The inspector of education and training in Wales – Estyn – published a report earlier this year assessing the impact of ICT in Welsh primary and secondary schools. ICT was found to have a positive impact on standards of literacy in the majority of schools, and in some cases was linked to significant improvements. The report however found that broadband connectivity was poor in approximately half of schools which was said to limit the use of ICT. The Etyn report also said that the filtering and blocking of websites by local authorities ‘hinders classwork unnecessarily in the majority of schools’. Schools and local authorities are encouraged to invest more in mobile technology such as smartphones and Tablets. Read more here.
Uninterrupted WiFi Connectivity for an Effective Use of Mobile Technology
Effective use of mobile technology is dependent not only on sufficient WiFi and broadband at school, but also on students having access at home. In the US some one-to-one Tablet projects in rural areas have been dependent on installing WiFi and broadband connectivity for the local community in order to ensure that the devices can be used outside of school. In the UK a partnership between a school, the local authority and a telecoms company in Bury, Greater Manchester has resulted in the UK’s first free community WiFi network. At Broad Oak Sports College 40% of students were without broadband at home before the introduction of the community WiFi network. The Office of National Statistics has estimated that a third of the poorest children in the UK do not have access to the internet at home.
Recent Reports on Children’s Use of Tablets and Smartphones
Earlier this year a survey of 2,300 American children ages 8 to 18 carried out for Pearson showed that 21% used full size Tablets, such as iPads or Nexus 10 for learning whereas 23% used smaller Tablets such as iPad Minis or Nexus 7 devices. 47% reported using smartphones for learning; this increased to 60% for high school students. 92% of children agreed that Tablets would change how they learn in the future and 90% said that using Tablets made learning more fun. The popularity of Tablets in education continues to grow as does the selection of Tablet devices available. An overview of some of the popular devices currently available can be found here.
A survey for Vodafone shows that 57% of four year olds in the UK use smartphones or Tablets. Based on this Vodafone has worked with The Parent Zone and Moshi Monsters to create an internet safety resource for parents to use with their children. The resource focuses on five important internet safety skills which are presented through five of the most popular Moshi Monster pets. Learn more here. The survey showed that a third of parents of children between four and ten were planning to buy an internet-enabled device for their child for Christmas; of these 60% were Tablets and 21% were smartphones.
(*) Image Creative Commons, courtesy of Michael Coghlan