By Leslie Rule
Leslie Rule is studying at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in the Technology, Innovation, and Education (TIE) program.
Can mobile learning bring quality education to under-served communities? Research is pointing in that direction.
A recent report by Pew Internet and American Life Project shows that the mobile Internet may be the very technology that finally helps close the "digital divide." Researcher Aaron Smith notes that access to the digital world is increasingly being untethered from the desktop, and this is especially true for people of color: African Americans and English-speaking Latinos are more likely to own a mobile phone, use non-voice data applications, and take advantage of a wider range of features compared with whites. Most interesting is the finding that minority populations' attitude towards, and use of, the social web is different. For instance, minority populations are much more likely than whites to view government use of social media as helpful and informative.
A 2010 poll by Education Next found, “online learning is growing more acceptable to the public at large.” According to Harvard Graduate School of Education Professor Marty West, who conducted the survey, there was a 10-percent jump in support for the idea (from 42% to 52%). “In a single year, [that jump] is highly unusual,” he said. But what’s even more telling? That support for the idea of online learning is higher among minorities (African Americans: 61%; Hispanics: 65%).
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