‘iPhones-for-pupils’ Scheme Lunched To Aid Learning

Brentford CLC to pay for students' mobile internet access

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Thirty pupils at a London secondary school supplied with iPhones in the first project of its kind in the country.

Girls in years 7 to 11 at Gumley House Convent School in Hounslow, will use the phones in class over the next seven months, as part of a trial to understand how mobile devices can be used to facilitate learning.

The trial is the result of a two-year research project based on the use of technology in a learning environment carried out by an education expert, Professor Michael Gibson. Brentford City Learning Centre (CLC) partnered with Academia Ltd, a leading provider of technology solutions, to implement the roll-out. Gumley House was selected after a competition to design the classroom of the future revealed a high interest in technology among pupils.

Simon Elledge, Manager at Brentford CLC commented: “In most schools mobile phones are viewed as distractions and banned from the classroom. But, as technology becomes more integrated into our daily lives, we wanted to understand how it could be used positively in the learning environment. The girls on the trial are encouraged to use the iPhones as much as possible, with permission from teachers of course. They will be monitored using questionnaires, spot checks and individual feedback and the data collected will be independently analysed and shared with the other 104 CLCs nationwide to the benefit of pupils throughout the UK.”

The handsets, on pay-as-you-go accounts with O2, were presented to the students at an event last month. Mark McCormack, Apple business director at Academia commented: “The iPhone is currently the best in its market, and with its 3G internet connectivity, pupils will have the web to hand for any learning requirement. The girls will have access to thousands of different applications to aid learning, while also bringing an element of fun to the classroom.”

The pupils were selected based on their submission of essays outlining how they felt the iPhone would aid their education. They cited the use of applications such as ‘Periodic’, allowing access to the periodic table and the use of the calendar and tasks for personal planning.

Stephen Byrne, assistant head teacher at Gumley House said: “The girls are already downloading applications for document management, language translations and anatomy study. We are offering monthly prizes for the pupil who can find the most creative use of apps for learning. This is all part of Gumley’s commitment to being at the forefront of technology in education, and we are hoping it will lead to the ability to easily produce blogs, podcasts and DVD presentations. It’s all about embracing the technology as opposed to outlawing it. We are anticipating this will minimise the ‘texting-under-the-desk’ culture that exists in so many schools and instead encourage pupils to use their mobile as an academic aid.”

After one week, the feedback from pupils has been overwhelmingly positive. Emma Hardy, a Year 10 pupil noted: “I’ve really enjoyed having the iPhone in this first week. I’m taking my time deciding what to spend the £15 voucher on as I want to make sure I get the right applications. So far I’ve downloaded some free ones that have already come in useful at school. I’ve been using Quick Graph for Maths, and periodic table applications for Chemistry. I’ve also downloaded a tube map application that really helps me get from A to B!”

December 11, 2009

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