For years, schools have mandated policies barring cellphones from the classroom in hopes of avoiding disruptions to a student's learning environment. Today, one school district in Michigan believes cellphones deserve a spot in the classroom. The Inkster Public School District is working with Sprint and GoKnow Learning, Inc., a University of Michigan spinoff that focuses on helping K-12 adopt mobile learning, to transform the device once considered a nuisance into a powerful learning tool.
During the 2009 summer school session, Inkster enlisted Sprint for a trial in which Sprint handsets loaded with the GoKnow software were integrated into the classroom to enhance the learning environment. The trial delivered results above and beyond the expectations of Inkster Public School District. Data showed that students in the district were performing below state standards in English Language Arts (ELA) and math. However, after this trial students involved increased their achievement scores on average by 25 percent.
This trial allowed students to:
- Complete and synchronize ELA assignments using their cell phones with the Sprint/GoKnow technology programs such as Pico map (creating family tree and characterization using graphic organizers), Sketchy (story telling using animation software), KWL chart (vocabulary skills and activating prior knowledge), camera, video, and Windows Mobile (word processing) for lessons that went along with their online reading assignment of "Animal Farm" by George Orwell.
- Learn how mathematics is integrated into everyday life through the district's Culinary Arts Program. Students completed and synchronized assignments using the Sprint/Go Know technology programs: Pico map, Sketchy, KWL Charts, camera, note taking and PowerPoint presentations. The lessons were designed with an emphasis on conversions and algebraic solutions.
- Take a field trip to Comerica Park Baseball Stadium that integrated math concepts by using the seating arrangements at the park to determine which section of seating generated the most income. The students used their cell phones to gather data using Windows Mobile (Excel). The students also used their cellphones to capture pictures of the park with the objective of creating a slideshow presentation of their experience.
"We realize that students are digital learners with a firm grasp of technology, so integrating tools that they use everyday has provided some wonderful benefits," said Pete Lopez, director of technology, Inkster Public Schools. "The use of Sprint cell phones combined with the strength of the Sprint's Now NetworkT and the GoKnow software has enabled us to create both a mobile learning environment and a paperless classroom with immediate feedback that the students responded very well to. An added benefit is that our Title-1 district status allows us to receive federal funding for the cell phone service through E-Rate, a government funded program."
With a successful trial completed, Inkster Public Schools is proposing plans to implement this technology in all middle and high schools for the 2010-11 school year. The first step was to discuss results at the August 11 school board meeting. The Inkster Public Schools board members, superintendent, community, and stakeholders provided positive feedback regarding the cell phone initiative.
For additional information visit www.sprint.com/k12.