The Couch Effect of Handheld Media

I have been blessed to have many opportunities to learn from colleagues throughout the country. Last week I concluded the latest meeting of the standing committee of Principals for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). In the midst of numerous assessments impacting our schools, NAEP is one of the oldest and most respected, having begun in 1969. It is the only nationwide assessment sponsored by our government and funded by our tax dollars. I wrote more about NAEP after my first committee meeting in April 2014.

NAEP is working hard to stay relevant especially in the midst of an information world that is rapidly changing. While educators have been able to access national educational statistics from NCES for many years, our current thinking is that developing mobile apps might be useful.

Consider these numbers on the growth of mobile use.

  • In 2007, there were 400 million global mobile users compared to 1.1 billion desktop users. 
  • In 2013, the lines intersected.
  • In 2015, mobile users far outpaced desktop users.

Our Internet habits have been reshaped to reflect what I call the couch effect. Scores of us utilize relaxation time to browse on our smartphones or tablets, often in conjunction with other media and sometimes in the presence of family and friends. For example, sports fans often use their devices in conjunction with game watching to enhance the experience with sports data and gain commentary from fans and experts on social media. This year I grabbed my iPhone a number of times to call up my Twitter feed and gain the latest information on a Red Sox injury I just witnessed on the tube.

Granted, anyone interested in how New Hampshire Asian boys scored on NAEP compared with African-American girls in New York would certainly qualify as a full fledged educational geek. But if the app could highlight facts that really could change practice, much like NEAP’s Twitter feed, perhaps these national education statistics might prove useful.

If a NAEP app was developed for educators, what would you like to see as major features?

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