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Friday, February 20, 2009

Smart phones and other ultra-portable devices represent the future of ed tech by Meris Stansbury

Using smart phones and other mobile devices for learning isn't just a trend, but rather a sustainable approach to educational technology that can adapt to future assessments and help raise student test scores significantly, said presenters at the first-ever Mobile Learning Conference in Washington, D.C., Feb. 17.

This image was part of 'Towards the m-portfolio' presented at ePortfolios 2007, Oxford.

Year after year, when students are asked on our Speak Up Survey what they'd most like to have, I get the same answer," said Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow, a national education group that publishes the largest annual survey of student, parent, teacher, and administrator attitudes toward school technology.
"I hear: I want a laptop," Evans said.

"To put it simply, there are three points to mobile learning," said Elliot Soloway, a professor at the University of Michigan who has developed software for smart phones that allows them to be more like personal computers.
Soloway's three points are that mobile learning is...

1. Big: By combining the main functions of a PC with the resources of the internet in an ultra-portable device, smart phones and other mobile devices truly give students the ability to practice "anytime, anywhere" learning

2. Sustainable: Because most students will already have a cell phone or mobile device, parents can buy the technology for their kids, and schools can purchase only the software. Also, students prefer handheld technology to laptops because it's more portable. At the same time, handheld devices, software companies, and educators are creating programs to help implement mobile devices into the curriculum.

3. Able to provide unique opportunities, especially for interaction through blogs and academic-related text messaging.

Soloway and his team of researchers have developed a software suite that transforms smart phones into virtual PCs. The Mobile Learning Environment, which is being tested in a Texas elementary school, gives students a handheld platform that duplicates many of the educational features of a PC, including the ability to map concepts, do internet research, use animation, and run versions of Microsoft Word and Excel.

Related links
M-learning (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Mobile Learning Conference
Project Tomorrow
Elliot Soloway
“Project Uses Cell Phones as Computers in the Classroom”
Keller ISD mobile learning project
Project K-Nect
Wireless Reach project
Onslow County Schools
SOTI MobiControl
The Greaves Group
Consortium for School Networking
Keller's Trinity Meadows Intermediate School fifth-graders use cellphones as classroom computer by KATHERINE LEAL UNMUTH

Additional resources:
IAmLearn (International Association for Mobile Learning)
OER Commons (Open education resources)
ISTE SIG Handheld Computing

Source: eSchool News