The handwriting might be on the wall, but it certainly isn’t on the chalkboard anymore. American students are tapping and swiping their way to deeper and richer learning experiences by using mobile devices to interact with compelling applications and access information and assistance. The traditional approach to education in America is going to the wayside of smartphones and tablets, as mobile technology is challenging and changing conventional notions about how we educate our young people.
Watch How Mobile Plus Math Equals Classroom Success
Wireless technology was once the scourge of educators for its possible intrusion and distraction, but it’s now becoming an acceptable and welcomed addition to the classroom. According to a Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project survey, about 73% of middle-school and secondary-school teachers say either they or their students use a cellphone as a part of their academic work. The device’s utility can range from using it to conduct simple tasks, such as student sampling to assess subject matter awareness in a manner that provides students a cloak from potential peer pressure, to more sophisticated applications. For example, Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach Initiative supports a project called EcoMobile, which integrates wireless augmented reality capabilities into curriculums in areas such as science and biology.
The company launched another successful mobile learning project called Project K-Nect (Watch the accompanying video). It was originally offered in Onslow County, North Carolina, as a means of identifying whether mobile technology could be used to improve math abilities of challenged 7th and 8th grade students. The initial results were so promising that the initiative has since been expanded to the entire Onslow County school district, and the improved grades and scores in standardized math tests is still impressive. Surveys also indicate there is a noticeable improvement in student attitudes toward math, as well as in students’ confidence in their abilities to enter and perform well in college.
Such gains aren’t occurring solely in students’ beliefs: Mooresville, NC, Superintendent Mark Edwards attributes the substantial increase in the number of his school district’s African American students graduating from high school to mobile technology. Five years ago the district shifted spending and allocated money to provide every 4th through 12th grade student with a laptop and internet access. It has since seen its graduation rate increase from 52%, to a whopping 95%!
There have also been tremendous advances in mobile learning applications. Developers are appealing to students of all ages, recognizing the familiarity and interest young people have with wireless technology and providing them with engaging digital learning opportunities. Apps such as “Role Model Jigsaw” and “Wild Planet-The World of Animals” tap into the younger generation’s affinity for wireless and create meaningful learning opportunities with positive social and academic benefits.
E-textbooks are also gaining in popularity. Students can readily access material through school-issued or personal devices, virtually anywhere and anytime. School districts can dramatically reduce their expenses by not having to regularly replace worn out or outdated textbooks. And, while students’ workload isn’t any lighter, the load in their backpacks is appreciably diminished!
The increase in using mobile technology for educational purposes also highlights the need to reinforce good digital citizenship by young people. CTIA-The Wireless Association hosts a web site, www.growingwireless.com., which provides students and parents valuable information about how to appropriately use wireless communication. Areas such as cyberbullying, privacy and sexting are also covered, and parents can learn tips on control tools and how to talk with children about their online and mobile activity.
Mobile communication is eliminating barriers previously created by physical space of facility limitations. It is creating an educational environment in which there are virtually no limits, and where technology is giving educators new insight into how individual students learn and the tools to customize lesson plans for more effective and lasting learning. Its impacts are already dramatic, and with all of this fantastic development riding the rails of wireless spectrum, it is more important than ever to encourage new capabilities and to meet increasing demands by designating additional spectrum for commercial use.
Watch more segments highlighting the benefits of wireless communication, on topics such as urban parking, environmental monitoring, smart water management and more.