Mobile phones and iPads hamper learning !! – In defence of Technology in Education

“Whats the point of using technology it detracts from learning ” a teacher said to me. All the evidence points against it and the government are going to ban them anyway.

Deep sigh – where has this come from?

“Mobile phones and iPads could be banned from classrooms”

screams the Telegraph citing Tom Bennett

Mr Bennett said: “Technology is transforming society and even classrooms – but all too often we hear of lessons being disrupted by the temptation of the smartphone. Learning is hard-work and children are all too aware of this. So when they have a smartphone in their pocket that offers instant entertainment and reward, they can be easily distracted from their work. The Telegraph omitted the following that the Guardian included:

In a blog for the TES, Bennett poured cold water on headlines suggesting mobiles could be barred altogether in class. “This may shock you, but I don’t think mobile phones should be banned from school. Or iPads from the classroom,” he wrote.

Then there is the LSE report : A study by the London School of Economics in May found that banning mobile phones from classrooms could benefit students’ learning by as much as an extra week of classes over an academic year, benefiting low-achieving children and those from disadvantaged backgrounds most. 

I am a huge advocate of using technology in lessons when it adds significantly to learning and does something you cant do without it.  You dont even need to change your teaching style, just use tools that enhance your understanding of the students learning journey. Assessment for Learning can be transformed with Plickers /Socrative/Shadow Puppet and instantly and painlessly provides you with data that informs your lesson planning.    But first comes humanity and relationships and good behaviour management.

And it is that behaviour management that is key. Allowing students to access the most distracting device on the planet in lessons is clearly going to have a negative impact on learning. In banning them, the schools have removed this classroom management issue and there was a corresponding rise in the results.  Having worked in turning around failing schools It was very clear that anything that you changed in order to improve behaviour – be it uniform, equipment etc had a positive impact as long as it was applied consistently. Those teachers finding mobile phones were a pain would be very supportive of the ban.  I feel it is plausible that simply  enforcing rules may have been a significant factor,  rather than explicitly the mobile phones.  Though the study also pointed out that the biggest impact was on the lower achievers – those most likely to be switched off lessons and hence reach for their phones. Could we look at why they were switched off rather than simply seeing the distraction as the issue?  Could the phones be their solution to the problem of the inappropriateness of the curriculum to their needs rather than the problem itself?

Then there is pedagogy – Headline from BBC Business

“School technology struggles to make an impact”  

We now have digitally competency measurements from Pisa – always slightly worrying how much store governments put on them. Sir Ken Robinson ” Pisa is to education what the Eurovision Song Contest is to music”

The Pisa assessments now provide first-of-its-kind internationally comparative analysis of the digital skills that students have acquired, and of the learning environments designed to develop these skills.

These data show that the reality in schools lags considerably behind the promise of technology.


The crux of the piece is that those countries that have invested heavily in technology have not shown any improvements and in some there has been a decline. Sadly there is also no evidence it improves the poverty gap inequality.

What it is not saying is how the technology is being used. These devices are simply tools and if they are being used inappropriately then they will hinder progress.

I totally agree with Tom Bennett  that learning takes effort. See my posts on Clarity vs Confusion and thinking

Technology can make the learning journey very easy. I can copy and paste, use google translate, photomath  and very quickly come up with the answer to things that I do not retain in my memory (hence will be gone by the time the exams come)  So no deep learning has taken place.  Many students are happy to hand in their plagiarised homework  as their idea is that the teacher wants to see work rather than learning.  Or students spend a disproportionate amount of time creating a pretty Powerpoint that keeps them working but not learning and I think this may be a huge issue.  They can work for hours on something, look engaged, but learn nothing. Having taught many different subjects when the students are on computers the amount of teaching I do can fall significantly  as the students are just “getting on with it.”

Only add the Technology when you know what value it adds to learning 

The BBC report gives two interpretations both of which I feel are true

One interpretation is that building deep, conceptual understanding and higher-order thinking requires intensive teacher-student interactions, and technology sometimes distracts from this valuable human engagement.

Another interpretation is that schools have not yet become good enough at the kind of pedagogies that make the most of technology; that adding 21st-Century technologies to 20th-Century teaching practices will just dilute the effectiveness of teaching.

