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US Students View Mobile Devices as Critical to Learning Process

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Access to smartphones has more than tripled among American high school students since 2006, according to a survey report from Project Tomorrow, a national education nonprofit organization, and Blackboard.

The report shows that students now view the inability to use their own electronics devices in school as the primary barrier to a successful digital education. ­Today's students are taking increased responsibility for their learning with mobile devices and instant access to the Internet, according to the report, and feel strongly about the potential for mobile devices to enhance their learning and to help them be more productive.

"We are beginning to see mobile learning take shape in pockets around the nation where a small but growing number of innovative educators are finding ways to leverage the once banned mobile devices for learning," said Julie Evans, Chief Executive Officer of Project Tomorrow. "Educators have an opportunity to help students learn more effectively and deeply by leveraging students' preferred learning tools and strategies."

The report also reveals a shift in thinking by parents and educators who are now beginning to accept the role of mobile devices as instructional tools, in part because they are active users of mobile devices in their own personal lives. In some cases, educators have embraced mobile devices as a catalyst for making learning a more student directed experience. At Jamestown Elementary School in Virginia, for example, students use mobile devices to create multimedia projects, improve their writing skills and collaborate with their peers. High school students in Onslow County Schools in North Carolina use smartphones to learn algebra, geometry and calculus.

"A little bit of creativity and focus can have amazing results," said Jeff Billings, Information Technology Director at Paradise Valley Unified School District. "I tell other educators considering a transformation like this to give their frontrunners freedom and be creative to establish new models and let the others follow in those footsteps."

"We see mobile as a transformative technology for engaging students," said Brett Frazier, Senior Vice President at Blackboard. "As these results show, educators and parents have an opportunity to leverage students' growing interest in mobile devices to engage them in a more personal learning experience that doesn't end when they leave the classroom."

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