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« Podcasting and Syndication | Main | Esther Mercier on her wonderful website À Tantôt, digital video and podcasting »

18/12/2006

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Okay so it's the end of term, and I might be a little crabby, but I think the PDA experiment is a total non starter. Unless the cost of these things drop considerably, no school is going to want to purchase a job lot of PDAs. I would agree with you Joe, that the advance in mobile phone technology means that soon we'll be able to do much the same using a phone. I'm a massive advocate of using technology to advance the learning of MFL, but sometimes the question must be asked - by using the latest gadget in our lessons, are we teaching the students more than without? Are they learning more language, or is this just more of a motivational tool? Without incredibly thorough planning, I fear the latter is the rule.

Thanks for your comment Alex. I agree that at the moment it would be unrealistic for schools to be expected to purchase PDAs en masse because of the findings of one project.

I do however believe the experiment does provide further evidence of the effectiveness of mobile devices as motivational learning tools. With careful planning, I think it could be genuinely useful to let pupils use their phones in class.

Moreover, if they are motivated will they not learn more?

I think the mobile device does have a lot of potential, I like the idea of phones as most pupils carry them with them and are familiar with the technology - it's me who needs the training in the technology.

Bluetooth does seem to be a useful device though. We've made our own version of the "Moi, j'aime skier" video and I was able to send it straight to a pupil phone from my laptop (an iBook) to a pupil phone, only took a couple of minutes. Going to try and put the video online later.

Interesting stuff Lynne. When your students record themselves with their mobile phones, does it take a long time for them to send the sound files to your iBook with Bluetooth? Can they send files all at the same time or one by one in a queue? Do you use a Bluetooth dongle? If so, which one?

Your video sounds really cool. I'd love to see it.

I haven't tried to send to more than one at a time. It took a couple of minutes for the video to compress and a couple of minutes to send. When you click on export in iMovie, it gives you various options, ie export as Quicktime, export as Bluetooth. I get the impression I could send to more than one device at a time, but not tried that yet.

I was thinking of the practicalities of pupils recording themselves in class and then sending sound files to your laptop for informal assessment rather than you sending a video to multiple devices. Perhaps the Bluetooth technology required is the same for both examples.

When your pupils have sent you their recordings has it taken a long time to transfer the files or do you just do it one at a time?

We haven't tried that, but I think they would need to come one at a time. Don't have my Bluetooth technical advisers (my S3/4 boys) until Wednesday, but will give it a go then.

Film taking too long to upload just now, so I'll do it in school tomorrow morning, where our Broadband speed is faster.

Cheers Lynne,

Thanks again for all your ideas.

Joe

Motivation and success are not always in tandem. My lower abilty set are very motivated by using new technology, but the results are still going to be comparable with more 'traditional' methods. I watched the programme, and some of the comments from both students and teachers were very telling. As teachers we find ourselves in a difficult situation - we want to give the students the best chance to experience the language and culture, but we are also measured by the yardstick of results, value added data, benchmarking and league tables. My school are now in a Lang Coll rebidding phase, and this has never been more the case than now - "never mind the opportunities you give the students, show me your results"

Another great comment Alex. Cheers.

Like you I have found that my lower ability pupils have been greatly motivated by the use of technology. It allows them to take risks and not be so bothered if they get the wrong answer when they work individually in a computer suite. This builds their confidence and helps them recognise and spell the structures they are learning more easily.

In the classroom, they like the large colourful images possible with the interactive whiteboard and the fact they can come up the front and take part in engaging activities.

I take your point about results, but personally I find that the kind of ICT I am referring to here builds on good traditional practice rather than tries to replace it.

Ultimately we are all judged on our results and rightly so. If ICT can help to motivate reluctant learners, then so much the better.

I'm still struggling with uploading the video, but have uploaded an interview with our French Assistant about Christmas

http://mfle.typepad.com/tobermoryfrench/

Finally managed to reduce our video to a size that I could upload, so it's a bit small, but you'll find it on our blog.

http://mfle.typepad.com/tobermoryfrench

Brilliant stuff Lynne.

Well worth the wait.

Groovy dancing.

Joe

The opening comments about the cost of PDAs are very significant, but no-one is suggesting that schools can afford to do this on their own. In fact one of the most innovative aspects of the Wolverhampton PDA project is the funding model (also in the Futurelab handbook). For those of us that have been arguing for some time that one-to-one ICT will never be affordable if we rely wholly on central budgets, working out how to get a powerful device for every child has been key. Phones are interesting, and there are people doing great work with them, but it will be a while before they can offer what we get from PDAs at the moment. BUT it is too easy to get bogged down in discussions about the device - it is the functionality that really matters. Once you map what you need the thing to do, you are better placed to decide what that 'thing' should be. The PDA pioneers are doing us all a favour in that area - as are the phone users.

I agree the functionality is the key here. By undertaking innovative projects like the one in Wolverhampton, we can explore different possibilities with handheld devices, be they PDAs or mobile phones and see how they can facilitate personalised learning. The potential is huge and if there is money available to fund future projects, then so much the better. Thanks for your comment Angela.

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