In the program’s second year, 30 teachers and 644 students participated, with 575 mobile devices and 72 PDAs in grades 3-6. By the fourth year, 500 students were using 500 devices and the district began to introduce a “bring your own device” policy.
Instead of “smart phone,” district tech staff and educators use the term “mobile learning device” (MLD) to avoid any negative connotation associated with smart phones, said Menchhofer, who added that the term “smart phone” causes some parents to assume immediately their children might spend time playing games and doing other off-task activities.
“We call them MLDs, because it is a mobile learning device, and we truly believe that,” he said.
Cell phone and texting services are turned off on the devices, and only internet access works.
In its fifth year, the district is partnering with Alltel and operates on a full BYOD policy.
Keys for successful MLD implementation include:
- Educators, leaders can see mobile learning in action
- Constant, stead professional development
- Teachers sharing ideas
- Teachers teaching teachers
Newcomb said that even though every student in grades 3-5 has an MLD, many students bring their own devices, such as an iPod Touch or a Kindle Fire.
“I’ve never had any issues with it,” he said. “These kids are responsible. A lot of people lead with fear and say these kids can’t handle [an expensive device]. I’ve noticed a lot of responsibility.”
The district turned to mobile devices for a variety of reasons, Menchhofer said.
1. A lack of computers: The district did not have a dedicated computer lab. It did have laptop labs, but long waiting lists delayed teachers’ and students’ ability to use the laptops in a timely manner.
2. Current technology was not sufficient: Various editions of Microsoft Office created maintenance and functionality roadblocks.
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