This blog post was inspired by a recent experience where I had to spend a few hours at a car dealership without Wi-Fi access on my laptop. However, I still had 3G access on my cell phone and I began surfing around the net to pass the time. This spurred me to think about using the iPad and iPods in the classroom and what websites were the most mobile friendly.
These small computerized devices like the iPod and iPad provide great ways for students to search for information without having to use a laptop or desktop computer. They are mobile and can be easily circulated in the classroom or shared among several classrooms. However, the use of these devices is not limited to the downloaded apps. They will also be used to browse the web to find research data and information for various classroom assignments. Many of the most popular websites have adapted their traditional websites to fit this small format screen by providing the most important information in the small space by putting the most important information on the homepage, reducing the clutter, and making it easier to sign in or select links.
Here are some of the top mobile sites that would be great for your students to use in the classroom when using iPad and iPods, or similar small format devices, with Internet access.
Mobile Wikipedia is a great educational online resource. The mobile version has an article of the day, a short news section, and a place for students to search online. This would be a great resource for students to use to find background information on a variety of projects. It is easy to navigate, read, and quick to load. It keeps the students interest by also including pictures, a quick-snap shot of info about the topic searches, and links for more information. The great aspect of the mobile version it breaks down the entry into sections that you select to load based on what you want to read about. For example, when I searched Niagara Falls, it gave me a picture, several facts, and then a basic overview. To learn more I could select on the sections like History, Geology or Tourism.
The Answers.com mobile version is a combination of a search engine for questions, encyclopedia, and language resource. As the student is typing in the search question, questions will pop-up to fill in the results limiting the amount of typing that needs to be done. I typed in “when is the next lu” and at that point it filled it in with “When is the next lunar eclipse?” It then provided a short answer to the question and provided links for more information and answers to similar questions. On the homepage of this site, there are also quick links for today’s highlights, new answers, and new questions. Users contribute to this website and it would be a fun lesson to get your students involved by asking or answering questions!
Web on Your Cell
Web on your Cell is a portal website. From this site, students can select one of the main categories like news tech or eBooks and then be linked to a list of mobile-ready websites that meet those categories. It is a great one-stop website to get to the best and most frequently used mobile websites. The low-graphics also make it easy to navigate and quick to load, great features for mobile surfing.
Mobile Math Slice contains a variety of educational and fun games. They are represented by small icon links associate with the topic of the game. The games are not only math related, other games include hangman about the state capitals, “Finding Nemo” while learning about the compass directions, memory games, and Spanish vocabulary. Some of the games are very simplistic, but would be great for those few extra minutes before the end of school or for fun transition activities when a student finishes an assignment early.
Dropbox is an online storage system. Students can upload and download the various assignments they are working on the mobile devices to this website. This is a good remote storage device and is free for the first 2 GB. The mobile version is very user friendly.
Ta-Da List is a simple mobile website where users can create and manage to-do lists. Students can use to write down their homework or a list of items that need to be completed.
Other Great Mobile Websites
- Google – not only the search engine, but also Maps, Calendar, Docs, and Mail
- Discovery Channel – links to science videos, articles, and activities
- Dictionary.com – mobile online dictionary
- Ask – search engine to answer questions
Feel free to comment and write about your favorite mobile websites for education.
Article by Laura Ketcham
Photo by armandoalves