Invited Speakers

"Using Mobile Devices as Essential Tools for Learning in
Primary & Secondary School"

By Cathie Norris, Regents Professor, University of North Texas, Denton, TX. USA

and Elliot Soloway, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor,
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA



Cathleen Norris is a Regents Professor in the College of Information, Department of Learning Technologies, University of North Texas. A Golden Apple winner in her 14 years of classroom teaching, Cathie’s research supports teachers in enacting a learn-by-doing pedagogy using mobile computing devices. Cathie has been President of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), and President of the National Educational Computing Association (NECA).


Elliot Soloway is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the Dept of Computer Science & Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Michigan. In 2002, the UMich undergraduates selected him to receive the “Golden Apple Award” as the Outstanding University Teacher of the Year. He is currently Co-Chair and Grand Poobah of ISTE’s Special Interest Group on Mobile Learning (SIGML).


The data suggest that when computing devices are used as essential tools for learning, then – and only then – are increases in student performance observed. By “essential use” we mean used for 50%-70% of the school day – and outside of school – using a variety of productivity tools (e.g., writing, concept mapping, drawing/animating, etc.) and domain specific tools (e.g., science visualization) as well as the Internet. By and large, however, shared computing devices are used in classrooms as supplements, as add-ons, to curriculum. As the cost of Internet-connected mobile devices continues to plummet, it will become commonplace for a student to bring his/her mobile computing device to school. To leverage those “BYOD” – Bring Your Own Device – devices and have them used as essential, not just supplemental to the curriculum, students need more than a few apps. Towards creating the “Linux for educational technology” we have built and are distributing free the WeLearn Mobile Platform that runs on iOS and Android mobile devices. In our presentation, we will report on the use of WeLearn in classrooms in Singapore and the U.S. Finally, computing devices, used as essential tools, will have a significant impact on student performance!


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