Written by Kajeet on May 13, 2014
The Making Learning Mobile Project provided ubiquitously connected 3G mobile devices to 136 low-income students with limited to no internet access at home and their four classroom teachers. All participants attended or taught at Laughlin Falconer Elementary School, a technology magnet cluster school in the Chicago Public School system. This project focused specifically on four 5th grade classrooms. Ninety-four percent (94%) of the students at Falconer Middle School come from low-income households with low rates of home Internet access. The project sought to examine the effect of access to 24/7 mobile devices on the learning experience both at school and at home. Specifically, 24/7 use of the tablet was monitored to understand how the use of the mobile device extends the learning day; which learning activities is the tablet used for; and students’ overall digital citizenship level and comfort with technology.
Many students from low-income households do not have access to digital devices or the Internet outside the school. This can limit the student’s ability to complete homework tasks and participate in self-directed learning exercises available through the Internet. Traditionally, even in technology-focused schools, mobile devices are not permitted for home use.
Most of the 136 5th grade students in this project do not have adequate access to technology devices and the Internet and are limited in their ability to complete learning tasks outside of the school day, such as conducting online research to complete homework assignments, playing educational games or supplementing their learning with remediation or enrichment activities.
Through the Making Learning Mobile project, 136 fifth grade students and their four classroom teachers received a personal ubiquitously connected 3G tablet for use at school and home.
Messaging, email and chat availability was enabled on each device, facilitating improved communication between students, parents, and teachers.
- Teachers, students, and parents reported improved student engagement in the classroom and an increase in student time spent on learning activities with 24/7 mobile device access.
- Students developed important 21st Century and digital citizenship skills with 24/7 access to mobile devices and improved their ability to use the Internet to conduct research.
- Students reported increased self-efficacy and confidence to perform learning-related tasks.
- The program resulted in increased communication between students and teachers and parents and teachers regarding student progress, grades, and assignments.
- Seeing the benefit of home Internet access, a significant number of households acquired Internet access after the study.
- Students’ perceptions and attitudes regarding school improved as a result of having a mobile device, with students reporting that school was “easier,” that they felt “more organized,” and that they were more comfortable asking questions than prior to the program.
- Teachers reported greater opportunities to conduct a wide range of engaging classroom activities including educational games and note-taking with the mobile devices.
- Teachers reported an increased ability to conduct real-time formative assessments using the polling feature on the mobile devices.
- Student and teacher access to the mobile device minimized time spent on teacher administrative tasks as functions like grade reporting could happen automatically.
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