Over the past term we were very lucky to have on loan from the #northantsblt a mobile technology toolkit, which consisted of 6 ipod touches, 5 ipads, 5 flip video cameras and 6 netbooks. It was a fantastic opportunity to have them but unfortunately I didn’t get to use them as much as I would’ve hoped because my class were being taught by a student all of last term. I did get to use them for a project though and do some small group work so I want to blog a few reflections and considerations for decision making further down the line.
These have got a lot of potential in and out of class as they’re small and easy to use. They were excellent for photos (once you learnt how to hold them steady) video and audio and handy just to pick up by me and the children. We mainly used them for free maths apps and the mission explore app but if we’d had them longer may have looked into what else would be useful on them. They were also good for searching the internet quickly, and worked on the school wireless even at the top of the field.
We used the Ipads mainly for internet searching and note taking in class and then I used the epic citadel app and return to mysterious island app to inspire some writing with groups of children. The definite winner for me with the iPad is the amazing quality of the graphics. Not all children took to them as easily as I thought they would though, taking a while to get used to the different swipes and gestures to use.
Unfortunately the netbooks we had were really slow at powering up which put the children off using them. Also, they weren’t connected to our server so although they could connect to the wireless the children were unable to access their files to save work and couldn’t print anything.
We tried to use these for making adverts but the children came back to me group by group and asked to swap for an ipod touch. The reason for this was they preferred the bigger screen on the ipod touches and could see properly what they were recording.
What was great about the kit was having instant mobile access to technology as and when we needed it. I know I was unable to use it to its full potential which frustrated me bit hopefully if we have them again we can time it a bit better. Also, because we only had them for a short time we didn’t want to spend lots of money on apps so stuck mainly to free ones which can be a bit limiting. Syncing and charging the Ipads and ipods was also a bit awkward as we only had 3 plug chargers for 11 devices and didn’t have a MAC to go with them (there is apparently one now which should make things easier for the next school) and syncing on a pc is not the easiest of things! The other very frustrating thing is not being able to access flash content which, for a school, is a nightmare as so many things we subscribe to are flash-based.
Considerations for purchasing
We don’t have money in the budget for anything like this at the moment but if we were going down the route of mobile technology I’d go for ipads (or another large touchscreen device depending on how these improve over the next couple of years) for ks1 as I know they really struggle with using the laptops we currently have as they don’t have the manual dexterity to cope with the keyboard, and then ipod touches for ks2 as they are just so versatile.