BYOT: No Internet Access, No Problem

Part of the Mobile Learning Series!

“The principle goal of education in schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done.” ~ Jean Piaget

I have been traveling throughout Slovenia and Croatia for the past month training teachers in integrating Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) effectively with their classes. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to teach various classes of teens throughout the two countries to show teachers how BYOT works. For the days I was teaching the students, these schools lifted their policies and allowed the students to use their devices as a way of getting technology in the schools. The teachers wanted to see BYOT in action, especially with students who were never allowed to use their mobile devices or other technologies before for learning. BYOT was a great option because many of these students would not usually be able to learn with various technologies in schools if they didn’t bring them in. I’ve posted a video created by Marijana Smolcec who filmed me working with the students at her school in Ogulin, Croatia.

10 Offline Activities with Mobile Devices

One problem with integrating most technology is that schools and teachers rely too much on Internet access. We forget that even without the Internet, laptops and mobile devices are very powerful learning tools. Simple cell phones come with the ability to create videos, take photos, record audio, and take notes. Students carry these powerful learning tools in their pockets and don’t realize the learning potential, because we do not open their eyes to it. We can get our students to do so much with these tools while they are riding the bus, walking home, visiting their favorite places, etc. Here are a few ideas of the many, I do with students that do not require “a class” Internet connection:

  • Commercial Ads- students often create short video commercials in groups. We have created commercials with invented apps and objects. We also did a project where we observed the stereotypes in commercials and recreated them without the stereotypes.
  • Previews- students create a movie preview of a book they enjoyed and want to see adapted to film.
  • Memes- students create videos of various memes such as a flash mob, the Harlem Shake, or lip dubs.
  • Digital Stories- students work in groups to create a digital story. There are various video editing apps on any device that once downloaded work offline. For example, students can create videos with Sockpuppets, Puppet Pal, VidEditorFree, etc.
  • Show N Tell with a Cell- students show pictures they took on their devices to their peers and have a discussion of where they took the picture, what it is about, etc. You can give students topics. For example, if you teach math, you can tell them to bring in an image that represents various geometric shapes. If you teach science, the image can represent a concept such as centrifugal force.
  • Show N Tell Image Story- a follow-up activity is to have the students take the images from their group and create a story with these images.
  • Visual Vocabulary- each week the students take photos or record a video representing the concepts, vocabulary, and topics we are covering. They upload these collected artifacts to a class laptop via flash stick. If Internet access is available, they can upload the videos or images to a class Flickr account via email. Check out an example here,
  • Howto Videos- each learner can take a concept we are learning and teach us about it or create a how to video on something they are great at. Have them create a video cooking a recipe or instructing how to play their favorite video games. Cooking often involves vocabulary, math, and science lessons.
  • Field Observations- students observe an object, environment, or animal for a series of weeks. They take images, video, and journal about this observance daily. At the beginning, they make predictions about this observance. We did this with spiders and their webs.
  • Reporting the News- students work in pairs or groups. Assign them a section from the text or item they are covering and have them create a short news segment about the topic.

More Resources

Pearltree of Useful BYOT/BYOD Bookmarks


Implement one of these ideas then write about what occurred. Feel free to leave a link to your post in the comments below.

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This post was adapted from one I wrote for Smartblogs of Education.

Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is a teacher trainer, instructional designer, adjunct professor, and the author of The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers: Small Steps to Transform Your Teaching and Learning to Go: Lesson Ideas for Teaching with Mobile Devices, Cell Phones and BYOT. She has been recognized by the ELTon Awards, The New York Times, the Ministry of Education in Spain, and Microsoft’s Heroes for Education as an innovator in the movement of teacher-driven professional development and education technology. Recently, she was named Woman of the Year 2014 by Star Jone’s National Association of Professional Women and awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, the Twitter chat that spurred over 400 teacher chats. She has trained teachers and taught learners in over 25 countries and has consulted with organizations worldwide such as UNESCO Bangkok, The European Union aPLaNet Project, Cultura Iglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, and VenTESOL. She shares regularly via, Twitter (@ShellTerrell), and Her greatest joy is being the mother of Rosco the pug.


  1. I love using technology in the classroom but the internet is not always reliable. So, I often try to create ways to integrate without it. I like the digital story telling. Photo-story by Microsoft allows students to take pictures with digital cameras. They upload the photos to the program (its free online too). They can write part of a story over each picture, and include their voice using a microphone to tell the story. They can animate the story, add boarders, and edit the photos. They can save the story as a book or as a slideshow. You can even add it to a mobile device!

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