Cellphones in the classroom

The cellphone industry says that, in promoting mobile learning, it's making a similar pitch as that of computer makers to educators since the 1980s, the New York Times reports. "The only difference now between smartphones and laptops, they say, is that cellphones are smaller, cheaper and more coveted by students." Cellphones are now computers. Mobile carriers point to an industry-funded "study of four North Carolina schools in low-income neighborhoods, where 9th- and 10th-grade math students were given high-end cellphones running Microsoft’s Windows Mobile software and special programs meant to help them with their algebra studies. The students used the phones for a variety of tasks, including recording themselves solving problems and posting the videos to a private social networking site, where classmates could watch. The study found that students with the phones performed 25% better on the end-of-the-year algebra exam than did students without the devices in similar classes." A huge factor, according to the teacher who administered the program, was her students' excitement about having the phones, which "made them collaborate and focus on their studies, even outside of school hours" – though it was tough for her to spend her evening hours monitoring the students' text messaging for program violations. See also "Mobile devices 'key to 21st-century learning'" about a study from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center.]

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