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Secondary pupils get free iPhones in edu-app trials

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Pupils at a London secondary school have been given iPhones to test applications for education

A group of 30 pupils in years seven to 11 at Gumley House Convent School in Hounslow have begun to use the phones in class for the next seven months.

Brentford City Learning Centre (CLC) is to run the trial along with technology company Academia, following a two year independent research project on the use of technology in learning carried out by Professor Michael Gibson, formerly head of education at Kingston University. Gumley House was selected after a competition to design the classroom of the future revealed a high interest in technology among pupils.

The pupils were selected based on their submission of essays outlining how they felt the iPhone would aid their education. They cited the use of applications such as Periodic, allowing access to the periodic table and the use of the calendar and tasks for personal planning.

The handsets are working on a pay-as-you-go basis on the 02 network.

Simon Elledge, manager at Brentford CLC commented: "In most schools mobile phones are viewed as distractions and banned from the classroom. But, as technology becomes more integrated into our daily lives, we wanted to understand how it could be used positively in the learning environment.

"The girls in the trial are encouraged to use the iPhones as much as possible, with permission from teachers of course. They will be monitored using questionnaires, spot checks and individual feedback, and the data collected will be independently analysed and shared with the other 104 CLCs nationwide to the benefit of pupils throughout the UK."

The pupils will be allowed access to data free of charge, within a fair usage policy, if they keep at least £1 worth of credit on their devices. There is a significant number of educational applications they can download for free, but if they wish to obtain one with a charge attached they have to make a case for its educational value to Elledge.

"The whole purpose of the trial is for children to inform us of what applications will be educationally useful," he told GC News.

Elledge added that neither Apple or O2 has provided financial backing for the project, although they have both promised some element of support which is yet to be determined.

He also emphasised that, while Brentford CLS has done some earlier work with other mobile devices, it is concentrating on iPhones for this project because of the number of applications available.

"We went for the iPhone because it gives children more of a facility to customise applications than they can get at the moment with Windows based devices," he said. Another advantage is that many of the applications transfer data for use on the device, rather than demanding that the pupil logs onto the internet to use an application. ®

This article was originally published at Kable.

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