This week I attended annual The Association for Information Technology in Teacher Education Conference in Bedfordshire. The goal of which is to debate the role of digital technology in education. Here is a flavour of the discussions from the day.
There was so much information to take in, and I may write more about this next week, but the overall ideas I took away from the conference were:
There was a general consensus from the people I spoke to, including one Apple Distinguished Educator, that while mobile technology will play a central role in the future of education, the emphasis specifically on the iPad is misplaced. For many reasons, including the financing of hardware, insufficient device management options, and the distribution of paid apps and textbooks, iPad is currently the best solution, but not the ultimate solution. It’s far more likely that other hardware and software developers will put in place a more consistant and reliable solution than Apple.
Jim Fanning’s presentation on his experiences attempting to implement a BYOD scheme in his school made it clear that in order to successfully role out a forward looking mobile device system you need two things, 1. strong support from Senior Management, and 2. support for an initial investment in wireless technology.
I also came away with a reaffirmed stance that true BYOD is the real way forward with mobile technology. That means students with their own personally purchased devices not iPads purchased through school finance schemes. To implement such a system, however, needs a much longer term view of mobile technology in education.
The final point I took away, which confirmed findings in our recent tablet research project, was that investment is teacher CPD is essential to take full advantage of mobile technology. Many at the conference spoke of how huge financial investment was being put into mobile technology, primarily iPads, but little was being directed into CPD to give teachers the skills necessary to use the devices effectively to make improvements in the classroom.