Category Archives: Digital Learning

Educational Media’s Biggest Users

If you visit the education category on the iTunes and Android app stores, you may notice that several of the apps consist of basic spelling, counting, and coloring. Given that these apps are geared towards young children and even babies, it is no surprise that children from the ages of 2 to 4 are educational media’s biggest users.

“At a younger and younger age, kids are accustomed to using [televisions and mobile devices],” said Victoria Rideout, the author of the report that explains the findings by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. “Companies see this trend and are creating much more content that is for the very youngest kids and marketing that content as educational.”

However, the large use of educational media drops once children enter school. While children between the ages of 2-4 spend an average of one hour per day watching television or using online programs, this number drops to fifty minutes per day for 5-to-7-year-olds, and to 42 minutes per day for 8-to-10-year-olds. Furthermore, while 13% of 2-to-4-year-olds use devices for educational activities, only 6% of 8-to-10-year-olds do. The study explains that when children enter school they are able to access more smartphones, game consoles and e-readers, and are therefore more easily distracted by video games and other online entertainment that do not contain educational material.

Are you surprised by this information? Let us know your thoughts by commenting on this post! To read the article “2-to-4-year-olds are most frequent users of educational media, study finds” by Cecilia Kang (The Washington Post), click here. To learn more about the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, click here.

How much do schools spend on digital learning?

The Los Angeles Unified School District has sent out a survey in order to see the amount other school districts spend on technology within the classroom. The survey comes just as the Board of Education votes on the next step in a $1 billion dollar program to provide technology to students.

Out of the 61 districts surveyed (21 of the largest districts in the nation on top of 40 just within California), Los Angeles Unified itself ended up as the district that has spent the most on iPads, computers, and other devices. As the nation’s second largest district, Los Angeles Unified is paying $768 per device; this high price tag is due to the district’s preference for Apple products, which tend to be pricier than PC product. Because of their high quality products, Los Angeles Unified insists that they actually received a great deal on their technology. In comparison, the Perris Union High School District in Riverside, CA only pays $344 per device, but their products do not have all the capabilities as Los Angeles Unified’s products, such as touch screens.
Despite their differences in spending, both districts plan to develop curriculum that is technology inclusive: Perris Union High School District plans to use materials developed by their own staff, while Los Angeles Unified plans to create an online curriculum that is in accordance with Common Core Standards.
To read the full article for “L.A. Unified surveys prices others pay for iPads, similar devices” click here. Have any comments regarding spending on digital learning? How much would you spend on a device for classroom use? Let us know in the comments section!

Making Learning Mobile: Leveraging Mobile Devices to Transform Teaching and Learning

“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” 
—Julie Evans, CEO Project Tomorrow

Despite the increase in use of mobile devices as classroom tools, some educators are still skeptical that these devices will distract students rather than enhance the learning environment. We teamed up with Kajeet for Education, the only wireless service provider dedicated to kids and education, to provide Chicago 5th grade and Fairfax County 8th grade students with educationally-managed broadband Android tablets using the Kajeet Sentinel Platform® to connect kids in school and at home. The Making Learning Mobile study evaluates how students use the devices (in school and out of school) to support their schoolwork and extend learning beyond the classroom, and also evaluates how teachers use the tablets to enhance the learning environment.

The study found that students used the tablets for more educational activities than expected. 93% of students used the tablet for Internet research, while 39% used it for completing video projects. Other uses of the device include project work, educational games, checking grades, and communicating with teachers and classmates. Furthermore, acces to Internet at home improved greatly when students were able to take their devices home to perform after school research. Students took advantage of this improvement in Internet access, as the Kajeet software on the devices noted that “three-quarters of the device requests for access to learning or academic websies occurred [after school]”; the software also found that students used the Internet and their devices to research topics discussed in class once they got home.

