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Project U­ses Cell Phones as Computers in the Classroom


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University of Michigan professor Elliot Soloway and University of North Texas professor Cathleen Norris have developed the Mobile Learning Environment, a suite of educational software that turns smart phones into personal computers for use in classrooms. The suite features programs that allow students to map concepts, animate drawings, surf related information on the Internet. The software also enables students to integrate their lessons and assignments. "The future is mobile devices that are connected," Soloway says. "They're going to be the new paper and pencil." He says cell phones are capable of doing everything a laptop does at a fraction of the cost, and many students already bring them to school.

A pilot project in Keller, Texas, has equipped 53 students in two fifth-grade classes with a smart phone for around-the-clock use. Students cannot text or make calls with the smart phones, but they can use the camera, MP3 player, calendars, calculators, and educational software. "The phones will be seamlessly integrated into my lessons," says fifth-grade teacher Matt Cook. "I think that right off the bat, this will add a level of student engagement." The Keller school district is examining several elements of the students' learning through the devices, including whether listening to recordings of texts enhances at-risk students' reading comprehension and the students' technological abilities before and after the project.

From University of Michigan News Service
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