February 26, 2015
This year’s Mobile Learning Week was a collaboration of UNESCO and UN-Women. The collaboration led to a unique theme of how to empower women and girls with mobile devices. The keynotes, panels and breakout sessions therefore focused on this intersection of technology and gender, and the topic of gender-sensitivity was front and center throughout the week. But let’s be candid. Some people do not know what gender-sensitivity means, and too many people have misunderstandings and wrong assumptions around women and girls’ interests in mobile learning. My goal with this blog posting is to demystify the important topic based upon the research that we did for this week’s workshop. Let’s jump in by examining this gender-sensitivity from several levels!
Why is this topic important?
Based upon the Speak Up data as well as results from several mobile learning evaluations conducted by Project Tomorrow, we have observed that mobile learning has a gender component. When students are asked about how they want to use a mobile device to support their learning, girls and boys have different aspirations for schoolwork usage. For example, middle school boys want to use a mobile device to find online videos to help them with homework. Comparatively, middle school girls are often more interested in using their smartphone or tablet for collaborations with classmates, taking notes in class and communicating with classmates and teachers. Despite best efforts, instructional materials including digital content that are used with mobile devices may not be as gender sensitive as they could be. Given that reality, it makes sense that we should dig more deeply into how digital tools and resources are either reinforcing or debunking traditional gender based norms and/or stereotypes. The goal therefore should be to more gender-sensitive or responsive in our plans for and use of those digital tools so that all students have an equitable opportunity for education.
What is the definition of gender-sensitivity?
There is an extensive body of research on the many terms used when discussing gender issues in education including gender-unequal, gender-blind, gender-specific and gender-sensitive. Per the research, the three defining characteristics of gender-sensitivity are as follows:
- Gender-sensitivity considers gender norms, role and relationships
- It takes into account the impact of policies, projects and programs on women/girls and men/boys
- And it tries to mitigate negative consequences of the gender impact.
Comparatively, gender-blind see no differences between how girls and boys approach instructional materials or technology. Instructional materials that are gender-unequal or bias are developed to favor one gender over another. Gender-specific is similar but without the inherent negative consequences.
How can we become more gender-sensitive in our selection of instructional materials for use in classrooms by girls and boys?
As noted above, the research on this topic including case studies and implications for a wide range of instructional materials is available through multiple sources. However, despite the extensiveness of the research, there is surprisingly very few resources that could be used by a teacher, school or district to evaluate the tools and content that they are using within instruction. For our workshop on Monday, therefore, we developed that kind of tool that can help you identify the gender-sensitivity of the digital content you may be using with students right now. The Guide for Evaluating Gender-Sensitivity within Digital Content includes a list of “questions for consideration.” The questions are categorized into four themes: categorization, imagery and language, storyline and results. While the guide will not give you a grade or score for your digital content, it will help to instigate new discussions around gender-sensitivity, the use of digital content within instruction, and education equity. The best news is that you can access this guide on our website. Check out both versions of the guide (one for digital content and a similar one for digital games) at www.tomorrow.org/UNESCOworkshop.html. If you use the guide within your school, district or organization, let us know your thoughts on this new tool.
National Release of Speak Up 2014 National Findings
2015 Congressional Briefing
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Hart Senate Office Building Room 902
Please join us for the release of the Speak Up 2014 National Findings. This is the first of two Congressional Briefings on the data results from the 521,000 online Speak Up surveys submitted from education stakeholders nationwide in fall 2014.
The April 30th briefing will include a presentation of the national findings and a moderated panel discussion with students and educators. This year’s national report on the findings will be distributed to all attendees.
If your district is interested in having students participate in our student panel, please contact Lisa Chu at firstname.lastname@example.org or (949) 609-4660 ext. 12. If you need additional information about Speak Up or the Congressional Briefing, please feel free to contact Jenny Hostert at email@example.com or (949) 609-4660 ext 17.
