Handheld Learning, Day 2, Early Stuff and Andrew Pinder

Day two of Handheld Learning started with a breakfast meeting in which I saw presentations about three handheld implementations in the UK:
Mobile Learning – Trends & Vision
Dave Whyley, Headteacher & E-Learning Consultant, Wolverhampton Local Authority
Plans and Aspirations for Handheld Learning
Alissa Ozouf, Teaching and Learning Consultant – Primary ICT, Luton Local Authority
Handheld Learning at Thomlinson School
Jari Mielonen, CEO, SANAKO Corporation

The main points I took away from this session were:

  • the importance of reliable, wireless connectivity;
  • the importance of getting administrators and teachers to think differently about using technology, to get from the computer lab model to a more flexible, mobile model.

Pinder

At the conference itself, Andrew Pinder opened the keynotes. He stated that Becta is about bringing about change, because we know it works (with regards to technology and educational outcomes). If you use technology appropriately and effectively and it’s in the hands of the right people you can improve student achievement both in k-12 and higher ed (increases retention at the latter level). Therefore, he called for technology to be used more widely.

Today’s learners are demanding more technology be used in education. Schools are often the only place where they don’t use technology effectively. Many students have better technology at home. 95% of new jobs require the use of technology, and the number of unschooled jobs is dwindling fast. Need to use technology to teach kids! (this situation is very similar to that in the U.S.).

He also said it’s importance to convince teachers that tech works, that they shouldn’t be afraid of it, and convince learners and parents to demand it from schools: Next Generation Learning Campaign. Home access is part of that. So no more: “no homework with tech because kids don’t have access.” About 1 million learners have no access to the Internet in the UK. Spend 350 mil pounds to deal with this problem.

Home access to internet through some kind of voucher system, access does not have to be through a PC, a screen is all that is needed, e.g. maybe a mobile phone. Becta is asking for help and ideas for packages that will work. The focus should be on proper education outcomes.

The plan is to go from 15-20% of schools using tech effectively to 80% over the next couple of years. There is a place for mobile technology as a component of that.

Question: What about collaboration with other countries?

Pinder: we’re trying to gather knowledge from around the world, and we want to work with people around the world. Worldwide conference before BETT, 70 countries so far.

Question: what outcomes will you measure? Also, aren’t you talking about last generation teaching v. next generation learning?

Yes, it’s a teacher problem. It’s an issue of not always having reliable technology and of teachers giving up control to students. There is also a need to improve the infrastructure, as teachers get nervous about this stuff because they won’t know if the technology is going to work. Most young people use some technology very effectively [for what?] but they don’t know how to use it in an educational context. They need help to separate the wheat from the chaff. Parents: 10-15% support kids in their technology needs, but there is a big learning gap. What should parents expect from the education system in order to be able to support kids effectively at home?

Image Credit: My camera

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