Time-to-Adoption: One Year or Less

Mobiles as a category have proven more interesting and more capable with each passing year, and continue to be a technology with new surprises. According to a recent report from mobile manufacturer Ericsson, studies show that by 2015, 80% of people accessing the Internet will be doing so from mobile devices. Perhaps more important for education, Internet-capable mobile devices will outnumber computers within the next year. In Japan, over 75% of Internet users already use a mobile as their first choice for access. This shift in the means of connecting to the Internet is being enabled by the convergence of three trends: the growing number of Internet-capable mobile devices, increasingly flexible web content, and continued development of the networks that support connectivity. The available choices are many — smartphones, tablets, laptops, and the newest class of devices like the iPad that blends the functions of all of them — and the boundaries between them are more and more blurred. It has become common practice to develop web content that seamlessly adjusts for optimal display on whichever of these devices is used to access it, increasing the proportion of Internet applications and information that is accessible to mobile users. Mobile and wireless data networks continue to evolve, supporting faster connections and higher bandwidth throughput; the forthcoming 4G network promises the highest speeds yet, and 4G devices are already beginning to appear on the market.

Relevance for Teaching, Learning, or Creative Inquiry

  • At the secondary level, nearly every student carries a mobile device, making it a natural choice for content delivery, reference material storage, and even field work and data capture.
  • The suite of tools available for mobile devices, particularly smartphones, continues to grow, adding to the list of references, flash cards, games, and quiz applications available for nearly every subject.
  • Mobiles make it possible for students to do meaningful fieldwork, taking measurements and sharing data and findings in ways similar to those used by researchers.

In Practice

  • Project K-Nect is a project for ninth graders in North Carolina focusing on smartphone use to teach math skills to at risk students:
  • PollEverywhere is an online polling system that is used in conjunction with mobile phones. It is free for educators and the ease of use has made it attractive for classroom exercises. Millard North High School in Omaha, NE is one example of a school using this:
  • St. Joseph School in Trenton, MI used mobile phones in a fourth grade class to record math poems with hipcast and post them online for their Radio Theater Podcast:

For Further Reading

School Cell Phone Policies are Changing in Delaware

(Lisa Cleveland, Wilmington K-12 Examiner, 31 August 2010.) This piece discusses how some K12 schools in Delaware are relaxing policies allowing students to bring cell phones to school, but have to keep them in their lockers during the day. While still restrictive, this shows administrators are becoming more flexible with these devices.

Classroom Cell Phone Acceptable Use Policy

(Burrell School District, Burrell School District Blog, May 2010.) This is an example of one K12 school’s cell phone policy in the Burrell, Pennsylvania School District.

M-Learning: Promises, Perils, and Challenges for K-12 Education

(Patricia Wallace, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Education New Horizons Learning Journal, Winter 2011.) This article details issues and considerations when integrating cell phone use in the K12 classroom.