A couple of interesting reports I've stumbled across yesterday...
Pockets of Potential: Using Mobile Technologies to Promote Children’s Learning by Carley Shuler was published this month by the same folks who bring us Sesame Street. The executive summary does a good job of summarizing research and the state of using mobile devices in education. I liked this:
The report highlights five opportunities to seize mobile learning’s unique attributes to improve education:
- Encourage “anywhere, anytime” learning Mobile devices allow students to gather, access, and process information outside the classroom. They can encourage learning in a real-world context, and help bridge school, afterschool, and home environments.
- Reach underserved children Because of their relatively low cost and accessibility in low-income communities, handheld devices can help advance digital equity, reaching and inspiring populations “at the edges” — children from economically disadvantaged communities and those from developing countries.
- Improve 21st-century social interactions Mobile technologies have the power to promote and foster collaboration and communication, which are deemed essential for 21st-century success.
- Fit with learning environments Mobile devices can help overcome many of the challenges associated with larger technologies, as they fit more naturally within various learning environments.
- Enable a personalized learning experience Not all children are alike; instruction should be adaptable to individual and diverse learners. There are significant opportunities for genuinely supporting differentiated, autonomous, and individualized learning through mobile devices.
I am particularly excited by the last observation. Education has simply not tapped the huge potential for individualizing instruction for all students - every child needs the same attention paid to an IEP that our special needs children now have. Isn't every child a special needs child?
As the old joke and the just released NEA study Reading on the Rise goes, "I have some good news and I have some bad news." I'm guessing you want to hear the good news first.
Yes, for the first time in years, the percentage of Americans reading "literary" materials is going up. Now slightly more than half of us read fiction, poetry, plays, etc. This slight upward trend is evident among nearly all demographic groups and the NEA takes credit for the rise since it alerted the public to declining reading rates and society has promoted reading.
The report credits materials being read on electronic devices as well as in print. (So reading on my Kindle and iPod now "count."
What the NEA Report buries, but an AP article pulls out, is that there is less voluntary reading being done:
But the preface does not mention a countertrend: a drop among people not obligated to read. Adults who read books of any kind — fiction or nonfiction, online or on paper — that were not assigned by a teacher or employer dropped from 56.6 percent of adults in 2002 to 54.3 percent last year. The fall was greatest among those younger than 55.
And while the number of adults who say they read a non-required book is 3.5 million higher than in 2002, the report notes that that the total adult population increased by 19 million, meaning an increase in the number of people who didn't voluntarily read books of 15.5 million, a huge disparity confirmed by NEA research director Sunil Iyengar.
Gioia [outgoing NEA chair] believes the NEA report is essentially positive — if only because good news about reading is so rare — but says that "we're still in a culture in which all kinds of reading are under pressure" from other forms of leisure and entertainment.
OK, readers, Johnson's definition of postliteracy again?
...the postliterate as those who can read, but chose to meet their primary information and recreational needs through audio, video, graphics and gaming.
Are our schools and especially our libraries preparing for a postliterate society?