ETHNIC IMMIGRANT MINORITIES AND MOBILE LEARNING FOR SCHOOLS - A CLASS WITHOUT WALLS. A NEW DIDACTIC APPROACH TO DIGITAL LITERACY ACROSS THE CURRICULUM

K. Kalemis

National Centre for Public Administration and Local Government (E.K.D.D.A.) (GREECE)
A topic-led curriculum backed by mobile technology and home-school links is putting the fun back into school for many students.
Most basic cell phones today can send and receive text messages, voicemail, and e-mail. E-mail is a convenient way to communicate information to the learning community, so the instructor can begin by sending class-wide "broadcast" e-mails that students can access via a variety of mobile devices.
Personal digital assistants (PDAs) are also seeing more use in the classroom. New educational software programs (such as quizzing and trivia programs, along with grade- and assignment-tracking tools) show great benefits for both students and teachers. The increase in use is attributed to the affordability and portability that PDAs offer, making it possible for each student to have access to a computer at any time and any place. No longer dependent on computer labs for computing capability, students can work on PDAs right at their desks. Students can also take PDAs on field trips to collect, store, and analyze data on site. As the market for portable computing devices continues to expand, e-books are predicted to grow with them. In response, online bookstores have increased their holdings of e-books, with some publishers now including e-book versions of their printed college textbooks. Currently, companies are working on adding audio, video, and text-to-speech components for e-book software, which might - along with new usability standards - eliminate the barriers to their widespread adoption within the next few years. Portable computing/communication devices such as laptops, PDAs, and smart phones connected to wireless networks enable mobility and facilitate mobile learning. Mobility allows teaching and learning to extend beyond the traditional classroom; in the case of distance learning, users of portable devices can break the tether of the home computer. Within the classroom, portable computing/communication devices give instructors and students increased flexibility and provide new opportunities for interaction.Mobile technologies also support learning experiences that are collaborative, accessible, and integrated with the world beyond the classroom. Enrolment and achievement data frequently show an overrepresentation of migrant and ethnic minority groups in educational institutions with lower academic demands, an overrepresentation in special education, as well as disproportional early dropout and expulsion rates. Much like immigrants who leave the cultural comfort of their home societies and move to places with very different cultures and social practices, those who teach online leave the familiarity of the face-to-face classroom for the uncharted terrain of the online environment, whose constraints and affordances often lead to very different practices.