A range of different insights into the digital world for our learners in schools, colleges, universities and at home - whether they are young or old.

This is our educational consultancy weblog, featuring a range of topics of interest to professional educators. New posts are added from time to time and are assigned to different categories (labels) such as mobiles, technology and protocols as well as educators, lecturers, professors, teachers and leadership.

We hope you find the following posts both informative and thought provoking!

Effective Mobile Communication
Date: 02 January 2012

In educational circles, smart-phones and web-enabled mobiles are either viewed as an opportunity or a threat. Which ever side of the argument you take, the reality is that more and more children and young people have access to and use these devices on a regular basis.

There are good examples of effective practice in schools where the opportunity to enhance learning by utilising mobiles. Take, for example, an English lesson with Y10 students who had pre-recorded accounts about themselves on their mobiles and used these as a basis for summarising key points from the narrative.

Increasingly, schools are beginning to make use of text messaging to alert parents to absences and other events in schools. The biggest challenge facing schools is the extent to which they embrace not only web-enabled mobile access via their websites but also the ways in which social websites such as Facebook and Twitter are used to create an online presence of the school as an organisation.

Tweets via Twitter, for example, can alert a wide audience to key events in school and reach out not only to pupils, students and parents but also to the wider community. Of course, posts on Twitter and Facebook require a concise writing style to convey clear messages with brevity. Usefully, posts can include links to further articles, documents or information on websites.

That neatly brings us back to where we started. Are school websites geared to detect mobile access and present a mobile website alternative?

Labels: educators professors mobiles teachers technology

Posted by Dave Jobbings at 14:00 PM

Mobile Inter-Connectivity
Date: 06 December 2011

Over the last decade most schools have created a presence on the Internet via their own website. Increasingly, such websites act as a portal for primary pupils and secondary students to access learning resources and "learning platforms".

Not so long ago, schools were often advised to survey those on roll to ascertain the extent to which students have ready access to the Internet from home. However, with the rapid take off of smart-phones and web-enabled mobiles, such surveys are now much too narrow in scope and need to be updated.

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of children and young people with either a smart-phone or web-enabled mobile means school websites ought to cater for such users. Loading a standard website on a small screen is often slow and reading content is not easy. For digital natives this is certainly a big turn-off!

The likes of the BBC, Google, Facebook, Twitter and other organisations have led the way - incorporating auto-detection of mobiles to present and communicate key information on a format suitable for a small screen. Adapting school websites in this way would not only make the content more accessible anytime and anywhere but could also play key role in reaching out to parents and the community.

Within the UK, it is really disappointing that almost all local, national government and educational organisations such as Ofsted also implement a traditional website paradigm.

The time has come for government, educational organisations and schools to broaden their website strategy and embrace the reality of a world in which web-enabled mobiles are the norm for parents and children alike.

Labels: educators professors mobiles teachers technology

Posted by Dave Jobbings at 16:00 PM

Education versus Edutainment
Date: 20 November 2010

More and more creative apps are coming to the market place. How are educationally based apps actually used?

A recent trawl of iPad apps for early learning for young children revealed some interesting insights - not only about the apps but also the way in which these are used with children.

The tried and trusted "flash card" has been in existence for many years and a key resource in supporting the development of early reading. Some apps provide a wide variety of topic areas and options to create voice-overs and incorporate user images, providing creative solutions to producing a wealth of stimulus and learning material from the child's own realm of experience as well as the wider world.

However, the most interesting aspect often lies in the content of customer reviews. Apart from obvious issues of language localisation (many apps are often US-centric), some comments expose a misunderstanding about the nature of flash cards and the important pedagogy associated with using such a resource. In some cases it would appear that such apps are used as a form of self-help toy rather than an educational resource to use and share with a child!

Maybe the spectre of "education" versus "edutainment" may be emerging in the way apps are used with children in the home and elsewhere. Pedagogy app anyone?

Labels: educators mobiles teachers

Posted by Dave Jobbings at 11:18 AM

Apps are the future
Date: 23 August 2010

Over the past few years, access to a greater range of packages has been created on mobile phones. As ever with new technologies, these bring both advantages and disadvantages!

One of the most significant developments has been the introduction of software applications or Apps as they have become known. Many provide useful additionality to the array of functions on mobile devices, extending the range and variety of uses. The development of Apps has accelerated from fairly basic software products into quite sophisticated and useful programs. Apps have proved very popular, not least is the opportunity to tailor the range of functions and information sources readily available on the mobile.

Tablet based hardware, such as the iPad, significantly increases the educational potential of Apps with the much larger screen and depending on the device's orientation landscape or portrait formats. This software format offers designers and publishers more scope to integrate interactivity and visual impact through animation, audio and video than, say, e-books. Gradually, developers are beginning to produce educational Apps. However, the key test for good quality interactive Apps is the extent to which these interactive elements are appropriately deployed to capture interest, stimulate curiosity and generate genuine learning experiences for children and young people.

Some of the most interesting educational Apps so far appear to be designed for younger children. Leaving aside the ubiquitous array of generic applications (word processing, spreadsheets and presentation and creative art software), educational products designed specifically for young people appear rather thin on the ground at present.

For educators, it would seem that the development of Apps holds out the future for exploiting learning experiences using mobile devices, particularly the up and coming breed of tablet devices. As ever, the market for Apps is expanding quickly and this is yet another area to keep an eye on with the view of extending opportunities for anywhere, anytime learners.

Labels: educators professors mobiles teachers lecturers

Posted by Dave Jobbings at 13:42 PM

There are 4 posts with the label "mobiles".

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