Managing Smartphones In The Hands Of Students

By Jessica Binns — June 05, 2008

Think it's challenging to manage the mobile devices used by your workforce? Try wrangling smartphones in the hands of 100 high-school freshmen. 

HTC PPC6800 smartphones were given to technology-poor, at-risk freshman in four urban and rural schools in North Carolina, with the goal of getting them engaged in education. The effort is a collaborative initiative amongst Digital Millennial Consulting (DMC), mobile device management (MDM) vendor SOTI, Qualcomm and the state of North Carolina as part of its Broadband Access Initiative. 

Dubbed Project Knect, the pilot program focuses on algebra classes in the 2007-2008 school year. Researchers in Drexel University's Math Forum developed multimedia problem sets that teachers push out to students to solve on their devices.

According to Shawn Gross, managing director for DMC, students are encouraged to use social networking to request help from peers or teachers. Teachers can remotely control a device to show a student how to solve a math problem.

SOTI's MDM application lets teachers confirm that students are working on assignments and abiding by use policies. During school hours, certain functions -- such as camera and text messaging -- are disabled to discourage cheating. During class or study hall period, teachers enable select features to allow students to collaborate.

Students earn points for proficiency and for collaborating with peers. Once they accumulate a certain number of points, they get to keep the smartphone.

Early results show that Project Knect is working. Roughly 97% of students are consistently completing their assignments, says Gross.


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