In the first of a series of blog posts about his experiences in implementing mobile learning at his school, Daniel Ibbitson discusses how he empowered students to lead the transition.

Tablets have consumed the entertainment, communication and multimedia markets.  Their versatility, easy to use operating systems and affordable, purposeful apps make them the ideal tool for almost any situation.  Until 2013 tablets have been somewhat of a luxury for schools. However, all of this has begun to change.  We are now seeing tablets enter education on mass levels. 1:1 tablet schemes are popping up all over the world. We have the Tablets for Schools initiative working hard to introduce thousands of tablets into schools in the UK. Moreover, the recent news that Google is to enter the market and increased competition with iOS systems and other Android tablets can only improve the quality of tablets for pupils, students, parents and teachers around the world. The future definitely looks bright for mobile learning and education.

At Dixon’s City Academy, we already had several tablets at the departmental level. However, we soon became aware that our wifi was not as effective as it could be.  With six months to prepare for the arrival or tablets for students, the first point of call was to seek advice and quotes on our network infrastructure. Our wifi was upgraded to accommodate a much higher data usage and we even expanded it to outside (why should PE lose out?) and the MDM was set up so the tablets could be managed (which would allow the school to block inappropriate content, measure usage, push out apps etc.)

Decisions on the Play Store accessibility for students also had to be made.  Currently, this can either be banned on the schools wifi completely or be allowed.  Banning the access would require all apps to be pre-installed on the tablets. We chose to allow the Play Store but, ensured that all students were educated in the acceptable and safe use. Clear rules and consequences were communicated, as well as the importance of e-safety and Digital Identity, so that our students know how to use them in a safe and constructive manner.

Student participation has been a key part for planning the 1:1 roll out.  We have a series of rules for tablet etiquette that have been written by students. Feedback and ideas were also asked from the already established Student Council. Quantitative data for how and where students have used the Tablets to demonstrate progress in the use to aid (wider) learning and engagement.

Moreover, we shall select a group of students will be selected as the school’s ‘Digital Leaders’.  Theywill facilitate staff, pupil and parental training and support and also provide a ‘Genius Bar’ style drop-in support for staff on a fortnightly basis. They will also have dedicated lessons to developing technology assisted education, or ‘Education 2.0’ throughout the school.  This will be in the form of support and training sessions, creating digital content and developing dedicated solution-focused apps.

We think that empowering students as ‘Digital Leaders’ and to take charge of our social media accounts (such as blogging or tweeting about our school’s events and achievements), we also help to educate pupils about the use of technology in a safe and constructive manner.

Daniel Ibbitson is an ICT Teacher and Technology Innovations Coordinator at Dixon’s City Academy. You can follow him on Twitter: @ibbi_d

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