I worry that many teachers are drawing the conclusion that technology hinders learning. There is no doubt that technology used badly is worse than a waste of time. Taking the students to the computer room is often an easy lesson unless you carefully plan why the technology enhances learning. I know I have been guilty of this when absolutely exhausted and needing a break. It keeps the kids quiet !

I think far more training is needed on the transformational technological tools –  not the flashy gimmicks. How to effectively manage your classroom where the students use their mobile phones for learning.  Things have changed and we live in a connected world. Simply banning technology may in the short term be effective at improving exam results, but can we justify our classrooms  diverging even further from the real world?

Technology is neither good, nor bad. It is simply a tool that can massively enhance learning if used well. The problem is that it isnt being used well due to lack of understanding of what it can do.

One thing technology cannot do is enhance poor teaching. A poor teacher with students  who have mobile devices will have a class off task but apparently compliant. It can be used as a  sticking plaster that hides  bigger issues and that is an issue we need to resolve

Blogs worth reading that put pedagogy before technology

Steve Wheeler @timbuckteeth

Mark Anderson@ICTEvangelist

Martin Burrett @ICTmagic

Mr Parkinson @ICT_MrP

Mark Richardson @ICTMarc


The Magnificent Seven – Simple Strategies using Technology to Transform Learning

Part of what will form a series that aid learning, behaviour  and make me more effective as a teacher. These are my seven favourite things – The Magnificent Seven – Simple Strategies using Technology to Transform Learning – Please feel free to add yours in the comments section or link blogs

My rules for using technology;

  • Only use technology  when it does something you cant do without it (or it makes it better/simpler)
  • It has to improve learning – or my assessment of  their learning (following their learning journey)
  • It has to be simple to learn and reliable to use
  • Free

(1) Plickers – Multiple Choice Assessment App you only need one device to use

How does it work ?

Students are assigned printed paper  Plicker codes that they hold up for you to scan with your phone/tablet. They can choose A,B,C or D depending on their orientation. The scan on your phone tells you who has chosen what and if your wifi is working records it on their website in the reports section . It also has a live view.

It is so good I wrote a blog about it here  see it on UKEdCHAT here 

What makes it so great?

  • Incredibly quick and easy to use
  • Only need a single device – Android or IOS
  • Can use it without wifi
  • Students cant see what each other have chosen so prevents copying and reduces stress
  • Perfect for showing progression

(2) Socrative  Assessment App – Online and cross platform

Its been around for a while and still holds its place for several reasons. As a teacher you create a room and give that room number to the students. They log onto your room using any device and answer multiple choice or short answer questions.

It’s very reliable if you have strong wifi or 3/4G signal but students may have issues in weak signal areas. I would tend to use plickers  for ‘on the fly ‘ multiple choice (unless you need 5 options) as for plickers they dont need to log into a room or have their own devices.

To me where Socrative really comes into it’s own is the Short Answers option. This allows you to ask students anonymously (or given name if you’d prefer) their opinion /ideas or definitions.

So for example I can ask them to define evolution, make an estimate, proffer an opinion as to the cause of …. etc. Socrative then collates these in a list . This is fantastic on it’s own, but the ace up the sleeve is that you can get students to vote on one of the comments so . Which is the best definition/closest estimate/most likely reason etc.  So my students have given their ideas, evaluated others and chosen one in a few minutes . The same question can be asked at the end of the lesson hence progress can be shown.

You can also create test that are automatically marked as well as importing ones that are already made from Socrative Garden here though please check them as they are not quality assured ! They also link to visible thinking  which will be in Magnificent Seven – Simple Solutions to more Active Learning due to be published soon

ICT Evangelist has a blog on Remixing Lessons here integrating Socrative

Socrative guides  available  here 


(3) Padlet 

Used to be called Wallwisher another relative oldie. Remarkably simple to use you can create a wall in seconds and share it with your students using a QR code. They then all have access to the wall and can add comments, images, videos, links or upload work.

