Tips for managing mobile learning in the post-PC world

Vicki Cole

Vicki Cole is an Innovate My School expert and writes regular articles on laptop security and charging solutions for charging mobile ICT en masse.

Vicki works at mobile ICT security, charging and storage expert LapSafe® Products, the company behind the UK’s first ever laptop trolley. LapSafe® Products has been a trusted brand within the education sector for more than a decade, providing superior solutions to track, manage, store and charge laptops, netbooks and tablets since 2000. LapSafe® Products pioneered the industry it now leads and manufactures the most comprehensive range of charging products on the market. Recent products include: the UnoCart™ sync and charge for iPads, the ClassBuddy™ quality low-cost laptop trolley and the RFID Diplomat™ laptop locker.

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Earlier last month, Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, marked the launch of the new iPad by declaring that we live in a ‘post-PC world’. Regardless of whether you agree with Cook’s statement, it would be difficult to deny that ICT in schools has moved far beyond desktop computers.

Tablet PCs, MP3 players and even handheld gaming devices are being used increasingly in UK schools to deliver learning in engaging, inspiring and flexible ways. Although using mobile devices in the classroom can benefit both pupils and teachers, just like traditional teaching methods, mobile learning needs to be properly planned and managed.

Here are my five tips for managing mobile learning in the post-PC world:

Think learning first

At January’s BETT Show, Dr Nick Dennis, from Felsted School, gave a talk emphasising that technology should be used to support teaching and learning, not to dictate what is taught. According to Dr Dennis, mobile learning should never be just an “excuse” to try out the latest technology; technology is just a tool. Instead, schools should think about the learning outcomes first, before they decide which technology to use in order to help pupils achieve these. I think his point is worth bearing in mind.

Create an acceptable use policy

A common fear held by those new to using mobile devices in the classroom is that pupils will misuse tablets or games consoles, using them for anything but the task in hand.

Although this is understandable, there is a strong case that engagement levels sore when mobile devices are introduced into lessons, provided that they are managed correctly.

Create an acceptable use policy to explain to pupils what they are and are not allowed to use their mobile devices for and outline exactly what you want them to achieve each lesson by using technology. You could even ask pupils to help you create this at the beginning of term; by empowering pupils and helping them to feel that they are trusted to use technology responsibly, pupils may be more likely to comply with the rules.

Ensure devices are always ready to be used

There is no point in investing in mobile devices if they are not ready to be used when pupils need them. Whether you are purchasing tablets for pupils to use in class or asking pupils to bring in their own devices, you need to think about how you will charge equipment when batteries are flat. If you don’t have enough wall sockets in your building to recharge devices, you could consider a charging trolley.

Security, storage and access will also need to be thought about; are teachers going to hand out devices to students, or are you going to invest in a self-service locker? The above is by no means exhaustive, but it should provide a starting point for thinking about how to manage mobile learning in our ‘post-pc’ world.

Photo credit: FHKE - http://www.flickr.com/photos/fhke/

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