Mobile devices are coming to school.The Learning First Alliance (where I am deputy director) and Grunwald Associates, with support from AT&T, recently released Living and Learning with Mobile Devices, which examines parents' attitudes towards mobile devices as learning tools.
This survey, completed by parents of children age 3 to 18, found that 51 percent of high school students carry a smartphone with them to school every day -- so do 28 percent of middle school students and 8 percent of elementary school students.
Many in the education community recognize the transformative power of these types of devices, which have the potential to increase student engagement, allow educators to more easily personalize learning experiences, and provide students quick access to an enormous amount of information.
But are schools using mobile devices for learning?
In many cases, no. While 17 percent of parents say that their child's school requires use of a portable or mobile device, in many cases it is a school-provided portable computer. And 72 percent of parents report that their child's school does not allow use of family-owned mobile devices.
There are a number of legitimate concerns related to the use of mobile technology, particularly student/family-owned devices, in school. Two often cited are issues of equity and the potential for distraction. But given the ubiquity of mobile technology in daily life, the fact that kids are often told to power down at school reflects a disconnect that raises the issue of whether we are appropriately and adequately preparing students for life in the digital age.
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