The first step is to recognize that mobile devices and Mobility in general, carry with them an inherent social nature. Left unguided, we use these devices for entertainment and communication. The mobile enabled user is also most likely going mobile in some public setting where there are many potential distractions or … points of inspiration. I am sitting in the open floor of the college library with it's quiet buzz of somewhat hushed conversations, sighs (it is a college a few weeks before finals) and the clatter of laptop keys. To be mobile is to be untethered but also less isolated.
So the keys to the car involve the strategy that is planned for technology integration. It used to be a fair question about whether we should bother with allowing mobile computing in the learning environment but now the learning environment is not a place with four walls. The place where students learn is essentially everywhere and (this is a good thing) that is where we all are in some degree of mobile connectivity. To be strategic in a learning environment, means to find ways to say yes to the use of mobile phones, tablets and laptops that are as connected to students as the clothes they wear. There is currently a wide array of apps and software that will allow for instant audience response to class questions (polleverywhere.com, letsgeddit.com), platforms for multiple layers of discussion (Twitter, Glassboard) and augmented reality apps (Aurasma, Junaio) that add a virtual layer to the physical world that students encounter.
As we find ways to include the technology of the day in education, we are in a position to help students (and ourselves) learn to be good digital citizens. Having the keys to the car involves some responsibility and mobile technology integration is no different. We need to prepare students to learn and think critically in this digitally charged world they will live and work in once they graduate. So knowing when to turn off the car or the technology is as important as knowing how to start and use these tools. Going Mobile is sort of redundant in that we have already gone there. Now the question is what do we do now? When we traveled in the UK a couple of years ago, we got off the plane from in Glasgow, Scotland and went right to the rental car window where they checked us in. After a few minutes of the standard paperwork shuffle, they handed us the keys to the car … with no direction or advice. I stopped, turned around and exclaimed … "don't you need to advise us in some way? We have never driven in the UK!" The clerk looked at us and smiled and said, "Stay left." We figured it out and so will we in education. Technologists and luddites together figuring out how to drive in this new learning ecology that, while needing to be tempered or questioned at times, will radically change how we live and learn.