Association for Learning Technology Online Newsletter
Issue 11 January 2008   Friday, January 25, 2008

ISSN 1748-3603

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More Issues
by David Sugden

blankLearners in the English Further Education (FE) sector are having their learning and assessment opportunities enhanced by mobile devices. This is the result of a 7.2m initiative funded by contributions from both the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and participating institutions.

The Mobile Learning Network (MoleNET) is managed by the Learning and Skills Network (LSN) . MoLeNET aims to develop the wider use of Mobile Learning across the FE sector and to address national LSC objectives and local priorities. Following a two stage bidding process 32 projects were selected; at the time of writing many of these are in the process of procuring equipment, training staff and planning for implementation and evaluation. The projects are being supported by LSN's MoLeNET Support and Evaluation Programme which includes: training, advice and guidance from expert mentors; some central procurement and re-purposing of learning materials and tools; an on-line environment for peer-to-peer support and knowledge sharing; training and support for practitioner led action research projects; and evaluation.

A wide range of mobile and handheld devices are to be used: from mobile phones through PDAs, iPods, handheld games machines (PSPs and Nintendo DS) to Ultra-Mobile PCs (UMPCs). These are to be employed in an impressive range of learning environments and contexts to support learning in many different curriculum areas. In Tyne and Wear three colleges (Gateshead, Newcastle and City of Sunderland) are exploring the use of mobile devices (mainly PDAs) in Science and Sport Science fieldwork. In Norwich the City College is collaborating with 10 schools focussing on how mobile devices can support learners studying for the new specialised diplomas. In contrast 4 colleges in the South West (Swindon, Wiltshire, Salisbury and Cirencester) are using iPods with Engineering, Construction, Sports, Science, Health and Social Care, Science, Languages and ESOL learners, creating podcasts of demonstrations and learning materials and enabling learners to make multimedia records of their learning. Meanwhile Bourneville College in the Midlands is working with 9 partner organisations using mobile technologies to improve social networking, the skill base of the care sector, and the effectiveness of employer engagement. These are just a few examles: there are many more.

All projects must be led by a FE College. Some projects involve just the college itself, whilst many others are consortia, led by a college. Consortium members include work-based learning institutions, adult and community or voluntary organisations, schools and universities with a few private organisations supplying specific services. Often, the consortium is based on a group of regionally local colleges working together to achieve their aims and address local or regional priorities.

David Sugden
Village e-Learning Consultancy

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