Changing attitudes towards learner owned devices

Last week I presented at an ‘Arts and Media’ Conference in Chester organised by Sector Training.

I presented at the same conference last year, running a session on Mobile Learning (amongst other things), and in the session mentioned (in passing) that at some point in the future the norm would be that learners would turn up to lectures with their own devices – a suggestion which caused a bit of a stir amongst the delegates as they identified all sorts of reasons why this wouldn’t happen, and why it would be a bad thing if it did happen, and how I was such a heretic for suggesting something so completely outrageous…..anyway…..

….fast forward 12 months, an at the same conference with a similar set of attendees, I run another session alongside Ian Wilson. Ian was introducing the use of the iPad within this area of work, and the discussion moved onto the logistics of equipping every learner with an iPad, and the attendees completely bought into this idea – amazing the magnitude of the attitude shift in just 12 months.
Meet Junior.

I think embracing learner owned devices is the only viable option for organisations for the future. A large college may spend many hundreds of thousands of pounds per year to update the computers that are more than 3 years old – this is a huge expense just to stand still, and when you look at the stats in terms of usage – you cannot find an empty IT suite on the room booking system for love nor money, yet the computers are used for probably less than 10% of the time – so we have a huge investment in technology that sits idle for most of the day.

Embracing learner owned devices does present some problems, but all of which can be managed. The single biggest issue (and in my opinion where investment should be going) is getting a good, reliable and robust wireless network that students can connect into. A few years ago I was saying that electricity was going to be a big issue as people power up their laptops etc. But if the iPad does prevail, then this has ample battery to get through the day negating this problem.

2 Responses

  1. I think you are absolutely right, Dave, to suggest that the future lies in encouraging and facilitating learners to use their own devices rather than having educational providers pumping huge quantities of money into buying desktop equipment and then implementing and policing restrictive ‘College Internet Policy Statements’ that impede people’s ability to access the resources they need.

    It’s also interesting that you have sensed a complete change of attitude on this issue in just the last 12 months. As the veteran politician Tony Benn said:

    It’s the same each time with progress. First they ignore you, then they say you’re mad, then dangerous, then there’s a pause and then you can’t find anyone who disagrees with you.

    I’m glad that people no longer find your ideas mad and dangerous, Dave!

  2. I think some people are still ‘threatened’ by my ideas, and probably always will be!

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