The mobile classroom

James Symons, CEO of Lockncharge, talks about the benefits of the mobile classroom, and how this impacts on the valuable commodity of time

In his blog titled “Wasting Time – The hidden public school crisis,” Mike McDaniel examined the amount of time students were losing in each school year due to unproductive demands. He found in the school he examined, that out of 185 days at school per year, students could spend less than 50% of that time on actual learning.

If you take into account the time spent by pupils in assembly or off sick, coupled with the fact that even when in lessons, it takes a while for children to settle into class and start to focus on their lesson in hand, you can see how valuable learning time gets lost.

And it’s not just students who struggle with lost time. With the hours spent on marking, lesson planning, tests and examinations, teachers’ most valuable commodity is time. 

There is debate as to how teachers can be as productive as possible with regards to this and there is much focus on ensuring teachers have access to classroom equipment quickly and easily. Whether they are using text books, sports equipment, or devices such as iPads or tablets, resources need to be distributed amongst pupils in an effective manner with as little disruption as possible.  Younger children can benefit from having toys and materials arranged neatly and in order so they can easily access the things they need.

With many schools now encouraging the use of iPads or tablets in class, this is one way that teachers can utilise time and aid productivity in class.  The introduction of new technology such as the Chromebook, offering over 34,000 apps in their web store, means the possibilities for pupil learning is practically endless! One added benefit is that gone are the days of a 10 minute wait for your computer or laptop to load – the Chromebook (a laptop that has as operating system Google Chrome) is extremely quick to start up and work on – perfect for teachers who are looking for immediate solutions.

However they don’t come without challenges – in most schools, with overstretched budgets not yet allowing for a tablet for every child, how do teachers ensure access to equipment quickly and easily, wherever they are in the school?

A lot of this, we have found, can come down to clever storage of their resources. Classroom tidies offer great storage facilities for teachers, however they can be often cumbersome and heavy units, which have shelving already built in, so are not always flexible and can be difficult for young children to move about freely and quickly.  Considering they also take up a lot of space in the classroom environment, sometimes it takes a lot of effort and pre-planning by teachers to access the resources they contain before lesson time, to save them having to do this whilst children are in class. 

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Even more so, imagine as a teacher you want to conduct your lesson outdoors, for example, to study mini beasts found in the playground.  How do you get your resources outside? Schools in the UK are no longer the static, 4-walled learning environments that they used to be. Much of this has been made possible by technology such as cameras, video equipment and tablets, that are free to carry around. No longer does a child have to sit at a desk to learn – they can become mobile and learn on the go! 

The benefit for teachers with portable devices and tablets is that they can be stored in one classroom in traditional cabinets but more frequently now in their own storage devices. When tablets were first introduced, storage devices were great for keeping expensive devices safe, however they did have their challenges with regards to portability.  However modern storage devices, especially those with interior baskets, have overcome these challenges as devices can now be moved from class to class – even transported outside.  These lightweight baskets can be carried by children, not only saving time for the teacher over carting heavy books around (a job which younger children may not be able to do), but in addition children can take responsibility for their devices. As well as taking up much less space in the class, as they are fully portable, they can even be stored outside of the classroom like in a hallway or in a cloakroom. 

So what other considerations are there? Unlike reading books, mobile devices do have to be charged at the end of each session. This can be difficult if trying to charge multiple devices at once, and leaving expensive technology out on tables at the end of the night, or taking 30 iPads home to charge, is not practical. But storage devices come with the added benefit, unlike traditional classroom cabinets, of offering charging and syncing opportunities, further saving teachers that commodity of time.

So what is the future of learning? It is clear that in a world that presents solutions to problems all over the globe there are increasing ways that teachers can be helped to assist pupils in finding new and more efficient ways of learning – it’s just a matter of finding them.  There will always be a need for books, arts and crafts material, and physical matter for children to learn effectively.  However technology does offer some practical time saving solutions for teachers.  And the mobile classroom may just be the way forward. 

For more information about James Symons, author of this article, or Lockncharge storage facilities please visit their website: www.lockncharge.com 

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