Earlier this week I attended a special PTA meeting at my 10yo son’s elementary school. It was to introduce us parents to an exciting new opportunity our 5th grade students will have in using mobile learning devices as part of this year’s curriculum.
As a digital mom and a bit of a tech geek myself, I was already excited by the buzz I had heard about the program. But then as the district’s technical director laid out the details and plans of the program for us, I felt like jumping out of my seat and cheering.
In a word, this is going to be: AWESOME.
Each of our school’s 5th grade students will be receiving a Droid (each protected by OtterBox covers), which will initially be used only in the classroom. Teachers have integrated the use of sites like Edmodo, Discovery Education, and other learning sites/apps into this year’s curriculum, and will have the students working interactively and collaboratively on the lessons with their Droids.
Eventually, depending on the student’s proven responsibility with the device, the Droids will be allowed to come home on weeknights, and ultimately on weekends as well.
All calling and texting features have been disabled on the phones, and the data service – provided by Verizon – is locked into a filtered network that runs through the school district. The phones will never offer students any other WiFi networks to join. Using the Droids out and about or at home will have all the same safety and protection features as them using a computer at school. No personal information is stored in the phones or transmitted through their use of them.
There is no cost to participate in this program, and Droids will be returned at the end of the year. In the event of damage or loss, families will work something out with school administrators to repair or replace the Droids; the school principal does not anticipate a situation so severe that a family would have to pay the full $200 to replace a unit.
This is the third year Verizon’s Mobile Learning Devices program has been in our district, and at the meeting we were able to watch video interviews with teachers and students who have already used it in the classroom. There was a common theme of renewed excitement for learning, engagement, and fresh thought from all the students interviewed. And the teachers reported seeing new talents and interests come to life in the students using the devices.
I am SO excited for my son and this opportunity he will have this year. I’m also excited to see that my daughters’ middle and high schools have seemed to embrace digital learning – as laptops are now allowed in class and cell phones are allowed during passing time – as a reality for our young people today.
As one of the slides in the evening’s presentation mentioned, we are fast becoming a knowledge economy, and keeping up with how our students learn – and how ideas and innovation are born – in this digital age is becoming a “must” in how we educate our children.
*Disclosure: I have no material relationship to either Verizon or OtterBox. No one knows or cares that I’m a blogger. This is simply a program my 5th grade son will be participating in at his school this year. I find it all very fascinating and was excited to share. For what it’s worth, I think OtterBox and Verizon are pretty amazing for providing these kinds of services to public school students.
To learn more about Digital Learning Devices in the classroom – and for some great video demonstrations and testimonials, visit Verizon.