Mobile Media & Digital Citizenship

By Ashley Flinn and Ai Mackay

Our Question: What can we do as institutions, companies, and schools to help students to become better digital citizens in the use of mobile media (see articles below, the mobile video, or choose one of your own)? Provide two examples of what can be done through teaching or training.

More progressive mobile device policies need to be adopted.

Mobile device policies in the schools need to not be so draconian. Ai has seen many examples of bad school policy about mobile devices. She has not personally seen a class where the teacher suggest or even allows the use of mobile device in class. Many teachers would take the phone away if they saw students handling it. The basic idea of disallowing mobile device is that the teacher may lose students’ control, and or it is treated as distraction to the class. The sad truth is that what the teacher is teaching, content wide, can be mostly be found through the mobile device. For example, YouTube is full of scientific experiments, geographical or historical information, as well as how to solve an equation in algebra. Therefore, it would be more beneficial, if the teacher incorporated the technology.  The teacher can become more like a facilitator to oversee the students advancement, or hold a flipped classroom through use of technology. So one solution/suggestion is to think outside the box and traditional method, and do not be afraid to incorporate it in learning activities. Luckily at Ashley’s school, many high school teachers let the students use their phones as recording devices for multimedia projects and for looking up information that is blocked by the district firewall. After all, if we do not let them associate with digital world, how can we teach them to be a part of it?

The digital divide needs to be properly addressed.

As we have discussed before, all students need access to a computer outside of school. Due to the socioeconomic digital divide, schools have a responsibility to level the playing field and give students access to devices that will help them succeed. According to the Center for American Progress, there is not just a difference in access to technology, but how that technology is used: “Forty-one percent of eighth-grade math students from high-poverty backgrounds, regularly used computers for drill and practice. In contrast, just 29 percent of middle school students from wealthier backgrounds used the computers for the same purpose.” (Boser, 2013). This can be as small and inexpensive as a flash drive to help with transporting and backing-up schoolwork, especially if the student doesn’t have internet access at home. It would only cost about $1 or less if purchased in bulk, and they should be able to squeeze some money from the enrollment fee (which are actually unconstitutional).

Having more states adopt the ISTE Standards would be helpful.

The ISTE Standards concisely outline what digital citizenship is:

Standard 5. Digital citizenship
Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.
a. Advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology
b. Exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity
c. Demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning
d. Exhibit leadership for digital citizenship
(International Society for Technology in Education, 2014)

195-14-standards-adoption-map_v3Here’s a map of the US showing states that have adopted, adapted, or referenced the ISTE Standards (International Society for Technology in Education, 2015).
With the ISTE standards, teachers and administrators will have a quality framework to help guide their technology policies, as well as curriculum and lessons. Furthermore, teaching programs should really take standard 6 to heart, because I don’t know many teachers or administrators who meet ANY of those objectives:

6. Technology operations and concepts
Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.
a. Understand and use technology systems
b. Select and use applications effectively and productively
c. Troubleshoot systems and applications
d. Transfer current knowledge to learning of new technologies
(International Society for Technology in Education, 2014)

So here’s a rhetorical question: How can you hold kids to standards you aren’t holding yourself to?

Push for e-books, when feasible.

E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth iBook is an example of a high quality e-book that fully utilizes the possibilities of the technology.

At the same time we need to be mindful of the fact that reading on a screen isn’t the same as reading from a book or piece of paper, our brains might not retain the information as well (Jabr, 2013). However, many of the studies that report a negative effect on comprehension and memory are from a time when screens had abysmal resolution and are a very different product from the high-resolution screens that we now use. Another factor is the great advances in digital typography that have been made in the last 15 years. Websites (and e-books for that matter) can be designed to have absolutely beautiful and highly readable layouts that would have been impossible 10 years ago (Linda D., 2013). More studies definitely need to be done in this area! However, E-books do have some distinct advantages over paper books:

  • Lighter weight than a textbook (better for our students backs)
  • Searchable text
  • Texts are updateable, no need to purchase new editions (saves money)
  • Self-publishing an iBook is easy and free (if you own a Mac). This is great as an educator, because you can tailor your textbook to your class, and make changes on the fly (much better than having to run off 150 copies of some chapter or article).
  • Ability to embed video and other forms of media.
  • Assistive tech capabilities: text can be made larger, different colors, different typefaces to make the text easier to read; and apps like Bee-Line Reader.

Make better apps, demand better apps, don’t just be a complacent tech consumer.

Be aware of current tech trends so you don’t waste tons of time on out of date technology or a boring/unhelpful app. Augmented reality is a emerging trend in educational technology and has many uses, especially for science education. This video shows many interesting examples of augmented reality (SIfyInnovations’s channel, 2011).

We need to educate ourselves to be EXCEPTIONAL digital citizens.

It’s not enough to be able to check your email, edit a gradebook on an iPad, or even just know how to use GoogleDocs. Teachers who are ignorant digital citizens need rigorous professional training to catch them up. You can’t effectively teach critical thinking skills unless you yourself are a high-level critical thinker, why should digital citizenship be any different. The annual Little Apple Tech Fest and monthly AppyHour that are hosted by USD 383 are a great start, but more teachers need to be reached, and higher quality instruction is needed (specifically at Little Apple Tech Fest, the man who was supposed to teach Scratch never showed up, and a lot of the presentations are just vendors).

Find cool uses for mobile devices.

Seek out apps that will actually enrich student learning, not just pay lip service to the idea of technology integration. The Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas has a very robust education department. They have a number of installations and projects that can be used by educators with mobile devices:


Commissioned by the Spencer, artists Velasco and Davidson-Hues have created an unusual “way-finding system” for the museum. Inspired by images from the SMA collection and common traffic signage, their works outside the museum announce “Warning: Art Approaching,” while MP3 audio tours inside offer offbeat looks at the collection, encouraging visitors to slow down and, as the title suggests, stop, look, and listen.


See the Spencer through young eyes by touring the galleries accompanied by audio podcasts from Southwest Junior High School eighth-graders. As part of a Communications Class project, students visited the museum, studied the artworks and chose one to use as an inspiration for a podcast. The narratives brief the listener about the selected work and also incorporate the students’ own observations and reactions.

Some science classes are using mobile devices to collect data and then post it online, so that the findings of their experiments are more robust and significant (mzmacky, 2010).




BeeLine Reader. (2014). BeeLine Reader. Retrieved from

Boser, U. (2013, June 24). Are schools getting a big enough bang for their education technology buck? Retrieved from 2013/06/14/66485/are-schools-getting-a-big-enough-bang-for-their-education-technology-buck/

International Society for Technology in Education. (2015). [ISTE standards around the nation]. Retrieved from map_v3.jpg?sfvrsn=2

International Society for Technology in Education. (2007). ISTE standards for students. Retrieved from

Jabr, F. (2013, April 11). The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens. Scientific American. Retrieved from article/reading-paper-screens/

Linda D.(username). (2013, September 4). What 12 of the world’s biggest websites looked like at the beginning. Retrieved from launch- wayback-machine/

mzmacky. (2010, August 10). IPad Science Tools. Retrieved from

SIfyInnovations’s channel. (2011, November 30). Augmented Reality for Contextual Learning in Schools & Higher Education [YouTube video]. Retrieved from

Spencer Museum of Art. (2015). Education. Retrieved from education/



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