Learn Live session @ Bett 2013

Bett 2013As mentioned in the previous post, I attended Bett 2013 last week and was lucky enough to co-present a Learn Live session with David Rogers (see his write up here). The session was ‘Empowering young people in order to create a mobile device policy that brings about a pedagogic revolution’ – and referred to the work that David led and I supported with introducing and developing the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) mobile@priory policy for our school.

You can see the slides for the session below, but it is mostly just images so if it needs explaining then email me for more info!

The story can be seen explained on David’s blog if you search for it, but basically over the last 18months he has been leading the revolution to transform Priory through enabling access to mobile devices. The policy was co-constructed by students, teachers, professionals and involved action research (in the form of mapping social spaces, conducting polls of device access, and putting chalk graffiti around school!), formulating the framework and then trialling within Geography to then spread out whole school.

My part of the story (apart from actually teaching and using devices in my own lessons) was to share the teacher’s perspective. Now clearly I am biased since I am pro-tech in general (see my Guardian posts here or here) but before anyone thinks that I am lazy and always have kids on mobiles in class let me point out that I am an advocate of learning through and by any means, but not at any cost. If you walk in to my classroom you won’t see young people 24/7 always on mobiles /tablets / some kind of high tech – you will see a range of methods and tools, appropriate for the range of students that come through the door and the range of skills they need to develop. It’s about being grounded in appropriate learning objectives. I’m not saying every lesson every child needs to be using some kind of electronic device, I’m just saying that it is another tool in the box. Something with which learners are familiar and that can boost engagement if used in the right way at the right time. It’s not always easy to use tech, and it’s not always appropriate. Just like we all have heard complaints of overuse / misuse of powerpoint or textbooks, it is not the be-all-and-end-all. Just an option. Right, now that I’ve put that caveat in!

Learn Live session audience

Basically we shared Priory’s story of introducing the mobile@priory policy. From my perspective, I was able to share how using mobile devices had led to the Olympic Geocaching work of Sam Atkins in the department – a project that saw a whole range of learners across Year 8 being out around the school site and eventually at Box Hill to choose suitable sites for geocaches, investigating Rights & Responsibilities, learning about the SSSI area of Box Hill and the Olympic road race itself. When Ofsted came they saw multiple synchronous classes out and about the school site doing this project – and they loved it. The project even got shown as part of our annual BBC News School Report and you can see it here from the official BBC News South Today report.

We also shared about ‘guerilla learning‘ – that mobile devices enable ‘naughty’ learning – doing things differently, learning outdoors, being free to make mistakes and learn from them. That utilising BYOD and mobile devices in general has allowed better home interaction during school trips and projects. For example, on residentials / sports days / BBC News Day we have live blogging (through Posterous, with a private link shared with family) to share student exploits – and parents can respond through twitter or comments (which have to be moderated & approved before being made public).

BYOD has been found to be useful for Controlled Assessment and fieldwork at GCSE level, with students using mobile phones / iPods / laptops / tablets to record information during field trips (be that images / video / sound recordings / data) and be able to manipulate this in their own time, being able to be portable, not having the worry of their research being locked in school where they cannot access it and having the benefit of it being technology that they are already familiar with, and that doesn’t have space quota limits because it is shared with 1250 other students. You can see a video here that shows student thoughts.

Geography started the trial (we already had been to be honest, having a habit of trying something first then getting permission or apologising after) and then other departments started to get involved. In the Mobile@Priory Cookbook you can see 4 examples of different projects during the trial. This includes an EAL project (we learned that there are over 37 different languages spoken at Priory, yet all signage and literature is in English) to use QR codes and mapping as a tour of the world around the school site; an MFL lesson using the Spanish Ikea site and translation tools to design and equip a house in Spanish; a Music lesson to create soundscapes around the site; and a Design Technology lesson where an unloved and worn out school bench was renovated and embellished with emblems, a hashtag and QR code for students to learn the 6Rs of recycling and links to rights and responsibilities (we are a Rights Respecting School). Interesting stuff! Read the cookbook or see David Rogers’ blog for more info.

If you have any questions on BYOD / guerilla learning / mobile devices then get in touch. Or come visit. Interestingly, since the policy was introduced we now only find that 1.6% of all negative behaviour incidents recorded are related to mobile devices. It’s all about the learning and the behaviour / relationships that enable that learning, not the device itself. Whether a device is a mobile or a pen, either can cause benefit or harm. It’s just how it is used and with what motives. Use for use sake is a mistake. Just like not using something just because it’s not been done before is a mistake. Try, fail, adapt, try again, succeed.

“She knows there’s no success like failure,
And that failure’s no success at all” [Bob Dylan]

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