MOBILE LEARNING PIONEERS: Scaling Up
While St. Marys is a small, rural town in west central Ohio, over 800 students and 49 staff members are using mobile learning devices (HTC Touch Pro2s) in grades 3-7. The one-to-one 24/7 mobile learning project started in October 2008 as a small, 60-unit pilot, but it has exploded into the largest one-to-one mobile learning project in the nation. The students use the MLDs for at least 50 percent of the school day for all their academic subjects and then use them for homework outside of school.
Experiences with MLDs
The MLDs are definitely motivating our students to learn. For example, students ask if they can stay in from recess to do work on the MLDs, and students ask if they can write more when doing a writing project. The elementary school boys have shown a marked increase in their interest in writing since the MLD project began. In addition, a class can be so totally engaged, and quiet in working with the MLDs that, because there is no movement, the automatic lighting system goes off. On the other hand, collaboration has increased, since students ask each other questions rather than go to the teacher for the answers.
The cellular system gives us connectivity at school, but it also provides connectivity outside the school for the students who otherwise would not have it. We added no additional support staff to support the scale-up so far, and we see no need— nor can we afford—more support staff as we continue to scale up the number of MLDs used in our district. Besides seeing students more engaged in their schoolwork as they use the MLDs, our teachers are interacting with the students more during class. Through the use of the learning management system (GoManage), teachers are able to differentiate lessons to accommodate different learning needs and styles by easily creating and distributing lessons of varying degrees of difficulty. And while the students are doing their work all on the MLDs, teachers are able to provide more one-to-one help to the specific students needing it.
Kyle Menchhofer is the technology coordinator at St. Marys (Ohio) Schools.