So perfect for sharing ideas, work ( a dream for Art/Tech/ anything visual) , peer evaluation etc. It’s a great collaborative tool and as you can put links in enables Educreations/Pinterest/Shadow Puppet to be embedded into the wall. Full set of tutorials here 

(4) Shadow Puppet – Instant feedback with audio and video  – Sadly IOS only tho Google Docs users may want to look at kaizena   Thanks @ictmagic

A ridiculously simple way of giving quick feedback – Photograph the students work, highlight areas and add your voice feedback and email it back to them. Or put it on Pdlet or tweet it. Record and highlight videos stop them at appropriate points (PE teachers this is a dream app)

(5) Educreations  – Interactive whiteboard on a tablet

I prefer Educreations over Explain Everything for daily use as although Explain Everything is fabulous and feature rich it takes a bit more getting to know and doesnt give you the hyperlink that educreations does that allows you to instantly share through padlet/email/twitter. Educreations is ridiculously simple – though be aware that you have to register after you have created something!

(6) Pinterest  – Digital Filing Cabinet

Pinterest is used by millions but rarely professionally. It is a brilliant way of compiling a set of resources for whatever subject you are teaching . Either find them already on Pinterest or upload them or add from virtually any website. Create a shared Pinterest for your department to collaborate on resources. Get your students to find great sites and share them with you to populate it

(7) Blendspace – Digital lessons and SoW

So we have a whole load of fabulous resources in Pinterest, have created some wonderful Educreation tutorials, some great Shadow Puppet feedback showing misconceptions , numerous Padlet walls. How can we now combine them in a coherent manner ? – Blendspace !

Could this be a dream app for BTEC and IB teachers – giving the potential of e-portfolios that can be shared and collaborated on. Flipped lessons ? The possibilities are endless

A mention to Twitter for building a Personalised Learning Network and connecting to an awesome global bunch of educators I’m @natkin   for technology  try @ictevangelist and @ictmagic are both awesome


Honourable mention to  BookCreator, iMovie, Edmodo, Showbie and Puppetpals HD

What are your Magnificent seven ?








Transforming Technology with a Single Device for Free – Plickers

Many schools still have a no mobile phone policy for students or lack 1:1 devices, but there are a few things that can be used if the teacher has a or phone/tablet. One of the simplest of these is Plickers which is a way of collating multiple choice responses from students. Its free and brilliant

  1. Students are given a unique barcode ( a paper plicker )
  2. The teacher asks a multiple choice question (these can be set up beforehand or used on the fly)
  3. The students show their answer by holding up their paper plicker – the orientation of the plicker allows them to choose ABCD
  4. The teacher scans the class with their phone
  5. A bar chart of responses is immediately produced on the phone and if you have wifi/3G on a linked computer as well – It will work on your phone without any signal so dodgy wifi is not a problem
  6. Reports of responses are stored on the plickers website so progress (or not ) can be demonstrated

More detail

The teacher prints out plicker cards which have a number on them and 4 letters. They act like a QR code in that when they are held up and scanned with the camera on the phone/tablet the number of the card is recorded  as well as the response of that card A to D depending on the orient

plicker-codeation of the card when the student holds it up. The letters are written small so that the other students cant see what each person is choosing. Often with mini whiteboards students will look at others responses before making theirs. You can get your students to write the letters on the back of their cards if they have any disability or for younger students

The teacher then scans the class


It records multiple cards at once and a rescan will not mess up your results as it only records the individual cards once. You can set the orientation of your phone but dont change it . Without thinking I rotated my phone from portrait to landscape and wondered why everyone thought the answer was C when it was A

plickers pic

Results are shown on your device and if you have wifi on the website as well

plickers bar

On the plickers website classes can be set up and the cards assigned to students. The student then sticks the card in their book/planner  so that at any time we have an instant way of assessing what the class is thinking. Reports are saved on the website so  progress (if any is made) can be demonstrated.

Plickers_report plick report

A video overview

A nice slideshare tutorial is here

  • Plickers in PE here  PE teachers might want to laminate cards to take out with them





Humanity – Pedagogy – Technology

The world is changing in unprecedented ways. Mobile technology becomes ever more powerful, more wearable and we become more connected(or isolated from the real world and immersed in a virtual world – depending on your perspective)  As educators we need to be able to use this technology effectively. It’s easy to get carried away with the shinyness of the new and forget the core of education and forget what has to be in place first

To me it needs to be;

Humanity – Smile ! Build authentic relationships and quickly establish their identity by valuing them – Learn their names, find out about them, know what they are good at. If you have students who have high status outside your classroom, but are weak performers in it, then you can expect problems. Imagine that your headteacher has only seen you at your weakest, has never seen you perform well, how would you feel about them observing you ? We need to remove the fear of failure and we do that by making them feel secure so we can lead them on journeys into the unknown and push them to their limits. If they never fail, they will never know how far they can go.

