The relationship between educators and mobile devices has long been a tumultuous one. With cellphones and the like often branded with a scarlet letter, teachers have routinely suspended students, confiscated devices and even been fired for smashing them to pieces in sheer moments of frustration. However, as technology evolves and changes the way people exchange ideas, some pioneering schools have adopted the age-old saying, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”
Penrose Academy, a cosmetology, esthetics and laser training institute based in Scottsdale, is the first school of its kind in the Valley to lead the charge into the unique world of digital/mobile hybrid education. The school started its change with a new teaching technique called flipped classrooms. Rather than focusing on theory during the school day and requiring students to apply their knowledge through homework on their own, Penrose reversed the process.
Students at the school get a healthy amount of their information through non-traditional multimedia resources: online video, social media interaction with classmates and even a Penrose Academy mobile app created to reach the Plugged-In generation on their own level. Teachers now have the ability to spend a majority of time with students walking them through actual application of what they learn. For parents and students who still suffer from the post-traumatic stress of high school algebra homework, the flipped classroom style is a welcome reprieve to career seekers.
“Evolving mobile and social technologies are key parts of communication in our daily lives,” said Penrose President Jill Kohler. “By tapping into new resources and teaching techniques, we make the education fit the needs of the student instead of the other way around.”
When Penrose Academy made the decision to adopt the world of mobile devices and social media into its curriculum, the school did not want access to these resources to be limited based on a student’s income or technological skill. Beginning in December 2013, Penrose Academy will give each of its cosmetology and esthetic students a new iPad Mini and training in its use. As the value of social networking and technological ability increases, exposing students to it at such an early level will provide benefits far beyond the classroom into the workplace.