Pupil with Nintendo DSIComputer games: on way into primariesPrimary schools are starting to recognise the importance of games technology and smartphones, according to research by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA). But there is plenty of residual anxiety, particularly over the phones.

BESA director Ray Barker, explains: “Our research has found that teachers have very different opinions when it comes to the use of mobile phones by primary school aged children. On the one hand, 39 per cent stated that children should not have access out of school to mobile phones, while another 29 per cent of teachers said the ideal situation would be if all pupils had access to a mobile.”

Gloucestershire CollegeMoLeNET: recording work at Gloucestershire CollegeOne of the world's biggest handheld learning projects is pulling together the evidence for its final report, due at the end of May. The UK's MoLeNET (Mobile Learning Network) Project has used an investment of some £16 million from the Learning Skills Council to set up further education projects that have engaged some 7,000 teaching staff, 1,000 technicians and more than 70,000 learners – all over three years.

While most press coverage of handheld learning projects in schools has focused on schools, MoLeNET has been operating in the "Cinderella" area of further education colleges and promises to give feedback on a huge range of activities, from using handheld sensors to ascertain levels of decay in trees, to recording sounds of bat life in leafy Enfield.

By Maureen McTaggart
Are the New Millennium Learners Making the Grade?Governments around the world should highlight the importance of computers and technology for education if schools are to help students bridge a second, emerging digital divide that “separates those with the competences and skills to benefit from computer use from those who do not”.

Given the correlation of these skills to economic, social and cultural success, says a new OECD report, governments should “do their best to engage teachers and schools in raising the frequency of computer use to a relevant level“. As well as bridging a digital divide that is much more than just access to technology, will would improve pupil attainment and demonstrate that schools and teachers are serious about their roles in developing learners fit for a technology-rich world.

By Maureen McTaggart
Pearson digital literact reportMobile digital devices are transforming young children’s early literacy development “in ways not thought possible in the past” and altering their opinion of learning by “providing engagement opportunities not always seen with print materials”, says an academic study funded by the Pearson Foundation.

“The Digital World of Young Children: Emergent Literacy” research white paper, which focused on three to five-year-olds in the least developed countries, discovered that although they may not have the same quality of access as their counterparts from developed nations, their learning development is rooted in their use of commonplace mobile devices.

Primary Schools and ICTResearchers who quizzed 600 primary pupils about how they would prefer technology to be used in their learning were taken aback by their answers. Although disappointed by the level of technology in schools, the 7 to 11-year-olds thought that, with minor changes, what there was could be used in more engaging and exciting ways.

So instead of "radical demands for virtual classes or robot teachers", "The majority simply wanted the occasional chance to bring their own devices into school," says Dr Neil Selwyn senior Institute of Education lecturer and co-author of Primary schools and ICT: Learning from pupil perspectives. "They also wanted a greater say in the rules and regulations that surround ICT use in schools," he adds.