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USD Announces Creation of Mobile Technology Learning Center

By the year 2015, it is expected that 80 percent of people, including middle and high school students, will access the Internet via mobile devices. Students expect school systems to integrate mobile devices into the classroom but how can this be done to enhance learning?

To answer these questions, the University of San Diego’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES) announced the creation of the Mobile Technology Learning Center (MTLC) that will provide research-based answers to the many unknowns regarding mobile technology and learning.

“Our goal is to be the research environment of the future, leveraging faculty and student resources and bringing together multidisciplinary teams of some of the best researchers and thinkers in the world,” said Scott Himelstein, who will direct the new center and continue his current duties as director of USD’s Center for Education Policy and Law. “We want to be a ‘living laboratory’ for schools and educators, by collaborating with local pre-Kindergarten through grade 12 districts, as well as institutions of higher learning, to test research findings and provide future teachers with unique teaching and research opportunities.”

The Mobile Technology Center had been in the planning stages for two to three years and was finally made possible through a $510,000 from an anonymous donor who has a great interest in mobile technology and how it’s used in education and in everyday life. The gift, which will be paid over two years, will be used to fund the center’s faculty and staff, purchase the technology they need and support the research of the doctoral students who are focusing on mobile technology.

“A lot of students these days come to school with cell phones, iPads, Kindles and other mobile devices,” says Gary Neiger, director of development for the School of Leadership and Education Sciences. “Our thinking has to shift. These devices can no longer be thought of as distractions. We have to find ways to use them as teaching tools. The Mobile Technology Center will do the research, determine what the data says about how effective they are and develop best practices for integrating them into the classroom teaching experience.”

Current goals for the center include:

  • Creating research teams of members located throughout the world, via the Internet
  • Building links among university researchers and school-based practitioners
  • Developing criteria of learning effectiveness for comparing mobile devices
  • Creating and disseminating evidence-based practices for using mobile devices to support learning

“There is increasing pressure for school systems to integrate mobile devices into the instructional process. But for that to work effectively, we need to learn how best to integrate existing and emerging technologies into the classroom and how to equip teachers with the skills needed to be effective educators in a mobile technology learning environment,” said Roxanne Ruzic, EdD, who will lead the center’s research efforts.

“SOLES has a long tradition of combining curricular innovation with teaching excellence that makes us the right institution to conduct this cutting-edge research for the classrooms of the 21st century,” said Paula Cordeiro, dean of USD’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences.

This fall, USD’s Division of Professional and Continuing Education will offer a career-enhancing MTLC certificate course designed for K-12 educators and administrators. Topics include integrating mobile technology tools into the learning experience for students and developing tools and metrics to evaluate their success in accelerating and improving learning.

“We see a strong demand from the educational community for programs that translate research and knowledge into practical, ready-to-use applications and pedagogies for mobile learning into schools and classrooms,” said Jason Lemon, dean of Professional and Continuing Education at USD.

The MTLC is also working with all E-rate Deployed Ubiquitously (EDU) 2011 Pilot Program (also known as Learning On-The-Go) participants to explore the merits and challenges of wireless off-premises connectivity services for mobile learning devices. Twenty pilot participants, including 13 schools and one library, are taking part in the program and the MTLC is collecting both quantitative and qualitative data to evaluate the effectiveness on teaching and learning. The MTLC will release an interim report this fall with a final report to be released in the spring of 2013.

For more information on the MTLC, please go to www.sandiego.edu/mtlc.

— Ryan T. Blystone

"Our goal is to be the research environment of the future, leveraging faculty and student resources and bringing together multidisciplinary teams of some of the best researchers and thinkers in the world." - Scott Himelstein, director, USD’s Center for Education Policy and Law

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