February 23-27 in Paris, France
Mobile Learning Week 2015 – hosted by UNESCOand UN Women – includes inspiring keynotes, plenary sessions, and a myriad of small, TedTalk like sessions on all kinds of topics related to girls, women, and mobile learning. This annual symposium spans the course of five days in Paris, France, and features 100+ speakers, 12 workshops, 80 presentations, and 1000+ participants from over 70 countries worldwide in order to explore the intersection of technology, education, and gender.
This week, Project Tomorrow CEO Julie Evans is in Paris to participate in two workshops. The first workshop, “Inspiring girls through games and coding: A hands-on exploration,” held by our friends at BrainPOP, focuses on girls’ interest in playing learning games, creating their own games, and learning how to code using mobile devices – with data provided by Speak Up. The second workshop, “Designing, Implementing and Evaluating Gender-sensitive Mobile Learning Projects within Educational Settings” was held by Julie herself, along with Dr. Kari Stubbs from BrainPOP, and addresses how to design mobile learning projects that are constructed with gender-sensitivity as well as cultural awareness. You can learn more about this workshop on our website.
New Whitepaper from the Flipped Learning Network
Speak Up 2014 National Research Project Findings
Flipped Learning continues to trend for third year
To continue watching the Flipped Learning trend, for the third year in a row we have partnered with the Flipped Learning Network to ask specific questions on flipped learning in the Speak Up 2014 surveys. In this new whitepaper, the Flipped Learning Network focuses on data from teachers, librarians, building and district administrators, technology leaders and students regarding their use of videos in the classroom, digital content, and other flipped learning related experiences. Additionally, educators and administrators weighed in on professional development when learning how to flip a class. Students lent their voices on flipped learning, videos as homework, and how (and how often) they use learning and social media tools. To read the full report, click here.
Leading the Digital Learning Transition: Creating Future Ready Schools
March 2 – April 26
Learn more and register here
This Massive Open Online Course for Educators (MOOC-Ed) is designed for school and district leaders, and any others involved in planning and implementing K-12 digital learning initiatives. Everyone involved in digital learning (also known as blended learning, e-learning and instructional technology) in a K-12 school or district is welcome to join the course.
This course will help you:
▪ Understand the potential of digital learning in K-12 schools
The DLT MOOC-Ed consists of five units scheduled over eight weeks. Participants are invited to work in all the units or to select those that are most relevant to their personal learning goals. A certificate of completion to obtain CEUs is available for those who complete certain requirements. There is no cost for participating in the DLT MOOC-Ed.
Dr. Glenn Kleiman and Dr. Mary Ann Wolf are the program directors, with many others from school districts and other organizations throughout the country contributing to planning and facilitating the course.
Other MOOC-Ed courses currently open for registration include Learning Differences, Disciplinary Literacy for Deeper Learning, Coaching Digital Learning, and Teaching Statistics through Data Investigations. More information about these courses can be found at mooc-ed.org.
If your school or district participated in Speak Up between October and December of 2014, it’s time to dig in and see what your students, teachers, parents and community members had to say.
Click here to view your data, retrieve forgotten passwords, and more.
Speak Up On the Go!
Paying it Forward: Leveraging Today’s Female Voice
Tuesday, March 10
The Eight Essentials for Success in Mobile Learning
Tuesday, March 17
CoSN 2015 Annual Conference
Thank you for your interest and continued support of Speak Up! Be sure to stay updated on all things Speak Up by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our Blog.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact our Speak Up Operations Manager, Jenny Hostert, at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at (949) 609-4660 ext. 17.
Many thanks to our sponsors and partners for the support of Speak Up 2014: Blackboard Inc., BrainPOP, Fuel Education, DreamBox Learning, Schoolwires, Qualcomm Wireless Reach, Rosetta Stone, American Association of School Administrators, Consortium for School Networking, Digital Learning Day, Digital Promise, edWeb, International Association for K-12 Online Learning, International Society for Technology in Education, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National School Boards Association, Secondary Education Teachers’ Association, and the Southern Regional Education Board.