Pedagogy – Teach them , or allow them to learn effectively. I passionately believe there isnt a right way to teach. We teach students, not a subject and we teach what is in front of us. The variables are so huge that to me much research doesnt inform us of very much. So reports like the Sutton Trust point out that

  • allowing learners to discover key ideas by themselves – is not supported by evidence

As a scientist this is like saying; In the short term (passing exams )  if you give people fish they become fatter than if you teach them how to fish. Later when we then expect them to do something for themselves, some of these dependent ones will not know what a live fish looks like, let alone how to catch one. This may be my confirmation bias kicking in, but I want my students to be independent learners (and I do give them fish at times as some would starve without that extra support)


Technology – Add the things you cant do without the technology. Technology is neutral, neither good, nor bad. It can be used effectively or it can waste hours making pretty presentations with no effective learning. As teachers we dont need to be able to use all these technology tools. Our role as educators is to assess learning , however it is presented to us. preventing the students from using technology because we dont know how to use it is a sin ! We need to know what can be done and release the students from the bondage of our own limitations.


humanity - pedagogy - technology venn


I used this Video to support my presentation at #2015TMBETT. You need to decide in what  order the cartons fall over in.

The crowd had to make a decision as to the last one to fall over. Put your left hand up if you think it is the empty carton, both hands for the half full and right hand for the full one. Keep your hands up and find someone who disagrees with you, tell them why they are wrong and try to change their mind. How many changed their opinion ? 2 out of 450 ! When we have a belief we hang onto it – The work of Jonathan Haidt is interesting here

The answer to the cartons is here 

Ok so it isnt. We remain curious about things that are incomplete, that we dont know the answer to. Even more so when we have a stake in the outcome – hence getting people to argue. I did this in a class and a girl lost it when I was about to reveal, then said I’d do it tomorrow.

‘What! you are going to leave us in suspense?’

“Thats exactly what I’m going to do”

‘You are the most annoying teacher alive’ then in an aggressive manner ‘I’m going to do it at home!’

A total paradigm shift to most classrooms – a challenging student saying – stuff you,  I’m going to learn this ! Its thinking through the back door.

At the Teachmeet I started to show Infuse Learning, but ran out of time. I do think this could be a real game changer. I was going to get the crowd to draw their understanding of the cartons (I’m hopelessly optimistic as to what you can achieve in 7 minutes)

In Infuse Learning you can send a drawing to others to annotate and then can see all the results. It is rapid to set up, free and reliable. What’s not to like! Another feature is ordering results, so for example you can have 4 statements which are all correct but some are better than others. This is in terms of thinking a world away from the simple right and wrong that most quizzes produce.

And the answer to the cartons?

Do it yourself ! I dont give people fish when they can catch them themselves 🙂


Getting your students to really think independently

What are the answers to these three questions?  Try to solve them before reading further

  1. (1)  A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? _____ cents
  2. (2)  If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets? _____ minutes
  3. (3)  In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake? _____ days

These are taken from S Frederick  Cognitive Reflection and Decision Making (2005) . Each question has a compelling answer that is wrong. Intuitively we assume the ball costs 10 cents, 100 machines would take 100 minutes and half the lake would be covered in 24 days.  Correct answers at the bottom of the post. In tests 65% of students made at least one mistake. When the questions were then made hard to read by greying out the writing, performance improved dramatically with now only 35% making mistakes. The full research paper is here

This seems counter intuitive, performance was improved by adding a difficulty?

Another piece of research that seems to support this was the following

font- remember 2

Line 1 is easier to read, but that lines 2, 3, and 4 are easier to remember and may help learning new material.

Researchers at Princeton University and Indiana University conducted two experiments to determine if changing the font of material would improve memory and learning. In the first study, people (18 to 40 years old) were given 90 seconds to memorize information written in different fonts. They were given a memory test 15 minutes after they memorized the information. The subjects scored 72.8% correct when they memorized information in the easy- to-read text (Arial font, line 1 above), but the scored significantly better (86.5% correct) when they memorized information written in the difficult-to-read font (Comic Sans MS font, line 2 above).

