Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Implementing handheld learning - Victoria Boobyer

Victoria's session on handheld learning started by looking at the considerations that teachers and schools need to make when considering the use of handheld learning.

One of the first decisions that has to be made is which device. The audience was first asked to discuss the pros and cons of different options (class sets of tablets, bring your own device) and Victoria asked us to discuss the benefits and problems of implementing these decisions.

Obviously, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is cheaper, but not all students have the same devices, so the kinds of things you can do and which apps, etc you use will depend on this. Having a class set of tablets ensures everyone using a similar device, but then teachers need to consider things such as security, payment options (for apps, etc) and it can become an expensive option.

As far as security is concerned, with iPads, Victoria mentioned having to look at worries of device theft and breakage. Victoria's school's solution was to lock the ipads up when not is UNE and to use the app 'find my iPad'. Setting restrictions on what can be bought  or changing email accounts is important (eg nobody except Victoria can access the code to buy apps). Buying a durable cover for the tablet is important too, and in a year, the school has not lost a device and neither have they broken one. Apple will also etch the back of the iPad (for free) with the name of your school and number of iPad, etc.

Maintenance is around an hour a week, and then updates to apps take time too, but Victoria deals with this by taking turns to update each device. Maintenance also includes how/where/when they are charged and by whom. Which new apps to buy is also a consideration. When charging them, Joe Dale suggested using a plate rack to keep them separated and if they are all stored in the same place and charged together that will save time.

Ongoing teacher training is important. Victoria has found that top-down teacher training hasn't worked. Considerations involve finding out if teachers are tech comfortable, and if they aren't, then try to help them feel better about using the technology. Apple also trained all of Victoria's teachers for free. Other things to think of is how often training is done. Once a week for 20 minutes has proven to be popular, initially Victoria did the training and now the teachers are teaching each other how to use the apps, etc. Teachers could also take the iPads home to play with and this helped them feel better about using them.

Apart from the device, and more importantly,  responses from teachers show that the iPads are being used in ways that add to the learning, practice and recycling of language. The students also have given very good feedback about using the iPads in a variety  of ways to increase their use of English.

The next part of Victoria's presentation was looking at how the iPads are being used in class, and she started is by showing a video made with iMovie by the students of one class of a poem that they had written and then put to images.

Photo comic is an app which is popular with both teachers and students.

Questions included whether extra bandwidth is needed. Victoria said that this is true, and that the school have dedicated wifi for this and that if a teacher is planning on using, for example, a YouTube video, then it should be downloaded/loaded previously or (preferably) displayed on a screen (or IWB)

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