Sarah Neild and Tim RylandsSarah Neild and Tim visitors can get an extra 10 per cent discount on top of the £100-off plus iPod Touch incentives for early-bird registration for Handheld Learning 2009 (valid until July 30). Just register online using the code "merlinhhl09".

John Davitt, Sir Tim Brighouse and Tim Rylands will head the significant home-grown inspiration at this year's event (Malcolm McLaren headlines as "agent provocateur"). And international presenters include James Paul Gee, and Professor Elizabeth Hayes, both from Arizona State University, David Cavallo, a leading light behind the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project, and Gordon Shukwit, Apple's director of IT and learning technologies.

This is the fifth year of Handheld Learning and the theme will be "Creativity, Innovation, Inclusion and Transformation" (2009 is the European Year of Creativity and Innovation). Those features lie at the heart of UK capital projects, like Building Schools for the Future, to build new schools and remodel existing ones so it will be interesting to see whether there is evidence of them starting to exploit handheld technologies. And on inclusion, the HHL website says the event will be "identifying that real transformation will only occur following universal inclusion, eg Home Access".

It's a three-day event (October 5-7) and, although the programme is not yet complete, activities on the first day build on last year's event with "Best Practice in Action", "Learners Y Factor" and "Pecha Kucha for 21st Century Educators" (HHL's version of the popular TeachMeet 'movement'), followed by the annual awards ceremony in the evening.

Days two and three will feature the keynotes, seminars and breakout sessions. Malcolm McLaren ("a visionary of pop culture and a pop cultural icon for over 30 years" according to the organisers) gets the leading keynote position on day two while Sir Tim Brighouse will present on day three.

John DavittJohn DavittIt's unclear yet where John Davitt and Tim Rylands will be positioned at HHL but they represent "don't miss" appearances. Both have been inspiring teachers across the UK and further afield while building impressive reputations for their conference performances.

John Davitt's operations have recently extended to producing innovative software for learning (Rag for the iPhone/iPod Touch and the Learning Score) while Tim Rylands' work at teacher events (now a double act with gifted partner Sarah Neild, who has also featured in Becta's ICT in Practice Awards) has been redefining what makes for transformational CPD and, as Tim puts it, SPD (Starting Professional Development). Their most recent classroom innovation work encompasses Web 2.0 technologies and using Wii gaming with learners for safari fun.

HHL09 aims to "demonstrate, debate and explore how mobile technologies such as phones, entertainment devices, GPS locators, and netbooks can be deployed to enable transformational improvements in learning across schools, home, further education, training and business". As usual it will attempt to balance interests between industry insights, education policy and innovative classroom practice. At a time when many teachers are doing it - and sharing it - for themselves and building their own "bottom-up" networks through Twitter, blogging and TeachMeets, there will be a premium on the classroom practice. And "Spotlight Scotland" promises to provide more insights through the pioneering work being carried out in Scottish schools by Learning and Teaching Scotland.

Apple softening conference hard line for education?

Sponsorship for Handheld Learning 2009 comes from the TDA, PfS, SSAT, Learning and Teaching Scotland, Becta, Nintendo and Apple Solution Expert Education. The latter's involvement is interesting because Apple used to present itself as an education-focused company and would support education events.

However, last year its Cupertino-based executives took a global policy decision to withdraw support from trade shows and conferences and snubbed BETT 2009, a key international educational technology event attracting 30,000 visitors, many of them Apple customers. Now Apple is represented there by its dealers, with Apple Distinguished Educators demonstrating on their stand rather than Apple's own. And the appearance of Gordon Shukwit, Apple's director of IT and learning technologies would appear to be inconsistent with the company's policy. Perhaps consideration for UK education customers has surfaced and there has been a rethink.

More information

Handheld Learning 2009

Register here and use the code "merlinhhl09" to qualify for an additional 10 per cent discount



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