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Toms River Regional Schools, Verizon Wireless and GoKnow! Bring Wireless Technology to the Classroom to Enhance Learning
Sep 07, 2010 (05:09 PM EDT)


- One thousand fifth and sixth graders in New Jersey's fourth-largest school district using smartphones to manage schoolwork in class and on the go

- Successful mobile learning initiative expands from 100 to 1,000 students

TOMS RIVER, N.J., Sept. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- One thousand fifth and sixth graders in New Jersey's fourth-largest school district will return to the classroom equipped with smartphones as part of a pilot mobile learning initiative that started with 100 students.  Toms River Regional Schools, Verizon Wireless and GoKnow!, Inc., which develops educational software for mobile devices, today announced the expansion of a program that puts smartphones in the hands of students helping them manage their schoolwork in the classroom and on the go.  The school district is currently the largest in the country to deploy mobile learning devices.

Launched in February, the initiative enables school district teachers to create and download curriculum directly to smartphones - or mobile learning devices (MLDs) - allowing students to perform a variety of tasks, including researching and writing reports, drawing and animating or even downloading books. Teachers can also develop in-depth lesson plans that fit the personal needs of the students. The smartphones, equipped with Verizon Wireless' high-speed wireless broadband service, are restricted from making calls or texting.

"This is a great alternative to traditional pen and pencil work and promotes better critical thinking skills. We're finding that students are more engaged and even requesting to delve deeper into topics," said Vicki Rhein, a fifth-grade teacher from Silver Bay Elementary School who participated in the pilot program.

As a result of the pilot, the school district is also seeing improvements in student performance. "In my view, this has been one of the most impactful curriculum initiatives we've undertaken," said Mike Citta, principal of Toms River's Hooper Avenue Elementary School. "The students have shown tremendous excitement and have really embraced the technology. For example, homework assignments for the participating students were completed on time 100 percent of the time - many students even turned in their assignments early. We've also seen a significant impact on student creativity and teamwork," Citta added.

"What we're witnessing in Toms River is truly exciting and we're thrilled to be a part of this game-changing educational initiative," said Mario Turco, president of Verizon Wireless' Philadelphia Tri-State Region. "The huge coverage area and reliability provided by our 3G data network and GoKnow!'s innovative software has literally turned smartphones into dynamic educational tools for these students. Feedback not only from the students but teachers and parents as well has been overwhelmingly positive and we look forward to continuing to provide Toms River with the tools they need."

Mobile learning is steadily gaining traction as a means to enhance learning in the 21st century classroom.  A 2009 study by Project Tomorrow, a national education advocacy group based in Irvine, California, found that that 63% of parents say they would buy their child a cell phone if they knew it would be used for educational purposes.  The study also cited increased student engagement, preparation for a workforce where computer literacy is mandatory and extended-school-day learning as key benefits of integrating mobile learning devices in the educational process.

About Toms River Regional Schools

The Toms River Regional School District is the largest suburban school system in the State of New Jersey located just 10 miles from the Atlantic Ocean.  The regional district serves approximately 17,400 students from kindergarten through twelfth grade residing in the towns of Beachwood, Pine Beach, South Toms River and Toms River Township. Toms River Regional has 18 schools including 12 elementary schools, three intermediate schools and three large high schools. Toms River Regional has consistently had one of the lowest per pupil costs in the K-12 3500+ category in the entire state.

About Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless operates the nation's most reliable and largest wireless voice and 3G data network, serving more than 92 million customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 79,000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) and Vodafone (LSE, Nasdaq: VOD).  For more information, visit www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.

About GoKnow!, Inc.

GoKnow!, Inc. is the premier provider to K-12 of educational software, curriculum and professional development designed for mobile computers.  GoKnow!'s products provide new opportunities for teaching and learning with mobile technology.  For more information, visit www.goknow.com.

SOURCE Verizon Wireless