Panelists: Digital tools expand learning opportunities

“Do we have the right technology platforms to be able to get content out to teachers and students? What kind of content do you need in this environment? How do you use this for academic learning?” said Patrick Gaston, president of the Verizon Foundation. “It’s about engagement, it’s about innovating.”

It’s also about finding ways to ensure equitable access to digital resources for every student—not an easy task in today’s uncertain economic climate.

“I think this industry has an important role to play in funding public-private partnerships that can help spur innovation in multiple areas, education included,” said Shawn Covell, vice president of government affairs for Qualcomm.

Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach program, which creates partnerships using 3G technology to improve people’s lives, helped to fund Project K-Nect in Onslow County, N.C., schools. Students received smart phones with digital algebra content, which enabled teachers to push math assignments directly to students’ devices, let students network with one another to solve math homework, and gave students access to online tutoring services. Results of the pilot project revealed a 30-percent increase on participating students’ end-of-year course exams.

“The students really are using these devices to learn the subject matter, and because they’re using them in a social way, they have to learn it better, because they have to explain it to their peers,” Covell said.

“It really is improving engagement—it’s changing the way teachers teach, and it’s changing the way students learn,” she added.

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