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Mobile Devices in Classroom Give English Learners a Leg Up

June 27, 2011

This article, posted on the New American Media website, describes the use of mobile devises for use in the ESL classroom. The article may ask more questions then it answers, but it’s interesting to see the response the youth have with mobile devices in the classroom. 

I’ve posted a few paragraphs below to pique your interest, but two questions remain for me 1. Does the use of mobile devices in classrooms cause a larger technology gap then already exists between higher and lower SES children? and 2: How do we shrink the already present technology gap?

It all began last fall, when Nieto began incorporating his personal iPad into lectures as a learning tool, taking advantage of the wireless Internet service available on campus to call up information instantly, with the tap of his finger. Shortly thereafter, when a student asked Nieto if he could bring his iPod to class, Nieto agreed, and neither teacher nor student has looked back since.

Now, more and more of Nieto’s students are bringing their mobile devices to class. Many choose to turn in their homework via email, and the class even designed a blog together. Nearly half the students use mobile devices during in-class lessons, and those without their own, team up to work in pairs with those who do.

The speed of learning afforded by these devices, said Nieto, is especially important for English learners, who generally find themselves needing to play “catch up” in order to get their English proficiency to the level of their native-speaking peers by the time they hit high school or college. And, he said, homework completion is not quite the problem it was, prior to his allowing use of the technology.

The results show that while the majority of students—and, perhaps surprisingly, parents—are in favor of using mobile devices for learning as long as the school allows it, most school administrators remain opposed.

The survey reported that 65 percent of principals would not allow their students to use their own mobile devices at school for instructional purposes. Even within the cohort of administrators that use a smart phone themselves, only one-quarter of them said they are likely to allow students to use their own mobile devices. More…

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