This also seems to fly in the face of the fundamentals of teaching. Surely the simpler we can explain things and the easier students  can access information, the better their learning will be?  Evidence seems to suggest this is not the case

Dr Derek Muller, who has a brilliant physics videofeed under the name of Veritasium, looked at using multimedia to support learning. His full PhD thesis is available here but a useful summary is

It would appear that simply giving the information to students, even if it is to us clearly at odds to their prior beliefs, can often just lead to them misinterpreting it and instead using it to confirm their own bias. We have many biases, an overview is here , one of the most powerful is probably Bias Blind Spot – the tendency to ignore our biases!

Teaching would be a very simple process if humans were rational and eager to learn from us. In his superb book Predictably Irrational – Dan Ariely outlines some of our bizarre behaviour patterns. The chapter on how arousal affects our decision making processes is particularly frightening, for example 5% of the respondents  said they would consider using a date rape drug in a non aroused state – this rose to 26% in an aroused state.

The advent of online courses such as MOOCs and Flipped Lessons might to some start signaling the end of teachers. Those who believe this are missing the point. Teaching is a two way process and cannot be reduced to it’s tools. This has been nicely outlined in Aaron Barlow’s blog here. A skilled teacher can never be replaced by technology as they understand that giving information is only the starting point and that whatever your teaching style you adapt to the needs and responses of your students. More importantly we have to challenge our students assumptions and force them to make a mental effort and to move away from spoon feeding.  This involves forcing them to go beyond the shallow and immediate response into deeper thought. This is not something most will welcome. Safety is a more powerful driver than exploration to many. A nice maths blog by John Smith  – Penny Drop Teaching here  makes a great point – Are we simply rewarding those who make the least mistakes or developing the best mathematicians? this applies to every subject.

I am a huge fan of the 3 Act Maths approach by Dan Meyer  which I have blogged about before here and supporting it with technology and ave started developed the science of here

The idea is that students are shown a video/demo of something and asked for what questions it makes them think of then an intuitive response,  the students build their own problems then delve deeper into it. It makes them question their automatic response before leading them to the ‘reveal’ ie what the answer might be.

Is there any theory which supports 3 acts? To me this takes students into the realms of dual process theory  and the work of Daniel Kahneman starting with system 1 and then forcing system 2 into action but using the students own motivation to do so.

In his book ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ Nobel Prizewinner Daniel Kahneman splits the brain into 2 systems.

System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control

System 2 allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations”

So system 1 is fast, intuitive and emotional, while System 2 is slower, more deliberative and logical. System 1 thinking is for example recognising a teacher or answering the question what does  2+2 equal, while an example of System 2 thinking is finding your way to a new classroom or what is 27 multiplied by 43.

When system 2 is in action, for example in  trying to solve the 27 multiplied by 43 problem you may have to stop other things that we are doing (it wouldn’t be sensible to try and solve this when overtaking in a car for example) The harder you find maths , the bigger the load on your brain and you may enter the realms of cognitive overload if other things are competing for your attention. This is clear to any parent who tries to have an in depth conversation when looking after a toddler, it is next to impossible.

Whilst engaged in system 2 thinking our pupils will dilate (could this be a use for google glasses – to analyse the level of our student’s thinking?) and our blood pressure and heart rate rise. It is a conscious action, heavy on resources; glucose consumption rises rapidly and we soon feel tired. Many people have a reluctance to use system 2 so System 1 is the one that usually deals with things.

Our sense of who we are is based on System 2, “the conscious, reasoning self that has beliefs, makes choices and decides what to think about and what to do”. But our self  that is most apparent to others is System1 as it “effortlessly originates impressions and feelings that are the main sources of the explicit beliefs and deliberate choices of System 2”.  System 2 is portrayed by Kahneman as the supporting actor who considers themselves to be the lead which is usually taken by System 1. If we used the slow System 2 all the time we would scarcely get things done. Consider the mental effort the first time you ever drove a car to being an experienced driver. But in order to learn something new we have to have System 2 working and this is where a skillful teacher comes in. We have to find a way of getting past the guards that are System 1 and a powerpoint or video designed to transmit information is unlikely to help you .

