Mobile Devices and Productive Classroom Collaboration

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Raquel Gonzaga talks about her action research project on integrating mobile learning with Google Apps for enhanced creativity and collaborative learning outcomes.

An EFL dream comes true

It was an amazing day when I got an e-mail from the IATEFL scholarship party informing me that I had won the Learning Technologies Travel Scholarship tο speak at IATEFL Birmingham 2016.
My proposal was about a study I had carried out very intensively from November 2014 up to December 2015.
Τhis study focused on the usage of free apps called Google Docs & Google Slides to enhance student collaboration and maximize the insights and findings they have during the brainstorming phase.

The insight
My experience involved working for a full semester with teenage and adult EFL students from A2, B2 and C1 CEFR levels in a language institute in Sao Paulo Brazil.
Everything started when I read an article from the Business Insider on the way teenagers like to do school work: in collaborative ways and on the go.

Other questions came to mind:

✔Could the collaboration concept shared in the article be also successfully applied to adult learners?
✔What if the brainstorming moment could be a starting point to stretch students’ ideas and help them to work more effectively with the emergent language ?
✔What if this interaction somehow heightened the understanding of a weaker or more insecure student?
✔What if an absent student could take part in this interaction in real time, even though s/he was not in the classroom?

Classroom Collaboration using mobile phones



During my presentation, I shared the practicability of working with mobile devices and the free app Google Docs for group work and collaboration.

Check out a quick sample of the collaboration in class below.


Shared Doc

Added challenge

As students got used to collaborating, they began to creatively adapt their usage of these tools to their own learning situations. They began using these tools for revision purposes,  planning compositions or even catching up on classes they had missed.

Taking into consideration the necessity of preparing students to speak in public and deliver presentations for both academic and professional purposes, I dared to give them the added challenge of preparing presentations with the  Google Slides app.  from their mobile devices during  class within a time frame of 20 to 25 minutes.  The result went beyond my expectations.  I shared the following student projects  with the audience during my talk .

Plastic Waste and Alternatives

Science & Movies


Productivity and 21st century skills

Throughout these classes, students not only became quickly adept at  using the app, but their  digital literacy also increased. At that point I called their attention to the key skills expected of a  21st century learner : those of collaboration, critical thinking, innovation & productivity. It became clear to the student themselves that they were developing such skills through their use of mobile technology and Google Docs.

Check out this infographic with detailed information onTop 10 skills for the 21st century worker

During my talk I commented on the importance of teachers thinking beyond the subject we teach and into other requirements students will need to meet beyond the classroom walls.

Students feedback and conclusion

I shared with the audience the survey I conducted with my students at the end of the term.

They answered it anonymously from their mobile phones.

Here are the main points they expressed:

*They noticed the benefit of working with the shared document.

*They can check up the document later.

*61 Recommended Reading.2% can edit the document from their mobile devices (if one out of three students can edit the doc this is enough)

Having used the mobile learning approach and the free apps Google Docs & Slides regularly during a semester in three different cycles and age ranges, I can report that the expected results went beyond  collaboration and brainstorming ideas. All in all, we can conclude that his study provides convincing evidence that mobile phones can certainly enhance the learning experience when properly employed.

Here is the full presentation for your viewing pleasure.


raquelBio Raquel Gonzaga

Passionate about enhancing the learning process and the classroom dynamics by making creative use of technology, especially mobile devices.English teacher, EdTech Trainer & Blogger on the field of Learning English as a foreign language.

Winner of 2016 IATEFL LTSIG Travel Scholarship


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