Learning with Handheld Technologies


With the use of mobile phones, PDAs and other hand-held technologies becoming common place among our school-aged young people, it’s not surprising to see schools and tertiary institutions thinking about how they may be incorporated effectively within formal learning contexts.

FutureLab have published this useful handbook on Handhelds, which contains recommendations for mobile learning approaches – including implementation ideas and case studies.

The recommendations are fairly predictable, but are usefully summarised in this handbook, and provide an excellent basis for staff discussion and planning for those considering using handhelds with students for the first time.

Some of the key recommendations that caught my eye include:

  • Having an authentic purpose for use of the devices is central to the success of implementing handheld technologies to enhance teaching and learning
  • Educators should be clear about the exact learning goals they are hoping to achieve when using handheld technologies
  • Educators need to be aware that not all students will benefit from using handheld technologies at all times and some may prefer more conventional activities.
  • Projects that have tested the use of handhelds to build links between home and school, and to increase family involvement have had most success where the level of home access to technology is low.
  • A whole-school approach, with support provided both for the project itself and those implementing it, will contribute to handheld technologies being embedded in the curriculum
  • Devices need to be robust and broken devices must be repaired or replaced quickly. Some spare devices will be needed to cover periods when a device is out of action.
  • Good integration with existing technologies in the school, eg interactive whiteboards, data projectors, software and digital content, aids the smooth adoption of the devices into routine teaching and learning.
  • To maximise the benefits of personal ownership, pedagogical approaches and teaching styles must accommodate a more autonomous learner role.

This is a must read for anyone considering bringing hand-helds into the classroom.

The PDF version of the document can be downloaded here.

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