A strong case can be made that a revolution is underway in how computers are being perceived and used in schools across the world. In Australia it could be said Queensland is one of the epicenters of this change.
How do we know this? Several recent reports have shown that Australia has just about the highest uptake of smartphones and ‘mobile’ computers in the world.
- Figures from analyst house Telsyte show that 1.4 million tablet computers were purchased in Australia in 2011 and that Australians are taking to tablets – especially the iPad – at a higher rate per capita than other countries (http://delimiter.com.au/2012/02/15/apple-australia-sold-1-million-ipads-in-2011).
- The results of a Telstra Neilsen survey from July 2011 revealed that Australian smartphone ownership may already be as high as 46%, a 10% jump from 2010 (http://www.telstra.com.au/abouttelstra/download/document/fact-sheet-telstra-smartphone-index-2011.pdf).
- Google research from September 2011 showed not only that Australia is number two in the world for smartphone ownership (behind only Singapore), but that Australians also download more apps than users in the US and UK (http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/mobiles/australias-white-hot-smartphone-revolution-20110908-1jz3k.html).
- In Queensland, Optus reported that by October 2011, 55% of regional phone owners (traditionally a sector that lags behind in gadget adoption) had a smartphone (http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/story/2011/10/14/smartphones-hit-regional-qld).
This high uptake of mobile computers could mean that Australia is a key place to observe the move from computers being seen mainly as specialised machines that sit in their own category, to one where they are readily available at hand to enhance learning. This process can also be described as a move towards ‘appliance computing’, where the low cost and wide-spread use of mobile computers reaches a point where society views them as expected utilities, or everyday appliances in the same category as TVs, DVD players or microwaves.
It’s a situation which may be the norm for many of today’s students. For example an informal survey of over 600 students conducted by the Principal at a lower-socio economic school north of Brisbane in 2008 showed that more students already owned a mobile device such as an MP3 player, Nintendo DS and digital cameras than used a PC regularly (and this wasn’t even counting mobile phones!).
This rapid uptake by the Australian and Queensland public is one of the two main factors supporting the belief that this country is in a position to lead the way in pioneering ‘appliance computing‘ in education. The second factor is the growth in availability of these devices in schools. While some teachers in Queensland participated in a small PDA (personal digital assistant) trial in 2005, and others purchased small numbers of Nintendo DS handhelds, it has really been the release of the iPod touch (and then iPad), as well as the introduction of the XO mini-laptop program from One Laptop per Child Australia (OLPC), that has boosted the numbers of devices in schools.
Twenty–eight schools across Queensland ranging from lower-socio economic schools in northern urban centers, to the most remote in the very far west and in the Torres Strait have now been joined the OLPC program. Some schools partner with OLPC to deploy only one class-set, while others such as Doomadgee have over 350 across years P-7. OLPC Australia has been recognised for its training program that focuses on educational outcomes rather than just the laptop itself.
In addition, With mobile phone subscriptions now outnumbering computers, TVs and even FM radios (T. Ahonen, 2010) to the point where by as long ago as 2004, 45% of 13-15 year olds owned one (Allison, 2004), it is inevitable that such devices are having an impact in Queensland. Much has been said about the parental responsibilities involved with students having mobile phones by experts such as the Queensland Governments bullying adviser Michael Carr-Gregg who has advised parents not to “outsource responsibility to schools” (Brisbane Times, October 26 2010).
There are many schools that have reacted responsibly to the high ownership of mobile phones by students by instituting mobile phone use policies that suit the needs and expectations of their communities as well as legislation and state policies such as those posted at http://education.qld.gov.au/strategic/eppr/schools/scmpr003. One example that can be googled forms part of the Drillham State School ʻResponsible Behaviour Planʼ (see p20).
Apart from the behaviour management side of the impact of mobile phones, there are many examples of teachers gaining prior-approval and taking advantage of the mLearning (or mobile learning) capabilities of such devices such as their portability, simplicity and potential for improving the personal learning productivity in ways that donʼt actually use the ʻphoneʼ capabilities but rather the devices other features.
