Monday, December 18, 2017

40 Uses For Smartphones in School

As Alanis Morissette once said, ‘isn’t it ironic’. After years of struggle between teachers and students and the use of smartphones in school, new educational trends are actually encouraging the use of these devices.

The mobile, cellphone or smartphone is not just used for WhatsApp, Facebook or Angry Birds, it can be used in a multitude of ways from an educational perspective. Don’t believe us? Keep reading. In this article we bring together 40 uses for smartphones in school.

Before we continue, it is worth remembering that this does not mean we should suddenly change the way in which we teach and allow the use of the smartphones without control. The purpose of this article is simply to remove some of the negative connotations around smartphones and to consider new possibilities which we have at our disposal. In order for students to use smartphones in school responsibly, it is important that we set limits and rules beforehand.

A revolution in the classroom:
  1. Check facts: probably the most common use of all. Both students and teachers can now find facts within seconds. This can be very useful when explaining and debating topics.
  2. Take photos: mobile phones can be used as cameras to illustrate work and presentations.
  3. Make videos: similar to the last point. For example, videos can be used to record experiments and later include them in projects.
  4. Carry out tests: this is probably one of the most interesting and revolutionary uses of the mobile phone in the classroom. Students can now take quizzes and tests on their mobile phone that were created earlier by their teacher. In this way, teachers can gain valuable real-time insight into the knowledge of their students and the effectiveness of their teaching. To implement this technique now, download the ExamTime Mobile App for iOS or Android.
  5. Read the news: many teachers often include news articles as part of their teaching methods (for example, in Economics). With an endless amount of news gathering mobile applications, you can bring news and current affairs into the classroom in an instant.
  6. Dictionary: there are a multitude of dictionary applications that allow you to check the meaning of a word instantly.
  7. Translator: again, this can help with meaning and explanation of a foreign word just like the dictionary application.
  8. Calendar: no more forgetfulness or confusion about exam dates or submission deadlines. Now you have applications that allow you to synchronize calendars.
  9. Write down ideas: inspiration doesn’t always come when we want it to. For that reason, try using your mobile device. Smartphones allow us to take down notes any time, any place.
  10. Listen to music: we have spoken before at length about how music helps us to study. Additionally, you do not need to store your songs if you use services such as Spotify or Soundcloud.
  11. Images: as you well know, a picture is worth a thousand words. For this reason, in many cases, students find it easier to understand material when there is an image related to an explanation. Mind Maps are a good example of a tool that helps in this regard.
  12. Review: smartphones allows you to access resources and material quickly before an exam. Don’t forget to sign up with ExamTime online and then download the official app for Android or iOS.
  13. Stopwatch/timer: classes, exercises and presentations often come with time limits. Practice your time management by using your mobile phone’s stopwatch.
  14. Read eBooks: when learning, applying for a job position or going to University, reading PDFs and manuals can be mandatory. For this reason, applications like Kindle allow us to read books and manuals from anywhere.
  15. Voice Recorder: mobile phone provide students with the ability to record explanations. These recordings can be referred to later on and can save a great deal of time instead of writing. In these cases, always remember to get permission from the teacher first.
  16. Discover related subject material: among many other functions, the ExamTime App lets you search through more than one million study resources created by other ExamTime users.
  17. Document scanner: although it does not offer the same quality as a traditional scanner, the camera of a mobile phone can serve as a scanner. Some teachers even support the delivery of class work through photos (for example, Math exercises).
  18. Calculator: there are numerous applications that enable you to perform all the operations of a scientific calculator. This helps reduce the amount of items students must carry in their bags.
  19. Edit videos: not only can we make videos, but we can also edit them, add text, filters, effects and more.
  20. Edit pictures: the same can be done with images as with videos.
  21. Publish in the class blog: class blogs are an increasingly common exercise these days and help develop writing skills. Thanks to your mobile phone, you can write and post articles at any time.
  22. Track blog visits: the implementation of Google Analytics allows you to check the progress of your class blog from anywhere.
  23. Make presentations: instead of having to carry around external hard drives and USB sticks, store the material in your mobile phone and connect it directly to the projector. Have you tried ‘play mode’ using the ExamTime Mind Map tool?
