the people’s questions about using their mobile devices to access online resources. I hope you try a similar workshop and share your experience.