Teaching with mobile devices

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The big question

How well do we prepare our future teachers to effectively use mobile technology in their classrooms?


When education students student teach or graduate and take a teaching job, there is an expectation that they will know certain things about the use of technology in and out of the classroom. This cross-institution group looked at what students need to learn about technology before they take their first teaching job and further examined where and how they were learning it.

Goals and objectives

Determine the set of technology skills required of every education student.

  • Create one document for each participating school that lists the required technology skills for their education students.
  • Consolidate the common skills from all participating schools into one master list of required skills.

Determine where each of the above technology skills is addressed in the students' education.

  • Correlate (in whatever means satisfies the participating school) the required skills and where each is addressed in the curriculum. (This step will be performed independently by each school. Results of this goal will not be documented here.)
  • Document a list of skills that were required of student teachers and graduates but not addressed in the formal education process.

Piloting the Idea

Pilot work

Winona State University

Winona State University built a team of faculty and staff to look at the technology-skill requirements for education students. The team consisted of three faculty from Elementary & Early Childhood Education and one member of Teaching, Learning, and Technology. The team consciously focused on elementary-education students as that was the area of interest for the faculty. Additionally, focusing on a single type of education made the effort more manageable.

The creation of the list followed these steps:

  1. Norming -- Before the list could be compiled, the group took time to discuss the process, set some simple goals, and make sure that everyone involved was comfortable with the task.
  2. The initial skills list -- The group discussed what each felt were necessary technology skills for all elementary education majors and a preliminary list was compiled.
  3. A look at the standards -- The ISTE standards for students, teachers, and administrators were all examined and compared to the preliminary list created but he group.
  4. The final skills list -- References were added to the list that linked each skill to the ISTE standards it addressed. A few more skills were added that were not on the preliminary list but were part of the ISTE list. (Check the link directly below this list of steps. It will bring up the final list of skills defined by the WSU team.)
  5. How are we doing? -- To determine how well WSU addressed the skills in the list below, three focus groups were defined: current elementary education students that had not yet student taught, elementary education students that had just finished their student teaching, and graduates from the previous year that are employed as elementary education teachers. The questions for each group and the results of the focus groups are listed later in this article.


The following schools are contributors to this pilot:

  • Bemidji State University
  • Metropolitan State University
  • Minnesota State University - Mankato
  • Minnesota State University - Moorhead
  • Southwest Minnesota State University
  • Winona State University


To be supplied. (Other priorities surfaced that have caused this effort to be postponed.)

Assessment vehicle

Participants were surveyed for their reactions and experiences. A Qualtrics survey was distributed to all participants.

Winona State University survey questions

Winona State decided to conduct a series of focus groups to collect data from three groups: current elementary education students prior to student teaching, current elementary education students that have completed student teaching, and graduates after completing their first year in the field. Each focus group consistent of five to seven members. Focus groups were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for themes.

These questions were posed to all three focus groups:

How has your teacher preparation experience prepared you in these areas of technology?

  • Digital citizenship and foundations
    • Copyright/plagiarism
    • Etiquette
    • Address diverse needs of all learners
    • Model and understand quality use of technology (safe, legal, and ethical)
    • Be adaptable to new technology, transferring knowledge and skills (professional development)
    • Leveraging technology
  • Relevant learning
    • Real-world problems
    • Responsible for own learning
    • Multiple learning paths and feedback
  • Teaching-related skills
    • Communicating with students using classroom hardward, social media, email…
    • Communicating with parents about hardware, software, social media, procedures…
  • Workflow
    • How to take an idea from concept to completion
    • Integrating several tools to complete a task
    • Selecting the right tool for the right job
    • Using a Learning Management System (like D2L) to control student workflow
  • Research
    • Searching
    • Separating the wheat from the chaff (how to know what to use and when)
    • Building reference lists and cites
  • Are you confident in your ability to use (yes/no)
    • Video
    • Audio
    • Photo
    • Note taking
    • Archival
    • Document creation (MS Office)
    • Using calendars and the like
    • Authoring eBooks
    • Editing media
    • Using social media for good and not evil
    • File sharing
    • Group editing/authoring/discussing/…
    • Virtual meetings
    • Sharing information with parents/administrators/students
    • Online gradebook
    • LMS
  • What other aspects of technology would you suggest be included in the teacher education preparation program?

In addition to the discussion above, students that had done their student teaching but not yet graduated were asked this question:

  • What technologies have you used during student teaching? How did you know how to use it?

In addition to the discussion above, graduates with one year of elementary-education teaching experience were asked this question:

  • What have you learned since college that would benefit undergraduates?  How did you learn this technology?

Recommendations and observations

To be supplied...

Tell us your story

  • Do you have experience imparting technology to tomorrow's teachers?
  • Did something in this article help you make a decision about your curriculum or cause you to try something new?
  • Do you have questions about this project or the results?

Please share any experience, reactions, or questions with us so we can add to the content of this article and make it more relevant for the next person. Email your input to nthomes@winona.edu and we will add it to this article. Thanks.

More information

Want more information on the McLAB or have an idea you would like to pursue? Contact Norb Thomes at (507) 457-5043 or nthomes@winona.edu.

Overview of the McLAB

Read the full overview of the Mobile Computing Laboratory project.

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