HL2007 Sheila Crew and her group from Bristol presenting at HL2007

Starts by laying out their guiding principles, that are basically that each student should have a handheld device and keep them 24/7 (ownership!). Parents involved £2 per week and teachers all receive training.

Next presenter Paul Simmons, a teacher at St Bernadette’s school, makes the point that he likes using handhelds in his teaching of science because “it saves so much time”. I think this is a really important issue as so often, technology can be seen as disruptive in the sent that it distracts from the subject under discussion. The video shows the kids using the handhelds effectively to caclulate pressure during an experiment. The teacher is talking them through what to do in order to add “trend lines” It seems clear that this is much faster using a device – doing it by hand would take ages. During the lesson, the 4 “luddites” refused to use the technology and insisted on doing the graphs by hand. By the end of the lesson, the 4 had just finished their first graph whereas the rest of the class were already on the conclusions.
Question – In a previous session it was mentioned that it was the more able kids who were resistant to the technology. The presenter confirmed that this was indeed the case, that it was the more able kids who tended to resist the technology whereas the less able ones clung on to it.

Talks about use of freeze frame video that enables kids to measure wavelengths of a drop of water – taping a ruler behind the tap and then freeze-framing it.

Makes the point that all the data is shared. Homework is uploaded and shared between all of them. Can be handed in wirelessly which is very useful.

Next there is a flash animation, which works on a PDA which comes from the AQA syllabus and allows kids to measure hydrocarbons.

Also displays an animation created using sketchy. Finds this very useful for illustrating chemical processes in homework for science lessons. Amazing the variety of uses teachers find for Sketchy.

Internet research is also used – giving and recommending useful internet web sites for research related to the syllabus.

They also allow the kids to download the BBC bitesized podcasts, encouraging teachers to identify the revision resources and making them available for download locally.

Basically, lots and lots of examples of handhelds being used both inside and outside the school. Sspreadsheets were used to capture numbers of plant species in a wild meadow. Temperature, PH, oxygen levels and flow rateswere measured for a stream. The good thing is that you can record using the handheld immediately and then download the info once you get access to a computer, or, if there is no computer available, continue analysing using the mobile device.

Microsoft Reader also used to allow kids to use documents for revision.

Andy asks what software they’re using to create e-books. Answer, use word and download free software from Microsoft that converts it into an e-reader format.

Amanda Pritchard then presents three videos. She is a convert and very enthusiastic about how handhelds offer immense power in a classroom environment to build independence and develop learner autonomy. Emphasizes the importance of the immediacy of feedback.

About Gill

Having worked as a Research Fellow with the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University, I have now semi-retired but retained my association with the OU as an Honorary Associate.
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