Half of High Schoolers Own a Smartphone or Tablet

According to a mobile learning report released today from Blackboard Inc. and Project Tomorrow®, nearly 50 percent of high schoolers and 40 percent of middle schoolers now own or have access to a smartphone or tablet, marking a 400 percent increase since 2007. The report, which compares key opportunities and challenges in mobile device usage among K-12 students, finds that with this widespread adoption, more schools and school districts are considering the incorporation of mobile devices into instruction.

While school and district administrators historically have been reluctant to allow students to use mobile devices at school, the report found that 27 percent of administrators are now exploring the idea. Parental approval of smartphone usage is also increasing with 62 percent of parents saying they would buy their child a mobile device if it would be used for academic purposes.

“Many parents, teachers and administrators are now mobile device users themselves, which has increased their appreciation and understanding for how these devices can support and enhance learning,” said Julie Evans, chief executive officer of Project Tomorrow. “We found nearly 90 percent of parents say that the effective implementation of technology in instruction will positively impact their child’s future. This growing understanding has allowed for an increase in the development of personalized education and a more sophisticated use of technology both in and outside of the classroom.”

“The prospect of a wireless device in every student’s hand with real time assessment and feedback presents the potential for a sweeping paradigm shift to learner-centered education,” said a California school district CTO/CIO who participated in the survey.

The findings are included in Learning in the 21st Century: Mobile Devices + Social Media = Personalized Learning, which tracks the interest and growth in emerging technologies. This special report on mobile learning examines the Speak Up 2011 national findings to present a perspective on the role of mobile devices within K-12 education.

While administrators’ interest is growing in the usage of mobile devices in school, they still struggle with key concerns. The report found that nearly half of principals identify teachers who are not trained in how to use mobile devices for instruction as the number one barrier. Seventy-five percent of teachers cited student distraction as their top concern of mobile use in the classroom.

“A key tenet of personalized learning is the ability for students to choose the tools that best support their learning tasks,” said Brett Frazier, senior vice president at Blackboard. “Young people that have grown up with smartphones not only understand the value mobile devices can add to the learning environment, but also have a rapidly growing interest in incorporating the technologies.”

Source: Press Release