Recently, I was interviewed for The Balancing Act show which airs on Lifetime about how Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach education initiatives use 3G mobile technology to enable innovations that transform and improve learning. A project, implemented by Wireless Reach partner, Digital Millennial Consulting, is profiled and includes a visit with students at North Carolina’s Southwest High School. Students of Project K-Nect are featured in this segment entitled “Mobile Solutions: An Affordable Way to Create Classrooms for the 21st Century.”
The Wireless Reach-funded Project K-Nect program uses smartphones to improve student math skills and is a fascinating look at how new learning opportunities enabled by smartphones, 24/7 connectivity and the Internet can be leveraged to enhance learning. The segment airs Tuesday, December 7th and January 18th at 7am EST, and I hope you’ll tune in .
Qualcomm believes that preparing students to become competitive in the global economy calls for enabling the same 24/7 connectivity to the Internet as business professionals enjoy.
Mobile devices are already an integral part of our children’s lives. According to Pew Research, almost all children in the U.S. have access to a mobile device. Seventy-five percent of American teens ages 12-17 own a cell phone.
As Project K-Nect demonstrates, the use of these always on, always connected mobile devices in the hands of students has the potential to dramatically improve educational outcomes by providing unprecedented access to learning resources and the ability to collaborate with peers and advisors in and out of the classroom.
Six North Carolina schools currently participate in Project K-Nect, which began during the 2007-2008 school year. The program’s first phase targeted students who scored poorly in math and lacked Internet access at home. Qualified students received 3G-enabled smartphones with 24/7 access to educational resources on the Internet. The phones also provided access to supplemental math content aligned to teachers’ lesson plans and allowed students to collaborate with each other and get help from online tutors.
The results have been remarkable. For two years, Project K-Nect has shown consistent success in students’ achievement. Results show a 30 percent increase in math proficiency on end of year exams.
While many schools stop students from bringing cell phones to class, there is a growing sense among America’s education thought leaders and policy makers that these small, always-connected devices should be used to leverage new learning opportunities provided by the rich digital world we live in.
Both the U.S. Department of Education’s National Education Technology Plan and the Federal Communications Commission National Broadband Plan include cloud computing and mobile devices as fundamental components of an education infrastructure.
The push is on to make wireless education solutions available nationwide and enable technology innovations in the classroom. Project K-Nect is a shining example for learning in the digital age and I hope it will become a role model for 21st century learning worldwide.
Shawn A. Covell is Vice President for Qualcomm Government Affairs