Mobile technologies to promote learning

pockets of potential

White Paper Review
Pockets of potential: Using mobile technologies to promote children’s learning.
Carly Schuler, Ed. M.
January 2009.
The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop

More than half of the world’s population now owns a cell phone and children under 12 constitute one of the fastest growing segments of mobile technology users in the U.S.

Carly Schuler argues that, just as Sesame Street introduced children and their families to the potential of television as an educational medium two generations ago, today’s children will benefit if mobile technologies become a force for learning and discovery in the next decade.

The debate should no longer be whether we should use mobile devices to support learning, she says, but about exploring how best they can be used.

Pockets of Potential” (PDF, 54pp.)  acknowledges the legitimate public concern about the “disruptive track record” of mobile devices in schools. Yet Schuler shows that there is reason to be excited about their promise. This paper analyzes key industry trends, opportunities, and challenges, including small-scale studies of academic and industry projects.

The report presents more than two dozen handheld learning projects in the US and internationally. Schuler recommends a series of action steps to consider and points to the promising innovations developed by an international group of mobile technology thought leaders.

Educators face five opportunities to seize mobile learning’s unique attributes to improve education:

    To encourage “anywhere, anytime” learning.
    To reach underserved children.
    To improve 21st-century social interactions.
    To fit with learning environments.
    To enable a personalized learning experience.

To build professional capacity among educators, she recommends creating a “digital teacher corps.” First proposed by the literacy and digital technology expert James Paul Gee, the corps would work in the lowest-performing schools and in after-school settings throughout the country.

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