Daybreak on ITV talks about kids using mobiles in the classroom

“Don’t get me started…..”, I ranted this morning. ITV’s breakfast show, Daybreak, was showing an item about school children using mobile phones in the classroom. There was an interview with some children studying a class (at 7.15 am?) who thought it was ok to have their mobile phones on in class, and they also spoke to their headteacher, who’d set up a policy of “we won’t ban mobiles, because we trust you to be sensible with your mobiles”. Even their parents thought their children needed their mobiles to text about after-school activities. Which is a little bit different from the stance taken by others to ban mobiles from the classroom completely. I understand that schools are concerned about the disruption caused by students texting, phoning, and silencing their phones during lessons. However, no-one mentioned the alternative. No-one ever seems to mention the alternative. If the children want to use their mobiles in class, why not let teachers take control and include mobile phones in their lessons and their students’ learning?

There are lots of things you can do with mobile phones in the classroom. I’m not going to go into loads of details, but here are a few examples and real-life examples.

1 . Permanent record of key diagrams/charts: One tutor, a colleague of mine, asked his students to copy some technical drawings and charts he was putting on the whiteboard. However, he couldn’t work out why some students hadn’t started to draw the diagrams themselves. When he’d finished his drawings, some of the students go out their phones, and started taking photographs of the diagrams!

2. Who wants to be a Millionaire-style live voting/testing knowledge: I recently did a live demonstration of using a survey in Google Docs to show how to get students to answer questions/vote from their phones in class, and display instant results in the classroom. It’s a live, interactive, fun way, of assessmentand getting learners to work together.

3. Apps: There are loads of mobile phone apps out there that can be using for learning and revision. Why not get students to search for some maths and science tools and share some knowledge, or write a critical review of some?

4. Audio and Video: Teachers can get students to record role play, drama sessions, even whole lessons and keep a permanent record of them. This is perfect for reinforcing learning and revision.

There, just a few reasons why we shouldn’t ban mobiles from the classroom. I even tweeted some of them to Daybreak, but to no avail. The Daybreak Facebook page has lots of comments for and against using mobiles in the classroom, but no-one mentions using them for learning!

Wake up to mobile learning!

Rant over.

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Up Peel Monument

View of Peel Monument
View of Peel Monument

Hello, it’s been a long time since I posted a new missive on this blog! All of you who subscribe via feed readers etc must be shocked to see me posting again. Well, what have I been doing over the last few months? It seems like not a lot! Actually, I’ve been trying to keep fairly fit and healthy, doing a lot of walking – mainly taking Paul up to Peel Monument (see the photo – it’s near Ramsbottom, Greater Manchester). It’s an old folly on top of a hill, 1100 feet above sea level, and a very steep climb. I’ve also been taking the dog for a walk, about 2.5 miles, three or four times a week in the evenings. It feels like I’ve lost some weight around my middle, so it’s doing something!

I’ve also been trying to get some new tunes written, but severely lacking some inspiration. I’ve got some ideas in my head, proper ideas, rather than just fiddling with loops from a cover disc. I’ve been using a vst host called Minihost, which loads a vst plugin and lets you use your computer keyboard to place the vst instrument. It’s got a built in chord maker, arpeggiator, and sequencer, which is great for fiddling around with. My 5 y.o. also likes playing with it – saying he’s playing Kraftwerk’s Man Machine, and the Dr Who theme tune! Expect some new tunes soon…from him, not me! Only kidding….

The Rude Mechanicals remix I did for NZ band Pitch Black is still around on the web and on the band’s remix CD, Rhythm, Sound and Movement. The remix is also going to be used to promote a big music and arts festival in New Zealand, called Splore. More news to follow soon. I’m also going to meet Paddy and Mike from Pitch Black at the end of October when they play their only UK gig in London. I’m also supposed to be getting the stems to remix a track by International Observer.

Other stuff….been doing a lot of Moodle stuff at work – very busy these days. I’ve also made a website for Paul’s dad and his painting and decorating business, D and S Decorators.  Oh, and I’m now on Facebook, and Twitter, so follow me on there if you’re on there….

Moodle mania

I’ve got my e-Learning head on today whilst writing this blog. Anyway – the title of this post – “Moodle Mania”: Should really be “E-Learning Mania”, as all I can do at the moment is think about the resources and ideas that are cropping up in the “Moodle and E-Learning” Roadshows I’m putting on at College. Today is the 5th day of the roadshows sessions when I’ve visited one of our campuses, with the intention of getting teaching staff to come and talk about their Moodle and e-learning related issues. Plus, spread the word and get people moodling. So far these sessions have been a success, largely because I’ve dealt more college staff than I thought I would, mainly face-to-face, some of whom I haven’t had contact with before, and who want to start using Moodle. The thing I’m pleased with is that I’ve had a few people logging into the chatroom I set up for these roadshows, for staff who can’t get to the sessions in person. I’m also looking at the idea of using Skype or something similar the next time I do these roadshows.

Some of the things I have had requests for, and being able to help with are:
getting art students’ work online so they can do some evalution – embedding a Flickr slideshow into Moodle; using forums for class discussions; setting up a cross-site music resource area; and getting across the pedagological benefits of using moodle.

Jorum Forum E-Learning workshop

In my role as E-Learning Developer at The Manchester College, I visited the “Jorum Forum” the other day. The Jorum Forum was an event to showcase the latest developments of the body known as Jorum. If you don’t know them, they’re there to develop and promote an online repository of learning objects and materials that can be shared by all HE (and some FE) institutions in the UK. So far, it’s been all about contributing and freely distributing materials that institutions have developed themselves, eg a video, or an interactive quiz, stuff like that. Now they’re looking at using Creative Commons licences for sharing materials, which means that you have some control over what users can do with them. Up till now, all the objects have been available as being reusable.

Jorum has been getting a bit of a bad press recently at our place, along with the NLN materials, so it was good to hear how other colleges in universities were using and promoting them. It’s something I haven’t really pushed as much as I should here, but all that should change soon as a result of the event the other day. One of the main things I could show our staff is that you can knock up a really quick Powerpoint slideshow using some of the videos on Jorum. Steve Smith, who seems to get everywhere these days (!!!) did one in about 10 minutes – ideal for when you’re in a hurry! I think people like Steve really enthuse teachers and e-learning practitioners, and bridge the gap between the techie-folk and non-techie ones. Something I’d really like to be able to do myself…I probably do that a little bit, but I need the right tools and oomph (I’m quite shy and retiring really….).

Anyway, I’m doing a presentation about Moodle on Monday, to some of our staff, so maybe it’s time to get some oomph going!!!!”