It is such an exciting time to be in education because we have easy access to many powerful tools that allow us to connect and share ideas. I am an academic and do research on the use of technology in educational contexts. My research project, the TPACK iPad Project in Schools (TIPS), investigates the use of mobile tablet technologies in schools. This research started three years ago and has continued and grown as these mobile devices have become widely used. In the TIPS project, I surveyed over 200 teachers and school leaders. One of the initial findings of my research was that school leaders, teachers, parents and students wanted information on how to use mobile touch tablet devices for educational purposes.
This gave me the idea to write a blog to share my research – http://edujen.com. I used Edublogs, a free blogging site for teachers. It was a great surprise when I started receiving fascinating emails from teachers, parents, students and grandparents from all corners of the world. They were mostly asking for help and advice as they started using mobile touch tablet devices. The blog has had over 55,000 downloads from 145 countries. Through sharing my research freely on the blog, I have received invitations to visit universities and schools in exciting places. It has also been wonderful to meet educators in South Africa, Belgium, Germany, Mauritius, Portugal, Israel, Bali, Hong Kong, Cyprus and Greece. My research has indicated that although educators in these countries are geographically far apart, they are often grappling with the same issues as they begin to use mobile learning in their classrooms.
I would like to share one story from my blog about a very inspirational young man called Jude. The story started one morning when I was going through my emails; in additional to the usual emails from teachers and my university students, I received an email asking an intriguing question “Dear Jenny, Can iPads work in India?” There was no indication of who had sent the email but I jotted off a simple reply “Yes they will work. There should not be any problems. Let me know if you need any help”. I thought nothing of it until a few weeks later when the next cryptic question arrived, “Can an iPad work where there is no WiFi?” I quickly responded by email with a list of apps that could be used and added a “no WiFi” category to the blog. I still did not have any idea who was asking these questions or why they were being asked. Then there was silence until a few months later I received an email from Jude, and his mother Tania explaining the mystery.
It transpired that Jude Millais is a young boy living in London who had been reading my blog. Jude and his family were planning a holiday to a remote part of India. Jude spent a long time thinking how he could share the fun he was having with his iPad with the children in the village school. He started working on a plan to buy an iPad for these children. To raise funds, Jude turned himself into a “Living statue”. I was not sure what this was so I emailed Jude who explained “I painted myself with gold paint and stood very still on a box in the pavement. I would shake hands with people who walked past and put money in my hat.” Tania, Jude’s mother, commented “I am amazed he had so much courage to stand on Ledbury Road, which is quite a busy street in Notting Hill. Jude ‘The Living Statue’ raised a total £220 to buy an iPad for the children in the village school in India. When asked about this, Tania said “it is quite amazing and inspiring, especially as it was all his own idea to do this … I am very proud of him and very happy for you to include Jude’s story and pictures on your blog – which was so helpful for us.”
As Tania explains, Jude went further than just giving the gift. Helped by his mother, he researched what apps would be appropriate for these children. “Thanks to the wonders of the internet, and Australian Dr Jenny Lane of The TIPS iPad project in schools, we found some fantastic apps that can be used without WiFi. Especially good were the animations and puppet shows with self recorded narration, which are great for story telling, imagination, and those not confident in speaking English – plus they are lots of fun.” Jude then spent time with the children showing them how to use the apps and helping them to improve their English.
Jude showing the children how the iPad works
The iPad caused a huge amount of excitement and the children kept looking at their fingers when they were drawing/writing on the iPad, as they could not understand why there was not ink on them!
We spent hours at a rather nice hotel in the local town, using their free WiFi to download some educational apps.
Thank you all again for your support…
Tania & Jude
Jude (Millais) is the great-great-great grandson of the painter John Everett Millais (http://www2.tate.org.uk/ophelia/)
Dr Jenny Lane is the Director of the Centre for Higher Education Learning and Teaching Research at Edith Cowan University in Australia. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a citation for excellence from the Australian Government. Jenny is an experienced teacher and teacher educator. She is the Vice President of The Educational Computing Association of Western Australia. Jenny is an Adobe Educational Leader and an Apple Distinguished Educator. Jenny writes a blog on using mobile technologies in education, which is used by teachers from 145 countries http://edujen.com. Connect with Jenny on twitter @EduJen or via her webpage http://jennytechnology.wordpress.com