Monday, 2 February 2009

21st century learning - Laptops / e-books for all.....

An ever increasing number of schools (and authorities) are moving towards the goal of every student having a hand held device of some form. A few weeks ago the new City Academy in London announced how every student would have an e-book from September and the story above refers to the new Archbishop Sentamu Academy in Hull which intends to issue every students with a laptop. They are by no means alone.

Having been to a meeting in Hull just a few days ago, I am very aware how great their aspirations are for increasing student engagement (and academic improvement) in their learning. It is a real priority and this move should really assist.

The move to laptops (or hand held devices) is ambitious and exciting. There is no doubt that many students are more engaged when they work using a range of ICT devices - many of them spend many hours on computers in their social time and are far more adept in utilising a range of features than their staff. Lets make use of this ability.

Times are changing fast - it was not long ago that biro's, calculators, mobile phones were all banned from schools at one time or another. Bonkers really when you look back.

The schools that embrace new technology will be those that most engage their students. Every school will be there eventually - the question is how brave are schools going to be right now in taking that step.

Not that long ago I was talking to a Headteacher from the Midlands who was frustrated with not being able to allow her students to use Facebook as a learning tool (due to the local authority internet security policy). This has not deterred them and they have hundreds of students using it in their own time to help each other with homework, project work and online discussion with teachers. And guess what - the student engagement has improved as has quality and amount of work undertaken. Whilst this is not proven researched data, the reports from schools working in this way seem to report the same findings. It would be a good research topic.

For those who are concerned about loss and theft of devices - the clear evidence so far is that they are well looked after and almost never go missing, even in the most challenging circumstances.

We are trying to create a truly 21st century education system for all we need to adopt the new technologies! Laptops (or handheld devices) for all - lets get there sooner rather than later.

For the full story about Archbishop Sentamu Academy in Hull - click here

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