Mobile Technologies and The Changing Ecology of our Schools

iPad  Advancing mobile technologies and information access in the 21st century require ecological changes of classroom structure.  Increasing numbers of schools are experimenting with various versions of BYOD programs, and purchasing mobile devices for students to use. It is necessary to acknowledge how these developments will ultimately change the ecology of the classroom, how teachers teach, and ultimately, how students learn.


The increase of mobile technologies will invariably change the organization and set up of our classrooms.  Steve jobs said that the iPad is a ‘lean-back’ technology..meant to be used in an easy chair… yet with a growing popularity of the iPad within our schools, we need to acknowledge the structure of traditional school systems, furniture design and placement, and consider the implications of new and flexible developments such as BYOD, on our inflexible classrooms and schedules.


It is also necessary to understand the difference between regular classrooms with SmartPhones, and classrooms that have gone to BYOD and fully mobile. This is also different from regular classrooms that merely include students having SmartPhones. It is also important to note that mobile technologies in and of themselves will not make students any smarter. Teachers still need to take a critical analysis of their own Pedagogy, and how technology enhances it.


Mobile classrooms of the future will also necessitate changes in Pedagogy and the role of the Teacher. Many Teachers are already acknowledging the limits of traditional Pedagogies in the 21st Century and discussing how to make changes to enhance  with technology. However, I believe that once our classrooms and schools have gone completely mobile, we the role of the traditional Teacher will need to change. This brings to mind several questions surrounding changing technologies and initiatives such as BYOD including:


  • Will iPads and mobile technologies ultimately make work more difficult when used too much at desks?
  • Will standard assignments become obsolete?
  • What will ‘Equity’ and ‘Access’ look like?
  • When will we become comfortable with a philosophy that what educationally works for one student, will not work for another, depending upon what mobile technology is accessible.
  • Are we physically and mentally able to acknowledge that our traditional role of teaching will also change?
  • What will our classrooms look like, and should we still have them in the way that we are currently organized?


Current classroom and school system structures are still set up and organized in traditional ways. This provides many teachers with a seemingly plausible rationale as to why Pedagogy need not change yet. But our educational systems are in a state of flux when it comes to technology, with many polarized views about technology and how it fits in with traditional school models. Further, technology usage varies widely among and between teachers, classrooms, and schools.


However, we cannot ignore that we are looking at looming changes in the ecology of our classrooms. If we want our teachers and students to embrace mobile technologies, we have to support this by changing the rigid systems upon which our schools have been built upon for over a hundred years now.


One thing is for sure, classrooms that fully incorporate mobile technologies and BYOD initiatives will no longer be considered ‘traditional’, yet they will be completely new learning environments.  Mobile technologies will change the ecology of the classroom.


Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



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