In February, students from participating schools in the Carson, Clark, and Washoe County School Districts received Android tablets.
Students and administers celebrated the occasion with a Digital Learning Day, a national campaign to improve teaching and learning that began in 2012. This year 49 states and the District of Columbia, and nearly 20,000 teachers, representing almost 4 million students, participated in hands-on digital learning activities in math, science, social studies, and language arts. Last year’s inaugural event received participation from 39 states, 15,000 teachers, and 1.7 million students.
I had the privilege of attending the 2013 Digital Learning Day at the Nevada State Legislature in Carson City, Nev. Five children, from kindergarten through third grade, were asked to demonstrate their digital literacy skills by creating a picture story using editing applications to customize each picture in front of an audience of decisions makers.
While tablets are far from replacing textbooks, a growing number of schools are turning to the devices to try new innovative methods of teaching. Fritsch is among the first elementary schools in the state to adopt mobile learning.
I’ve always been an advocate for integrating modern technology in the classroom. My team at Noble Studios provided the administration at Fritsch with a list of more than 30 educational apps to download onto the students’ tablets (i.e. Google Earth, NASA, National Geographic, Scientific Calculator, Compass, Weather and more). We believe the apps will help students with their lessons, strengthen comprehension, and increase engagement.
It was inspiring to watch the kids get excited about a new way of learning. Students from northern Nevada were using Skype to engage with students in Southern Nevada, working together to solve problems. It was cool to witness a major milestone in digital learning.
Digital learning encourages kids to work more cohesively as a team by sharing knowledge and collaborating. It also allows the teachers to challenge students from a distance. The use of tablets provides an opportunity for kids without Internet access to keep up with modern technology and still learn from home through assignments and native mobile apps. With 55 million students in the country’s elementary and secondary schools, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, elementary schools are a growing market for mobile devices.
The International Data Corporation (IDC), a global research firm specializing in information technology, estimates 117 million tablets were sold worldwide in 2012 and expects sales to reach 165 million in 2013 – with 50% of those sales in the U.S. and a large portion going to schools.
Locally, Carson City Middle School, Carson High School, and Spanish Springs High School are all part of a pilot program. The schools currently have enough tablets to accommodate three classrooms and are looking to raise funds to supply all students and classrooms with the mobile devices.
What are some of your favorite educational apps? Share them in the comments below.