Monday, 13 October 2008

Left to their own devices.

Last year the General Secretary of the teaching union the NASUWT in the UK made a comment that must have haunted him ever since when he said; "Teachers would be grateful if pupils just brought a pen" when discussing students bringing gadgets in to schools.

His words were generally met with derision and rightly so. Our students are familiar with a huge array of technology and it's part of our role to help them to use it in a positive way. The mobile phone is a device often banned in schools, but with the vast majority (95%+) of secondary students owning them they could be a rich resource within the classroom. The new breed of phone has a number of functions which can allow for personalisation and innovation and apparently contains more computing power than the first Apollo space launch - don't ask me to reference that, it's just something I heard!

A research paper just released by the University of Nottingham in the UK looks at how secondary schools can use mobile phones to help learning.

Amongst other things, the report outlines 15 ways that students can use their mobiles;
  • Timing experiments with stopwatch
  • Photographing apparatus and results of experiments for reports
  • Photographing development of design models for eportfolios
  • Photographing texts/whiteboards for future review
  • Bluetoothing project material between group members
  • Receiving SMS & email reminders from teachers
  • Synchronising calendar/timetable and setting reminders
  • Connecting remotely to school learning platform
  • Recording a teacher reading a poem for revision
  • Accessing revision sites on the Internet
  • Creating short narrative movies
  • Downloading and listening to foreign language podcasts
  • Logging into the school email system
  • Using GPS to identify locations
  • Transferring files between school and home

Some great ideas there and many worth following up on. Being a complete dinosaur I'd never even realised you could use your mobile as a stopwatch... a really useful tool in the classroom.

Elizabeth Hartnell-Young's research work makes fascinating reading and a full version can be downloaded here.

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