Wednesday, May 23, 2007

eLive - Handheld Learning in Action - Kate Farrell

Aim is to get some sort of handheld device for every S5/S6 pupil. Looking at smartphones because of the Internet access.

Did face some opposition initially, however, Kate gave an example of one teacher at the start of a meeting saying phones should be banned because of the "annoying ringtones". By the end of the meeting, discussing the possibilities, the same teacher said that these devices are "essential".

Kate however has been disappointed with the response from the mobile phone companies who don't seem to see the potential.

Requirements include that it should be a 3G phone (which will mean the school will not need to go wi-fi). Wanted to have a windows mobile so that software can be installed. Also keen to have a keyboard option. In the end they went for a Vario II - partly because it looks like a handheld computer rather than a phone. They also hope to get a data only tariff because buying mobile phone contracts for children could be tricky.

They also wanted a phone that could record pictures, and video. Means that experiments can be filmed and posted to YouTube. Children can record reports for NABs rather than having to write them up. Allows them to get credit for work done rather than failing a NAB because of poor writing skills.

Sound was also important, both for recording homework for say Modern Languages but also for listening to audio and podcasts.

The Windows Mobiles also come with versions of Word, Excel and Outlook. Can therefore put reminders in their Outlook calender and To Do lists. And, of course, all of these uses can easily be shared by Bluetooth.

Because every pupil has an Internet capable smart phone, you know every pupil has Internet access. The can therefore be set Internet based homework. They can be asked to keep learning blogs and they can subscribe to RSS feeds to get news.

They are also looking at the funding of the devices and, just as important, the peripherals at a reasonable cost. The ownership of the device is important and the feeling currently is that parents should make a significant contribution to the device - probably to pay for insurance. If pupils choose to go onto Further or Higher Education, they get to keep the device. If they go into work or the NEET group, they will have to return the devices. They will also deal carefully with safety issues and consequences of misuse. Also, the mobile phone company will block websites that are restricted to over 18s but the possibility is there that while pupils are in school, web access will be routed through the council filtering system.

Support for the devices wil also be important but the hope is that pupils will install software themselves and everyone having the same device and operating system should help.

There are a number of supporting websites and wikis: a 2020 wiki, a 121 wiki and the Learning Hubs website.

Technorati Tags: , ,

No comments: