The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

January 9, 2013

Mobile devices provide for ‘anytime’ learning

By Marianne Bright for the SNAP

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 — There has been an upsurge in interest in the past couple of years across the education sector in mobile learning, or the use of small, portable devices to facilitate anytime, anywhere, “un-tethered” learning. How do kids use these devices? According to a 2011 study by Project Tomorrow, high school students said they use their mobile device at school:

To check grades (74 percent);

To take notes in class (59 percent);

To use the calendar (50 percent);

To access online text books (44per cent);

To send an e-mail (44 percent); and

To learn about school activities (40 percent).

Wireless capabilities allow students to do Internet research anytime, anywhere and without having to be tied to the school network or the physical space of school. Students can collaborate with peers, teachers and even subject content experts on schoolwork using instant messaging or text messaging.

Technology also is empowering teachers to do creative things they never would have been able to do in years past. Digitally connected classrooms and interactive curriculums not only appeal to teachers and parents, they have the potential to transform and dramatically improve the learning experience for today’s digitally savvy students.

Technology also plays a part in leveling the learning field for students. Children have varying abilities and strengths. They learn in different ways, at different speeds and at different times. Some students learn easily by reading, some by listening and watching and some by hands-on experience. Teachers can use technology to help all children realize their potential by giving them equal access to content.

For example, students who struggle with reading and are intimidated by long passages benefit from a program that offers read-aloud support: they can listen to the text while they read it, then answer comprehension questions.

An interactive reading program lets kids listen to a definition from an online encyclopedia, for instance, rather than try to make sense of the printed words.

Students who prefer to listen and watch are learning from audio and video programs on desktop computers, laptops, iPods, netbooks and other devices. Through podcasting, teachers can create audio files and post them to the Internet for students to download to a personal computer or handheld device (such as an iPod) and listen to or watch at any time — at their desk, on field trips, in the library or at home. Teachers may use podcasting as an alternative to student-produced newspapers and television shows or for students’ oral presentations of reports and assignments.

Here at Sylvan, we are embracing many of these tools to make student learning and communicating with parents more engaging, accessible and effective, both in the center and on the internet.

Marianne Bright is the Center director/owner at Sylvan Learning-Albe-marle. Sylvan is the leading national provider of tutoring to students of all ages, grades and skill levels.