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Sunday, 2 August 2015

#UMOD, bringing it isn't good enough!

In September 2013, we became the first school in the UK to provide large-scale 1:1 Google Chromebook access to our learners. This scheme had a positive influence on learners' enjoyment and attainment in learning and transformed teaching and learning in our school.

However, the world is not monotone, nor can EVERY task that supports learning be completed on just a Chromebook (or any other one device for that matter). We therefore must prepare our learners for this clear fact by using a range of devices. I myself use a MacBook Pro for the majority of my work related tasks, however, sometimes I use a Windows device and I regularly use my Android SmartPhone or even occasionally my SmartWatch to complete my work. My point is... I need to be able to use more than one device on a regular basis, I need to be competent on multiple platforms, operating systems and interfaces. If I need to be able to do this, what will our learners need to do in the future? Surely we need to prepare them to be more versatile and adaptive than I will ever be!

With the above in mind, one could argue, 1:1 provision in any school is not enough. Across IPACA we have a rich range of devices with multiple operating systems and platforms used to support learning with all Campuses benefiting from superfast fibre-optic broadband. Learners throughout IPACA use this technology in a wide range of settings, we are keen to extend this provision and increase the opportunities learners have.

Since October 2012, the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy has been working with European Electronique to build an academy-wide system that supports BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices). The below video recognises this partnership and work -

We have worked hard to develop the infrastructure to support BYOD. However, we recognise that an effective approach to learners bringing in their own devices to support learning is about more than just technology though. It's about a fundamental change in approach to learning and teaching, a cultural shift away from old pedagogy to an environment that embraces 21st century learning. This culture is one in which learning can happen from anywhere, any time and on any device! Our use of Google Chromebooks has supported this change in culture, not only for teachers but also for learners.

I feel it's important to remind everyone though what a Google Chromebook (so widely used currently at IPACA) actually is... essentially it's a web-browser, nothing more, nothing less. This therefore means, any device that has a web browser, can provide the same functionality for learning. Yes, some may work better for mobile work (tablets), while others will work better for typing sustained pieces of work (clamshell devices with keyboard), the choice here is often a personal preference. However, for our learners who are already competent working in a browser, the digital device doesn't need to be fancy! This I believe is where the beauty in IPACA's approach lies, we have built an environment for learning which is truly 'device agnostic'. Where any learner at any age, can access their personalised learning materials, anywhere, anytime and on any device! This agnostic approach means that whether you are using a £300-£500 new iPad, a £200-£400 new Chromebook or a £20-£250 Android Tablet, the way that device supports your learning is still the same. In this way, all platforms have their value and can support learning.

In January 2015, we ran a pilot which saw over one-hundred learners bring in their own devices to support their learning. Our experience at Osprey Quay and that of the other schools we work closely with reports a wholly positive experience to this approach. The initial analysis of those devices that were being brought in from home to support learning by pupils ranging in age from 6-10 showed a true agnostic approach -

Through work with our learners and European Electronique Solutions Director, James Penny, we have moved the language beyond BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). This is because it's no good just bringing your own device to school, you need to use it! This is the reasoning behind the UMOD (Using My Own Device) abbreviation.

Confident young learners at IPACA share how they use their own devices to support learning with visitors from Kadampa Private School, Derbyshire.

As we extend our optional pilot in September 2015 to all learners from Years 1-13, we are excited about the possibilities for learning! We recognise that across four buildings and 1,200 learners that there will inevitably be plenty of questions, fears and nervous thoughts. However, I am confident, in our technology, in our culture and more importantly in our learners. I believe they will continue to amaze us every day and that in time, UMOD will be the norm for all IPACA learners.

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