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Mobile Learning Update

iPhone import Mar 2011 1559photo (55)

It’s an exciting time at Priory geography at the moment with some incredible mobile learning curriculum projects lined up. This post is a quick reflection and update on the pedagogic adventures since the introduction of our Mobile @ Priory policy.

Firstly, why do I consider the use of mobile devices for learning important? Many others have put the arguments better than I can, but:

1. The photos above show my two year old son taking part in some analogue activities.  This will never stop. The video below shows him interacting with an iPad.  Mobile devices are just a tool, but his expectations and access to knowledge is already larger than mine. Technology is already a pervasive force in his life.  In two years time he’ll be starting school….

2. Computers are costly.  If this money was spent instead on providing first class WiFi, students can use their own devices in class, saving money. Spare money could be used to help those without access to technology at home.  After all, shouldn’t learning be happening anywhere? Do we really care where or how learning happens?

3. While I wouldn’t agree with those that wish to stop handwriting etc etc, it’s clear that business and learning takes places online through electronic devices and on the move. Why wouldn’t we want to allow young people to become proficient in mobile technology?

4. I don’t agree with the view that all young people know how to use their devices proficiently, especially in the creation and collaboration with others.

During the Pilot phase of our mobile policy, we made it clear that mobile devices needed to be away for lessons.  The default position should be an expectation that mobile devices won’t be used in the lesson. However, the policy allows teachers to use mobile devices in their lessons if they wish.

I have to admit to being very pleasantly surprised at some of the pedagogical changes taken place. Instead of waiting to be led, some teachers are leading. For example:

  • Mobile phones being used in MFL lessons to teach numbers.  Pupils had to dial the number and see if their classmate’s phone rang.
  • Phones being used to allow students to research during lessons.
  • EAL students using web based translators to access their existing learning and therefore engage with the lesson.
  • Phones being used in PHSE to access YouTube clips to spark discussion around the London riots.
  • A student handed in homework as an animation on her Nintendo 3DS.

Apart from helping to create the policy, I’ve done very little to encourage this.  What is surprising is that some teachers I would have classed as either anti-technology or anti-mobile phones.  It gets me thinking ‘what if.’ Behaviour incidents involving mobile devices account for just under 3% of the total and most teachers that have dabbled report that students, and this is goose bumpy amazing, could be trusted to use them for learning and not ‘evil.’  In other words, by taking control of the behaviour around mobile devices, learning is better.

So, what is next?

  • The creation of cross-curricular learning trails around the school using QR codes and other goodies.
  • Getting students access to high quality WiFi.  If students families are supplying the devices, I don’t think it’s morally right to expect them to pay for the 3G data too (unless the GSMA provided some very good deals for students)
  • We have a number of 3 3G MiFi dongles to allow live blogging and data collection in the field using handheld devices.
  • The creation of geocaches to be placed at Box Hill, the location for the Olympic Road Race. These will communicate messages from our students to spectators and residents
  • The creation of CPD resources – videos and other media designed to help other teachers unlock the potential of mobile devices.
  • Set up of Digital Leaders at Priory with the primary purpose of driving forward the Mobile @ Priory manifesto.

And we’re only just getting warmed up.

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