The average pause time for a teacher between asking a question and getting a response is too short to invoke System 2 so we tend to get an automatic System 1 response from those who already know the answer. This has very little purpose as it is unlikely to influence those who don’t know the answer and is simply a way of those who already know showing knowledge. An interesting alternative to this question- response , new question – response that Dylan Wiliam likens to playing table tennis with one student, reducing the rest to passive observers, is to involve all by employing a more basketball like Pose, Pause, Pounce, Bounce as outlined by @teachertoolkit here .

Technology now has the potential to give teachers unparalleled insight into our student’s prior knowledge with the likes of Socrative and the promising looking Answerpad if used as part of an effective Assessment for Learning strategy so we can see their starting point. We can track student thinking with the likes of educreations , Explain Everything or iMovie. This means we are no longer simply presented with just an answer we can also track the students learning journey and give feedback along the way Showbie is particularly good for this. I’ve outlined a lesson using these here

By teaching students to pass tests, we can equip them with simple, or even quite sophisticated pavlovian System 1 responses that will get them a good grade. They can answer the questions because they have practiced many similar questions so know how to decode the exam paper. This strategy leaves them vulnerable to any slight change in the style of the exam question. We can be guilty of giving them fish, rather than teaching them how to fish due to the pressures of the current system that encourages risk aversion. Are we preparing our young people perfectly for a world that no longer exists, highly qualified, but poorly educated ?

To me the 3 part Maths or Science clearly uses System 1 and System 2 very effectively. Possibly most importantly it also gets our students to question whether their intuition gives them the best answer and encourages deeper thinking that will equip them with the challenges for life.

Of course the 3 acts are a supplement to other teaching methods and tools and they lead to improvement in performance as well as learning

At this point it may be useful to consider performance separate to learning

It is possible to have improved performance without deep learning

If you’re after rapid improvement (performance) then you make your teaching predictable, give students clear cues about the answers you’re looking for, and do a whole load of massed practice. If you watch that lesson it looks great! The teacher is happy, the students are happy and the observer can tick delightedly away at their clipboard. Come back and text them next week, next month, next year and the situation is a little more bleak.

David Didau

Finally we can look at the culture of our classroom to promote thinking . There is evidence that focussing purely on performance and particularly comparing the performance of classmates leads to a reduction on thinking about the task and an increase in thinking about the outcome. In this great video Alfie Kohn argues in the video below passionately and (to my bias) compellingly for change. He says that in performance orientated cultures students choose the easy route not because they are lazy, but because they are rational. I will give you what you want with the least effort possible. Looking at the work of Carol Dweck we want our students to see their success or failure as something they have control over not – I succeeded because I am clever/was lucky/it was easy turns into at some point I failed because I am not clever/was unlucky/it was hard – something that makes them powerless to do anything about. A fuller and more eloquent review by Alex Quigley @huntingenglish is here

So before you teach next please consider how you are going to challenge your students to really think and to engage System 2

Answers to questions:  5 cents, 5 minutes and 47 days

Comments and suggestions welcome

iPads in Science – Transforming learning?

A brief overview of how I have been using iPads to transform science lessons . Using the SAMR model I am really only interested in redefinition. Using the iPad to do things I cannot do without them.

Wordfoto – here  a great app for literacy – create the image from the key words


Slopro  – here 

An app that turns your device into a high speed 1000fps video camera. This allows us to see things happening that we cannot see without them.

A perfect example of this is a lesson at Leicester City College I did with the talented Tom Harbour (who came through Teach First and is a glowing testament to the programme)

The principles follow Dan Meyer’s 3 Act science which I have blogged about here and the science element here.

Students were shown the cup and the key experiment. A key and a cup are tied to opposite ends of a string about 1 metre long. The string is then hung over a pencil and the key held horizontally – See the video below.

The students were asked what questions it made them think of? and from Tom “What would happen if ….?”

Note: the fabulous app Socrative  here would be perfect for collecting student’s questions and thoughts

Unfortunately having filmed in slopro we didnt have enough time for the analysis so I have done it using

Coach’s Eye here Primarily designed as a sports analysis app, it is also ideal for analysis of forces.

This allows you to annotate the video and provide a commentary as you do so

(It has to be said that the position of the arrows on the video are slightly unfortunate ! )

iMovie then allows videos to be combined and becomes the app that brings everything together

Showbie  here is a fabulous app that allows work to be set , seen and marked online and instantly with a range of different ways of communicating via voice, photo, video and pdf documents


View the class (and see what work they have done )


They can contribute or you can mark in 6 ways


A photo of their electric motor (Hmmm!)


