By Anne Collier
“Please turn on your cell phone – or your iPad or whatever wireless device you brought from home. Class is about to begin.” More and more students may be hearing that instruction at the start of class. It’s the introduction to the third and final piece of the Consortium for School Networking’s report on mobile phones in as education technology: “Small Size, Big Potential: Mobile Learning Devices in School.” The report is free for CoSN members, but eSchoolNews.com has a great overview, which indicates how much sense cellphones and tablets make to more and more schools because they’re so accessible as learning tools. Instead of “1:1” (laptop programs), it’s “BYOD” (bring your own device), and “your own device” is usually familiar, affordable, and engaging. The experience feels more personal, the focus stays on the core curriculum (rather than learning or affording a device), and kids love apps! The CoSN report and eSchoolNews.com offer some case studies – e.g., the Canby School District in Oregon. “In almost all classrooms in 2009-’10 school year,” students in grades 3-5 who used iPod Touch devices in the classroom scored better on state reading and math tests than 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders who didn’t have iTouches in their classrooms. The Osseo School District in Minnesota has had a BYOD program in place for three years but, especially in the first year digital equity was a concern (making sure all students in a classroom had a device to use), so “the district gave each participating class three netbooks and three iPod Touch devices. But over time … those devices are less necessary because students are very willing to share their personal devices,” eSchoolNews reported. The article helpfully brings CoSN’s very practical “10 tips for launching and sustaining a successful mobile learning initiative” out from behind the CoSN paywall. Other great resources: 10 great apps for ed and eSchoolNews readers’ top 50 ed-tech picks (products and services) for 2012.