Learning2Go is spreading the tablet revolution for learning. Dave Broadfield reports
One of the UK’s largest, longest running and most successful mobile learning projects, Wolverhampton’s Learnng2Go, is embracing the world of digital tablets. It has held a "Learning2Go Meets Apple" event to share its plans for using Apple iPads and iPod Touches in schools.
The Wolverhampton Learning Technologies Group teamed up with Apple supplier KRCS for the Wolverhampton Science Park meeting to share what it has learned about the pedagogy and management that works best for mobile technology, and how that can be applied for Apple’s iPads.
The purpose of the event was to cover the integration of iPads into schools and to address schools’ concerns about how to exploit and accommodate the ‘consumerisation’ of technology – for example how licensing models designed and honed for individual consumers can be managed for education use. It also highlighted curriculum opportunities and models of good practice and showcased the forthcoming new LP+ and Smart Notebook apps.
An early innovator, L2G has 'measured approach' for Apple and Android mobile devices
Learning2Go was one of the original projects to explore the potential impact of individual mobile devices on learning and pedagogical practice. It’s origins were in a Becta initiative way back in 2002, and throughout it has consistently been a thought leader in the mobile learning space, often quoted by government ministers, Industry leaders and national agencies. As always, Learning2Go is evolving to take on board new technologies such as the iPad and iPod touch and it is also doing a lot behind the scenes in preparation for using Android devices.
“'Learning2Go meets Apple' has taken a lot of preparation,” says Dave Whyley, headteacher consultant for learning technologies with Wolverhampton City Council, "and while others have raced headlong into purchasing iPads, we have used our experience in mobile learning to take a more measured approach.”
The event was well attended by school leaders, industry and Learning2Go partners. A keynote address by Lawrence Stephenson (business development manager for Apple) reminded delegates of the changing technological and educational landscapes, and that workplace demand for skills was changing from routine to complex communications and expert thinking. Dave Whyley followed with his key message about rooting vision in learning, not the technology. He further outlined Learning2Go’s emerging “five-stage framework of mobile learning" which is based on significant research.
Several workshops, hosted by Apple distinguished educators and L2G staff, covered topics like digital creativity, integrating iPads with learning environments like LP+ and iPads for teacher professional duties. All workshops gave informed practical advice to ease the implementation of iPads into the classroom.
In his keynote address, LP+ secondee and primary headteacher Tom Rees told delegates that it was the best teachers who created the most impact with mobile technology and not the “ICT geeks”. He also warned of the fascination with apps and advised delegates to think carefully before purchase.
The final session of the day saw various support models from Sean O’Connor (KRCS) and members of the Wolverhampton’s Learning Technology Team. This was followed by the unveiling of the LP+ app which links the iPad to the learning platform. The highlight of the session however, was the announcement of SMART Notebook for iPad. Dave Whyley believes this to be a major international coup for the UK and Wolverhampton and said that this has only been possible due to L2G’s longstanding expertise in Mobile learning. He added that the sharing of screenshots of this app was a world first.
The iPad day was very well received by delegates, who commented on the clarity and appropriateness. Delegates were particularly impressed by the content of the day and evaluation comments such as “oustanding” and “inspirational” were commonplace. Others commented that they learned a lot about the integration of the iPad into the classroom and wider school environment. One delegate observed: “It was excellent to see how iPads can be used to enhance and meet the needs of individuals [as well as] the variety of apps available and how to use them, as well as the links with the learning platform.”
'Integration of Apple products into mainstream of our schools now possible'
Throughout the development of mobile learning, right up to today’s fashionable interactive devices, the critical issues have remained the same. Among these are learner choice, adapting curriculum planning, assessment, teacher professional development and maintaining equity.
Dave Whyley concluded: “We can see from the attention paid to the 'Learning2Go meets Apple' event that mobile learning is firmly here to stay, and that educators and industry are keen to build on past experience and expertise to embed mobile learning into the fabric of our education system. Furthermore, it is only now, with the fantastic addition of SMART Notebook for iPad and also the LP+ app to integrate with the LP+ learning platform, that we feel that integration of Apple products into the mainstream of our schools is possible. Perhaps we should now refer to our mobile learning initiative as Learning2Go 2.0.”
Dave Broadfield is a former headteacher and is director of innovation and primary delivery with Connecting Learning