Edutopia, produced by The George Lucas Educational Foundation, has released a guide designed to help educators effectively and safely use mobile devices, including cell phones, tablets and e-readers, to enhance learning in K-12 classrooms.
The guide, "Mobile Devices for Learning: What You Need to Know," recommends taking advantage of mobile devices to engage students and help them develop digital media and technology skills, and suggests specific tools that educators can begin using today. The guide is sponsored by Google, provider of Google Apps for Education, a free suite of applications for schools designed to foster collaborative learning.
The role of mobile devices in the classroom is still being debated, but expert contributors to Edutopia's guide say the answer isn't to ban these devices altogether. Teachers should instead develop formal policies for their use and incorporate them into the learning process.
Specifically, expert contributors to the guide suggest that educators use tools appropriate for different age groups including,
- Elementary: Nearpod, iNigma, Puppet Pals HD, Martha Speaks Dog Party, Motion Math
- Middle School: Dropbox, BrainPOP, Poll Everywhere, Word Joust, Frog Dissection, textPlus
- High School: Evernote, Twitter, Socrative, The Chemical Touch, Shakespeare Pro
North Carolina's Project K-Nect, a pilot program assessing whether mobile devices can effectively boost learning and math test scores, is one such program. At-risk ninth graders who had little to no access to a computer and internet at home were supplied smartphones so they could access supplemental math materials. Teachers report almost two-thirds of the students who participated in Project K-Nect are now taking additional math courses and over 50 percent are now thinking about a career in the math field.
The "Mobile Devices" guide features resources to help educators get started with mobile devices in the classroom and suggests strategies to bring parents on board. A majority of U.S. parents already believe children should have a mobile phone, according to a recent survey from online retailer RetailMeNot.com. Nearly 7 in 10 (68 percent) would let a child in 4th through 9th grade own a mobile phone.
"Mobile Devices for Learning" also provides resources to help educators and parents understand and navigate challenges with introducing mobile devices, including how to bridge the digital divide and potential issues with a "Bring Your Own Device" approach.
"Mobile Devices for Learning: What You Need to Know" is available for download at www.edutopia.org/mobile-learning
Source: Edutopia, www.edutopia.org