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 91 
 on: July 29, 2008, 07:12:35 PM 
Started by Graham - Last post by stu_mob
Hi Sharon

We are trying to tease a lot of threads out of a tangled ball of wool here!

I realise you are school teacher and so your responses are going to be in that context but I really do need to emphasise again that education is not just children and so I take a very broad view. My own experience is in delivering national services and in that respect what device is being used is largely irrelevant because there is no way that every student in the UK is going be using the same piece of kit. This is for all sorts of reasons.

So to deal with that issue I set baselines of what the technology needs to be capable of. By a baseline I mean for example a mobile device with web browser and 2G connectivity with 1GB of memory etc..

The problem with your model is that it does deny personalisation. Giving every learner an iPhone (or whatever) would be the same as giving every music student a Trombone. After all every Trombone player will develop their own style and play different types of music - so there is individualisation but they are still all playing the trombone.

I disagree with your closing point about giving "all the same tools for each child and teachers are trained prior to using", for me this would be the end of personalisation in mobile learning, since it really would be everyone playing the trombone (how far am I going to push this metaphor Wink.

In fact handheld devices have been phased in. The various conferences and programmers in Schools, Post-16 and HE have all had projects on varying scales looking at the impact of these devices. The problem as I see it is that Education as a sector is scared to take the next step and leave behind the project infrastructure.

If we accept that we all (and I really do mean everyone here) have different learning styles then we need to let learners find the technology that suits them. This means that for some learners no digital technology will suffice and for others they will need little if any contact with a single educator, whilst for others they will need it everyday. This is personalisation. Giving every child a mobile phone or laptop isn't.

The idea of every learner with the same device speaks to me of everyone in rows of desks. I accept your point about each learner focusing on a different aspect of the device's capabilities to enhance their learning but that is also true of learners in rows of desks, some will always answer the questions verbally, some by writing answers, some by book learning, others by board and so on.

Economically, I don't believe that your model is sustainable at the moment. Technology is changing at a cracking pace. By the time contracts are negotiated and in place, whatever is chosen on a large scale will be out-of-date.

It is unlikely we will end up with a consensus and viva la difference! After all mobile learning is still too new for anyone to say this is 'how it must be done'.

There is a middle way though and I experimented with this on the two MoleNet projects I was consultant to (Stockport and Trafford Colleges). MoleNet was a capital spend, so it had to provide hardware. This was duly done but we did not buy just one piece of kit but a variety of devices. Harder to manage but we ended up with a technological landscape that more closely reflected our day-to-day reality.

The key to its success was the baseline I wrote about earlier. As I explained services I design are developed with a baseline in mind. So I knew that so long as the devices met that baseline the services would work in the project.

Its another project but it shows that you can have variety in terms of device access but consistency in service delivery.

We remain in full agreement about the need for training. However, the real focus of this training should be to encourage educators to look beyond the technology and to start applying the pedagogy.

Let's see where we go next Sharon Smiley

 92 
 on: July 28, 2008, 08:19:49 PM 
Started by Graham - Last post by satonner
Hi Stu,

this is a difficult one regarding using what the children have of providing them with the tools.  Although I mentioned I the aspect about buying equipment this comes from actually teaching in a private school for seven years where the children were required to buy their books, pencils etc.  Knowing this is not hte norm in state education I want to look at the scenario for the mass rather than the elite.

Whilst introducing how to use mobile phones as educational tools to the chidlren, during my HMIe inspection, I found that even in a fee paying school there are still children without mobiles, some with very old mobiles that my gran uses and some with the latest all singing and dancing.  A child in primary 1 had an iPhone!!!  Now not sure if I was the cause after showing all children my one!!!

That point is, children with money and children without can still be disadvantaged in the tools they have due to what their parents' view as appropriate for them.  So that means, if wee Johnny has the latest 3G iPhone and Betty has a basic Motorola then Betty will not be able to access enquiry web based learning whilst Johnny can because he has the correct tools for the jobs.  To me that is not equality in Education.  All children should have the same opportunities prior to the individualisation stage.  If they are all 'singing form the same hymn sheet' then this means they all have the same tool but can create a different output.  For example, Betty might prefer creating a podcast of her findings whilst Johnny may use his images and text to create a PowerPoint.

It is a bit like music, you teach children to read music, play music and compose music with the same tools and instruction.  At the end of the day the children then play the pieces they prefer in different styles and different levels of ability.  They also, create their own music in their own style or in collaboration with others.  At the end of the day, they were all taught by the same person, same tools but their individual abilities and preferences dictate what and how they develop their musical style.

Teaching children is like this, you still need to give the all the same teaching and the best tools available then the individualisation is possible.

My new remit is teaching student primary teachers to use technologies with chidlren.  I hope that I will be able to introduce handheld learnign to them so they can reap the benefits of learning anytime, anyplace, anywhere and then develop this further with their pupils.

