A partnership between a non-profit professional development group and one of the nation’s largest communications firms is supporting classroom programs with the use of mobile technology.

The International Society for Technology in Education, or ISTE, a nonprofit serving educators and education leaders, has partnered with the Verizon Foundation to create the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program. The multi-year effort aims to bring technology to teachers in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math.

According to Verizon, the program is targeted at schools which have created the infrastructure to bring devices such as tablets, iPads and netbooks into the classroom, but have not yet fully integrated those tools into their curriculum.

One of the 24 schools nationwide involved in the program is Charles Carroll Middle School in New Carrollton, Md. Students received an iPad to work with, and teachers said the new technology has had an impact.

Charles Carroll “tech coach” William Simpson said he noticed “how things have become much more individualized” since incorporating the program. Simpson said he can work with students one on one and address issues each student is having.

“I was really excited because who has iPads in their school?” eighth grader Jenifer Perea told the AFRO. “We’re able to do more and be more creative.”

Fellow eighth grader Mayron Mulugeta said she was in disbelief when she first received her device.

“I didn’t believe it when they said we’re getting them,” Mulugeta said. “How are 1,000 students in one school each getting an iPad?”

An evaluation study conducted by the ISTE regarding the program found standardized test scores at schools enrolled in the program increased by 4.13 percent, the organization said.

“Students at these schools are now more adept in using mobile technology to access useful learning resources, and significant portions of students have exhibited an increased ability to solve problems,” Rose Stuckey Kirk, Verizon’s vice president of global corporate citizenship and president of the Verizon Foundation, said in a statement.

Teachers involved with the program reported that 35 percent of their students showed higher scores on classroom assessments, 32 percent showed increased engagement in the classroom, and 62 percent demonstrated increased proficiency with mobile devices.

“We get to incorporate iPads into our learning,” seventh grader Windy Nguyen said. “Instead of asking teachers for instructions that I don’t understand, I can just use the iPad to better understand it.”

Due to the success of the program, the Verizon Foundation and ISTE are launching an online teacher professional development program called the Verizon Mobile Learning Academy to enable teams of teachers across the country to participate in mobile technology training through free, moderated viral courses that will earn participants Continuing Education Units. This program’s main objective is to train 1,000 teachers over the next year, beginning in the fall.

“For next school year, I am going to push that we invest in successful programs like this in all our schools,” Maryland State Delegate Alonzo Washington told the AFRO.


Courtney Jacobs

AFRO Staff Writer