Shift to adoption of mobile learning in schools

UK schools have made a significant shift towards the adoption of laptop computers and mobile learning, a nationwide survey of 1,379 schools has found, with twice the demand for laptops than desktops.

The findings support the increasing move by schools away from isolated computer rooms and towards embedded ICT across the curriculum. Laptops are increasingly used in the classroom environment to share ideas and make learning more flexible.

The research has shown that the provision of WiFi networks across schools continues to rise with an average of 9Mbps provision in primary schools (3Mbps in 2007) and 31Mbps in secondary. Altogether, 75% of primary and 92% of secondary schools have access to wireless networks.

The British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) findings come from the 14th annual survey into the opinions and trends of ‘ICT in UK State Schools’. The research, carried out in conjunction with the National Education Research Panel (NERP) showed that while only 13% of schools have an extensive requirement for desktop computers, the percentage increases to 30% for laptop computers.

BESA’s research is based on a survey of ICT co-ordinators and heads of IT from 812 primary schools and 567 secondary schools across the UK, conducted in July 2010.

The survey showed that since 2005 there has been a higher net (new purchases minus redundancy) provision of laptop than desktop computers. By 2010 it is estimated that there were 2.54 million computers across all UK maintained schools. The majority of these (1.75 million) were desktop computers with the remaining (0.78 million) being laptops. This is over half a million more computers than recorded in 2005.

It is anticipated that in 2010/2011 laptop purchases in primary schools will exceed desktop computer purchases for the first time, while in secondary schools the provision of desktop and laptop computers will be equal.

By 2011 an expected reduction in the number of computers being purchased and a high level of redundancy will lead to a 7.4% decline in desktop computers. However, in comparison, schools are likely to retain more laptop computers resulting in a lower level of redundancy and an overall higher provision of laptops in schools.

Although schools are purchasing more computers than are being made redundant, the net increases are small and previously high net purchasing prior to 2005 has led to the finding that the average age of computers in UK maintained schools is rising.

Ray Barker, director of BESA explained: “The BESA ICT in UK State Schools research indicates that technology has become a part of the way children learn. Nearly half of all schools anticipate more than 50% of pupil time being exposed to teaching and learning using ICT. The shift from school’s investment from static desktops to mobile laptop computers is a predictable evolution that more accurately reflects the learning environment in schools today.”

Secondary schools demand over twice the current available bandwidth (68Mbps) to meet needs. It is recognised that the increase in demand for bandwidth is in direct response to the significant increase in the use of online resources by schools.

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