I recently spent a morning at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and assistant principal Hardip Bissell reminded me that the last time I visited they had a trolley of laptops that were taken round the wards.
Now every teacher has an iPad with apps and resources and many children use their own tablets and mobile phones to fit learning round treatments and operations. So it was with great interest that I opened Learning with Mobile and Handheld Technologies by John Galloway, Merlin John and Maureen McTaggart.
The authors do not offer easy answers but give good coverage of the issues: deployment, funding, operating systems, battery life, security, data storage and accessibility. They include iPads, Android, Windows 8, Google Chrome Books and the mixed economy of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) where learners are already familiar with the technology but may feel that they are stuck with inferior, last-generation technology.
Several chapters are devoted exclusively to special educational needs (SEN), showing the advantages of tablets for those with restricted movement or limited cognitive understanding. These include weight, ease of positioning, manipulation via swipes and gestures and built-in access features. Case studies show that tablets don’t just help with access; they can also change the whole delivery of the curriculum.
Woodlawn School in Monkseaton is using the Aurasma augmented reality app and embedding QR codes to make wall displays interactive while Google Translate is working well to support recent arrivals from overseas. Tablets make digital photography, video and voice recording accessible to children of all ages and abilities, while the availability of apps for every aspect of the national curriculum means pupils can work independently and learn new transferrable skills.
At Frank Wise School in Banbury, some of the children spend time on their back having physiotherapy while others have to be on standing frames for large parts of the day. Tablets make the time pass more productively. Some might use Proloquo2Go as a speech system or try music apps, including one that lets a blind child use on-screen decks to be a deejay.
Learning with Mobile and Handheld Technologies is a wide-ranging, well-researched and thought-provoking book. It is wor th buying just for its variety of case studies, including perspectives from Norway and Chile, and the range of apps it covers. I would recommend this book to those institutions looking to make the best use of tablets that they have already bought but it is an even better option for those who are on the brink of making big purchasing decisions.
John Galloway, Merlin John and Maureen McTaggart – David Fulton/Routledge – ISBN: 9780415842501
Reviewed by Sal McKeown
I would recommend this book to those institutions looking to make the best use of tablets that they have already bought but it is an even better option for those who are on the brink of making big purchasing decisions.