It is a “hollow ambition” to want every child in a school to have a tablet, unless there is a clear strategy for what teachers wanted to achieve with them…

Educational technology costing hundreds of millions of pounds a year will not provide a “miracle cure” to underachievement and could be abandoned by teachers, according to a leading researcher.

Innovations such as massive open online courses (Moocs) and tablet computers had their benefits, but they did not provide an instant fix for teachers, said Wayne Holmes, a researcher at the University of London’s Institute of Education.

It was a “hollow ambition” to want every child in a school to have a tablet, unless there was a clear strategy for what teachers wanted to achieve with them, Dr Holmes told TES ahead of his appearance at the ResearchED conference in London next weekend.

His comments also precede a major report on how to improve the use of educational technology, which is to be published this autumn by the UK government’s Education Technology Action Group (Etag).

The document, which will be presented to ministers, will outline a range of short- and long-term initiatives to remove the barriers faced by schools and colleges trying to make the most of technology.

Read the full article from the TES by clicking on the link below…

There’s more to learning than ‘either or’ technology

For many years Dave Smith, Computing and eSafety Adviser with Havering Education Services has helped schools that are interested in using visualisers for whole-class sharing of visual and digital resources. Now he’s suddenly coming across people who think the choice is either iPads/tablets or visualisers.

Why do people working with educational technology suddenly get taken with an ‘either or’ mentality?

There is, of course, an antidote: keep the technologies that you are comfortable with and ensure they work well with new ones they want to adopt. You can find schools where teachers and learners have been very comfortable with their IWBs and are happily continuing to use them alongside iPod Touches, iPads, LearnPads, Surfaces, laptops, desktop PCs or whatever else takes their fancy. They do this in all sorts of interesting ways, even sharing materials from their iPads (via AppleTV) on their SMARTBoards and then using the board’s interactive tools to develop them further…

To read the full article and tips on getting it right click here.

I Have a Vision!

‘I have a vision that every student has a tablet to enhance learning …

but how do I get there?’

Amanda Jackson, Inspector Standards and Effectiveness for Computing and ICT at Havering School Improvement Service and speaker during the School Leaders Summit at Bett 2014, examines why it is important to have a clear vision and a strategy before you start considering procurement of tablet devices.

Tablets are now becoming powerful enough for most pupils’ computing needs, and with everything you need at your fingertips, you can see why so many people are considering this option. A recent report from BESA (British Educational Suppliers Association) has forecast that “By the end of the year there will be about 260,000 tablets for use by pupils in classrooms across the UK maintained schools and academies. It is forecast that by the end of 2015 the number will have increased to over 600,000; with a further increase to 1.8 million by the end of 2020.” Report (BESA), ‘Tablets and apps in schools 2013’

How important is a vision for their adoption? It is vital to be clear who is going to be using them and what they are going to be used for. If you haven’t got the technical knowledge to describe this in technical terms, then describe it in functional terms. For example, ‘I want to be able to browse the Internet from any classroom or outdoor learning space. I want to be able to take pictures of pupils on the field and save the photos back to the network’. List what you want to be able to do and prioritise them in case not all of them are possible with one device. Ensure that you make this available when talking to suppliers. This will help them to provide a quote that is fit for your needs. It also gives you something to refer back to if the device is not fit for purpose.

What will be your strategy for implementation? You might want to consider:

  • Timescales: Over what period of time are you considering implementation? Will it be all in one go, with a pilot group/class/year group?
  • Training/CPD: What will you provide? This could be workshops, surgeries, inspire sessions to share ideas or straightforward skills sessions. For many, the greatest need might not be how to use the technology but how to integrate it into the school day, including ideas and suggestions for use in lessons. Also consider whether your supplier can offer CPD as part of their offer.
  • Technical support: Can your current provider of technical support manage the new devices, do they require training too?
  • Ownership: If you are considering one per pupil, who will own the device? Have you considered sharing the responsibility with parents?

It is tempting to be excited when you see a tablet in action and want to get them into classrooms as soon as possible, but make sure you have time to consider how this will be done. The definition of vision is ‘the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom’ (OED); you may have the imagination but it is the wisdom that will ensure that you succeed with your implementation.

Ultra-mobile PCs – a fast-moving market… confusing choices – your HIAS ICT team can help advise…

From Becta’s TechNews March 2008 –  please speak to your HIAS Link ICT Consultant for advice before considering any purchase. 

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Low cost portables

The market for low cost UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) style devices continues to grow rapidly thanks to an increasing range of products and demand outstripping supply for certain models. Education is a key market for these devices. Asus led the way with its Eee PC and now a number of other manufacturers are hoping to emulate their success with highly portable low cost devices. UK manufacturer Elonex has announced a £99 Linux based laptop due for launch in June 2008 aimed at the education market. The device will include a 1GB solid state drive and built in wireless networking. More expensive and aimed at a portable business market is the Belinea 1 from Maxdata. This is a similar sized device that includes a detachable Bluetooth handset to allow easy VoIP calls to be made. This is based on a reference design from Taiwanese manufacturer VIA. A similar format device has been announced by Everex. Asus have announced that the next version of the Eee PC may be shipped with a cheaper hard drive instead of the current solid state device. The Eee 900 series will also be a version with a larger display – 8.9” rather than 7” and an option to run Microsoft Windows XP. Mary Lou Jepsen, the chief technology office for the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organisation has left to start up her own company aimed at delivering a $75 laptop using some of the technologies developed for OLPC. She hopes that with the falling component prices this will be achievable. License fees from her commercial operation will be paid to the OLPC organisation. Computing giant Hewlett Packard has announced a mobile thin client computer using many of the technologies seen in these UMPC devices. The company hopes that the lack of local storage will prove to be popular with customers worried about the potential local data loss if standalone devices are lost or stolen. Later this year, the first mobile internet devices (MID) based on Intel’s Atom processor (see below) are expected to launch. These will be inexpensive Linux based devices, typically with 5” displays and offering a ‘full internet’ experience. Ultra mobile devices have the potential to offer personal access to the networks, data and applications to education users. Projects have already shown how personal ownership improves the opportunities available to pupils and teachers; and promotes adoption of ICT to improve standards.

Tablet PC animation software launched

Tablet PC animation software launched

The University of Washington human computer interaction and design centre have launched a new, simple to use animation application for Tablet PCs. Making use of the touch sensitive screens used in Tablet PCs, K-Sketch allows users to draw simple pictures and then create motion paths to create animations. The freeware application is intended to aid presentation and education by allowing presenters to quickly create simple rough animated explanations of concepts in response to questions.