Mobile Education Helping Students to Improve Their 21st Century Skills


Mobile Education Helping Students to Improve Their 21st Century Skills

Nan Chiau Primary School, together with Qualcomm Wireless Reach, the National Institute of Education, the University of Michigan, Microsoft, Nokia and Singtel, launched the WE Learn project in March 2012 and provided 350 third-grade students, teachers 

and staff at the school with 3G mobile devices and Internet access in order to complement the school’s curriculum and teaching processes.

The purpose of the project is to explore the ways that mobile technology can enhance education and help in shifting gears from a teacher-centric model to a student-centric, inquiry-oriented and collaborative model. Real life practices like in Nan Chiau Primary School have now become a model for primary schools in Singapore that are implementing 21stcentury learning in classrooms.

Dr. Elliot Soloway, an Arthur F. Thurnau professor from the University of Michigan, has worked closely with the school to develop applications as well as the technology for the project and was pleased to report that “students using the smartphone-enabled curriculum became more independent and inquisitive, and improved their test scores in areas of self-directed and collaborative learning. These are the 21stcentury skills that we want to help students develop to compete in a world that requires people to think critically and creatively, solve problems and make decisions as a team.”

A study of the project confirmed that students who used smartphones for their English and science classes were more confident and engaged when asking and responding to questions and improved their spoken English.

Aside from sharing the positive results, I was honored to join our fellow project partners to announce plans to expand the WE Learn program in 2013.  This expansion will include an additional 300 students from Nan Chiau Primary School’s fourth-grade class. The project’s mobile learning platform (MyDesk, running on Windows Phone) and educational applications will also be enhanced.

Immediately after the announcement, fourth-grade teacher Jenny Lee provided a demonstration of how smartphones are being used in her science classes. After being separated into small groups, students were asked to take photos of magnetic toys from different angles and to share these photos and their observations of the magnetic toy. Students were able to gather information online using their smartphones and discuss and collaborate with other students on their findings. I found it particularly interesting to see the ways that smartphones were being used to facilitate learning in a multitude of ways—through text, drawings, audio and visual recordings and student-to-student collaboration.

Qualcomm are proud to be part of the WE Learn project as it is a clear example of how mobile devices and software can be used to complement traditional teaching methods and facilitate improved learning outcomes. Other organizations should also support similar projects to expand the reach of mobile in education and achieve the vision of 21st century teaching and learning .

The post originally appeared here.

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