Mobile learning’s growing momentum: Study

By Anne Collier

The tide against cellphones in school – for learning, not just communication – seems to be turning. Student engagement, tight school budgets (or reasonable technology that so many students already own), and the fact that students like using their own devices are the “driving factors,” according to a study by Project Tomorrow, which conducts the annual national Speak Up Survey of students, teachers, adminstrators, and parents. Examples the report gives are students in the Minneapolis area using “their mobile devices and Google Docs to work on their writing assignments”; students in Ohio “creating presentations using Sketchy” from photographs of geometric shapes they’ve taken around school with their smartphones; students in Virginia using “their mobile devices to create multimedia projects, improve their writing skills, and collaborate with their peers”; and students in North Carolina using smartphones in algebra, geometry, and calculus classes. As for the numbers, “access to mobile technology has more than tripled among high schools students in the past three years,” reports in its coverage of the study, “and even more interesting … 62% of responding parents [across the categories: public and private schools, rural, urban, suburban, schools with school-lunch programs, high and low ethnic diversity, etc.] report that if their child’s school allowed mobile technology devices to be used for education purposes, they would likely purchase a mobile device for their child.” There’s still plenty of resistance, of course. Project Tomorrow reports that “teachers’ concerns are evident, and they include students being distracted from core learning processes [76% of teachers have that concern], equitable access to mobile devices and, perhaps the most significant question, how to integrate mobile devices effectively and meaningfully into instruction.” [See also: “iPod Touches in the classroom“; “Cellphones & school a great mix“; “iPads at school“; and “From ‘digital disconnect’ to mobile learning.”]

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