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Technology & education - How primary schools are embracing mobile

Headshot of Arianna O'Dell

Arianna O'Dell


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1 Oct 2018
5 min read
A young white girl with headphones on looking at a tablet

How old should a child be before they're exposed to mobile phones? It’s a controversial subject and attitudes are changing fast.

More and more primary schools are embracing mobiles, as they're seeing great benefits for the children. Their value is not solely an aid to learning. They're finding that mobiles can also positively affect the interaction between parents, teachers, and children.

Many experts disagree. Instead they suggest that children under 2 years old should explore the real world, rather than a digital one.

In today’s world, it’s common to see toddlers in cars or restaurants playing with a tablet or mobile phone. In homes around the world, mobile devices are replacing the television as a babysitter, while busy parents go about their chores.

It's widely accepted that many education methods still in use were designed for a past generation. Yet today, even pre-school children understand technology and how to use it far better than their parents and teachers.

What does this mean for kids in primary school?

Gaming for fun and education

Children as young as 7 years old, and some even younger, now have their own mobile phone and many more have access to their parents’ phone. This enables kids to develop various skills through playing a wide range of online games. These skills are now being harnessed and incorporated into primary school lessons.

Minecraft is a popular game used by teachers to build math challenges and learn the concepts of geography. The structure of the game lends itself to creativity and problem-solving.

New reading applications have been designed to advance vocabulary acquisition in children as young as 3 years old. A study showed an improvement in over 30 per cent of pupils in a 2 week period. Similar apps are being used to teach youngsters their times tables.

Fast forward to 2017, where children around the world flocked to the Pokemon Go application. The next logical step is to use the same technology to make learning more exciting. Some primary school children now have access to augmented reality via their phones as they walk around museums.

The use of multimedia and gaming in teaching improves the engagement of these technically savvy juniors. The place of this technology in primary education is ensured as the availability of such learning apps accelerates.

Mobile can involve the parents

Most parents want to know how their child’s day at school went. Too often, they are met with a bland response: 'fine'.

According to the National Association of School Psychologists, the degree of interest shown by parents in their child’s school activities plays a critical role in their academic success. Fortunately, mobiles are offering busy parents new and exciting ways to get involved.

At the most basic level, parents can be kept updated on their child’s lessons for the day and any homework due. With this information, they can have more relevant discussions about their child’s time at school.

Often it homework is late, it's due to poor planning rather than an unwillingness to complete it. Reminders to parents have resulted in a marked improvement in timely homework delivery.

For children who suffer from a lack of self-confidence in certain subjects, mobiles can be fantastic aids. Some children baulk at being asked to write about a subject and read their work to the rest of the class. These same children happily share such information online in apps specifically designed for young learners.

Mobiles enable parents to view and 'like' their child’s work within minutes of them posting it. This gives the youngster a real confidence boost.

This interaction with a child’s school activities inevitably fosters a greater involvement from a parent. For parents who must travel for business, this is an opportunity to engage despite being physically absent.

Mobile lesson planning

Technology is proving a boon to teachers by speeding up daily tasks. Using mobile devices to manage class attendance can enhance safety in the school.

Teachers can monitor the location of a child via their mobile class attendance record as they move from lesson to lesson. They can be alerted immediately in the case of lateness or absence.

Calendars, grade books, and attendance sheets are just a few of the items that can be stored on a teacher’s mobile device and accessed with speed. Schools are finding budget benefits through reduced printing and photocopying costs.

Bullying remains an issue in schools, with pupils often afraid to confide in a teacher in person. Whether the problem is cyber-bullying or physical, a two-way texting facility empowers students to open up and receive the support that they need.

In the case of an emergency, which may be criminal, environmental or fire related, instant information and guidance can be given via mobiles to the teachers, students, and parents.

Mobile is a key for communication

Teachers need to communicate with parents for a variety of reasons, other than lesson content and grades. As concern over child safety continues to grow, it's important to keep parents informed of any risks. In some countries, this is a legal responsibility. Bulk SMS messaging provides the solution.

If the school is closed due to inclement weather, bulk messaging can send a standard text to all parties. Messages can also be sent to specific recipients, perhaps to let parents know that a coach returning from a school trip has been delayed.

The systems used for bulk messaging can work at an individual level just as well. If a child is taken to the sickbay, the parents are immediately notified. Their ability to respond with relevant details might be crucial.

In a reverse scenario, if a parent is going to be late collecting their child, a message will be routed to the appropriate staff member. They can make arrangements to ensure that the youngster is cared for until the parent arrives.

The benefits of mobiles in primary schools, as a teaching aid and tool for promoting safety, are well documented. The ability to involve parents in the day-to-day activities of a child at school, even while they pursue their busy lives, is helping boost their children’s confidence and success.

The presence and versatility of mobile devices in the primary education system are set to grow in ways yet unimagined. Gaming, multimedia, and augmented reality have barely scratched the surface. The future of education for the kids is exciting and fun.

With a full suite of mobile-integrated tools, Whispir is uniquely placed to help your school benefit from these new advancements in education. Get in touch with one of our team members today. 

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