Wednesday, September 24

UK government pays £300m to get families online

In one of the worst kept secrets of the summer, the DCSF has announced a credit-crunch-beating £300m to buy laptops and broadband for the neediest kids in England.

Is this good news?

It is great news! Evidence is mounting that kids perform better at school if they can take some of that school work home, and share it with their families. Several recent reports seem to be converging on this from different perspectives:

  • DCSF's Children's plan (benefits of access to technology at home)
  • Byron report (on managing e-safety)
  • Denham's consultation on Informal Adult Learning (drawing in the parents)
  • Becta's Harnessing Technology (on how to use it well for learning)

 

From Extending Opportunity (the final report of the minister's taskforce):

Strong evidence exists for the potential educational, economic and wider benefits of home access to technology. Despite this growing body of evidence, approximately 35 per cent of families still do not have access to the internet and the digital divide is not being narrowed. It is clear that cost is a major barrier to access and, whilst costs of home access are falling, they will not do so quickly enough to prevent a large number of low-income families from being excluded from the educational and wider benefits of home access. This exclusion of low-income families results in an inequitable exploitation of home access and means that it is impossible for all learners and their families to experience these educational benefits without some intervention.

 

Needless to say, technology providers are already limbering up to promote their wares. It looks like families will be given vouchers they can spend on eligible technology and connectivity - though debate is already starting up on what types of devices should be included.

Is it just about "laptops"?

What about "mobile devices"?

How about games consoles?

 

Not sure about the answer - though as a mobile blog, our vote is with the "as many methods as possible" camp!

Thursday, September 18

divided we fall?


Still mulling ovr the Alt-C conference and what all the debates about digital divide add up to. Maybe (as suggested by the fringe slammers ) it's a false divide that isn't helpful - it's a dualism we can do without. But on the other hand, when we make content for e.g. mobile phones there's no question that for some people this is highly attractive, whereas for others, it's a puzzling approach to education. maybe the probelm arises when we make assumptions based on age, or gender, or where you live in the world (and the initial key note by Hans Rosling did a lot to explode some of the myths we hold about the world brilliantly).
Also thinking about all the Web 2,0 debates and whether or not I'd look good in one of those second life get ups. Whoops think I'm falling on the wrong side of a divide ...
Really enjoyed Clive Shepherd's session on the e-content pyramid. There's still plenty of scope for professional, well-designed learning materials alongside more user-generated material - and this should present a rich mix for everybody. Maybe that's the point - new ways of using technology to present learning can take its place alongside more traditional methods. It doesn't need to be a divide - just a broader choice (provided of course you've got the access).

Monday, September 15

X0 2 to have a touch screen!

It looks possible that the next generation OLPC might have the touch screen we were wishing for!ideas for XO-2

Some of the early ideas and mockups are up on the OLPC wiki site and the form factor looks superb.

Is this a good idea?

Of course!

OLPC walk a delicate tightrope between keeping the XO as cheap, robust, and low-power as possible while at the same time pushing to innovate. Theirs is a device built just for students - just for learning. Adding in one (or even two) touch screens moves their device closer to an idealised learning device!

We were lucky enough to hear David Cavallo who head up OLPC's future of learning research talking at ALT-C last week, and were pleased to hear him enthusing about the XO innovations.

Of course there is a long journey between the current announcements and a final release, but two touch screens would be a great response to new devices like the ClassMate PC - and if you believe some of the literature OLPC are creating, they are seriously considering adding these multi-touch screens.

 

Go OLPC go!

Friday, September 5

One day course in mobile learning - a bargain!

Anybody going to MLearn2008? It is happening in the UK this year, and promises to provide a great collection of speakers.

BUT - did you know about the workshops the day before?

Whether you are attending the main conference or not, you are still able to go to the workshops.

We are hosting Generation M, an all-day introduction to mobile learning for only £50 (which includes a licence to the MyLearning authoring tool)

If you looking for a gentle overview of all the current issues, as well as a chance to make some of your own m-learning content give us a go! ... as it says on the brochure:

Prepare yourself for MLearn2008 with a relaxed day of informal presentations and practical sessions. This exciting workshop day will provide hands-on opportunities to try m-learning authoring tools as well as hear from our fascinating guest speakers, Jocelyn Wishart, Karl Royle and Richard Everett – see www.m-learning.org and www.mlearn2008.org for full details of the programme.

It promises to be a great introduction to mobile learning. If you are interested, Sign up here (we are the second one on the list, "Generation M")

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