Local Tech Wire

ONSLOW, N.C. – Students using smartphones and mobile technology as part of their class work in Onslow County significantly outpaced other students – in the school district and across the state – on end-of-course exams in Algebra, Algebra II and Geometry, a new report reveals.

The significant gains made by the students in math suggest that mobile devices, engaging content, and subsequent changes in teaching strategies lead to substantial improvement in student achievement, the report states.

The study released Thursday by , a pilot program by Digital Millennial Consulting, is examining the use of smartphones as a learning tool in schools. The goals are simple: increase student achievement in math and close the digital divide.

Implemented in several North Carolina school systems, Project K-Nect has yielded significant academic gains for student and teacher participants. As part of the Project K-Nect classes, students are given smart phones with 24/7 Internet access which they can use at home or school. Students have full access to both the Project K-Nect curriculum, as well as the smart phone features including instant messaging, video and photo capabilities, calculators, and Internet access.

"We’re extremely optimistic about the findings and what they mean for the future of Smartphones in the classroom," said Julie Evans, CEO of , the organization who prepared the evaluation report.

"Students improved their scores in math by an average of 20 percent, and this technology and wireless Internet access ensured the equitable delivery of engaging instruction, bridging the persistent digital and achievement divides,” added Evans. “Project K-Nect and this report have significant new implications on how, when, and where we engage students in a learning process."

The report also finds that students have a greater self-perception (61 percent) that they are succeeding academically than their national peers (39 percent). And, they believe they are being better prepared for that success (55 percent) than other students (45 percent).

As a result of participation in the program, more than 90 percent of students said they are now more comfortable learning math, and 81 percent said they have increased confidence talking about math and math problems. Another key finding is that almost two-thirds of the students reported taking additional math courses and more than 50 percent are now thinking about a career in a math field.

Teachers also reported that students were more responsible for their own learning and developed more collaborative learning skills as a result. They also noted more active participation in class using IM or blogging features, which was especially significant for students who normally are shy or reluctant participants due to disabilities or limited English proficiency.

Project K-Nect is funded through .

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