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Verizon Expands Innovative Learning Schools Program

Verizon has expanded its Verizon Innovative Learning Schools (VILS) program to eight more middle schools in four states, bringing the total number of schools in the program to 32.

Through the program, nearly 5,000 additional students at the eight schools will receive a personal tablet equipped with a two-year, five-gigabyte Verizon Wireless data plan. Verizon is donating the tablets to the nonprofit organization Digital Promise, which will then provide the tablets to the students. With the tablets, students will have 24/7 access to the Internet at home and in the classroom.

As part of the program, a full-time technology coach will join the faculty of participating schools to provide teachers with ongoing professional development related to the effective use of mobile technology in the classroom to improve student achievement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects.

Digital Promise will share best practices, insights and resources from these schools on its site with the goal of helping other educators "learn from VILS teachers' experiences and emulate best practices," according to information from Verizon.

The eight new schools joining the VILS program include:

Verizon launched the VILS program in 2012 in partnership with the International Society for Technical Education (ISTE). Earlier this year, ISTE supported an evaluation of the VILS program, which found that students participating in the program increased their standardized test scores in math by 4.13 percent. The scores of a control group of non-VILS students using mobile technology declined by 4.62 percent. The teachers of the control group did not receive training on the use of mobile technology. VILS teachers also reported increased classroom engagement and that they were spending more time working one-on-one with individual students and less time on class lectures.

"Increasingly, there is recognition among educators of the power of mobile technology to transform teaching and learning," said Justina Nixon-Saintil, director of education programs for the Verizon Foundation. "But what's often underestimated is how vital the component of effective teacher professional development is to the success of technology implementation. With Digital Promise, we are infusing technology training throughout these eight schools. This gives all teachers the confidence and expertise needed to use mobile devices to improve student engagement and achievement."

The full results of the VILS evaluation can be found on Verizon's site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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