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Apr 112013
Sciennes PS: The Learner's perspective

Learners talk enthusiastically about learning with the iPad

Some of the pupils from Sciennes PS talked with us about how helpful some of the apps that they use to support their learning are. They gave examples of how they have helped them with timestables and spelling. In many cases they choose to use these apps in their own time in order to make progress with their learning. One child commented:

…I can’t even imagine school without iPads now. It’s so helpful in every day….I used to really hate maths before the iPads but once we started using them and apps like Cloud Tables it’s helped me with maths and now I enjoy maths. I never used to be good at my time tables but within one week of using this I knew my times tables up to the 10x table.

Sciennes PS: Kids learning with apps

Some of the pupils from Sciennes PS talked about how having access to a device had improved their productivity in writing. Instant access to editing tools makes writing so much more enjoyable and is making them ‘want to do their school work’ now.

When I used to write on paper I would write maybe 100 hundred words, but now I am writing 1000 words, and my writing’s really improved because I’m writing more, I’m writing at home and before I was more reluctant to edit it because you have to rub it all out and it just makes a mess but with this it takes two seconds and you’ve got a very good piece of work.

Sciennes PS: Learners discuss story writing Learners discuss story writing with the iPad

The discussion continued and the size of the impact on learner perceptions that this device pilot was having became increasingly apparent. When learners were asked if they thought the pilot had been beneficial one response was:

Oh yes, it has completely changed my life at school, and at home too, because I feel that although I already had an iPad at home I just really played games and stuff but now I use it for… I’m actually wanting to finish off my school work and wanting to do more school work.

To bring the discussion with the pupils to a conclusion we asked them what having their own connected device meant for them as learners and what
they would say to adults who may be of the opinion that devices such as those might be getting in the way of learning. They talked quite openly about how they believed the device has helped them learn and how access to technology such as devices should be part of modern teaching strategies in schools. Comments included:

I’d say with it improving our maths and storywriting and stuff they should think maybe that it’s really helping us and that we should keep it.


If people think that we should still be writing on slates and that school should be the same [as it was] then we wouldn’t have learned as much as we have. Technology and modern teaching strategies help us to learn every day and I think that if any adults who are a bit sceptical would come in to the classroom and see how much it helps us on a daily basis.

Sciennes PS: Why have a device? Learners discuss the benefits of having a device

Apr 112013
Sciennes PS: Anytime anywhere learning

Always with the learner, always on...

Wendy French is one of the class teachers who has been leading the 1:1 pilot at Sciennes PS. We asked her where she thought she was seeing the greatest impact on learning as a result of the experience that she and the children in her class were having with their device pilot. Mrs French felt that she was seeing heightened levels of confidence in the children in terms of their willingness to be more creative and in so doing showcase their individuality when it came to using a range of apps that allowed them to record and edit video and audio etc. She also thought that she was seeing enhanced peer interactions as a result of her learners having access to their own devices and she described how their willingness to independently support each other has become a feature of the class dynamic. Mrs French felt that one of the greatest benefits of the 1:1 experience was that the children no longer had to wait for their weekly allotted time at the ICT suite. Now that they have access to what she calls ‘this versatile tool’ her learners are getting much deeper into learning tasks due to the fact that they can spend much more time on them. Having the technology at their fingertips means that in-depth working with digital tools has become integral to their everyday learning experience.

Sciennes PS: Anytime anywhere learning Interview 1 with Mrs French

Mrs French also commented on  the development of a stronger social learning bond between learners and that a culture of sharing learning is thriving now that the devices are part of the everyday fabric of learning in her classroom.

Sciennes PS: Social dynamic Interview 2 with Mrs French

Apr 112013
Sciennes PS: Individual or shared?

A mix of individually owned and shared devices

Much of the discourse around the advent of tablet devices in schools has been focussed on developing models where 1:1 provision is seen as the aspiration. In the schools that we have visited so far we have seen models where devices are being shared and models where learners have access to their own individual devices. Irrespective of issues such as cost and sustainability we were keen to get the developing thinking of staff on how their access to devices, be they shared or enough for individual use, was impacting on learning and teaching.

Sciennes PS: Shared device or individual device Interview with Mrs Gallagher

Lucy Gallagher (depute headteacher) at Sciennes PS is a strong advocate for the 1:1 model. She argues that, although the context of the school, the readiness of the staff and the resources available all have to be taken into account, fundamentally her experiences have led her to believe that individual access to a device in 1:1 setting should be the aspiration for schools. Sciennes PS has some classes that have 1:1 provision and also classes that share a set of iPads and the shared experience is always one that does not quite match up to the always-on, always-connected experience of the learners and pupils that have 1:1 access. Mrs Gallagher did not feel that individual access meant that learners were isolated in their own learning as a result of having their own device, but that on the contrary there was increased collaboration, discussion and sharing in the classes where the learners had their own devices.