February 25, 2015
While all of the keynotes, plenary sessions and small group discussions at Mobile Learning Week have been fabulous, my personal favorite so far has been a panel discussion on the intersection of mobile devices, girls and literacy. As I tweeted earlier today, it was hard to keep up with all of the insightful comments, ideas and suggestions from the rock star panel. Speak of rock stars, check out this panel lineup – and if you don’t know these folks, I highly recommend that you Google them and connect with them on social media. That is exactly what I did today!
- Shaheen Attiqu-Ur-Rahman (Bunyad Literacy Council)
- Gulser Corat (UNESCO)
- Shafika Isaacs (International Education Consultant)
- Matt Keller (XPrize Foundation)
- Steve Vosloo (Pearson, South Africa)
- Dan Wagner (University of Pennsylvania)
It is hard to digest the entire 70 minute panel discussion in one blog posting, but here are 5 key takeaways that 12 hours later I am still thinking about. Remember, the topic was about how mobiles can enhance literacy for all people, especially girls.
- Mobile devices enable two-way communications for adults and kids to comment and discuss what they are reading. A printed book does not allow you to give immediate feedback on the content or to facilitate a discussion with folks around the world.
- The inclusion of mobiles into discussions around how to improve literacy is actually instigating new conversations about what we mean when we say literacy in 2015. The expanded version of literacy now seems to include not just reading, but different forms of writing including commentary, ICT or technology literacy skills, and critical thinking skills.
- As per Ms. Attiq-Ur-Rahman, mobiles enable women in particular to have a voice; having that voice supports greater self-confidence and efficacy; having that new self-image promote the ability to create changes that impact women’s lives. Those changes can positively impact not only the woman, but also her children, her family, her community and her society.
- Having a stake and a voice in her life empowers the woman or girl to think beyond simply being a consumer of content and technology, and instead becoming a creator of digital tools and resources.
- Mobile devices, wireless technology and mobile learning resources are uniquely qualified to nurture, support and sustain changes in how all people, adults and youth, look at their world and their place within it. The ability to tap into knowledge through your fingertips, to have tools in the palm of your hand to support learning, and to be able to conveniently and effectively follow a passion for learning or entrepreneurship may seem second nature today in the US, but in most of the developing world, these are dramatic game changers. Despite this potential, a unique refrain throughout this week has been the challenge of how to scale and sustain mobile learning projects. Much more work is needed here in both the developed and developing world.
Tomorrow in our 4th Memo from Mobile Learning Week I am going to discuss the issue of gender sensitivity and digital learning. This has very direct implications for how we are going to universally tackle the sticky challenge of scale and sustainability. Despite that, I am impressed that UNESCO in collaboration with UN-Women has taken on this big topic of women, girls and mobiles for this year’s MLW. While there were many very thoughtful leaders talking about this topic during the Symposium, let’s be candid: too many people have misunderstandings and wrong assumptions around women and girls’ interests in mobile learning. My goal with tomorrow’s blog posting is to demystify it a bit based upon the research that we did for this week’s workshop. Stay tuned!
- Understand the potential of digital learning in K-12 schools
- Assess progress and set future goals for your school or district
- Begin to develop a plan to achieve your digital learning goals
Last month, the Pew Research Center released data showing that although U.S. students are slowly improving in math and science, they still are behind in the subjects when compared to other countries.
Happy Around the Web Wednesday! Browse all the links below for the latest news and topics trending in education and technology. Be sure to let us know which article intrigued you the most!
– The Project Tomorrow Team
Time is running out! Don’t miss this last opportunity to register for our webinar. Join executive leadership Michael Flood from Kajeet and Julie Evans from Project Tomorrow for a webinar on Wednesday, February 18 at 4 PM EST. This event will focus on the findings of a two-year long research study which took an in-depth look at the impact of 1-to-1 tablet implementation in elementary and middle schools. The project was sponsored by Kajeet with funding from Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach Initiative. Find out more about:
- Increased student engagement in lessons which resulted in higher scores
- Teacher adaptation to Mobile Learning which led to increased student reading and writing fluency
- At-home Internet access led to higher student/family engagement, contributing to academic success
- Detailed explanation of how Kajeet is working on bridging the digital divide