Although many oppose the use of mobile devices in the classroom, saying that it creates too much room for distraction, a new report published by Project Tomorrow, a national education nonprofit, suggests otherwise. The report shows that the use of mobile devices in the classroom provides students with equity, empowerment, and a better understanding of complex concepts.

The report is based on a survey of 340,927 K-12 students and 34,833 teachers, along with librarians, administrators, parents, and community members from over 10,600 public and private schools and 3,200 districts across the United States.

The report was written by Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow, who offers three key takeaways:

  • School principals value using technology for learning because of its ability to help empower learning and address the educational inequities inherent in today’s education system.
  • Programs that provide students with an assigned laptop, tablet or Chromebook level the playing fields for students’ technology access at school. They also enhance the learning experience for those students.
  • When teachers use digital content, tools and resources in the classroom, it helps students develop workplace- and college-readiness skills. Effective use of those tools also enables more equitable learning experiences at school.

Data gathered from both students and teachers support these ideas. For example:

  • When students were asked if they believed doing well in school was important to their futures, 83% of students with assigned laptops or Chromebooks said yes, compared to 72% of students who don’t have assigned access to technology.
  • Of the students with access to mobile devices, 49% said the skills they learn in school are important to their futures, while only 39% of students without assigned mobile devices felt the same.
  • Teachers surveyed who use digital content in the classroom report higher levels of student outcomes than teachers who aren’t using it.
  • Among teachers who used digital animations and simulations to explain abstract concepts to students, 51% found the content helped students develop critical thinking and problem solving skills.

The Project Tomorrow report may not put an end to the debate about mobile devices in the classroom, but it does lend support to proponents’ position, indicating the positive impact of mobile devices and digital content in classrooms around the nation.