NEWS: Education gets smart over the use of smartphones in learning

From making a call to a portable camera and an endless stream of entertainment, the smartphone is an integral part of modern life.

update_schools_take_to_techNow, the pocket device will soon be a vital piece of kit in the classroom rather than an unwanted distraction, with the launch of a new initiative to help kids dial up their interest
in science.

Citizen Science, announced recently in Abu Dhabi, is a new global educational platform that, when implemented, will see kids use their smartphone as a portable laboratory.

Through a host of apps and a dedicated platform, students will soon be able to access a range of experiments from institutions all over the world as well as collect data of their own.

The initiative is intended to foster an interest in STEM subjects, which comprise Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and take learning outside of the formal classroom setting.

“The statistics show that 80 percent of learning is done outside the classroom,” STEM expert Dr Carol O’Donnell, Director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center in Washington DC, told Abu Dhabi Week.

“In order for any learning that takes place in the classroom to be meaningful, it has to be tied to real world learning,” she added.

“Citizen Science means that students have to engage with science in classrooms and outside of them, whether they want a scientific career or not,” she explained. “It’s giving them a chance to experience learning collaboratively.”

Astronaut Scott Kelly, who delivered an inspirational talk at the launch of the initiative, noted that the new scheme will give kids the chance to explore their learning in a new way.

“When I was a kid, the most we had was a typewriter in the classroom. Citizen Science and technology in education gives students a chance at ownership and responsibility for their learning.”

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