Here in Toronto, where I live, public school students must leave their cell phones in their lockers. At Dartmouth High School, "Cell phones must be powered off and must not be visible in classrooms, hallways, and the cafeteria." At Waterloo Collegiate Institute, "Students are discouraged from bringing cell phones to school and class for a number of reasons. Cell phone use is permitted ONLY in the cafeteria and outside the school."
But at several public schools in North Carolina, cell phones aren't just welcome in the classroom, they're part of the curriculum. A small group of students and teachers are participating in a pilot project called Project K-nect, and the goal is to explore the use of smartphones in teaching and learning math.
The project is funded through a grant from wireless company Qualcomm, where Marie Bjerede is the Vice President of Wireless Education Technology. Recently, Marie blogged about the project, saying:
Overall, proficiency rates increased by 30 percent. In the best case, one class using the devices had 50 percent more kids finishing the year proficient than a class learning the same material from the same teacher during the same school year, but without the cell phones.
Yesterday, Nora interviewed Marie about the project. A shorter version of this interview will air on an upcoming episode of Spark, but you can hear the full, uncut interview if you download the MP3. [runs 14:34]
We also plan to talk to some of the teachers involved in the project about their experiences using smartphones in the classroom. Do you have a question for them? Leave it in the comments, and we'll do our best to include them in the show.
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