Smartphones may soon be used as a learning tool for students in Singapore schools, as suggested by the recent successful pilot phase of the WE Learn mobile education project.
The project is a joint initiative by Qualcomm Incorporated, University of Michigan, Microsoft, Nokia, Singapore's Nan Chiau Primary School, Singapore's National Institute of Education and SingTel.
The WE Learn project aims to transform learning from a traditional, teacher-centric model to a student-centric, inquiry-oriented, collaborative model through the use of 3G-enabled smartphones. By enabling 24x7 access to resources in and out of the classroom, the project allows students to acquire and practice 21st century competencies and knowledge.
Encouraged by the positive response from participating students and teachers, the WE Learn program in 2013 will include 300 more students from Nan Chiau Primary School's fourth-grade class. The project's mobile learning platform, MyDesk, and other educational applications will also be enhanced.
More about the We Learn project
Launched March last year, the project provided 350 third-grade students, teachers and school staff of Nan Chiau Primary School with 3G-enabled Nokia Lumia 710 smartphones that are equipped with learning applications for use in and out of the classroom.
One such application is MyDesk. MyDesk enables each student to access his or her assignments; relevant websites that contain podcasts, textual material and video clips; and educational applications, such as concept mapping, drawing and animating.
Files created by the Nan Chiau students on their smartphones are also backed up and synchronised to a cloud-based Teaching Management System, providing each student an electronic portfolio that parents can review and teachers can access for grading and feedback purposes.
In the pilot phase, students under the project were found to be more independent and inquisitive. For instance, they were more confident and engaged when asking and responding to questions in English classes. These students also scored better in areas of self-directed and collaborative learning, which are some of the key 21st century skills identified by Singapore's Ministry of Education.
Teachers at Nan Chiau Primary School have also seen the benefits of the project too. By adapting their teaching methods to incorporate technology, students have responded more positively to their lessons.
"Mobile technology not only enables students to improve their test scores, but has also made learning more fun and helps students to be more independent and inquisitive, which are critical skills that will help them throughout their lives. WE Learn is a demonstration of how smartphones and wireless technology can help transform education and we encourage other schools in Singapore and around the world to learn more about and consider adopting this approach," said Tan Chun Ming, principal of Nan Chiau Primary School.
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