Education has certainly changed from when I was in school, but when one of my grandkids started pre-kindergarten this year, I realized just how different things were since my youngest child was in high school just seven years ago. Along with the usual school supplies of notebooks and pencils, wireless devices are quickly becoming indispensable learning aids in schools.
Students can make their mobile devices personal, which means they have access to information and tools necessary to succeed in school when they need it the most. For some students, wireless means taking classes that aren’t offered at their schools through distance learning programs. Overall, this new educational experience, commonly referred to as mobile learning or mLearning, promotes critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and other life skills that will help students succeed in our highly competitive and global society.
According to a National Education Association (NEA) policy brief, when technology is integrated in the curriculum, there’s a direct correlation in improving a child’s achievement, motivation and enthusiasm since students and teachers are more engaged. Anecdotally, I hear inspiring stories from parents, educators, administrators, and kids on how wireless technology is helping students learn.
Regardless of location, size, socioeconomic status, or learning abilities, teachers and students benefit from mLearning. Through the high school program Project K-Nect in a North Carolina school district, the students’ math skills and their self-perception improved due to their use of smart phones and tools such as instant messaging, video and phone capabilities, calculators, and internet access. Sixty-one percent said they perceived they were doing better academically than their national peers. Fifty-five percent also said that their experience in the program has meant they are better prepared for this success.
By delivering supplemental math work along with 24/7 support from their teachers, tutors, and classmates, 90 percent of the students said they were “more comfortable” taking math and 81 percent said they have increased confidence in talking about math. In addition, two-thirds of these students are taking more math classes and more than 50 percent of these students are considering a math career. The teachers of the Project K-Nect reported that the students were more active participants in class, whether it’s asking questions, answering math problems, or helping other students.
In Los Angeles, an eighth grade history teacher uses Twitter to engage his students, especially the shy kids. As one of the quiet students explained, “It’s a great way to get people to notice you. They see me as somebody now–as an equal.” As for the history teacher, he said he appreciates the instant feedback and sharing from his students.