I spent two days last week in a school in South Canterbury, reviewing their ICT strategy and implementation. Unsurprisingly the matter of mobile devices was raised by both staff and students, including questions and concerns about ownership, cost, equity, access, safety etc – all really useful and professional discussions from a group of people genuinely looking to find a way forward in this regard. Their discussion reflects what I find is top of mind in pretty much every school I visit, and highlights the need for some strategic thinking and policy development within schools (and nationally) to address these things.
UNESCO is currently developing a set of policy guidelines for mobile learning, for which it is inviting public review and input. The extracts below are taken from their literature and provide some insight into the purpose and scope of the exercise:
UNESCO believes that mobile technologies can expand and enrich educational opportunities for students in a diversity of contexts. Today, a growing body of evidence suggests that ubiquitous mobile devices – and mobile phones in particular – are being used by students and teachers around the world to access information, streamline administration, and facilitate learning in new and innovative ways. This set of guidelines, drawing on UNESCO’s research, seeks to help policy makers better understand what mobile learning is and how its unique benefits can be leveraged to advance progress toward Education for All. The unprecedented uptake of mobile devices, in particular mobile phones, in both developed and developing countries opens up new possibilities for increasing education access, equity and quality. Mobile learning, a growing field of ICT in education, has the potential to significantly impact the delivery of education. However, an enabling policy environment is needed to fully realise this potential. UNESCO’s research has revealed a dearth of policies related to mobile learning. To address this gap UNESCO, in broad consultation with relevant stakeholders, will develop a set of guidelines to help national government policy makers and educators create environments that enable the safe, affordable and sustainable use of mobile technologies for education.
You can download the DRAFT UNESCO Policy Guidelines on Mobile Learning v2. (PDF 500KB) to read and comment on. The first half of the draft document provides some really useful material for those who are considering the rationale and benefits of mobile learning, while the second half is devoted specifically to policy guidelines. It's worth taking a look at what has been developed so far as it may help some of the thinking and work taking place in NZ schools, placing it in a broader, strategic perspective.
I've also posted reference to this on the VLN – BYOD group, as a means of sharing it around the NZ education community.