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Speak Up Survey shows mobile learning on the rise

By Julie Randles
November 10, 2017
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Students have long said they use different devices to do different things – from research, watching videos and taking notes to emailing teachers, checking grades and accessing textbooks.

In the 2016 Speak Up Project for Digital Learning, a national research project and free service for schools, what students have proclaimed for years proves out as data shows variance in device use by grade level and by the type of work students are doing.

The message: One size does not fit all when it comes to mobile learning.

“We’re starting to see more strategic thinking about what it means to go mobile,” says Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow and lead researcher for the Speak Up Project for Digital Learning. “It’s getting more sophisticated. It’s not just 1:1 and all kids getting the same devices. We’re beginning to see differentiation in what devices are used by each grade level, and that’s a good thing.”

One example – 39 percent of students in grades K-2 regularly use a tablet in school, but only 9 percent of high school students say the same. Instead, high schoolers most frequently have access to laptops (40 percent) and Chromebooks (32 percent). 

Over the last five years, the data on mobile learning has also shown that students have multiple devices, meaning 1:1 doesn’t necessarily relate to the use of a single device.

The Mobile Learning Snapshot 2017 reports on the types of devices students in kindergarten through high school have access to for personal use and for learning in school, along with how students in grades 6-12 are using the devices for learning.

Highlights include:

  • Roughly the same number of high school students now access their own mobile device for learning in class (58 percent BYOD) as have a school Chromebook (56 percent).
  • Among middle school students, 77 percent have personal access to a smartphone, 50 percent to a tablet, 60 percent to a Chromebook and 11 percent to a laptop.
  • Nineteen percent of students in grades 6-12 use a school-provided device to access the internet outside of school.
  • Seventy-one percent of parents say it is important for every student to use mobile devices in school. 
  • Twenty-two percent of teachers say their students do not have regular access to devices in school.

Evans says the differentiation in mobile device selection and use is a strong statement that school and district leaders are not just buying devices but are focused on the learning goals they want to achieve.

“I love it when we can use data to show there’s more strategic thinking or a higher degree of sophistication in how we’re thinking about technology,” Evans says. “The data tells us school leaders are thinking more deeply about mobile learning. We still have a ways to go, but we’re seeing some glimmers.”

ISTE members interested in learning more about how mobile learning is evolving can join Evans for the ISTE Professional Learning Series webinar “Speak Up Update: Trends in Mobile Devices and Digital Content” on Nov. 15.  Participants will:

  • Get a perspective on student use of mobile devices inside and outside of the classroom.
  • Hear what benefits teachers, parents and administrators think mobile devices bring to the classroom.
  • Dive into principals’ opinions on the academic benefits of mobile devices.
Speak Up 2017 is open! It’s time for students, parents, teachers, principals, librarians, technology leaders, superintendents and more to share thoughts and experiences on education issues.