Apr 112013

Parents convinced learning is happening

Relationships with the parents and carers is a priority at Sciennes PS. The school is committed to ensuring that information is communicated effectively with parents and that parental feedback is taken on board and considered.

In relation to the parental response to the iPad pilot at Sciennes PS, Lucy Gallagher (depute headteacher) believes that it has been an incredibly favourable one. The only issue that she feels there has been was that some parents had a concern about, or questioned, whether the iPad was a learning device. Mrs Gallagher feels that this initial question has been addressed through the way in which the iPad is now used by the children to access their learning at home, so that the wider life of learning, more than just homework, has increased visibility to parents and carers. This perception seems to be echoed by many of the pupils who believe that their parents/carers are now much more involved and engaged with their learning. This is because their parents/carers can now see more of what what they have been doing and as a result are even keener to get involved.

Sciennes PS: parental views Mrs Gallagher discusses initial parental perceptions of the pilot

Mrs Gallagher described this increased level of  learner-parent engagement as a joyful experience.

Apr 102013
Sciennes PS: Parents convinced learning is happening

Effective workflow models still a challenge

Over the course of our visits to schools involved in device pilots one of the issues that is always raised with iPads is that of workflow. There have been concerns expressed from colleagues in local authorities about this device’s ability to work effectively with Glow with the result that schools have attempted to make  provision to enable workflow to happen more effectively. An inability  to easily transfer documents and other materials from the iPad to the storage areas in Glow has been the biggest issue that has arisen in this regard.

Wendy French (class teacher) at Sciennes PS talked with us about the challenges that she faced with workflow in the early stages of the device pilot that they were undertaking in her school. Early attempts involved emailing work to and fro and then moved towards using Dropbox as the means of sharing work. This, however, proved unsustainable and it was felt that in order to access learners’ work and give formative feedback the email and Dropbox solutions were not quite good enough. Mrs French finally came across a proprietary app called ebackpack which they are now using in Sciennes PS. She feels that this is now meeting her needs much  better, but she notes that it was a paid for app. What she wants to see is for the workflow between IOS devices and Glow (as it evolves) to be much easier and slicker than it currently is so that there would be no need to purchase an app to manage workflow.

Sciennes PS: workflow Mrs French discusses workflow on the iPad

We also spoke to the pupils about workflow. Interestingly enough, they were not so concerned with what was used or where any material might be stored, but they were keen to state what a difference it made to be able to access their work at any time! One pupil commented on this change in access to their school work

…before we couldn’t take out jotters home, even if we wanted to carry on with our work we couldn’t but this is with us seven days a week!

Sciennes_kids_workflow Pupils’ perspective on workflow with the iPad

Apr 102013
Sciennes PS: Enhanced dialogue around the device

Enhanced dialogue around the device

Lucy Gallagher  (depute headteacher) at Sciennes PS in Edinburgh was keen to share with us her perceptions of the impact on learning of the iPad pilot that she was supporting in her school. She believed that what has been happening had surpassed her initial expectations and that this was down not to the device in itself but to the professional and informed integration of the devices by the two class teachers who were leading the classes involved. As a result of the procedures and processes put in place  Mrs Gallagher said that there is now much more emphasis on talking about learning between learners, teachers and parents. She argued that, because of the way devices enable access for learners to their school work, parents are much more aware of the wider school learning experience, as opposed to just seeing homework.

Sciennes PS: Enhanced Learning Dialogue Mrs Gallagher talks about enhanced learning dialogue

Mrs Gallagher also commented on what she saw as a change in the learning culture in the classrooms where the devices were being used in relation to the development of a dynamic that encourages the learner to be the main active agent when choosing which app to use when. She  discussed the ways in which the teachers involved  may have had different approaches in the early stages of the pilot in relation to how they introduced apps: one teacher retained more control of what was explored by giving direction to learners while the other was more comfortable being a little less prescriptive and giving learners the freedom and autonomy to explore the device. Even though there might have been differences in approach, Mrs Gallagher has observed that both classrooms now have learners who thrive in a learning culture that actively encourages personalisation and choice of how to address learning tasks and to direct their own learning.

Sciennes PS: Self Directed Learning Mrs Gallagher talks about self-directed learning

Apr 102013

Sciennes PS, Edinburgh

Sciennes PS in Edinburgh has a long history of engagement with handheld digital technologies. Over the years they have trialled a variety of devices such as Palmtops, uMPCs, PDAs, laptops and now that they are using iPads they have quite a good deal of experience to help them implement as effective a pilot as possible.

