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Groups advocate for mobile learning, 21st century education


Mobile technology has the ability to expand learning opportunities across the globe.

Two working papers from educational technology stakeholder groups advocate for mobile learning and its ability to expand educational opportunities to students of all circumstances.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in collaboration with the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), released “Turning on Mobile Learning in North America” and “Mobile Learning for Teachers in North America: Exploring the Potential of Mobile Technologies to Support Teachers and Improve Practice.”

The papers are part of UNESCO’s larger Working Paper Series on Mobile Learning, which scans the globe to provide concrete examples of how mobile technologies, thanks largely to their ubiquity and affordability, can respond to unique educational challenges, supplement and enrich formal schooling, and make learning everywhere more accessible, equitable and personalized. The papers were co-authored by Jennifer Fritschi and Mary Ann Wolf for UNESCO and CoSN.

“Mobile technology is enabling schools to truly reshape and rethink today’s and tomorrow’s K-12 classrooms. The more leaders and educators embed mobile learning into their districts, the more we’ll see an educational transformation that goes beyond our school walls, helping to maximize the potential of all students in the 21st century,” said CoSN CEO Keith Krueger.

For more on mobile learning, see:

Mobile Learning: Effective Anytime, Anywhere Education

The “Turning Mobile Learning in North America” paper, drawing on analysis of recent research, in-depth interviews, and a survey of mobile learning efforts in the United States and Canada, puts forth the following recommendations to facilitate mobile learning:

  • Update acceptable use policies for students using mobile phones in formal educational settings.
  • Evaluate the different approaches to mobile technology classroom use to select one that best meets the particular needs of teachers and students.
  • Work to ensure continuous mobile access for students through partnerships with broadband providers.
  • Provide job-embedded professional development for teachers to support the implementation of mobile learning programs.

“This paper provides educators and policy makers with the policy context and points to several examples in the United States and Canada around mLearning,” said Wolf.

“Mobile Learning for Teachers in North America” examines how educators can use mobile learning to attain professional development (PD) that further expands their knowledge and understanding of pedagogy and develops classroom curriculum.

While providing examples of successful approaches to mobile learning in PD, the paper outlines particular types of mobile learning and their benefits to educators–from accessing online courses to improving communication with parents, colleagues, and students.

For more on mobile learning, see:

Mobile Learning: Effective Anytime, Anywhere Education

In addition, the authors offer the following recommendations for developing mobile learning-focused PD:

  • Move from one-size-fits-all to personalized PD.
  • Focus on pedagogy and content rather than specific tools.
  • Use mobile technologies for PD during naturally occurring downtime.
  • Set aside time for collaboration among teachers in a school or district.

“The ubiquitous nature of mobile technology affords educators with additional access points to professional learning opportunities,” said Fritschi. “Educators now have the potential to experience quality, job-embedded or personalized professional development without being tethered to a computer or a face-to-face session. Mobile technologies transform when and how educators engage in professional learning.”

The papers are part of a series that “helps the organization better understand how mobile technologies can support education for all and improve education access, quality, and equity,” said Francesc Pedro, chief of section for teacher development and education policies at UNESCO.

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