Press release: Smartphone savvy college students answer latest call for mobile learning.

Britain’s largest mobile learning initiative turns its attention to on-demand support for vocational learners and apprentices this summer.

Trials taking place over the next 12 weeks will study the impact of on-demand learning at three colleges in the South East. Selected students at Barnfield College, Aylesbury College, Oxford & Cherwell Valley College and North Herts College will be issued with Blackberry smartphones and given first access to the latest mobile learning apps.

Created with the development support of online learning business X:OR, the new mobile learning delivery system facilitates the first mobile education apps robust enough to play a formal role in the assessment processes used by UK awarding bodies.

The X:OR mobile delivery app allows course tutors to create content, tests and sharable knowledge base resources which students can then access via a Blackberry device. Blackberry 8900, 9520, Curve and Storm 2 are all being assessed over the course of the pilot.

Apprentice students studying vocational subjects will be the first to trial the new mobile learning approach says Terry Salt, Head of Computing, IT and e- Learning, at Barnfield College: “Initially, we’re focusing efforts in areas like plumbing or hairdressing, where skills are often developed outside of the college and in the workplace. It’s here that we believe the new mobile education apps will demonstrate greatest benefit first.”

“We need to understand the real impact that mobile learning has on students’
opportunities,” explains X:OR’s John O’Sullivan. “Clearly we’re working with a medium that the typical student age group is extremely comfortable with, but is a student using the new mobile education apps actually prone to completing qualifications better or faster?  These are the things we need to know as mobile education capabilities roll out across the UK college network.”

Almost 500 students across the four colleges, aged mostly between 18-25, have been chosen to take part in programme trials. Employers and tutors will also help assess the new process.

Students using the apps can access their colleges’ existing wi-fi infrastructure, other public wi-fi zones or use 3G to access mobile learning, upload course work and participate in formal, formative assessments.

Trials will continue throughout the summer to produce final report and recommendations in the autumn.

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