Lucy Gallagher (depute headteacher) at Sciennes PS has been instrumental in managing and establishing the vision for the iPad pilot at the school. Like so many teachers in schools across Scotland, Lucy is someone who has been actively involved in working with technologies to ensure that they are used to best effect to help ensure that there is a positive impact on learning and teaching.

Mrs Gallagher gave us an overview of the pilot at Sciennes PS, a pilot that has 1:1 deployment across three stages. This pilot also allows the learners to take the device home so that it is an always-available learning tool. Listen to our interview with Mrs Gallagher:

Sciennes_LG_overview Interview 1 with Mrs Gallagher

Many of the schools we have visited have also decided to let the learners take home the device that they have access to as part of the pilots that are happening. This decision has been one that has come about as part of in-depth discussions about safety of the devices, integrity of the pilot and misuse outside of the school environment; however, this deficit view is not one that Sciennes PS decided to subscribe to. They wanted to trust in their pupils and their families and to ensure that the device could play as full a part as possible in enhancing learning both in and out of school.

Listen to Mrs Gallagher discuss the initial reservations that the school had and how their subsequent decision to allow the devices to go home was the correct one for them with any concerns about misuse etc not being realised:

Sciennes PS: Trusting learners Interview 2 with Mrs Gallagher

Jun 272013

Sharing devices at Linnvale PS

Linnvale PS in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire has been using sets of iPads and iPod Touches to support and enhance learning across the school. Their experience has been similar to the one at Dalreoch PS in that they have a limited number of devices and as a result these are shared by the learners. We spoke with Linsey Thomas (HT) about her school’s experience in using the devices and we asked her to discuss the methodology that she wanted to see employed when the devices were used in her school.

Mrs Thomas didn’t feel that her school was in any way disadvantaged by not having what may be seen as the gold standard of having enough devices to deliver 1:1 provision.  On the contrary, Mrs Thomas saw the limited numbers of devices that she had access to as an advantage because she believes that devices such as the iPad are great tools to help facilitate collaboration. She describes seeing groups of 4 children sharing an iPad and there being a genuine sense of sharing and participation around a device that is so portable and flexible.  Mrs Thomas expressed some concerns about what might happen to the collaborative nature of group work should all her pupils have their own device.

lvale_devicemethodology Mrs Thomas discusses the methodology for sharing devices at Linnvale PS.

The issue around shared devices in school be it due to lack of resource or a preferred methodology as opposed to 1:1 provision is very much one that is open to debate. The perspective from Linnvale PS is one that contrasts with the setting and perspective from colleagues at Sciennes PS. What is your take on this? Is sharing devices or 1:1 provision a preferable option? What do we collectively know about the benefits of either? Can both work equally well? Comments and thoughts welcome.

lvale_impactlearning Mrs Thomas discusses the impact on learning that the  devices are having at Linnvale PS.

Following on from her thoughts on the advantages of sharing devices Mrs Thomas went on to discuss what she thought she was seeing in terms of impact on learning on the children at her school now that the devices were in use. She again emphasised the enhanced collaboration between learners in her classrooms and corridors but she also remarked on what she was seeing as real learner discussions about learning as a result of having shared access to devices such as iPads and iPod Touches. The freedom to respond to tasks in a manner of the learners choosing due to the range of apps that were accessible on the devices was also seen as something to help address the personalisation and choice agenda and all of these benefits, she believed, appeared to have a motivational impact on the learners at her school.

About this site

Sciennes PS: Enhanced dialogue around the device

Enhanced dialogue around the device

Schools across Scotland are engaging with a range of tablet devices such as iPads, Windows 8 tablets, Android Tablets, Kindles and Chromebooks to help effect better outcomes for  learners and to help enhance and enrich learning in Curriculum for Excellence. The purpose of this site is to help share the developing narrative of the pedagogy that is being employed with tablets and devices in our schools with a wider audience so that we can continue to learn from and with each other.

Most of the material that features on this site was gathered through visits to schools over the past 6 months or so with much of what was collected published in our Learning with Devices community in Glow. We want the Glow community to be where the discussion and sharing continues to happen but we also want to use this site public facing site to be where we can share much the life of learning with devices.

At this stage we want this site to be where practice can be shared, discussed and reflected on so that we can can begin to develop a shared understanding of the necessary approaches and learning culture in the use of tablets and devices that will lead to better learning and teaching.

Comments most welcome and involvement via Glow if you have a login or by commenting on our posts actively encouraged.

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