Back to your point regarding cost, yes it does cost a lot of money to equip a class, school, local authority...  Smartboards cost a lot of money and were placed in schools as the future of teaching.  Some teachers use them as true interactive whiteboards, some use them as a glorified electronic display and some place a bookshelf in front of them!!!  I have been to schools where every class were given them and not all used and I have worked in a school where they were phased in to a different year group each year with the teachers being trained prior to obtaining the board.  Giving the right training these tools are effective, however, placed in a room and told to use can cause misery to many.

handheld learning will only work if phased in, all the same tools for each child and teachers are trainned prior to using. 

Get back to me Stu and we will continue this conversation - very interesting!!!

 93 
 on: July 26, 2008, 11:01:08 AM 
Started by Graham - Last post by stu_mob
Hi Sharon

This is a good discussion to have I don't think there is ever going to be one coherent view because different educationalists work with different learners who are varying ages and backgrounds etc.. The discussion is still really worthwhile though because we get to start thinking about why we make the decisions we do.

Clearly from you posts your experience is with child learners. My contact is generally with older learners, extending well into Adult Learning. In Higher Education, for example, learners will be pretty much expected to provide everything - notepads, books and pens. Where equipment is centrally provided it is rarely done so on an individual basis. So for example there are PC clusters in libraries etc. Many HE learners will also provide their own computer equipment and connectivity.

So that's a clear difference with your experience of teaching children. But I have met teachers of children in situations where pupils will provide their own pens and notebooks. So it's not a consistent experience.

If learners and teachers have one device then I would agree they are "effectively singing from the same hymn sheet" but then I would argue that cannot be personalisation. If everyone does everything the same way then it cannot be personal.

I agree about "ICT equipment that sits in cupboards" and I think there are lots of reasons behind it, not least of which that educators have often not received the training they need to make the best use of equipment in their own context. However, I think we run the same risk with mass supply of the same devices. It will only take a few educators to have a 'bad experience' for the gear to be consigned to store cupboard.

However I disagree about the cost not 'breaking the bank' point because we now run the risk of replicating what the learner already has access too and ending up in a position where our finances are spread too thin. One classrooms worth of kit may not seem massively expensive but on a national basis and given the rapid redundancy of small digital devices it would require a very large rolling commitment on behalf the UK Taxpayer and given that very little large scale funding in education lasts forever - is that realistic?

From my perspective it would be a better spend of money to now add to educators skill sets so they can learn how to spot useful learning applications for these devices in a personalised learning agenda.

It's good discussion and helping gather thoughts I have left lingering for too long. Smiley

 94 
 on: July 25, 2008, 05:29:53 PM 
Started by Graham - Last post by satonner
Hi Sharon Tonner here,

Just finished working in a private school - High School of Dundee in Scotland as a primary teacher where I spent the last 4 years teaching ICT to all children aged 4 - 12 years.

I am now about to embark on my new role as Primary ICT Lecturer at the University of Dundee where I hope to develop globalisation and handheld learning.

My love of gadgets goes back to the good old ZX81 days where I spent many frustrating hours trying to create programes that did not work!

Looking forward to learning from others.

http://tecnoteacher.blogspot.com/

http://hsd-juniors.blogspot.com/

Sharon

 95 
 on: July 25, 2008, 05:19:44 PM 
Started by Graham - Last post by satonner
Hi Stu,

interesting question and rightly so.  When I started using mobiles, that the children already had, in my classroom, many were not using them to their full potentials as they were quite happy with text and talk and some pictures.  So personalisation of learning is not always what we expect where we presume if a child has a particular device they will be able to do a variety of outcomes.

The other downside to using a child's own device is the difference in what they have and what their devices can do, how memory they have etc...  This can limit children with 'passed down' devices.

As an educationalists, I would not expect children to buy their own paper, pencils, textbooks, PE equipment, musical instruments, PCs etc, therefore I would not expect children to buy a device that I believe is going to enhance their learning process.  If a device is bought for all then teachers and children are effectively singing from the same hymn sheet.

I hope this answers why i would want all to have the same as I believe it is not breaking the bank, look at how much money is wasted at the moment on ICT equipment that sits in cupboards!!!

Fire back anymore questions as it helps me clarify or change my thoughts.

Sharon

 96 
 on: July 25, 2008, 04:01:13 PM 
Started by Graham - Last post by Graham
Latest newsletter for Handheld Learning 2008 at:

http://www.handheldlearning2008.com/newsletter/news-25-07-08.html

 Smiley


 97 
 on: July 25, 2008, 03:27:17 PM 
Started by Graham - Last post by stu_mob
Hi Satonner - now can I pick up on one of your points re "personal learning devices"?  and ask should the learning device be separate from other personal digital devices.

I take a very broad view of education and my professional focus tends to be on the post-16 and HE sectors, although I have worked with the pre16 sector and I would accept that the strategy for one sector of education would not necessarily be suitable for all.

