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Tablet Study Sheds Light on Importance of Students' Socioeconomic Levels

By guest blogger Ben Kamisar

A new survey of students and teachers involved in tablet programs implemented in schools in two of the nation's largest school districts looks to get to the bottom of the efficacy of 1-to-1 tablet initiatives in classrooms.

Education nonprofit Project Tomorrow and wireless service provider Kajeet partnered on the "Making Learning Mobile" study, which evaluated 1-to-1 tablet programs at both Falconer Elementary in Chicago and Stone Middle School in Fairfax, Va.

Analyzing the results across the two age groups in communities with different socioeconomic levels raised significant differences. While 5th grade students at Falconer underestimated the potential impact of a 1-1 program, believing that they would use the gadgets less than they ultimately did, the older 8th grade students at Stone overvalued the potential impact of the tablets.

Michael Flood, vice president of the education division of Kajeet, said the differences stem largely from variations in demographics and previous access to technology. Only 39% of Falconer students had Internet access at home, while most Stone students not only had access to connections at home but also to their own devices.

"Thus, the Stone MS students tended to prefer their own alternate devices for many activities while the Falconer students relied on this device and connection more," he said in an email. Students at both schools were given access to an HTC EVO tablet to bring to and from school.

While the survey encountered stark differences in each school's evaluations, Flood added that the survey touted many benefits of a 1-to-1 education. He said that students are "far more engaged and develop better skills" when they receive their own gadget and that "always-on access makes a significant difference."

Project Tomorrow and Kajeet will be joined by representatives from the two schools on Dec. 5 at 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time to discuss the findings during a webinar. For now, read the surveys here. 

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