Training Teachers in Mobile Learning: Final update

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.

The project has now come to an end, and here Pat Thompson, Peter Guthrie and Andy Herickx – members of the project team, provide a final update:

Image shared under a creative commons license by Tatsuo Yamashita

Image shared under a creative commons license by Tatsuo Yamashita

Overall Project Summary

The whole staff has been trained on using iPads in lessons, all curriculum areas have borrowed a staff iPad for experimentation, New technologies group is piloting projects to be shared with teams and Curriculum Team Leaders group in preparation for major BSF iPad roll-out, most technical issues have been overcome and the experience of the set we have had has proven invaluable as we move towards the large scale deployment through BSF.

 1.      Staff development

iPads have remained a key focus of our training this term. All teachers have now received training on using iPads in lessons, with the new technologies innovation group spending significant time planning, training and experimenting with the devices.  Our strategy has shifted towards this innovation group for the future so that teachers are able to spend time developing projects and experiments with the devices before feeding back to a group that will disseminate across the staff.

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.

This group has also been augmented with a number of Y7 students and has proven exceptionally popular with students.


 3.      Teaching and Learning

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

App Subject areas Detail Feedback
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. 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 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.
Pixel Press Floors Computing Used in Y7 lessons to extend logical thinking and programming skills through game design Very well received, though the process wasn’t immediately intuitive.  Most extending through the design process quite quickly, though.

  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, an update from our previous report, in order that other schools will benefit.

a.      Volume licencing

Volume licencing typically offers a 50% discount but is not compatible with iOS7. Fortunately Apple have just introduced a way round this in the UK. This is not straightforward and involves purchasing credit from Apple which can then be redeemed within 30 days on any app with 50% discount, 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 and iMovie, our most successful cross curricular apps, do 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 solution from Jigsaw should allow all of our iOS devices to connect to the network effectively and thus relieve the problem.

Next Steps

We are at an interim stage with iPad deployment as the BSF ICT solution will be implemented from September.  We have trained our entire staff on using iPads in lessons with a number of success stories coming from a range of curriculum areas.  We have overcome a number of issues technically, but still find that some very useful apps are not easy to retrieve work from – this means that students are engaged working and produce quality work, but we are unable to evidence it.  We will continue to experiment with solutions to the problems and train our staff, but the focus will shift from whole staff training to through the specialist new technologies group and 1 to 1 training as required.

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