Students were not the only ones who benefited from tablet use within the classroom. Although teachers are more hesitant about using mobile devices within the classroom, the teachers in the study saw positive changes within the classroom due to the use of tablets. One teacher at Falconer Elementary School in Chicago used tablets for educational games, grade checking, and calendar keeping. Another used it for class polling apps, note taking, and educational games. While teachers are cautious about using a new piece of technology within the classroom, the use of tablets provide a “more meaningful environment for student impact, both in terms of classroom activities as well as extending learning beyond the school day.”

While each school in the study yielded different results due to classroom size, age, and etc., the study found a few common results. Students enjoyed using tablets because they provided easier Internet access at school, enabled students to review class materials and textbooks whenever they wanted to. Teachers enjoyed the tablets due to their flexible use in engaging students in learning and ability to increase student-teacher communications.

Want to learn more about the Making Learning Mobile study? Check out “Tablets for Fifth Graders? Teachers Try Different Tactics” by Katrina Schwartz on MindShift. You can also register for the webinar at http://tinyurl.com/webinarMLM and download the complete report from both school districts on the Kajeet website athttp://www.kajeet.com/4u/education/MLM-form.html.



Your Chance to Speak Up, America (And Why You Should)

 “Take out your devices and begin researching animals found in your biomes.” On a recent visit to a local high school, I was taken aback by the teacher’s instructions. Immediate access. Incredible efficiency. Genuine engagement. Each student group huddled around two or three mobile devices scrolling vigorously, jotting down notes, and actively conducting (what looked like) research.
But then, I thought back to an unfortunate technology-related incident I was witness to last year: a cell phone stolen from an unattended backpack, used to photograph unsupervised students standing and laying atop a teacher’s desk, making inappropriate faces and gestures which ultimately lead to tears and suspensions.
There may be no way to allow students to use their own devices at school without risks, but certainly ignoring this possibility as a way to enhance learning would be unwise. As would, passing up the opportunity to contribute to the discussion about the future of digital learning and the role technology will play.
The Future of Digital Learning: What Do You Think?

We cannot prepare teachers or create schools for today; we must envision the classrooms and learning of tomorrow. If we want to prepare teachers for, and create, future learning environments, we must embrace the role technology will play in the classrooms of tomorrow. So how do we accurately evaluate the role technology plays, and the ways it can be leveraged for maximum impact in the future of education? Take the popular, but debated trend mentioned earlier: the use of student-owned mobile devices in the classroom.
You probably have an opinion and, perhaps, a few questions. How are these devices used during the school day? How do students, teachers, parents, and administrators feel about it? What are the specific benefits and concerns associated with this shift from the traditional structure of learning?

Now, take this issue and picture the teacher typing her syllabus and guidelines at her computer the week before school begins; or your local principal meeting with his/her staff to compile and craft the yearly handbook of school policies; or a school board discussing personal device usage before adopting an annual budget. Each individual has an opinion, informed by experience and maybe a dated national report, or a newspaper article about a nearby district who reported increased test scores and engagement with personal device usage. But, do they have your thoughts or the current, unfiltered views of your school community?
Just as we would not allow a doctor to diagnose an illness or create a treatment plan without listening to our current concerns, we must approach the future of education and the role technology will play with the same attentiveness.
Make A Broader Impact

Across the education spectrum, at a national level down to the classroom your child, grandchild, niece, nephew, or future employee sits in each day, your voice can either inform policy decisions or go unheard. Your views and experiences concerning technology trends, like personal device usage (and so many others in education), are critical and go well beyond whether a student can or cannot use their phone or tablet at school. Their extended reach affects privacy and confidentiality legislation, funding allocations, internet accessibility, access to information, connectivity, global competitiveness and, most importantly, how today’s learners and tomorrow’s labor force will navigate a future in which the rate of progress is greater than at any time in history.

‘Tis the Season to Speak Up

In this season of giving, be part of Speak Up America 2013. Donate twenty minutes of your time today to take the National Speak Up Survey. Join over 3.3 million students, educators, parents, administrators, and community members who have “spoken up” since 2003—a dataset representing the largest collection of authentic feedback from key educational stakeholders about the digital learning. Speak Up closes on December 20th, so NOW is the time to participate. Take the online Speak Up survey at http://www.speakup4schools.org/speakup2013/.