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Mobile Learning and Our Youngest Employees

TeachThought released an infographic showing parents’ thoughts about preschool and K-12 students’ use of mobile devices for learning at home and at school.

It’s been almost 15 years since I taught elementary school, so I’m fascinated by how things have changed! Back then we had a handful of desktop computers in each classroom and students shared them to work on assignments and extension activities. Now technology is so much more pervasive and integrated into students’ learning.

TeachThought’s infographic shows that 8% of students in grades 3-5 bring a smart phone with them to school every day. That number goes up to 51% for high school students. How things have changed. Instead of sharing time on a desktop computer, now over half of high school students have a computer in their own pocket!

This really hit home for me a couple months ago when I was visiting with my 15-year old niece, Kieran. She’s in ninth grade and a freshman in high school. She was reading the classic children’s book Le Petit Prince for her French class, and knowing I speak French, she asked for my help. We sat together and started reading, with me guiding her as she figured out what was being said. When she first got stuck, I expected her to take out a vocabulary list or a French-English dictionary - the tools I’d used when learning French so many years ago. Instead she took out her iPhone and started using the translation app her teacher encouraged her and her classmates use.

Although Kieran is in high school, most college students have the same experience – they have smartphones and use them regularly to support their learning. This gives us insight into the expectations of a lot of our youngest employees as they enter the workforce. They are used to technology being ubiquitous and easy to use. And they are especially used to being able to look things up whenever and wherever they need it. In the workplace, we’d call that performance support or knowledge management.

So the big question is, how is your organization using technology to support your youngest employees? Those employees are used to using mobile devices to get the support they need – and they expect you to be using it too. Things are changing fast with the use of technology for teaching and learning, and our newest employees expect their employers to be using them as much as they do.

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