One of the main educational uses sees old or second-hand mobile phones being used as audio and video recorders. At Tullawong State School Learning Support Teacher Jonathan Nalder employed an old phone in this way to allow students to listen back to their reading and correct their own errors. A Year 6 Teacher at Worongary State School has supervised students to use them as mobile sound effects recorders to capture sounds not available in the classroom that are needed for stop-motion video creations.
At Strathpine West State School, a year seven teacher has also used old phones to record student verbal responses which would otherwise be lost on those occasions when they are working outside the classroom. These same students have also used them capture images whilst on excursions for later integration into learning tasks back in the classroom. Senior students at Kelvin Grove State College, which has begun incorporating the use of reference Apps (or software applications) into its Science Department ICT Strategic Plan, are using phones that can download apps to allow learning tools such as calculators, timers, stopwatches, periodic tables and biology charts to be available on a much wider basis to support ‘just-in-time’ learning as it happens than was possible before.
Not all educational use of mobile phones is driven just by teachers however. A Physical Education Head of Department at Palm Beach Currumbin State School has had his students approach him to request permission to use their mobile phones to improve their learning productivity by recording lessons. This allows them to better concentrate on the class because they can now review and study what was written and said at their own pace later on.
It is widely acknowledged that tablet devices are also becoming more popular, and an official Department of Education trial of iPads was conducted in Queensland in 2011 in two schools (http://education.qld.gov.au/projects/educationviews/smartclassrooms/2011/feb/ipad-110224.html). As well, enough other state schools had also purchased iPads such that a site was established in 2011 in the online community known as the Learning Place to support them. Several private schools such as Redlands College and The Southport School have also run trials or initiated 1:1 deployments of iPads. The latest development is the policy of the new LNP government in Queensland to deploy 20 tablet devices to every special education school, and 10 to every school with a special education unit to support students with special needs.
While it would be easy to assume that schools are just jumping on the latest bandwagon, the reality is that innovative professional development is being conducted to maximize the use of these devices as enablers of learning. All teachers from schools who join the One Laptop per Child program receive an initial 15 hours of training, with options for further accredited training to become local expert trainer. Students also can receive certificates for learning and then through demonstrating their skills, including becoming an ‘XO Mechanic’ become qualified to pull apart and conduct basic repairs on the devices.
Schools using other mobile devices such as iPads have been able to access for some time, numerous training sessions provided by the Department of Education and Training’s ICT Learning Innovation Centre. This centre, which is based at the University of the Sunshine Coast, delivered several online and in-person iPad-related workshops in 2011, with others already also conducted in 2012. In addition, the Department’s Division of Indigenous Education and Training Futures ran an in-person day of mobile device workshops in Cairns in late 2011, and due to demand, this was expanded into a two-day forum known as ‘Learning@hand’ attended by 130 educators in April 2012 (http://www.learningathand.info).
What has the impact been of all of this activity? A number of research projects overseas show that mobile devices have had a positive impact on learning; for example one from Maine in the United States where kindergarten students’ literacy and engagement levels saw a dramatic increase when using iPads (http://www.loopinsight.com/2012/02/17/ipad-improves-kindergartners-literacy-scores). Indications closer to home also show similar improvements.
In one of the first documented iPad trials anywhere in the world, Trinity College (TCFS) in Victoria deployed devices across eight classes and conducted a number of surveys (with 106 responses). They found that not only did the use of paper dramatically decrease, but that iPads were “effective, durable, reliable and achieve their educational aims of going further, faster and with more fun” and that they “have advantages for TCFS over other technologies such as netbooks and laptops”. As well, 80% of students and 76% of staff indicated they would recommend the iPad for others as a learning tool. (http://www.trinity.unimelb.edu.au/Media/docs/iPadPilotReport2011-1b1e1a52-79af-4c76-b5b6-e45f92f2c9e9-0.pdf)
A pioneer in this area has been Hambledon State School in Cairns who initiated an MP3 player program in 2009 that has since expanded into a parent-supported and Showcase for Excellence Award winning iPod touch and iPad project that ran from 2010-2012. Results from students participating showed that the number of behaviour tickets issued decreased markedly, and that 96% of students themselves reported they were learning better.
