This guest post was written by Greg Hughes @deepexperience1.
Before I explain the title of the blog, let me give you a quick quiz – which of these is the odd one out?
* The computer
* Flared trousers
* The internet
* Mobile phones & Tablets
If you said ‘Flared trousers’ then give yourself a prize. Why is it the odd one out? All of the others were regarded at various times at short-term fads or gimmicks, but they are all still going strong. Fortunately, the same cannot be said for flares.
In fact, all of the others have had a big impact on popular culture and the way we communicate and interact, a revolution in fact. The children we currently have in our schools have been born into that revolution and don’t know any different.
So why I am telling you this? There still seem to be many people in schools, colleges and universities that are waiting for the latest fad (mobile phones and tablets) to fade. Except that it won’t … mobile learning is here to stay, in one form or another. The devices will change, the iPad will become the iHavenoideawhat, but what’s important is that these devices will be fully integrated into how we work, share ideas, communicate and continue to learn. Whilst we have made that leap in our social lives & fully embraced the potential of our mobile devices, many educational institutions have yet to make that leap with their use of individual technology. The last one especially irks me, given that most schools have invested heavily in traditional PC networks, interactive whiteboards and sets of laptops during the last 15-20 years, with little evidence of learning impact in most subjects.
Why is this? There are probably several reasons – cost, lack of vision, uncertainty about sustainability, poor understanding of decision makers about the potential, reluctance to relinquish central control and perhaps an attitude of ‘wait and see what the % impact on results is for those pioneer schools’.
Actually, all of those reasons are easy to dismiss or address. As I write this blog, we are about to enter our 3rd year of 1:1 iPad at The de Ferrers Academy. From September, all of our students in years 10 to 13 (over a thousand) will have their own iPad to use in school and at home, as well as nearly 200 teachers, student-teachers and support staff. After 2 years of our pilot programme in the sixth form, we have our best ever AS and A2 results, so the use of mobile technologies has clearly not had any ‘drag’ effect on student learning or achievement. In fact, some of the subjects making the best progress (Science, Maths, DT) have been our most successful areas at adopting and using iPads, although there are other factors involved too.. Other 1:1 schools are starting to report similar results
We have been able to offer a fully inclusive 1:1 environment at very low cost (effectively £1 a week for students), had no WiFi issues, kept breakage/damage rates around 10% over the entire year and had very positive feedback from the vast majority of staff and students. In the last 12 months we have become an Apple Regional Training Centre and had 2 of our staff become Apple Distinguished Educators. We are now involved working with locals universities training student teachers in effective use of mobile technologies.
A lot of this success boils to down to planning in 5 key areas:
* ICT infrastructure
* Practical infrastructure & Procedures
* Leadership & Vision
* CPD & Engagement
* Effective Pedagogies
In fact, the first 2 areas are quite easy to sort out and form the essential groundwork. The next 2 areas are the ones that will make a 1:1 programme work, providing the structure and sustainability of the programme. However, the last one is crucial – this is what makes any 1:1 programme actually work, leveraging the power of mobile devices to empower learners and transform learning. With a small number of generic apps and freely available resources such as Google Drive and iTunes U, the devices suddenly become part of a more effective learning network than any VLE I’ve ever used (and I have used quite a few). If there is a single lessons for school leaders, it is to plan how you want the mobile technologies to impact learning, before you buy it in and think about all of the practicals issues. Change management is essential.
Providing quality video resources of key lesson outcomes, techniques and demonstrations helps students to learn when and where they are most comfortable. The raft of AFL tools and apps means that students can get work marked and receive quality feedback the same day, instead of weeks later in a traditional classroom, giving them plenty of time to correct mistakes, consolidate ideas and try further work.
These are just 2 examples of how mobile technology is changing learning, but what really makes the difference is being able to do all of this from a single device, one the user is already confident to use. No training needed, almost no learning curve, and unlike BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) programmes, every having the same device makes support easy -users can help each other, taking away any worry teachers have about needing to be the ICT expert in any classroom.
Ironically, I’m typing this on the Hanx app that simulates an old typewriter with all of the modern word processor features – great fun.
The mobile learning revolution has already happened – some people just haven’t noticed it yet. The children of the revolution are already in their classrooms…
You can find out more about the 1:1 iPad programme at The de Ferrers Academy on our dedicated website: www.ideferrers.com
If you would like to come to our free Apple Regional Training Centre courses, go to www.deferrers.com/rtc to book your places.
Greg Hughes is an award-winning Physics teacher and enthusiastic user of technology with nearly 25 years experience. He is currently Assistant Principal for Curriculum & Learning Technologies at The de Ferrers Academy and also an Apple Distinguished Educator. Greg talks a lot at training events and conferences. He has never had an ICT lesson in his life. You can download Greg’s latest iBook here.
You can contact Greg via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or follow him on Twitter @deepexperience1