Recent studies confirm value of mobile technology, tablets in classroom

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The two technology topics have dominated public education for the past three years: cloud computing and the one-to-one (1:1) computing environment. Despite the widespread and growing popularity of both, it has been difficult to measure the success of each in the classroom from a learning experience perspective.

A pair of new studies released recently finds that mobile technology and tablet devices do indeed make a difference in teaching and learning. According to an article in THE Journal, the two studies are part of a new Making Learning Mobile project, which is attempting to quantify and qualify the benefits of mobile technology in the classroom, and the infrastructure needed to make mobile technology work in education.

The studies were conducted by Project Tomorrow and sponsored by Kajeet, a wireless service provider that focuses on educational technology. The studies involved providing students and teachers in two grades at two different public schools with Android tablets, as well as wireless access for the student both at school and at home. The participating classes and schools were the eighth graders at the Stone Middle School in Fairfax County Public Schools and fifth graders at Falconer Elementary School in Chicago Public Schools.

"Researchers then followed the students' activities over the course of a year, with the aim of evaluating 'how access to these devices for communication with teachers and classmates increases comfort with technology, extends the learning day, and allows students to develop digital citizenship sills within a safe and secure learning environment,'" THE Journal noted.

The finding of the two studies so far have been positive and confirm that tablet devices and mobile technology do indeed improve learning, researchers said. For the Chicago students, the majority of which did not have high-speed Internet access at home, the study found the following results:
- students had greater access to learning resources and their use of the devices for education purposes exceeded the researcher's expectations;
- teachers increased their communication with students; and
- students changed their learning behaviors.

For the more affluent Fairfax County students, the study found:
- students were able to increase the sophistication of their mobile learning activities;
- students gained easier access to learning materials at home; and
- teachers were able to increase their productivity and create new learning opportunities for students.

"This project represents a landmark study in the developing K-12 mobile learning space. This study is important because it gets beyond simply putting a tablet in the hands of students, and it examines how to effectively implement tablets within instruction to improve student learning," concluded Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow.

For more:
- read THE Journal's article

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