Exploring the use of mobile devices with Creative Partnerships

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Regular readers will have come across the Mobile Devices policy stuff.  This project (still on-going) was developed in collaboration with Creative Partnerships.  Although the kibosh has been put on the organisation, it’s very exciting that our school have been selected to receive a legacy grant in order to continue the work started this year. This post aims to give a brief summary of the project so far, and our ambitions for the 2011/12 academic year.

What was the project about?

This year, our aim was to design and implement a policy that allows students to use their own mobile devices in their own time in school.  We wanted this to be co-constructed, and in the end the student council produced most of the wording.  The idea is that the general acceptance and responsible use of mobile devices opens the door to unlocking their potential within the classroom.

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A strong feature of our Creative Partnership project has been the co-planning and co-construction of learning with all those involved. James Byford has provided some brilliant insights and ways of working. We particularly like the way in which James introduces non-tech but hugely creative ways of collaborating.  This really links in well with our overall approach where technology is not innovation in itself. In all we have:

  • Worked with the student council for around 10 hours as they explored the use of mobile devices in their own time. This group of students have consulted the views of most school stakeholders and drafted the main principles on which the policy will be based.
  • Used chalk graffiti to communicate what young people did with their mobile devices.
  • Experimented with the use of mobile devices within lessons, basing our work on the pedagogy below.
  • Created a visual inventory of mobile devices and what they could be used for.

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Our work next year will aim to extend and embed the use of mobile devices across the curriculum.  The first phase of this will be to explore geocaching from a different perspective – I won’t give many details out at the moment as it will spoil the surprise! Part of the project will deploy students as Digital Leaders, developing on an idea used successfully by other schools.

The main barrier, as always, is staff confidence and knowledge of devices and what they can do.  Personally, I think that it’s not about the device but about behaviour.  It would be very simple to invest in many of the same device, roll them out to pupils and train staff.  My view is that this is an unsustainable approach (along with large capital investments in kit like IWB, Learning Platforms and ICT suites). A better approach would be to harness the power of pupils’ own mobile devices and use funding in a way that widens participation by providing equipment for those that don’t have access.  In addition, a change of behaviour needs to come from teachers.  We need to move away from being in control of HOW students learn, but instead focus on the WHAT.  This would allow students to become more independent, collaborative and creative as they figure out how best to solve a problem.  For example, in one of my colleagues geography lessons this year, a group of young people created an animation using one of their mobile devices.  Neither the teacher or myself knows HOW they did this, but we do know that the geographical concepts explored were understood and communicated brilliantly. 

Exploring how mobile devices could be used

The bonus of using Creative Partnerships is that it exposes the school to different ways of doing stuff.  Working with James has also highlighted the fact that huge, multinational corporations experience the same issues.  If they can do it, so can we!

I’ll be sharing more of our journey though this blog as well as at various speaking workshops when given the opportunity. Feel free to get in touch if you’d like to know more.

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