We still have a long way to go to create 21st century classrooms for our children, but there are a few wonderful examples of that progress making headway.
On May 16th in Tokyo, Japan, Qualcomm Wireless Reach and Renaissance High School held an event to announce the Phase I results and Phase II plans for the “3G Smartphone / Tablet x Digital Textbook” project, which will provide all students (eventually about 5,000 students) with tablets so they can learn 24/7. Phase II will also include the development of new education content for tablets that utilize National Geographic and other education content provider materials. Check out this video about the project:
As I mentioned in my speech at the event, the classroom isn’t necessarily in a building any longer. There are so many real-world opportunities for students to learn. And with 3G-enabled smartphones and tablets, students at Renaissance High School, a private correspondence school in Japan, can conveniently study anywhere, anytime, with the aim of earning diplomas, while seeking vocational training and holding part-time, or in some cases, full-time jobs. The project, a collaborative venture between Wireless Reach and Renaissance Academy Corporation, responsible for Renaissance High School, provides students with tools and content that are relevant to their lives and help motivate them to complete their education.
And student feedback is promising. Students surveyed as part of this project reported the increasing importance of integrating mobile devices into learning as it allows them to learn at their own pace.
Survey results show:
- Students enrolled in the 2013 school term overwhelmingly favor smartphones and tablets over PCs for learning. In fact, 68.8 percent reported always using a smartphone or tablet, up from 46.4 percent in 2012 or earlier.
- Of surveyed students, 52.7 percent answered that they now always use either a smartphone or a tablet for learning. The ability to immediately power on and use these mobile devices, as well as the convenience of being able to learn anywhere, anytime have both been cited as advantages of these technological tools.
- When comparing a PC to a smartphone or tablet, 53.1 percent answered that the use of a smartphone or tablet would help improve their academic achievement.
Wireless Reach funding will cover nearly 200 Snapdragon-based tablets with mobile education content and 3G wireless connectivity to support the on-the-go learning environment that allows students to engage in course work, access web-based resources, study and take tests when and where they have the time. Local 3G networks were used to facilitate anytime, anywhere learning by enabling students to collaborate with each other as well as communicate and submit reports to teachers to receive immediate grading and feedback.
Mobile devices are here to stay. It’s imperative to find ways to explore how these devices in our pockets can be used in education so that, one day, all students have the opportunity to learn anytime, anywhere to help prepare them for the workforce and to actively participate in our global economy.