Last week I was changing back to street clothes after a water aerobics class at Asphalt Green, a fitness center on Manhattan’s Upper Eastside. Two girls from one of New York’s finest private high schools arrived for their swimming class and pick lockers nearby. I interrupted their chatting with an apology and asked if they were allowed to have mobile phones at school.
With the assurance of privilege, they said, “Oh yes, as long as we keep them,” looking a bit askance, “unseen.” They went on to explain that everyone, meaning the school authorities and teachers, knows they have the mobiles. The assumption was that I would know that they would not abuse the privilege. (Not, I am sure, at the price that someone is paying for their schooling.)
I like high school kids, and trust them whether they are coping with the foibles of privilege or the temptations of some often awful high schools within a mile of these girls’ fancy prestigious school. One of the best things about high school kids is that they are candid — open and honest.
It is fair to assume that the two girls I was quizzing — and the high majority of their schoolmates — did not have low-end mobile phones. These were the sort of kids who have the latest smartphone on their person all the time. That led me to my next question. I asked them: “Do you ever use your mobile phones in class — to study or learn something.”
The girls looked at me quizzically and said, “No.” When I then suggested their was a potential there for them to use the Web on their mobile in class, they said, in a tone where I hoped I had caught a whisper of respect for their questioner, that they had never thought of that.
As teenagers will wonderfully do, they then said to me that they thought using mobiles for learning was a good idea. They may have just been showing off their good manners to me — but there was no doubt that in one of America’s best schools, for these students, using mobiles for learning was a brand new idea.
Really good mobile Web access has only been around for a few months. Mobile Web access is getting better and better, and is trickling down into more mobiles. Is thinking of mobile learning at school the tipping point around the corner? Why not just dive in now?