Futurelab is a nonprofit U.K. organization committed to sharing the lessons learned from research and development in order to inform positive change to educational policy and practice. Last month Futurelab published the handbook Learning with Handheld Technologies. The 35 page PDF has implementation ideas and detailed case reports. This handheld book is useful for schools just starting to explore handheld computing and for schools who want to improve their current program. It's based on two years of research from the University of Bristol, which observed and interviewed some of the leading practitioners of handheld learning in the UK.
The second page of the handbook lists the key recommendations from the research.
- There should be an authentic purpose with clear learning goals.
- It is harder and takes more time to manage a small set of devices than it is to manage models of use where each learner "owns" their own.
- Professional development is very important. A collaborative community of practice that involves the whole school will help embed handheld technologies in the curriculum.
- Wireless internet connectivity is preferred because it makes the devices much more useful.
- Schools need to figure out long term storage of students' data as they will produce so much work it won't all fit on the devices.
- Spare handhelds should be on-hand for quick replacement of broken units.
- Teaching styles must accommodate personal ownership of learning.
- Successful projects used handhelds for accessing content and for producing projects.
- Adoption of handhelds goes smoothly when integrated with with existing technologies like interactive whiteboards, software, and data projectors.