In its trial of iPads with Year 9 students in 2011, Brisbane’s Kedron State High School found that 15 out of the 24 students involved “improved their performance in comparison to previous grades” and assessments (http://education.qld.gov.au/smartclassrooms/pdf/ipad-trial.pdf).
At Doomadgee State School in far north west Queensland, use of XO laptops has been partially credited by the Principal Richard Barrie, with helping the school’s Year 3 students achieve what the Courier Mail described as ‘stunning’ results (http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/doomadgee-state-school-produces-stunning-naplan-results-thanks-in-part-to-technological-advancements-in-teaching/story-e6freoof-1226137211426) in national numeracy testing (results went from 31% to 95%, where the state average is 95.2%). Overall, the school, which has 350 XO laptops in total and 30 iPads, saw NAPLAN scores lift in 13 out of 15 categories.
Using community engagement as another measure of success; the recent explosion from 65 to over 100 Prep enrollments at one Cairns school who promised XO mini-laptops to their 2012 Prep students as a way of addressing a local ‘digital divide’ in access to technology.
So it is not just the increase in numbers, but the positive examples of mobile technology use in Queensland schools and the willingness of schools to engage with these devices as additional tools to enable student success that demonstrates the possibility and flexibility these devices value add to the technology toolkit available to students, families and teachers.
UNESCO are releasing several working papers focusing on different regions of the globe and mapping what mobile learning initiatives are in place, particularly in regards to policy, and teacher professional development.
You can read them all at Edutechdebate: https://edutechdebate.org/archive/mobile-learning-initiatives/
Here are my thoughts on the Latin America report:
- I really found the drivers, enablers and blockers section to be very useful – a simple way to communicate a lot about what the issues are.
- BridgeIT and SMILE sound very interesting – although SMILE seems to be the innovative one in actually going beyond just the ‘substation’ level of the SAMR model.
- Sadly, or perhaps, to be expected, virtually all are still ‘early days’ with no results of the wider impact (apart from user numbers) reported.
- Most seem to have neglected teacher PD therefore are just re-inforcing traditional pedagogy (ie. bridgeIT videos) – I know this must change soon.
#mLearn: Apps Appear To Be Consuming The Lion’s Share Of Mobile Media Engagement http://t.co/Tv9LQUf0 |
#Slide2learn #EdTech #ADEdu #Android
#mLearning – my definition: “Learning that harnesses the simple, portable, personal and connected nature of mobile devices to enhance learning
- What’s yours?
Congrats #OLPC Australia: strong Ed-focused program & advocacy now = Australian Government grant for $11.7 million / 50,000 students #ICT4E @OLPCAU
You can now mirror iPad/iPhone to Windows PC also w’ @AirServer http://t.co/ENtNAcoA |
#Slide2learn #ADEdu #iPadEd via @TonyVincent
As tested and selected by my Miss 4 1/2 – a 3 1/2 year iOS veteran.
Nearly all of these have iPad and iPod touch/iPhone versions, and are in the free->$5 range (some also have free ‘lite’ versions you can try out).
This was the first app our then 9 month old used. Very simple of course, just tap the image that links to the sound being made. Ask what the name of the old iPhone that she uses is tho, and even to this day she will reply ‘Clara’ .
Her top choices (based on which apps she independently goes back to and spends the most time on):
- choose characters, move them with your finger and talk – and Puppet Pals turns it all into a movie. Great for imagination and developing oral language.
- interact with 5 spaces in a play house – amazing level of detail and interaction possibilities.
- free and provides great picture making options and scenes
- a little more advanced, but even at age three this was a hit with lots of sections and animations to explore on a journey around Africa
- all apps by Duck Duck Moose have great graphics and animation as well as songs and hidden interactions.
- aimed at Australian kids, it includes the right school font used by each state as kids practice letter formation
- allows kids to explore letters and sounds as well as to see how to use them to build words
- just a simple look around and find animals with some quiz questions, but this one has proved very popular on a recent week away.
- Great for co-ordination and getting a sense of the fun of playing music
- the original talking creature app – repeats what you say in fun and interactive ways – very good for developing oral language skills
- a letter tracing and word making app with fun activities like tipping the device to slide the letters around
- animates old classic books and allows you to record as many animal sounds or readings of the story as you like yourself.
