Training Teachers in Mobile Learning

Since June of last year, Sir Jonathan North Community College have been working on a BSF ICT Innovation Project which aims to develop staff pedagogy in the delivery of content and resources to students in a familiar and accessible manner; enhancing teaching and learning through the innovative apps and working practices available, and developing teacher’s pedagogy around new digital technologies.

Pat Thompson, Peter Guthrie and Andy Herickx – members of the project team, provide an update here:


Staff training has continued this term and iPads are being embedded more into lessons. Apps such as coach’s eye, comic life, garageband and iMovie are proving very popular.

1.      Staff development

iPads have remained a key focus of our training this term. 19 members of staff participated in an iPads skills session in January, designed to give staff a basic, practical introduction in using them in and out of the classroom. This means that 50 members of staff have now been trained, representing a substantial proportion of our teachers. Furthermore, in February ten members of staff participated in a CPD session on how to create iBooks.

2.      Student involvement

A lunchtime news reporting club has been established with a target group of Y9 students, with the aim being to develop their independent learning skills alongside their ICT.

 3.      Teaching and Learning

Below are some apps which we have been using this term.

App Subject areas Detail Feedback/Outcomes
Comic life Cross curricular App that produces high quality comic books/posters. Whole staff training has been focussed on this. Used successfully in many subjects and with Y7 on a Geography field trip to conkers.
iMovie Cross curricular Simple and intuitive video editing tool. Used in a variety of subjects to produce high quality films/trailers very quickly. However, downloading these films is currently an issue.
Coach’s eye PE, dance, drama A coaching aid to improve performance. Regularly used in PE, Dance, Drama
garageband music Now free with iOS7 The pilot of this was so successful our Expressive Arts team have purchased a further 10 iPads for class use.
educreations Cross curricular Easy tool to create short lessons to allow flipped lessons. ICT have successfully trialled flipped lessons and have shared their progress using educreations with the Innovation group
Lemonade tycoon Computing Great way to explore modelling and input/outputs of models, making and testing predictions Used very successfully in Computing with clear improved outcomes for students
Move the Turtle Computing A nice introduction to programming and logical reasoning Helped to develop logical reasoning and problem solving skills and led to improved outcomes in scratch programming.
Codea Computing Used in GCSE Computing to explore programming theory – abstraction, iteration, recursion etc. Mixed response with students and a new language to learn for teacher, though it was highly motivating once the steep learning curve had been ascended.

 4.      Operational issues

We continue to experience a number of teething issues and our digital arts technician has spent significant time on researching and overcoming these issues. An account of these is detailed below in order that other schools will benefit.

a.      Volume licencing

Volume licencing typically offers a 50% discount and payment has up until now required a credit card or other means of payment which has not been convenient. However, Apple recently announced they will accept purchase orders in return for credit to redeem against the exact cost of apps from the Volume Purchase store. Fortunately Apple have just introduced a way round this in the UK. This is not straightforward but is a workable solution.

b.      File storage/retrieval

Getting files off iPads still is not straightforward and we have not got a universal solution. We have now overcome the Google drive issue so this is a good solution for most apps, as the students have all got google drive accounts in order to use our chromebooks.  Unfortunately comic life, one of our most successful cross curricular apps, does not allow the option to save to google drive. We are now researching webdav as an alternative, so students can save and retrieve their own files. Dropbox works with comic life, and this is our current method, but as this is accessed via a central dropbox account, this is a long winded workaround.   Therefore getting work off devices remains a problem, although we are hopeful that this situation will be resolved long term either through BSF or Apple improving their Airdrop software to allow files to be transferred easily from the iPads to a teacher PC/Mac. We envisage this problem will be solved when BSF has been fully implemented, as the Mobile Device Management solution Lightspeed from Jigsaw should allow all of our iOS devices to connect to the network effectively and thus relieve the problem.

5.      Next steps

We are at an interim stage with iPad deployment as the BSF ICT solution will be implemented from September, which we hope will overcome many of our technical issues. At the beginning of the summer term we will be refocussing our new technologies group in order to make best use of the additional iPads we will be getting as part of BSF.

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