Learning with Mobile and Handheld Technologies

As technology evolves we are ever more reliant on the use of handheld and mobile devices, yet what do we know about their impact on learning? While there is a lot of interest in mobile technology, many schools still aren’t sure how to best use it for learning and teaching. 

Learning with Mobile and Handheld Technologies by John Galloway, Merlin John and Maureen McTaggart shows the changes that are taking place within schools as a direct result of these emerging technologies, and contains case studies with accounts of best practice in a variety of settings including primary, secondary, and special schools, and learning beyond their boundaries. The book also explores themes of pedagogy, communication and affordances, collaborative learning, individual creativity and expression, self-directed and informal learning and outdoor education. 

For more information about the book and the authors please see their Learning With Mobile and Handheld Technlogies flyer. 

To order your copy and receive 20% off please visit www.routledge.com before 31st December 2015.

1-to-1 Computing: How Mobile Devices Have Supported Learning in Sandviken, Sweden by Dave Smith

A quiet revolution has been happening some 90 miles north of Stockholm, in the municipality of Sandviken, Sweden. Sandviken’s ‘1-to-1’ computer project has equipped every teacher and pupil in primary and secondary schools with their own laptop (pre-installed with a number of software applications), increasing laptop numbers from 2,000 to 6,700 over three years.

Sandviken’s ‘1-to-1’ project has real underlying school improvement aims, including raising levels of literacy and enhancing home:school links

The well-planned project has additionally ensured that each school has an effective managed wireless network, with local technical support to enable teachers and pupils to just get on with the job of teaching and learning. All teachers and pupils are also local administrators on their computers so that they themselves can take advantage of open-source applications from the Internet.

The project’s economies of scale has meant that Sandviken municipality was able to negotiate a much better deal for their schools – typically saving 30-40 per cent on the cost of the equipment, providing a real saving to the local community and better value to the schools.

However, Sandviken’s ‘1-to-1’ project wasn’t just aimed at providing equipment to pupils and teachers, it has real underlying school improvement aims, including raising levels of literacy and enhancing home:school links.

The municipality has specifically utilised the power of the ‘1-to-1’ project to enhance pupils’ writing and reading through its ‘Writing to Reading with Computer’ programme, where pupils are encouraged to use a laptop and associated software to aid their writing and reading development. 

IT Strategist for Sandviken Municipality, Mr Erik Holmqvist, explains that, “As part of the project we introduced a learning management system called ‘edWise’, used from pre-school to high school. This has provided pupils and parents with access to school-based documentation and learning materials via a secure login. Sometimes parents complain that we demand secure login to all information about their children. However, we are very stubborn and insist on this.”

The municipality recommends pupils take their computers home every day from the age of twelve. However, some schools let their pupils take the laptops home from the age of seven, as they want the devices to be constantly supporting pupils’ learning.

Holmqvist certainly seems happy with the outcomes, “Parents seem very pleased with the ‘1-to-1’ project and the way that it is helping their children to read and write…” Furthermore, so impressed are the municipality with the success of the project that they are already planning their strategy for 2015-2025. “So far we mostly have laptops computers, but other devices will be considered when we enter into the new project from 2015 onwards.”

Sandviken teachers and school leaders have found Bett very useful in supporting their vision. Holmqvist is a regular visitor to Bett, commenting that, “Bett has been a great inspiration for Sandviken over many years. I was particularly inspired by a speech by England’s education minister some four-five years ago, who spoke so warmly of the use of ICT in the school at all levels. In recent years the municipality has been represented every year, with up to thirty delegates in attendance.”

So, what about the current national picture for technology enhanced learning in Sweden? Well. Holmqvist has his own opinions… 

“The Swedish government has been very passive when it comes to policy towards ICT implementation in schools. We have had an education minister for seven years who believes that Swedish schools should look like those of the 1950s.  Although some improvement has recently emerged in this area, with a new curriculum having more of an emphasis on ICT use.  We need a government that takes ICT issues seriously. Many people within schools have recognised the need to work for modern schools where ICT is included.  However, ICT development is devolved to individual municipalities, which means that ICT is implemented in vastly different ways with varying degrees of success.”

With this in mind, perhaps other municipalities would do well to pay a visit to Sandviken to learn see how things are done.

Dave Smith is computing and ICT adviser at Havering School Improvement Services, as well as being a Naace Board Member. You can read more of his blogs here www.haveringict.edublogs.org    

Bring Your Own Technology… Second Nature at Scargill Junior School, Havering, England

Scargill Junior School is a state school of 290 pupils aged 7 to 11, situated in an outer London borough close to the county of Essex. With 14% of pupils eligible for Free School Meals, this urban school is not in a wealthy catchment area.

The school is supported by the London Borough of Havering’s School Improvement Service (HSIS), a runner-up in the BETT 2012 Awards for best ICT support provider.

Describing itself as being on the ‘networked’ stage of the continuum, Scargill school’s current BYOT model consists of utilising a wide range of mobile devices in school in order to enhance and support the learning in the classroom. It started with Nintendos approximately 6 years ago. The school was looking to increase the capacity of technology in the school whereby there was maximum ratio of devices to children but minimum cost. It seemed that a large proportion of children had Nintendos so Scargill implemented a system where children brought them in with permission from parents and then used them in the classroom….

Read the article in full at Terry Freedman’s excellent ‘ICT in Education’ website – please do sign-up for updates from Terry too.