However, given that the majority of digital devices that learners already have with them have much that something like the iPhone could offer, would bulk purchasing and the consequential imposition of a specific hardware solution on learner be a 'good spend' of public money?

Increasingly I think not since we know the power is out there so isn't time we really looked at how to use it and actually adapt m-learning to personalisation? i.e. using what the learner brings to the table and finding out where they are engaged.

If we use what the student has and is already engaged with then we free up meager funds to help those who genuinely don't have. Also we free up  funds to help training for educators, which is desperately needed if we are ever to move out 'project land'.



 98 
 on: July 24, 2008, 06:51:58 PM 
Started by Graham - Last post by satonner
Well Chris, I have to say it looks like the iPhone triggered many exciting thoughts about how it will change the way we work, learn and communicate.  As others have mentioned above, it will also pave the way for many other companies to create devices that enable users to fully interact with one device as in the words of the old Martini advert 'anytime, anyplace, anywhere'.

What excites me most when I watched the 3G iPhone video, having tried for the past two years to incorporate children's mobile devices into the primary learning environment, is the huge potential to use this device with children to enhance the learning environment.  Too often children need to wait their turn to use the computer suite, school library visit or their allocated slot of laptops.  Too often a question is placed to the side as the answer will have to wait until we can access the technology.  Too often tasks are laborious because pen and paper take longer when creating the final product where editing is less time consuming using technology.  Too often collaborative work is sketchy whilst children wait for others to contribute whereas the collaborative tools in the Internet enable immediate collaboration.  Too often exchanges with other schools become stagnant as the children wait their weekly turn at the computers.  Too often learning is contained within the classroom walls where sharing with the world is not an option.

Children want 'active' learning that is immediate reflecting how they learn at home or outside school.  As much as I tried to create an environment that reflected the children's outside school life through using many Web 2.0 tools and teaching the children to use their own mobile devices to they full potentials rather than talk and text, the constraints of not impinging on the children's mobile usage cost restricted what I could do.

Now this may change if I schools were to purchase iPhones  OR iTouch for children which became their personal learning devices.  Now that the device is no longer contained within 'apple' in the sense that opensource software is now available on the device, I am sure there will be many creative people who will now develop software for education.  It would then be the teachers who would teach children how to use their devices educationally as we currently do with PCs and pen and paper.  It is not just a matter of giving out the devices and 'leaving the children to it' as many believe the children are more capable than the adults.  Many children can use these devices, just like they can use pencil and paper, however, it is through an excellent teacher/facilitator that they can be guided to learn new skills and knowledge.

When will this all become a reality in today's education?  Maybe not at the present, however, hopefully in the near future where I hope I can begin to instill the confidence in new student teachers to embrace this new technology as I prepare out future primary teachers for a 21st Century Education at my current post as Teaching Fellow in Primary Education (ICT) at the University of Dundee.

Sharon

 99 
 on: July 23, 2008, 06:56:32 PM 
Started by Graham - Last post by davew
This is fantastic news... Well done Mike...

Well deserved.....

Thanks for all the support and encouragement you have given us in Wolverhampton.

 Smiley

 100 
 on: July 23, 2008, 05:28:08 PM 
Started by Graham - Last post by stu_mob
Graham, I've never sloped off early from HHL - always too good to miss a second! LOL Smiley - Seriously sounds interesting, hopefully it will be flexible spending and not just capital only because I think that's been the difficulty of MoleNet and I share your hopes about that.

I think the UK mobile data market needs a serious review by the service carriers and it's time that data carrying was seeing as part of the inclusive package. And to be fair that is the general trend but it is still over priced for what it offers in comparison to desktop broadband. That comparison is one the service carriers themselves invite in their marketing so I think a value check is well worth making.

I think the next stage is too look at what learners are using themselves. Also, I very much want to make the distinction between learners - who can be any age and 'kids'. I know the focus of many on this forum is schoolchildren but I think and want to encourage us to look broader. The UK faces some of its most serious economic challenges over the next few years. To meet them we need a workforce that can carry on learning and fitting that in into a very busy lifestyle. Mobiles could be invaluable for that!

But back to my point (I digress too much sorry!) If we really want personal learning then we need to see what and how the learner is engaged. Not everyone will take to mobile access and we need to move away from the idea and projects of 'lets give everyone one of these' (whatever it is) and start seeing what they are using and to think about why they are engaged and whether or not that engagement can be used in learning.

We've seen some huge mistakes made by education with regards to the PC and other IT use in classrooms. Too many organisations are now tied (no longer voluntarily) to one supplier. It's bad for creativity in learning and bad for the tax payer. Lets not make the same mistake in education with mobile learning.

Also, lets make sure that supplier models fit learners and educators needs and not the other way round!.

I agree we need to invest in training for education providers and also we need to make sure that those who cannot afford and for whom the technology is unsuitable are not left behind.

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