Mobile devices have been around for a while. I remember using one of these back in the early 1990s so that my parents could pick me up from Air Cadets. I remember that even back then the buzz around mobile devices was phenomenal. Ever since I started teaching, the educational world has been awash with claims that the latest mobile technology is going to revolutionise learning. To me, no single device has lived up to this.
I think it’s about behaviour and not devices. Of course, we need stuff that’s portable, light, easy to use, affordable, compatible…… But none of that is going to revolutionise learning. Our approach, or behaviour, to using devices could.
‘Two roads diverged in a wood – I took the road less travelled, And that made all the difference’ Robert Frost
We’ve already taken the first step, and thanks to a very supportive Leadership team and staff, we have a policy in place. The policy aims to inform behaviour toward and when using mobile devices.
The next step is to allow pupils to connect to the WiFi network. This makes sense. It’s morally wrong to depend on parents paying for 3G data plans for students to learn in schools. School WiFi can also be filtered. The bottom line is that if we are going to use mobile devices, and in particular pupils own devices, then we’ve got to provide the connectivity. By the way, I have no clue about the tecnicals behind WiFi connectivity!
‘But there are men for whom the unattainable has a special attraction. Usually they are not experts: the ambitions and fantasies are strong enough o brush aside the doubts which more cautious men might have.’ Bear Grylls on climbing Everst, but I think that this is applicable to any seemingly insurmountable challenge. (I would, however, add ‘and women.’)
After some great discussions with the IT team, we are very excited to be in a position to start trialling student WiFi access. Below is an extract (modified)from my original proposal. The main focus in on developing pedagogy, and in taking small steps.
Bring Your Own device (BYOD) access to school WiFi – Pilot proposal.
· To build upon the success of the Mobile @ Priory policy
· To embed the use of pupils’ personal mobile devices within the geography and wider curriculum.
· To model best practice and safe behaviour when using mobile devices
· To identify the technical specification and support required to allow pupil access to the school WiFi network.
· To further develop the lesson protocols and best practice needed when encouraging the use of pupils’ own mobile devices.
· To increase the range of tools that our learners have available as they prepare for external examinations, ultimately raising achievement.
Phase 1 – Now until December
Pupils who attend Geography workshops will be given access to the pupil WiFi and shown how a wide range of Geography related Apps and mobile websites can help them prepare for the January SDME examination. This will not only encourage more of our pupils to attend after school workshops with the incentive of access to WiFi but allow us to test the hardware and develop protocols for using devices in class.
Phase 2 – Jan 2012 – Half term Feb 2012
Access will be extended to Year 11 students studying Geography. Digital Leaders (pupil leaders of technology) will observe these lessons and pupil feedback sought. This will enable us to test the feasibility of having whole classes access a single WiFi point. Activities will be built in to lessons, helping students to prepare for the January SDME. For example, simple, free, apps and the BBC Bitesize mobile site provide a wealth of resources.