Qualcomm Incorporated, through its Wireless Reach™ initiative, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and kajeet® today announced their collaboration on the Active Explorer mobile learning project. A web-based learning platform developed and piloted by AAAS with funding from Wireless Reach, Active Explorer uses smartphones and mobile broadband connectivity, provided by kajeet, to engage children in collecting, interpreting and sharing science-related data, increasing interest in science and helping acquire 21st century skills in the process. Teachers and students in grades 4 and 7 at four Washington, D.C.-area schools are integrating Active Explorer into their classrooms and afterschool programs as part of an extensive evaluation on whether technology can affect learning and motivation.
A growing number of organizations and studies show that children derive intellectual and emotional benefits from getting outdoors and exploring. The National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science Education highlights the importance of teaching students that there is more to scientific investigation than indoor laboratory work. In addition, the National Science Education Standards stress the need to teach students the skills necessary to become independent inquirers about the natural world.
“Active Explorer empowers educators to create smartphone-powered explorations geared to their students and the content that they are teaching,” explains Bob Hirshon, program director for Technology and Learning at AAAS. “Students participating in these explorations take advantage of mobile technology to extend learning beyond the classroom; they are building knowledge independently, rather than acquiring it solely from a book or exercise. Just as important, they then access the data they collected, interpret it and choose from a palette of creative tools to share their discoveries with others. This multi-tiered active learning encompasses a wide range of critical 21st century skills.”
To help guide the development of the Active Explorer platform, focus groups with adults and children in grades 4-7 were held in four cities across the U.S. Both adults and kids gave the application high marks for creativity, the ability to let kids share assets with each other and for being fun, engaging and easy to use.
“Today’s smartphones provide the perfect tool to enable scientific exploration,” said Michael Flood, vice president of education markets for kajeet. “While many educators see mobile phones as a distraction in the classroom, smartphones using Active Explorer can be a powerful force to drive kids into more active engagement with learning—particularly in the areas of science and technology.”
To put that concept to the test, an evaluation of the Active Explorer program is now underway in a real-life setting, with eight teachers and 120 students at four Washington, D.C. schools using Android™ -powered HTC™ Evo 4G smartphones that utilize kajeet’s Sentinel™ platform to manage Internet access and allow students to share data and collaborate on projects. The application guides educators (Leaders) through the creation of smartphone-powered exploration assignments (Quests) which are then shared with students (Explorers) through their smartphones.
For example, a teacher could ask students to conduct a survey of an invasive plant and get the students started by providing an information page and photo. Using their smartphones, the students would then hunt for the plants within a specific area; document their findings using the smartphone’s audio, visual, geographical information system (GIS) and GPS capabilities; and answer survey questions, such as whether the plant is growing in the shade or sun and if it’s flowering or not flowering. Students then aggregate their data to create a dataset that allows them to interpret and discuss patterns and draw conclusions about the plant in their local environment. Students and teachers are able to access the data on any web-enabled computer, whether at school, home, the library or elsewhere. The student portion of the Active Explorer website includes a set of SmartWork tools that allow Explorers to use their data, photographs, video and other collected information to make creative presentations, slideshows, videos, books, comics, posters and other vehicles for sharing what they learned.
“Active Explorer addresses a critical need to increase student excitement in STEM education using the latest technology,” said Kristin Atkins, senior director for Qualcomm. “We believe this project will not only demonstrate the power of anytime, anywhere mobile learning to engage students, but also help educators make STEM content more relevant.”
A demonstration of Active Explorer will be available as part of the Wireless EdTech Conference, October 10-12, 2012, in Washington D.C.
About the American Association for the Advancement of Science
The AAAS (AAAS.org) is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science around the world by serving as an educator, leader, spokesperson and professional association. In addition to organizing membership activities, AAAS publishes the journal Science, as well as many scientific newsletters, books and reports, and spearheads programs that raise the bar of understanding for science worldwide. Founded in 1848, AAAS serves some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals.
Kajeet (kajeet.com) is the preeminent wireless service platform for kids and those who love them. Founded in 2003, kajeet is the creator of the award-winning smart phone for kids™ and Sentinel™, a Global Mobile Award nominee. Kajeet makes products and services that enable mobile communication, education and entertainment at home and at school safe, secure and affordable.
Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) is the world leader in 3G, 4G and next-generation wireless technologies. For more than 25 years, Qualcomm ideas and inventions have driven the evolution of digital communications, linking people everywhere more closely to information, entertainment and each other.
Qualcomm is a registered trademark of Qualcomm Incorporated. Wireless Reach is a registered trademark of Qualcomm Incorporated. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
Topics: Wireless EdTech, wireless education, Wireless Reach.
Warren Kneeshaw, Investor Relations
P: 1-858-658-4813 - E: ir[.]qualcomm.com.
American Association for the Advancement of Science Contacts
P: 1-202-326-6432 - E: bhirshon[.]aaas.org.
P: 1-240-482-3484 - E: pr[.]kajeet.com.