While there are still significant numbers of citizens without access to computers or the Internet, new statistics have emerged that teens in low-income households are more likely to access the Internet on their cell phones than on household computers (Pew Internet, 2009). Rates of cell phone adoption drastically outnumber the pace of low-income families adopting household computers (Pew Internet, 2009). In the United States, a disproportionate number of low-income African American and Latino households often struggle to have stable and meaningful access to computers and the Internet (U.S. Dept. of Commerce, 2010). Mobile technology access and use could hold the potential to be a major disruptive force in combating the digital divide (Kim, 2008). In fact, teen cell phone owners from low-income households are most likely to use their cell phones to go online. 41% of teens living in households with incomes under $30,000 used their cell phones to go online, while only 23% of teens living in households with incomes over $75,000 used their cell phones to go online (Pew Internet, 2009).
In particular, the social studies has been notorious for its teachers being over-dependent on lecture, rote-learning, and textbooks (Loewen, 2010; Shaughnessy & Haladyana, 1985). As a result, students often cite the social studies as one of their least favorite subjects (Martorella, 1997). These instructional methods often leave students thinking at lower-levels, bored and questioning the importance of the social studies. Marc Prensky, in Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants (2001), comments that when teachers incorporate new technologies into their instruction they genuinely get students excited about learning and often tap into their culture and digital interests. In an age where technology has redefined commerce, communication, advocacy, the integration of these technologies in the social studies classroom can help students gain the skills and etiquette needed to use these technologies appropriately. Furthermore, this familiar technology (cell phones and mobile devices) can serve as an important platform in getting student excited about the social studies (Greenhut & Jones, 2010). Yet, there has been very little discussion/ research in regards to ways in which mobile technologies (like cell phones and iPads) can be used to promote student learning in the social studies.
Below, I’m including my top 8 Applications for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch for mobile learning in social studies education:
1. The World Factbook 2011
• The World Factbook 2011 is an app that allows students to examine global demographic information, populations trends, navigate land masses and water ways, and better understand physical and cultural geography.
2. My Congress
MyCongress is a portal that provides detailed information about your elected U.S. Congressional officials. Track their news, video and Twitter feeds. Look up their official Open Congress profile or contact them directly. MyCongress helps you get in touch with your government.
3. We The People
We The People is an app that allows students to review and explore the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
4. Stake the States: Lite
Stack the States is an app geared towards elementary students that makes learning about the 50 states fun! Students will get to watch the states actually come to life when playing a colorful and dynamic game! Users get to learn state capitals, shapes, state locations, and can actually touch, move and drop the animated states anywhere on the screen.
5. World Wiki
6. The Civil War
7. iAmerica: The Pocket Guide to the US History and Presidency
8. Oregon Trail
Westward, Ho! This app allows users to make critical decisions and solve problems as they encounter real historical characters and locations. These historical facts explain the perilous journey of the pioneers.