Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Making Learning Mobile: Leveraging Mobile Devices to Transform Teaching and Learning


“This project represents a landmark study in the developing K-12 mobile learning space, this study is important because it gets beyond simply putting a tablet in the hands of students, and it examines how to effectively implement tablets within instruction to improve student learning” 
—Julie Evans, CEO Project Tomorrow

Despite the increase in use of mobile devices as classroom tools, some educators are still skeptical that these devices will distract students rather than enhance the learning environment. We teamed up with Kajeet for Education, the only wireless service provider dedicated to kids and education, to provide Chicago 5th grade and Fairfax County 8th grade students with educationally-managed broadband Android tablets using the Kajeet Sentinel Platform® to connect kids in school and at home. The Making Learning Mobile study evaluates how students use the devices (in school and out of school) to support their schoolwork and extend learning beyond the classroom, and also evaluates how teachers use the tablets to enhance the learning environment.

The study found that students used the tablets for more educational activities than expected. 93% of students used the tablet for Internet research, while 39% used it for completing video projects. Other uses of the device include project work, educational games, checking grades, and communicating with teachers and classmates. Furthermore, acces to Internet at home improved greatly when students were able to take their devices home to perform after school research. Students took advantage of this improvement in Internet access, as the Kajeet software on the devices noted that "three-quarters of the device requests for access to learning or academic websies occurred [after school]"; the software also found that students used the Internet and their devices to research topics discussed in class once they got home.

Students were not the only ones who benefited from tablet use within the classroom. Although teachers are more hesitant about using mobile devices within the classroom, the teachers in the study saw positive changes within the classroom due to the use of tablets. One teacher at Falconer Elementary School in Chicago used tablets for educational games, grade checking, and calendar keeping. Another used it for class polling apps, note taking, and educational games. While teachers are cautious about using a new piece of technology within the classroom, the use of tablets provide a "more meaningful environment for student impact, both in terms of classroom activities as well as extending learning beyond the school day."

While each school in the study yielded different results due to classroom size, age, and etc., the study found a few common results. Students enjoyed using tablets because they provided easier Internet access at school, enabled students to review class materials and textbooks whenever they wanted to. Teachers enjoyed the tablets due to their flexible use in engaging students in learning and ability to increase student-teacher communications.

Want to learn more about the Making Learning Mobile study? Check out "Tablets for Fifth Graders? Teachers Try Different Tactics" by Katrina Schwartz on MindShift. You can also register for the webinar at http://tinyurl.com/webinarMLM and download the complete report from both school districts on the Kajeet website athttp://www.kajeet.com/4u/education/MLM-form.html.