Professional Development | News

New Study Suggests Comprehensive PD Program Positively Impacts Mobile Classrooms

New research by ISTE and the Verizon Foundation suggests that for schools with mobile device initiatives an organized, comprehensive teacher training program can improve standardized test scores, at least somewhat, and lead to more one-on-one learning in the classroom.

The study, conducted by ISTE in collaboration with the Verizon Foundation, looked at several schools across the country whose teachers were enrolled in the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools (VILS) program, focusing on professional development and mobile integration in the classroom. For each school, the professional development was individually tailored to address specific areas of improvement and consisted of on-site training, webinars, and one-on-one time with a tech coach.

The VILS program is funded by the Verizon Foundation and managed by the Professional Development Services at ISTE.

In general students in VILS schools showed stronger gains in mathematics than students from comparison schools even when mobile technology use was similar, according to information released by both organizations at an event at Charles Carroll Middle School in New Carrollton, Md--one of the VILS schools used in the study.

The study’s findings also noted that:

  • Standardized test scores in math of students participating in the program increased by 4.13 percent, while control group test scores declined by 4.62 percent;
  • 35 percent of VILS program teachers indicated that their students showed higher scores on classroom assessments; 32 percent said they showed increased engagement in the classroom; and 62 percent said they demonstrated increased proficiency with mobile devices; and
  • Sixty percent of the teachers also reported that mobile technology enabled them to provide more one-on-one instruction; 47 percent said they are spending less time lecturing.

Six VILS schools overall were used for the study, although 24 elementary, middle, and high schools participate in the program. A control group of schools using mobile technology but not participating in the VILS professional development program, was used for comparison. Researchers measured student performance and program impact through teacher and student surveys, classroom observations, and pre- and post- standardized math and science test scores.

"The VILS program demonstrates the important principle that mobile learning initiatives in schools require leadership to be effective," said Wendy Drexler, ISTE’s director of innovation in a statement. "School administrators, tech coaches and teacher leaders have been engaged and supportive of the VILS program, and this has led to the success of the professional development implemented in these schools."

Both organizations will also launch an online teacher professional development program called the Verizon Mobile Learning Academy, allowing teams of teachers across the country to participate in mobile technology training through free, moderated virtual courses. The program aims to train 1,000 teachers over the next year.

Additional information about the research is available online, as well as an overview of a recent survey conducted with VILS program schools.

About the Author

Stephen Noonoo is an education technology journalist based in Los Angeles. He is on Twitter @stephenoonoo.