As technology and personal computing devices filter into the classroom, educators and corporations alike are focused on offering equal opportunities to all students. The Verizon Foundation is just one of the organizations working to outfit schools in underserved areas with cutting edge technology for students and innovative training for educators.

The foundation works to accomplish their goal with a 2-year professional development program for educators stationed at underserved schools across the country. As of June 2013, the program reaches just 12 schools, however, that number is set to increase to 24 schools by year’s end. That will be a toal of 12,000 students served through the program.

The Verizon Foundation’s professional development program works to provide teachers with tools and strategies for using mobile learning in the classroom. The program has had a positive effect on student engagement and interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects, according to new research from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and the Verizon Foundation.

The research findings, which were announced at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 2013 conference and expo taking place this week in San Antonio, TX, report on results from the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools (VILS) program. The VILS program provides teachers in underserved areas with two years of professional development training — both live and virtual — and resources to help them effectively integrate technology in their classrooms.

According to information from ISTE and the Verizon Foundation, many educators have not received the skills and knowledge training they need to use technology effectively in the classroom and help their students better understand STEM subjects, and although the United States Department of Labor predicts the number of jobs requiring STEM skills to more than double, student interest in STEM peaks in middle school. The VILS program aims to reverse that trend and increase student engagement and achievement in STEM subjects through high school.

Key findings of the research:

  • 40 percent of middle and high school students at participating VILS schools demonstrated increased engagement;
  • 52 percent of students demonstrated increased proficiency with mobile technologies in learning;
  • Students of VILS teachers were more inclined than their non-VILS peers to go to college, were more confident about being admitted, and were more inclined to major in a STEM field; and
  • Students of VILS teachers reported more positive views of math and science and more frequent use of technology, including computers, mobile phones, tablets, and digital media data and tools.

While the research found that more teachers than students use technology in non-VILS classrooms (57 percent of teachers and 48 percent of students), that trend is flipped in VILS classrooms, with 73 percent of students and 48 percent of teachers using technology during observation periods.

At ISTE 2013, ISTE and the Verizon Foundation announced that the VILS program will expand from 12 schools to 24 schools this year to reach 12,000 students across the country.

Continue Reading Report: Professional Development for Mobile Learning Improves Student Engagement and Interest in STEM Subjects

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