The early experience of Copland Community School in introducing iPod Touches to all new pupils.
Copland Community School is a mixed school in Brent, Greater London, and has 1700 pupils on roll. The school serves students from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, with the largest groups being of African, Caribbean or Indian heritage. Two thirds of students speak a first language other than English, and one in ten is at an early stage of fluency in English. One third of the students are eligible for free school meals. The proportion of students with special educational needs and/or disabilities is similar to that found nationally, the main needs being moderate learning and behavioural, emotional and social difficulties.
The school has opted for a 1:1 programme involving iPod Touches, rather than a Bring Your Own Device model. The reason for a 1:1 programme was that the school wanted to allow all students to access technology in all lessons; also, to allow all students internet access at home. And also to develop the curriculum to take advantage of the iPod’s power and flexibility.
All current Year 7 pupils (11-12 year-olds) have an iPod, and all future Year 7 pupils will get one. The school is working closely with an app development company, which enables pupils to develop apps, drawing on the company’s expertise, and also to publish them, thereby making them available to a wider audience.
Parents contribute to the scheme, supplementing a grant from the E-Learning Foundation and school funds.
Although the school is now set to enjoy its new learning journey with these devices, a key lesson that comes out of Copland’s experience is, I think, not to underestimate how difficult it can be to put such a programme in place. Technical difficulties were encountered, plus delays in delivery of enough devices. The latter led some parents to withdraw their commitment to making a contribution, which led to further delays in implementing the scheme.
Andrew Gill, Head of Faculty ICT, is optimistic about the future:
“Now most things are in place we will be focussing on enhancing the students learning experiences with the vast array of apps available for education, but perhaps more importantly, each student will now have access to the internet whatever lesson they are in and at home. This will ‘open up’ learning considerably. Essentially, the students will have access to all the materials on the web. If you’re going to encourage independent learning, I can’t think of any better tool than this. I’d say we’re just about to embark on the ‘learning journey’ but when it comes to practicalities of putting a project like this together, we would be able to provide a great deal of advice and assistance.”
Fuller details on the school can be found at: http://www.copland.brent.sch.uk/index.html