Mobile Learning Still Not Ready for Prime Time

A 24/7 learning environment is often a goal of many school and district edtech plans, calling for student and teacher materials to support home and classroom learning. But according to a new report from Rutgers and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, many families are not yet capable of effectively participating in online education at home. While 94% of low- and moderate-income families have some Internet connection, many rely on mobile-only access (23%), more than half (52%) of those with home Internet access say it is too slow, a quarter (26%) say too many people share the same computer, and one fifth (20%) say their Internet was cut off in the last year due to lack of payment.

“It’s no longer a simple question of whether or not families are connected to the Internet,” said study co-author Vikki S. Katz, associate professor of communication at Rutgers University, in a press release, “but rather how they are connected, and the implications of being under-connected for children’s access to educational opportunities and parents’ ability to apply for jobs or resources.”

Additional findings

  • Families headed by Hispanic immigrants are less connected than other low- and moderate-income families.
  • The main reason some families do not have home computers or Internet access is because they cannot afford it, but discounted Internet programs are reaching very few.
  • Children from low- and moderate-income families use computers and the Internet for a variety of educational activities, but those without home access are less likely to go online to pursue their interests.
  • Parents feel largely positive about the Internet and digital technology, but many also have concerns, including access to inappropriate content, time taken away from non-technological activities, and teachers knowing less about children’s needs because of time spent on tech in the classroom.
  • Children and parents frequently learn with, and about, technology together, especially in families with the lowest incomes and where parents have less education.

Read Opportunity for all? Technology and learning in lower-income families, by Rideout, V. J. & Katz, V.S., The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. (2016)

At the PreK-12 Learning Group’s 2016 Content in Context conference Michael Levine, Executive Director of the Cooney Center, will be speaking with his co-author Lisa Guernsey about their book Tap, Click, Read and the need to address literacy in the age of the digital divide.


Digital Issues