Framing Personal Internet Devices in Schools

I’ve created this resource to help people who are interested in using Personal Internet Devices (PIDs) in their schools or classrooms. Please leave comments below.

School-Based Assumptions that Support Implementation of Portable Internet Devices

  • Mistake making and failure are not just tolerated, but essential to learning.
  • Students and teachers are co-learners.
  • Time commitment extends beyond the school day.
  • Social Media has a place in the school.

Pedagogical Benefits

Most of the benefits of Mobile Learning below only occur through high level curriculum design and instruction, others occur by default. For instance, student voice is not enhanced simply by the introduction of these devices. Of course it isn’t. On the other hand, something such as the devaluation of rote memorization may occur simply because the presence of the devices themselves negates it.

1. Student Voice and Leadership

Traditionally, we have had two main avenues for students to share with the group: by putting up one’s hand and speaking, or by completing an assignment (usually written). Mobile devices open up an exponentially greater number of doors for getting one’s voice to the crowd. Student ideas, questions, and responses are more easily collected and seen.

2. Differentiated Communication of Understandings

Students can receive and share knowledge/understandings easily through different means: audio, video, print, image. For example, no longer is the student discriminated against for preferring to communicate through speaking rather than writing.

3. Collaborative Learning

A common myth is that mobile devices drive individuals into themselves, and away from the group. In fact, mobile device use accomplishes the opposite in the classroom: greater connection, increased reliance on the group for learning, and more (not less) conversation.

4. Higher Order Thinking

When facts and information are at one’s fingertips, it means it is a complete waste of time to memorize and test for them. The classroom focus changes to critical and metacognitive thinking skills.

5. Teacher as Expert of Learning, not Content

With mobile devices in the classroom, it is ineffectual, sometimes impossible, for the teacher to act as the expert of content. Instructional design, thus, moves in a different direction.

6. Assessment for Learning and Descriptive Feedback

Because of the ability to collect large amounts of quantitative and qualitative data from mobile devices, every second of the classroom becomes an assessment moment that can not only occur, but also be archived.

7. Multiple and More Fluid Definition of ‘Text’

E-reading is the future. Period. Mobile devices allow for a far more realistic and representative conceptualization of what it means to read and write.

8.  Teaching Digital Citizenship and managing our Digital Footprint

This is becoming increasingly important and can no longer be assumed that students understand the long-term ramifications of having an online presence.  It’s our responsibility as educators to help our students understand and manage their footprint.  Great opportunity for higher order thinking here.

9. Learning Discipline

Mobile devices are not going away. They are ubiquitous in most of our lives. Students need to learn to be disciplined with these devices because they can otherwise be used strictly for escapist endeavours. Practice makes perfect.



  1. This should be as much a part of the (antiquated) school / student handbook as the AUP that presupposes students will be doing something wrong with technology. I’m a big fan of collaborative learning and it appears right up front on our progress and report cards, however until stakeholders at all levels stop equating collaboration with cheating not much will move forward.

  2. This is a great list of things to discuss with staff and parents. You know my mante is text is anything that communicates a message. We need to help our students make sense of the many images, sounds and words they encounter in their daily lives.

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