- just pure fun as you drive Grover more and more crazy as the story unfolds
A little more advanced:
- younger kids may require help as there are some great problem solving puzzles
- a step beyond Pirate Treasure hunt with an involved story and puzzles that prove a great challenge for kids when they are ready.
Also – Moms with apps is the best parent site for keeping up apps aimed at kids:
Learning@hand is a first of its kind mobile learning forum being held in Cairns April 29-30. We are very excited to have Wayan Vota, Victor Steffenson, Dr Chris Sarra, Theresa Feletar as our keynote speakers and wanted to share their speaker bio’s so you can learn more about the amazing level of wisdom that attendees will have access to from these speakers, and from Rangan Srikhanta of OLPC, Richard Barrie of Doomadgee State School, as well as Slide2Learn.net team members.
Visit www.Learningathand.info for more details.
Download the PDF: Learning@hand Keynote Speakers
iLearn iPod touch personalised learning project, Week 2 & 3:
Well, once I heard that the 5th generation iPod Nano had added a video camera, voice recorder, and a step-o-meter as well as dropping in price, I knew it was time to finally get two – for my school. Why for my school you ask? Well, one of my jobs is to encourage the uptake of the transformational learning that mobile and ubiquitous tech contributes to. Being able to shoot quite decent video anywhere, or record students anytime as well as storing gigabytes of podcasts, photos etc. makes this one useful tool. Add to these the ability to record your steps constantly and upload data to the web for tracking and evaluation, and you have potentially, when used within a well planned curriculum and ICT framework such as this one (Smart Classrooms), a very small and mobile, all in one learning machine.
So what did I try first? The video of course. Reportedly, the camera itself is sized only 3mm x 3mm in size. You can see the camera and microphone fitted onto the back. It took a minute to work out the best way to hold the Nano so as not to obscure the lens. Once I’d done this, I had the weird sensation of seeing a video capture window on – an iPod. Still seems hard to believe, but its just a centre button push to start and you’re off. You can watch a short clip I recorded (see link at end) to test the quality, but my opinion is, its highly useable, just make sure there is ok lighting. Video can be synced off the device in iPhoto on a Mac, or your usual photo program if on a PC.
UPDATED: I forgot to mention that the Nano has the ability to add fun effects to its videos! Applying them does degrade the quality slightly, but with careful planning, it means that videos students record can have a cinematic feel applied in device. A few people have asked if the camera can take stills, and the answer is no (its too tiny), but there’s no reason you can’t extract a still from the video once its on your computer (of 640×480 size, which is fine for student work and blogs etc).
- If you’d like a full analysis of the quality of the video, Macworld have done a comprehensive comparison of it with the Flip SD, iPhone 3GS and Kodak Zi8 HERE.
Next I tried out the voice recorder. The screens as you can see carry over from the iPhone app and functionality is just as simple as the video recording, and include the ability to come back and resume a previous recording, or to delete one you’re done with. Voice memo’s are tagged with the date and just sync over into iTunes automatically. Simple and easy, and quality again, is quite acceptable. Apparently it will also record from a plugged in mic too, something I will try out next. UPDATED: I forgot to mention that the Nano now has a built in speaker, meaning that a group of students can instantly listen to whats been recorded with no need to share headphones or plug in multiple headphones with a rockstar plug.
Lastly, I scroll-wheeled it to the new pedometer, and you can see from the pics that it allows you to set your weight for accuracy, decide if you want the pedometer to be always on, and also set a daily step goal.
The pedometer is well-tuned and only starts recording steps once you’re actually stepping, ignoring just shaking etc. The calendar is also a handy way to check you’re progress, and once plugged in to iTunes, you can further evaluate your fitness by syncing the data with the Nike+ website. Once again, its simple and brings this functionality to a whole new set of users – in my school’s case, to teachers and students.
So, I do consider this money very-well spent. I know I’ll use them extensively with my students and they will replace my 3 year old battered step-o-meter and 4 year old voice recorder very well. Even more exciting is the way it will enable me to introduce other teachers to the possibilities of mobile learning. Wish me luck!
Download sample video at actual quality by right-clicking download (ignore the non-playing quicktime icon) download (3.7mb, 11 secs).