An annotated video of their work

Please feel free to add or comment on these ideas

iPads – The silver bullet that will kill all other technology and lead to an educational nirvana?

Are iPads the latest big thing that will transform education, or yet another over-hyped technology that will be misused until the next big thing comes along.

Computers in the late 80s were going to change everything, but then we realised they couldn’t do very much that was really different. In the 90s CDs with encyclopedias such as Encarta appeared which were going to kill the textbook, but that never really happened.

Encarta 95

Microsoft put out the Where do you want to go today? adverts in the 90s, but we didn’t really seem to go anywhere.

Interactive whiteboards were the next big thing, with England in particular very keen too adopt, used well they can be highly effective, (see the courses by @Dragonfly_Edu Dragonfly’s Peter Dawes link) but the majority are used as little more than a white blackboard.

Headteachers would proudly show prospective parents their gleaming
computer rooms and point out that every classroom had an interactive whiteboard with no one seeming to ask the question ‘How has this impacted on learning?’ Now the clamour for iPads is the next big thing.

We are very keen to jump onto a new technology platform with many seeing it as the silver bullet that will transform and improve education and this blind faith has certainly appeared with many for the iPad. We constantly seem to try to solve complex problems with over simple solutions, I think iPads are stunning as they are fast, reliable, intuitive and don’t give the barriers to learning that slow unreliable laptops often present.

The iPad is a phenomenal tool, but it is only a tool. If used well it can turn students from consumers of information into creators, collaborating and communicating in ways that were not possible or even imaginable a few years ago.  But you cannot just give these devices to a class without seriously considering what value it adds to a lesson. In some schools teachers have found they are being forced to integrate iPads with little training and no real understanding of the capabilities. Apple provide free training, but this shows how to use the device, but not how to use it effectively in the classroom.

One major problem is that teachers have a tendency to carry on teaching as they always have done and to simply add on the technology to enhance their delivery. With technology that kept the teacher at the centre of the learning experience as the  deliverer of knowledge, this could be quite effective. iPads and other mobile devices put the student at the centre of the learning, removing restrictions on progress and offering for the first time a truly personalised learning experience often in conflict with the traditional approach.

As in all things a balanced approach is needed. Students may be very motivated to create a video showing their understanding, but if they do this in every lesson the novelty will soon wear off. Direct instruction still has a place and a carefully crafted tech-free  lesson will always be more effective than a poorly thought out one using the latest tech. A simple rule of thumb I use is ‘if it can be done as effectively without the technology, then do not use the technology’.

Consider this lesson I taught using iPads on Forces to a year 9 group

Learning Objectives : To be create a video performing your understanding of forces (to show me any misconceptions that can be discussed)

Task: How many ways can you think of to make a tea bag fly  (A divergent thinking task) – Use popplet to show your ideas.

Questions delivered with Socrative (AfL so I can  demonstrate progress):

What are forces? What are they measured in? How might you know a force is acting?, How confident are you with your knowledge of forces?

Show them how to make a teabag  fly without touching it (You need to come on my course to find out!) they video the demonstration, then create a quick film explaining their ideas using iMovie

Demonstrate the teabag flying again, but this time I explain it to them. They film it , but then have to delete my voice and create their own voiceover (some students repeatedly played the clip before they were ready to do this.)

Insert the image from popplet, then upload their films that have their original ideas and final thinking to a school youtube account.

Questions again delivered with Socrative.

So for this lesson I had a simple set of questions that allowed me to know what they knew when they came into my lesson that could be directly compared to what they knew when they left my lesson.

The film gave them the opportunity to explain their views orally and again was able to see if progress had been made. It also included their popplet so I had an indication of their divergent thinking.

Outstanding progress was clearly shown from the results in a lesson where I actively taught for less than five minutes. The iPads were used to do what would be nearly impossible without them

The iPad and other mobile technology will be a game changer in that control of learning can be given to the learner. In order for this to happen the learner has to know what to do with this control.  A superb read is Future Minds which outlines the dangers of digital  learning and why we should not just embrace technology without wariness. A great deal of thought needs to be given to what our classrooms should look like. The pedagogy must come first, not the technology.