Mobile & BYOD in the Computer Lab

First, Design Matters Part 2 is on the way in one week! For now, some other stuff I've been thinking about: Mobile and BYOD... To remain consistent, I'll focus on the visual design unit I do with my students to show how it can apply on the mobile environment.

I’ve been devoting serious thought this summer to the ways in which I will include mobile in my classroom this coming school year. We have a new BYOD policy, a few sets of iTouch Devices and a set of iPads (with more ordered). I started by asking myself why I would want to integrate mobile in my class. After all, I teach in a computer lab and have a wealth of technology. The thing is, I can’t ignore this quote from Michael Soskil

If we are preparing our students for life after school, we should allow them to use the tools they will be using when they get there.  How many jobs can you think of right now where a smart phone is not beneficial?  Mechanics order parts on their phone, engineers view blueprints, doctors calculate dosages, and grocers check inventory.  The list is endless.

Clearly, the data is in favor of more mobile integration. So far, I’ve found ways to brilliantly introduce mobile into game design and video production, but I’m struggling in other areas, particularly visual design. There’s nothing as robust as Adobe’s Creative Suite for mobile, and Avairy’s online tools (that are disappearing in September by the way) don’t work in mobile browsers. If you want to create anything beautiful on a mobile device, you’re going to pay for it. Even moodboarding apps cost a lot of money.  

I tend to use new technology to do things that I couldn’t easily do with old technology. My students will see the gimmick a mile away if I regurgitate one of my old activities and make them do it on a mobile device with their computer in front of them. The mobile apps I’m going to use for this lesson are:

Understandably, the majority of devices out there are not Apple, but the majority in my classroom tends to be Apple. Many of my students have iPhones and most have an iTouch. If they don’t have the device they need, we have them covered (see above).
A Sample lesson
Title: Keep SGASD Beautiful: Field researching bad design.
  • [2] You will use online resources, such as the agenda, wiki, and videos, to guide & initiate your work (INITIATIVE AND SELF-DIRECTION).
  • [5] You will use observations of examples of effective and ineffective design to develop strategies to improve communication, sustainability, and usability.
  • [6] You will use the relationship between color, typography, layout, and tone to design for a specific audience and purpose.
  • [7] You will employ good typography and color theory to design for impact and readability.
  1. For this activity, you’ll take a tour of your local surroundings and document bad design, and your suggested improvements.
    1. You may do this outside of school after hours (homework?) at your discretion for extra credit, but you are only required to do it within this building during our class.
    2. To complete the activity, you’ll need:
      • Your iPhone or a camera enabled iTouch or iPad (don’t have one, see Mr. Walters)
      • The ARIS app. (I will provide you with info to log into our Bad Design game space)
      • The Phonto app.
      • You may also want Ps Express for cropping and retouching.
  2. Your first mission is to find some bad design! You should be able to recognize it easily now. It should be publicly displayed to be fair game. Find something on a wall, window, bulletin board, or display case.
    1. Snap it’s picture.
    2. Drop the picture on the map where you are using ARIS.
  3. Your second mission is to quickly create a mockup of how you could do better.
    1. Use whatever images you have available (see CCSearch resources) and Phonto to create something better. Use one (or more if appropriate) of the following techniques:
    2. Drop your new creation on the map near the original using ARIS.
  4. In a few days, we’ll pull this up on the big screen and take a look at what you’ve found. Meanwhile, hopefully you’re inspired to return here to A201 and make your mockup a reality. Then we can work on improving our little piece of the world one design at a time.


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