Mobile Future

Riding the Mobile Wave Back to School

By Monica Martinez, Mobile Future Advisor

As kids head back to the classroom, 81 percent of students will be relying on mobile devices to help them study. Teachers, parents— and the students themselves— are using these devices to unearth innovative and accessible tools that are transforming the way children learn.

With more than 355 million wireless connections in the United States, it is not surprising that some of the earliest wireless technology adopters are our kids. In fact, regular smartphone usage was reported by 44 percent of elementary school students, 58  percent of middle school students, and 75  percent of high school students, according to Pearson’s 2014 Student Mobile Device Survey. Embracing the promise and possibility of these tech savvy e-learners, EdTech innovators are racing to create a virtual smorgasbord of mobile apps, e-books, and next generation learning platforms. Kids are learning from the palm of their hands in easy, fun, and safe ways— at school, at home, and on the go.

Today, education apps represent the third most popular category in the Apple App Store, many of which can be downloaded for free. Take, for example, the free interactive reading log from Scholastic, where students can log their reading minutes to reach goals and win prizes. The app also makes it easy for teachers and parents to track reading progress. Our youngest learners are also benefitting from mobile connectivity— Learn With Homer, for example, is a first of its kind comprehensive reading app that provides interactive and engaging literacy-building tools for children ages three to six. Unclear where to find these great learning tools? There are mobile platforms, like Famigo, that make it easy for parents to find the safest and most appropriate education apps for their families.

Parents, teachers and students all agree that mobile connectivity is unleashing new and creative learning opportunities. Research shows that more than 80 percent of students are now using mobile devices to study and 77 percent affirm that technology has positively impacted their grades. School administrators agree, 90 percent of whom say the effective use of EdTech is critical to their mission of high student achievement.

The most striking trend to watch in education technology is the sharp climb in tablet usage, particularly among young learners. Pearson’s survey found that 66 percent of elementary school students, 58 percent of middle school students and 42 percent of high school students reported regular tablet use. With the opportunity for more personalized and interactive learning, nine in ten students agree that tablets make learning more fun. Not to mention teaching with tablets has the potential to save the U.S. education system $3 billion per year, according to Mobile Future.

Perhaps the best part about mobile connectivity is its potential to serve as an equalizer, connecting students regardless of zip code or economic circumstance. Studies show that minority communities, which are disproportionately lower income, are particularly ready adopters of mobile technology, with Hispanic and African American students (in 4th – 12th grade) more likely to consider themselves “early adopters” of mobile technologies. With our country’s most vulnerable children more connected than ever before, opening up unparalleled learning opportunities via connected devices is a game changer.

There is no question wireless technology is shaping the way children learn – both in school and outside the classroom.  That said, we need to ensure continued investment and innovation in the wireless networks that are supporting these ingenious digital learning opportunities. Our kids are being raised in the midst of a digital revolution— one that has the potential to completely transform learning as we know it. These constantly evolving digital tools are key to helping them succeed in an increasingly connected world.

This was originally found on The Hill, Congress Blog.