The changing role of mobile devices in the classroom

Tom Hall

Tom Hall is VP of Education Technology Partnerships at learning and education specialists Pearson. As a recently joined MEF member Tom explores the rise of mobile technology as an essential tool for global learning programmes and education

It seems that every time I’m on a plane or train these days, I see a child – who is barely old enough to walk or talk – happily playing on their parent’s smart phone or tablet. That’s because these interfaces are intuitive for kids; they touch, push and pull on the screen, similarly to how they discover any new object at that young age. In fact, almost half of first-time mobile tech users aren’t even in kindergarten yet, according to a recent study.

For us at Pearson – the world’s leading learning company – this means we have a significant opportunity to use the best new technology to improve learning outcomes and increase access to education for one billion learners across the globe. By the time that toddler, who is playing on her parent’s smart phone, enters school, she will expect all of her content to be live, updatable, interactive and social – just as she experiences content outside of school every day.

Regardless of whether we’re looking at developed or emerging markets, mobile devices are becoming crucial to delivering effective education across the globe.

We are witnessing and working on game-changing programs in markets as diverse as California, Kenya, and Dubai, where education reform is being driven through tablets and 1:1 learning programs. In all those new ventures, it’s imperative we ensure educators have access to the professional development they need to feel comfortable delivering education using new technologies: because nothing can replace the personal touch of a teacher, and we believe mobile technologies can give them amazing new tools to bring learning to life.

No one company can deliver programs so ambitious in their scale alone, and that’s why we need a deep partnership network to succeed here. Key partners for us include the mobile device manufacturers, as well as the mobile phone carriers. We need their support not only to ensure that the right infrastructure is in place in schools, but also that devices are affordable, fit for purpose, and effective.

For us at Pearson, it’s not about technology for technology’s sake. We have a mission to improve people’s lives through learning; and with 69% of all internet access now taking place on mobile devices and an estimated 2.7 billion internet users by 2015, we are facing a unique opportunity to reach learners exactly where they are, in a way that fits with their unique learning style, and in a manner which delivers better and better results.

Tom Hall is VP of Education Technology Partnerships at Pearson. You can follow Pearson on Twitter here.

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