in response to Lack of motivation
Our situation is not as severe as the one you describe. We are looking for ways to motivate learners in middle school (grades 6-8) by offering learning options that include cell phones. Using smartphones or iTouchs with free apps and open resources appears to be the best option for us. School has wifi so that will help.
The kids don’t like to access web sites from their phones unless the site has a mobile format display option so we are looking for tools and apps that allow the teachers to provide some guidance and gather information about student progress through quizzes and assignments that can be submitted from a smartphone.
We are using Edmodo as it is free and easy to use for teachers and students. There is a web version and an app. The app has less functionality but students can still review class notes, access videos and podcasts, submit assignments and check their progress. By offering the smartphone option, we expect that the less motivated students will be more engaged, complete more of the activities and turn in more assignments than at present.
There are plenty of questions and concerns from teachers and the school administration. What if the application causes harm to the phone? What if the student inadvertently uses services that are billed to the phone account? What will the student do if she doesn’t bring her phone to school? What is the punishment if students are using phones for personal and social activities rather than class work?
Most of the students and their parents are ok with the phones being used for school work. The students have phones with them. The students are required to be at school. This is an opportunity to use the technology at-hand to provide a solution to a persistent problem of lack of motivation experienced by many middle school students.