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Written by Graham Brown-Martin on Wednesday, 28 May 2008
Handheld LearningI was recently invited to attend the final workshop of some impressive work conducted in my home borough of Lewisham that was part of the Black Pupils Achievement Programme (BPAP). Since last November mobile technology was introduced into the scheme to explore family learning and access.

BPAP is a scheme that was introduced in October 2005 by Andrew Adonis, the Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Schools and Learners, aimed to increase success among Black pupils through a tailored leadership and management strategy intended to boost effective teaching and learning, tackle poor behaviour and bullying, introduce mentoring and increase involvement of parents.

The Lewisham BPAP has been regarded as one of the most innovative local responses to this national strategy where 160 pupils from 10 schools in the authority have been tracked through the past 3 years in secondary education leading to their GCSE's. In most schools pupils are attaining above their school and local authority average for all pupils

A strand of the Lewisham programme, Partners in Learning, was launched in November 2007. At the centre of this strand are the families and communities that surround the young person and the key element is the “learning triangle” of the family, dedicated teacher and learner. Technology was deployed in the form of Samsung Q1 Ultra devices with RedHalo software to explore the potential for using handheld technologies in family learning with a firm outcome in mind; to raise attainment at GCSE.

Jan Shapiro, Project Leader, explains:



Paula Edmondson of PME Education Enterprises was engaged to support the introduction and management of the technology into the programme. I asked her about what benefits the use of mobile technology had in the project, the outcomes and how sustainable she believed it to be:



At the workshop a number of pupils, some accompanied with members of their family, were invited to present their work and achievements generated during the project using their Q1’s and software. I must confess to being impressed by how clearly the learning bonds between family members had been established where families were making joint presentations to the workshop audience and clearly enjoying themselves!



I discussed the project with a student and her mother and it was clear that the overall programme had made a difference to the student’s life, their attitude to learning and their future attainment. Her mother was also highly positive about the integration of technology within the family unit including the use of “brain training” games found on entertainment consoles. Her belief was that this was an unstoppable force:



At the end of the workshop there was a small prize giving for those who had participated in the workshop with prizes that included digital cameras and family passes to this years Handheld Learning Conference but the biggest surprise of all came when Tom Cooper, Lewisham’s School Improvement Officer, made the announcement that every student could keep their Q1’s!

In describing the success of the project Tom also outlined Lewisham plan to provide every pupil in the authority with a handheld device:



With that, the day came to a conclusion with students ecstatic at the news that they wouldn’t need to hand their handheld computers back. Myself as a parent of children who attend school in the borough I felt that this was a fantastic and important statement of Lewisham’s intent that I was very pleased to witness.

My thanks again go to the organisers for inviting Handheld Learning to participate in this exciting project.

Comments from the forum:
Partners in Learning - Lewisham
Graham    June 17th, 2008 - 12:56 PM
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A nice article about this story appearing in the Guardian newspaper today at:

http://education.guardian.co.uk/link/story/0,,2285805,00.html

Quote

Each student was given a Q1 - a lightweight mobile device that has wireless internet access and multimedia functions. Students enter information by using a stylus to write on the tablet, and the handwritten words are then converted to typed text. There is also a slightly awkward keyboard at the side of the screen that students can use if they prefer.

The devices are equipped with RedHalo software, which provides each student with a personal learning space where they can store their work, whether it's handwritten notes from a lesson, typed homework, photographs, videos or audio recordings. The software automatically creates a web page of the student's work, which a teacher can then access on request.

A parents' page on the school's Fronter virtual learning environment (VLE) allows direct communication with the school. At a series of four workshops, parents, students and teachers have shared best practice and study skills.

It is a bold experiment but what has it achieved? Among the students giving presentations today, it's clear that this has been a project for the whole family, not just individual students. One mother and her daughter tell the audience how they've researched recycling together and used their findings to start composting at home.

Rosalyn's mum, Patience Barnett, watches proudly as her daughter gives an accomplished presentation showing how she has taken digital photographs and manipulated them using Photoshop on Q1. Barnett believes that taking part in the project has given her daughter a real boost: "I know she's got a lot of talent, but she can be a little bit lackadaisical. This is a very versatile tool - it has given her more independence in doing things when she's wanted to do things. I think it's expanded her creativity."



Re: Partners in Learning - Lewisham
Jocelyn    June 17th, 2008 - 7:32 PM
Interesting about the parental involvement - this was a noted feature of the first Learning2Go project too - I wonder if it is being maintained?
Re: Partners in Learning - Lewisham
Michael Wilkinson    June 18th, 2008 - 9:09 AM
The project does sound very interesting and it would be great to hear more about the link between the schools learning platform and mobile i.e. providing access to learning and data for the student and well as parents.

Michael

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