Online resources and digital textbooks and tools also are on the rise, buoyed in part by the rise of the Common Core State Standards and publishers that are producing mobile apps and other digital tools.

But while mobile learning devices and their use and promise in classrooms continue to increase, the monograph notes that there are a handful of challenges facing schools and districts, including:

  • Budgets, especially budgeting for school-provided mobile devices;
  • eRate eligibility and broadband access;
  • Device management; and
  • Narrowing down appropriate and most useful apps for mobile devices.

“The more district leaders have an opportunity to learn from each other’s best practices, the more they can bring to scale what is working to ensure our students thrive and graduate from school college and career ready,” said CoSN CEO Keith Krueger. Krueger added that CoSN hopes the monograph will help other districts learn how they might successfully and seamlessly integrate mobile learning into classroom instruction.

The monograph includes 10 tips for launching and sustaining a successful mobile learning initiative:

  1. Start with a thorough understanding of your school’s culture.
  2. Create a strategic, multi-year district plan for mobile learning.
  3. Conduct a total cost of ownership analysis and have a plan to sustain the initiative.
  4. Begin with a pilot and then expand.
  5. Re-evaluate acceptable use policies in light of mobile devices.
  6. Approach professional development with a creative mind.
  7. Let early adopters and tech-savvy teachers mentor others as the initiative gains speed.
  8. Make sure all district buildings have sufficient high-speed broadband and Wi-Fi access.
  9. Listen to parents and enlist their support; communicate with them often.
  10. Make the focus on improving teaching and learning, not on mobile devices for the sake of mobile devices.

The monograph is available to CoSN members as a PDF download in MyCoSN.

District success stories

The Canby School District in Canby, Ore., operates a one-to-one computing initiative in grades K-12. The district’s schools provide iPods, iPod Touch devices, and iPads to students and teachers. Almost 200 district classrooms have mobile devices, and several iPod carts exist for shared use.

Canby compared data on third, fourth, and fifth grade students who used iPod Touch devices with students in the same grade levels who had no access to the devices. In almost all classrooms in the 2009-10 school year, students who used the devices scored better on state reading and math tests than their peers who did not have access to the devices.