  24. Remote control: whether switching from one slide to another during a presentation or stopping and playing a video, there are applications that enable you to use our smartphone as a remote control.
  25. Communicate: the PA system is a thing of the past. If a student must go to the secretary or principal’s office, you can communicate with them through a text message.
  26. Store Formulae: smartphones allows us to store mathematical and scientific formulas close to hand. There are applications that already contain hundreds of commonly used formulae, all you have to do is look for them.
  27. Control noise in the classroom: your mobile phone can serve as a decibel meter and tell you when the noise level gets too high. Reward the students by keeping the noise at an agreed level. Recommended application: Too noisy.
  28. Updates: Remind is an app designed to send notifications to parents and/or students without knowing their phone number. This means that the boundaries between privacy and the classroom can be maintained while communication is not hampered.
  29. Locate points on the map: during class location based apps can help when introducing students to a region of country. Applications such as Google Maps help us to locate ourselves and are great in History and Geography classes.
  30. Tweet: Twitter is a social network that has many educational uses. The mobile phone is probably the best way to access it to read and write Tweets about education. Don’t forget to follow ExamTime on Twitter.
  31. Study Vocabulary: in foreign language classes, vocabulary is crucial. Quite often students don’t pay enough attention and can get left behind. Flashcards are one of the resources that provide better results when viewing from mobile phones and are super easy to digest.
  32. Control Attendance: there are many applications that can help keep track of the attendance of students direct from our mobile phone.
  33. Assess Students: mobile phones can be used to monitor and keep track of a student’s course work and exam results. In this way, teachers have access at all times to a particular student and can see if that student is making progress or not.
  34. Clock: studies have shown that more people are reaching for their mobile phone to check the time rather than checking their wristwatch. Why not check the weather on your mobile device too?
  35. Inspire: originality is one of the best ways to keep students interested. However, sometimes students simply get bored. The mobile phone provides a window to the world where you can discover topics and ideas that are otherwise limited by traditional books and encyclopaedias.
  36. Share Notes: many teachers tend to distribute material at the beginning or at the end of the class. Instead photocopying large amounts of paper and handing them out, your mobile phone allows you to easily perform this function. Again, the ExamTime App can help with that!
  37. Digital Whiteboard: Although the majority of apps that serve as a digital Whiteboard are optimized for tablets, there are also some that can be used directly from your phone and allow you to project everything you create.
  38. Weather: for those teachers who like to move the lesson outdoors, weather apps can come in very useful to see the forecast. These apps can also serve specific lessons in explaining the climatic conditions in other regions/countries.
  39. Measure Productivity: there are applications, such as Time Recording Pro, that allow you to measure the time you have dedicated to a particular task. This can be very useful for teachers and students when taking on a project that is divided into several phases.
  40. Play: there is much talk of the gamification of the educational process, i.e. the need to transform learning into a game as much as possible. There are literally hundreds of educational apps that can make learning more enjoyable and easier on the students.
These 40 uses of Smartphones in School are just the beginning. The teaching and learning process can be enriched by embracing these ideas. Provided they are monitored and conducted in the safest manner, smartphone use in school is going to be the next big thing in 2015/ 2016.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Foster their proficiency from young

HARDWORKING children who practise rote learning may do well in school exams, but often struggle in colleges or universities when critical thinking is required.

Whatever knowledge they gained from books or studies are of little use, if not well understood. There will be no application until their importance is realised. The most important knowledge and skills students must acquire are language and communication skills. Mastering a language is necessary to learn fast and well, and thoughts can be clearly expressed in speech and writing.

A good command of a language would allow us to master a chosen field, if we put our heart and soul to it, be it in science, psychology, business or humanities.

As most commercial fields use English, those who excel in this language would achieve greater success in business or career.

All Malaysian students study English, at least as a subject, and their proficiency could easily be gauged by their pronunciation and enunciation. Whether they are schoolchildren or university graduates, asking a Malaysian to count from one to 10, and you are likely to hear “wan, too, tree, for, figh, sick, seben, egg, nigh, tan”.

