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What’s up with students and mobile learning?

Thirteen years ago, Marc Prensky, American writer and speaker on learning and education  asserted in Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, “Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach.” His description of the way children use devices and technology, and the profound effect on the ways in which children will learn based on being  ‘digital natives’ has come true. Children are more engaged in learning when using the latest technology, because it’s what they’re most used to interacting with to gain knowledge, communicate, and play. Students don’t just want mobile learning, they need it.

Current research bears this out.  In a major 2013 national by Project Tomorrow, From Chalkboards to Tablets: The Emergence of the K-12 Digital Learner, shows that even very young students have access to the internet via mobile devices, and are living in a digital world.
Table of student's access to mobile devices

Staying in sync is essential.   Ed-tech makes learning more personal and sharable, and that’s great. At the same time, the high-speed nature of today’s environment means that what’s ‘cool’ today in both devices and apps can be ‘old-school’ tomorrow—and educators need to remain alert to those changes.  For example, technology predictions are that we are heading for a post-texting world. With the rise of internet-capable smartphones, chat apps for instant messaging that bypass carrier charges are gaining ground, particularly with younger users. They have the advantage of allowing for communication and collaboration in real-time, communications are less subject to hacking, and can provide an richer messaging interface than SMS at a cost-effective price.

The iPad® in schools.  The iPad was introduced in 2010, and over 170 million have been sold as of September quarter 2013, 10 million of them in use in school districts across the US to personalize learning and help implement the new Common Core State Standards for math and reading in elementary schools. The second largest school district in the US, the Los Angeles Unified School District, is in the process of purchasing 570,000 iPads to put the device into the hands of all students from kindergarten through Grade 12, part of a $1 billion technology plan. The purchase was based in part on findings from the May 2009 U.S. Department of education report, May 2009, the U.S. Department of Education released a report entitled Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies 10. Among the key findings in the report are were: (1) Students who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction; (2) Instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction.  

Mobile in the elementary math classroom   Blended learning using mobile technology and Intelligent Adaptive Learning™ is making a difference across in classrooms across the U.S.  With funds from a Liemandt Foundation Grant, students at Alvin Elementary in Alvin, Texas, 11 are using iPads and DreamBox Learning Math 75 minutes a week for all third through fifth grade classes for 1:1 learning to fill in math achievement gaps.  Using laptops,  Dr. Cynthia White, Principal at Cleveland Elementary in Santa Barbara, California,12 has helped create an environment where personalized math learning using DreamBox Learning Math. “DreamBox has been very instrumental in helping us meet our state API goals. Last year we saw our API score grow by 15 points. That’s 10 points more than our state target and the largest year-over-year increase for our school in the past five years.”

How are students using mobile technology 

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