Thinking Of Using Mobile Tech In School?

SWTN LogoSaltash.net share their innovative use of mobile technologies.

It is apparent that students and teachers at Saltash.net have developed a trusting partnership, immersing themselves in a wondrous learning journey, together. Students are encouraged to bring their own devices to school, extending the amount of kit available in class, reducing the school spend on equipment and increasing the level of engagement.

It isn’t all about the tech though. It's all about the learning, and as you’d expect reading and writing feature high on the list. Teacher, Ben Rowe, explained how a plethora of online resources are used throughout the curriculum to engage, excite and enthuse students to further develop skills including bulletin boards, web design, shared writing, quizzes,  geocaching, video conferencing and blogging. Students are encouraged to give feedback on lessons through class blogs, use their mobile phones to access reading material, take notes and record media clips.

Class websites are used extensively and provide a great opportunity for staff and students to work side by side engaging in long term, real world projects where published content attracts instant feedback from staff, peers, parents and the wider global community, giving students a sense of pride and achievement. Accompanied by an e-guardian (another adult in school), staff utilise social networks to deliver homework and enhance engagement with parents; cleverly using competition to get students engaged, staff make use of leadership boards on resources such as quizlet.com and ratings such as ‘likes’ on a class YouTube channel.

Key to success?

Give the students ownership, ensure they are involved in some sort of leadership and give them choice. Allowing students to choose to engage in learning is a vital element. History and RE Teacher, Katie Boothman demonstrated how Microsoft Tags (similar to QR codes) are used to provide students with choice. These clever 2D barcodes connect the physical and digital worlds, linking students to alternative or extension materials. They are used on worksheets to provide additional sources of information, on display boards to link to student work that is stored online, in the library to showcase pupil feedback through book reviews, in school newsletters to link to additional rich media content and throughout the school to share the school ethos with visitors linking to video content about school values and subject areas, in fact media features throughout the school.

A Microsoft Partners in Learning Mentor school, the tech kit at Saltash.net isn’t tied down to one supplier, it demonstrates a broad range including 3D cameras called bloggies, flip cams, laptops, kindles, ipods, ipads and of course, students own mobile phones. Staff are empowered to try out new things, to see what works, to let the students take the technology and run with it. Safety and security is paramount, only registered devices are allowed to join the school network, SWGfL and Smoothwall filtering is light touch with effective monitoring procedures in place and there is a firm acceptable use agreement in place between staff and students.

So what’s the secret, how can you successfully implement the use of mobile technology?

Deputy Head Teacher, Dan Buckley affirmed that the key to success is working out why you are using ‘mobile technology’ in the first place. Implementing ‘mobile tech’ without a clear context and a shared understanding of where it all fits in certainly won’t be successful, in fact, it’s a change management issue rather than a tech issue. Break it down into achievable steps rather than one enormous leap, staff should focus on identifying what is essential that all learners make progress in each year, establish what the core aims of the school are; then, and only then, start to work out where the technology can help. To find out more take a look at Dan’s Learning by Ladders.

Ben Rowe, Saltash.net:  “Having a reliable, secure connection is vital for saltash.net We find SWGFL to be a reliable and friendly service. We have a fantastic relationship with the team, who are always on hand, should we need something”.

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