The times they are a–changing

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Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.
Bob Dylan 

Mobile technology is changing the way we think and the way we learn. It is creating a need for teachers to develop different instructional strategies. Often, students are on the cutting edge of technology use in their personal life, yet they experience a traditional classroom setting that relies on books and lectures. To remain effective, teachers must create a bridge between students’ personal use of technology and their classroom expectations. For many teachers, moving from traditional instruction to integration of mobile learning is a difficult transition.

There are often generational differences driving personal technology use. The difference in how much time is spent with technology is staggering. Millennials spend more time exposed to media and technology than they do sleeping.

  • Baby boomers (people bore between 1946 and 1964) spend about 9 ½ hours daily with media.
  • Generation Xers (people born in the early 1960s to the early 1980s) are immersed in media 15 hours per day.
  • Millennials (people born in the early 1980s to the early 2000s) spend nearly 20 hours per day immersed in technology.

The differences are not only in the time spent with media / technology. The way people use technology, including mobile technology, is different. Consider the cell phone phenomenon. Baby Boomers often use a cell phone as a way to talk to another person. In contrast, millennials use cell phones as a crucial device for sending texts, accessing the Internet, sharing photos, watching videos, and managing a calendar. It is often considered the key to their social life and it is a key to their classroom expectations.

Students entering adult education programs are used to constant and immediate access to information on their own schedules. Learning is no longer confined to a brick and mortar building with classroom instruction between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday. Access to mobile technology has eliminated these boundaries.

The times are changing. Teachers must adapt to the expectations of students. Not only is technology inclusion in the classroom essential, integrating resources that adapt to mobile learning is the new wave. It is here to stay. Millennials have never experienced a world without Internet. It’s time to merge the classroom with mobile learning.

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