Earlier this summer I was enormously privileged to be asked by Jay Ashcroft and Charlotte Green to write the foreword to their new book The Tablet Revolution: How to Transform Student Learning with iPad, which you can read below.
Providing pupils with mobile devices is an enormous decision for any school, and it is one that must be considered carefully. If you start from the assumption that providing pupils and staff with shiny slabs of aluminium and glass is all that is required and that everything else will take care of itself afterwards because “the children know how to use them anyway”, then you are in for a shock. Bringing in hundreds of mobile devices and only then worrying about the pillars that will prop up your mobile learning project is a recipe for disaster.
When it comes to successfully deploying a programme that results in every pupil having access to a mobile device, there are numerous considerations that need to be clearly thought out and weighed up – from visioning to budgeting, from infrastructure upgrades to staff professional development – and all the while keeping in mind two very important things: firstly, that the sole objective of a project of this magnitude ought to be to help children learn and, secondly, that the outcome of these considerations could well be an unequivocal “we’re not quite ready yet”.
There are many good reasons why making mobile devices available to pupils would be desirable for most schools, but the missing ingredient in the sauce is often the lack of a sound educational case for the use of mobile devices. This educational case needs to be built solidly around supporting, facilitating and enhancing the processes involved in teaching and learning. Nothing else will do. Put this on a poster and hang it somewhere where it will serve as a constant reminder, because, in the end, the success of any mobile learning programme will be judged on whether it had a positive impact on educational outcomes, so a well- informed and hard-headed approach is required to decide whether this avenue is one down which your school should be travelling at this particular stage in its development plan.
But it is certainly not all doom and gloom. Quite the contrary. There is an increasing number of schools who have started to explore and develop good practice in the area of mobile learning, both in procurement and pedagogy, and some who are beacons of excellence in a world where bad news makes headlines but great achievements and innovation pass us by unnoticed. Jay is in the unique position of having been involved in numerous mobile learning projects at schools internationally, expertly advising teachers on how best to apply their pedagogical content knowledge to the empowering and yet challenging opportunities of the mobile device-enabled classroom. This expertise, together with his experience in business and his keen awareness of what makes great teaching and learning, is encapsulated in this book, which is an essential source of knowledge and information for whomever is considering improving teaching and learning in schools through the use of mobile devices, so I encourage you to read on, take note and reflect.
‘The Tablet Revolution’ is a great companion read to Educate 1-to-1: The secret to successful planning, implementing and sustaining change through mobile learning in schools, which I co-wrote with four other experts in digital learning and mobile technology deployments in schools.