Are teachers or lecturers speaking in the same manner or are they not bothered to correct wrong pronunciations? If so, they would not know the importance of enunciation. My granddaughter hardly spoke a word until she was 2 years old. Earlier, we tried getting her to repeat words in Cantonese or English, but she would just smile. However, we were shocked when she started speaking, as she spoke in complete sentences with perfect pronunciation and enunciation.

For example, when she said “look”, the k was clearly audible. She did not need us to teach her as she had the best tutor in the form of an idiot box, but not so when it is switched on to children’s educational programmes.

She taught herself English. Her sentences were complete, the grammar correct and pronunciation and enunciation would put many adults to shame.

If parents truly want their children to master English, all they need to do is have an additional TV set with English educational programmes switched on. Children are like sponges. They learn easily. They soak in information from the stimuli surrounding them. Between birth and 3 years of age, the human brain increases to 80 per cent of its adult size. What a powerful fact. This is such a crucial point in development for children, therefore, it’s important to foster their learning during this age period. Healthy interactions between a child and his environment is essential to developing strong communication skills that will last a lifetime.

I recently conducted training for young adults, who wish to work in the travel sector. English was used as the medium of instruction, as it is the lingua franca of the tourism industry. Decades ago, I noticed that many who studied in national schools would omit pronouncing the “s” for plural words, such as licences, reports, accidents, repairs and claims.

This time, one of the trainees read all the above plural words as if they were singular. When told to pronounce correctly with the “s”, he repeated the mistakes. Even when asked to pronounce first “report”, and then “reports”, he still pronounced both as “report”. I then remembered I could not spell his name correctly on the first day and had to make several changes when writing on the whiteboard.
My first attempt was based on how he pronounced his name, and two more attempts when he spelled it. He had a common name. But he could not even pronounce his name, he kept dropping a letter.

I had a childhood friend of the same name and I remember him well, as he gave me a scout belt which I wore proudly in primary school.
It is sad, but that’s the reality.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Tuition centres make students lazy and rowdy in schools

THE tuition business has grown into a multi-million ringgit industry. Tuition centres were unheard of in the 1960s, but their numbers started to increase in the 1970s, followed by a tremendous rise in the 1980s. In Johor, for example, housing estates, have one or two tuition centres. It looks as though parents do not mind if these tuition centres do not provide quality education, as long as their children get a place to study. Parents are willing to spend money to send their children to tuition centres to ensure that they score straight As. It’s as if tuition is an indispensable part of education. Many do not realise that tuition makes students neglect what is taught in schools. They will sleep in class or get rowdy as they think their tuition teachers will repeat the same topics. Therefore, what is the purpose of listening twice?

As a result, teachers will lose their interest to teach, and worse, start giving tuition on the side to make extra money. In the end, teachers focus more on their tuition than on their school load. I know of teachers who insist that their students attend their tuition classes to be taught the syllabus completely.

Hence, students who do not want to be left behind go for the classes. Demand for tuition is higher for critical subjects like Bahasa Malaysia, English, Additional Mathematics, pure science subjects and Principles of Accounts.

Some schools in Johor Baru also offer tuition at night for their students under various guises, such as projects organised by the Parent-Teacher Association or as part of ministry-funded programmes. The quest to obtain better results has led parents to get their children to attend tuition, although there are genuine cases when children need guidance after school. And, there are also those who take extra classes out of peer pressure, or they want to be better prepared for examinations.

Call it what we may, tuition is a burden on students. It’s like a parallel education system. The tuition culture has carved a niche for itself and in some states, like Johor, it’s a big thing. Furthermore, tuition centres also prefer former school teachers, ex-government servants or pensioners from the education department, former examiners, or textbook or revision book writers. Despite the increasing cost of tuition fees, parents seek private tutors and tuition centres to help their children. Perhaps, policymakers, educationists, and think tanks could find a way to not have students rely on tuition.

This is in the best interest of the nation.