I have worked in many different schools. Some of them were very well-organised having a computer room or even computers in every classroom. Some others though lacked these kind of facilities. What really surprised me was the fact that in the schools where technology was assisting the teaching procedure much more learning and understanding took place. The students were more eager to work and had much more fun. In the other schools where a traditional teaching procedure took place discipline problems were commoner and the students did not have the same amount of enthusiasm. And then it occurred to me that in both cases there was a common element. All students owned a smartphone or a tablet or in many cases both. I had to find a way to use that in my lessons and this is what I did!
The advantages of using mobile devices in our lessons are so many apart from fun and enthusiasm. First of all, even if somebody works in an institution which lacks the appropriate equipment the teacher can make up for that because it is the students who are the owners of the equipment. Secondly, even if the Wi-Fi connection does not work very well, the students can use their mobile data. Thirdly, BYOD has the element of surprise. Students cannot believe that their teacher asks them to have their mobile phones or tablets with them as part of the lesson. In addition to these, students learn that all these devices are not only a source of entertainment but also of learning and in quite a few cases there is a change in the use of these mobile devices after they have been appropriately trained. Furthermore, students not only learn the language but they also practice their IT skills. A final advantage is that students are trained on how to distinguish between real and fake news when they are looking for information.
Because of all these advantages learning is significantly increased. Students learn to work independently from the teacher to find the information they need. They can practice at their own pace, doing online quizzes. They learn to work with each other because there are times when they have to share a device. Also, they show each other apps or if the teacher uses team or group work they look for information and then they combine the information each one has found in order to answer.
Personally, I ask from my students to have with them their tablets or smartphones. From the start of the year we have an agreement, which surprisingly is very rarely broken, that they will not check any social networks or games during the lesson. I have provided them with the Wi-Fi password and they are all connected before the lesson starts. Also, there are some apps that allow a teacher to send to their students homework or even check their progress in quizzes or tests. This is something extremely useful because some of them even allow the teacher to control whether students are working or just surfing the internet. So no class time is wasted arguing because when a student does not work I just send them a personal message and they return to their work. Furthermore, touchscreens are far more easy and fast to use than a keyboard so students write faster, find information more easily and are used to pressing on top of the thing that interests them.
Some things I use with my students are the following. Whenever they have an unknown word from a text they look it up on their devices using English to English dictionaries. Secondly, I devise online tests or dictations and they do them from their devices much faster because they find it as a game. Another thing I do is asking my students to take photos of things that have impressed them or from something in their area and then create a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation. They connect their devices to the overhead projector and they do a presentation in front of the whole class. A lot of times when we discuss an issue I ask them to find information on this topic right there and then and create a short presentation and it always amazes me how good they are at it. One more idea is to record themselves using their devices camera talking on a subject I have assigned them from the previous lesson and then we watch it as a whole class and discuss it. Finally, when I assign them a whole class project they work together and they find different information, which they connect afterwards to a single presentation. Using technology like this my students have learned many new words, they have become better and safer when surfing the Internet, they have learned and discussed the fake news phenomenon and most importantly they work independently from me.