'Learning with Mobile...' book has won 'Teach Secondary' award. Chris Abbott's review explains why
Learning with Mobile and Handheld Technologies, written by John Galloway, Merlin John (owner of this site) and Maureen McTaggart, has picked up the ‘Best Book’ prize in this year’s Technology & Innovation Awards run by Teach Secondary magazine in association with Sahara.
The Award judges highlighted the fact that the authors, whose research involved visiting several schools, were sharing the stories of teachers that they felt would help “others recognise and avoid unnecessary mistakes”. They also complimented the reportage style of the book and said it “will not only make lives easier, and learning more effective, but it will also undoubtedly save schools a significant amount of money”.
This achievement was nowhere on the horizon when Dr Chris Abbot wrote his review of Learning with Mobile and Handheld Technologies for the Journal of Assistive Technologies (published by Emerald Group Publishing Limited). It is published below with the kind permission of the author and publisher.
Chris Abbott reviews 'Learning with Mobile and Handheld Technologies'
Every now and then a technology comes along that seems to have found its moment, and the education sector seizes upon it and sees it as the answer to a number of possible dreams.
Sometimes those dreams later turn out to be nightmares, as happened with the false dawn of Integrated Learning Systems or the government-inspired deluge of interactive whiteboards, many of them in use now only as highly expensive marker boards.
Mobile technologies have attracted a great deal of interest from schools, school authorities and politicians in recent years, and not just in the UK where this book has been published. As a result, many schools have invested heavily in tablets or other mobile technology, but not always with a clear idea of how these technologies will be used or indeed whether they might have an impact on learning.
Learning with Mobile and Handheld Technologies, by John Galloway, Merlin John and Maureen McTaggart, is a book that attempts to answer those questions, and to remind us of some past experiences; and the trio of authors inspire confidence, with Maureen McTaggart and Merlin John, well known for their writing on ICT and education, alongside John Galloway: that rare person, a skilled practitioner who also writes about what he does.
Much of the book consists of lively case studies, rich in the words of practitioners, but these are sandwiched by some helpful discussion of handheld technologies and special educational needs, and finished with a commentary on what are termed expert views.
'Not an academic book in the usual sense – and all the more useful as a result'
The special education sector, in particular, has seen rapid change through the adoption of generic devices, with this leading to great risk to the future of those dedicated companies who have been making high-spec, low-numbers devices for many years, and the authors take us carefully through this complex debate.
The book is described by its authors as journalistic, but this does it a mis-service. It is not an academic book in the usual sense, but offers an informed and lively account of a range of current practices – and is all the more useful as a result, for the thinking teacher, headteacher or governor.
The authors take that tricky path that unites enthusiasm and excitement but without falling into the trap of unquestioning belief. It is good to see that in the, rather short, section on the available evidence, we are reminded that it is student-centred learning with technology that is effective and not individualised learning.
After absorbing the wide range of practice covered in this book, the reader must be persuaded that informed, thoughtful use of mobile and handheld technology should be central to all education systems where the technology can be funded; the case put forward by Galloway, John and McTaggart in this important and well-written book is undeniable.
Chris Abbott is a reader emeritus in assistive technologies at King's College London, and edits the Journal of Assistive Technologies (published by Emerald Group Publishing Limited). This review originally appeared in Vol 9, Issue 2 and appears by kind permission of the Journal.