Books or e-books, that is the question


In Star Trek: The Next Generation Captain Jean-Luc Picard has a preference for paper books over digital books. Science fiction has now become science fact and we have access to small e-book readers such as the Kindle, and other tablets that we can read books on like the iPad that I am currently blogging from. The advantages of these devices does seem quite obvious to some of us – they are small, have long battery life, can carry huge numbers of books and documents including dictionaries, thesauri, text books and novels. It is easy to search for words or phrases and you can usually annotate your work. Added to that is the excitement and enthusiasm they can produce in students.

However, there is now some suggestion that Captain Picard may have something in his preference for paper based books. People who read paper may actually remember more! In an interesting blog post Maia Szalavitz suggests that there are issues in remembering not only what is in the book but also the names of characters. She concludes that "more studies will likely show what material is best suited for learning in a digital format, and what type of lessons best remain in traditional textbooks".

I wonder what Captain thingumabob would have to say?

iPad, Mathletics and Lexia

It’s good to hear that both Mathletics and Lexia are developing apps for the iPad, even though they cannot give a time scale. Are there other educational software writers out there like these two who are developing their apps for the iPad? Let me know if you know!

Bike Week

Besides being Green Transport Week it is also Bike Week. I think we all agree that it is a “good thing” for our young people to take more exercise, that it is good to be fitter, less overweight and that the exercise boosts our sense of wellbeing as well as our physical and mental performance.

As I am committed to trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle I try to cycle to as many of my schools as possible. One of the things I notice is the provision that the school has for locking up bicycles, scooters, etc. They vary from nice covered cycle racks and rails at the front of the school proudly proclaiming that in this school pupils and staff are encouraged to use their bikes, schools where there is a cycle rack or two hidden around the back of the school to schools where there is no provision at all and I have to find a suitable fence or post to lock up to.

One of the obvious issues is funding – schools are having to be very watchful of their pennies and may find it hard to justify spending on a cycle rack. But if it is a good thing to encourage our children (and staff) to take more exercise then I think that we should be at least trying to provide the facilities. With this in mind here are a few sources of ideas and funding for installing bike racks:image

  • Sustrans – an organisation promoting sustainable transport. They have a good website providing ideas on how to encourage pupils and parents to think about how they travel to school. They provide a series of information sheets including funding ideas and an e-news that you can subscribe to for the latest funding alerts;
  • a number of manufacturers of bike shelters provide advice on funding including Miko Engineering and Able Canopies (n.b I have no connection with these companies, they just happened to be top results in Google!)
  • there are many organisations who will provide grants towards projects such as installing bike shelters, in particular Biffa have a small grants scheme. You have to be within 10 miles of a Biffa operation and the website has a search facility where you enter your post code to see if you meet this requirement.
  • if you are looking at installing bike racks why not involve your pupils? They could do a survey to find out who does / would / wouldn’t cycle to school and why; where the best place for a cycle rack would be; how it might blend into the school environment rather than be an eye sore; produce publicity material to encourage cycling, etc.

And if you do decide to go down this route, why not get the pupils to follow the progress by keeping a diary or blog on the VLE? There are also an increasing number of devices and applications that you can use on phones to show your levels of exercise, why not use a bit of competition and technology to encourage more exercise and do some data-logging and numeracy at the same time!

If you find any of this useful do please let me know and hopefully I will come and lock my bike up to your bike rack!

bMobLe–Keynote 1–Andy Hutt


Andy is an ex-teacher (not that he has ever stopped teaching) and works directly with schools and educational providers to support a more creative, efficient and effective use of ICT.  He spoke on Creating Creativity and gave us “Reasons to be Cheerful”. He asked “Is Creativity a good thing?” and “Are you a Creator or a Consumer?” He even suggested that whenever we talk about creativity in the classroom Sir Ken Robinson is an elephant in the room – or more likely, a sumo in the room!

Here is the video for his presentation, you may want to move about 20 minutes into the video in order to skip the introduction

Watch live streaming video from bmoble at


Web link to video –

Andy has a blog at and a website at

bMobLe 2011

Yesterday was the third bMobLe conference in Bradford. bMobLe stands for Bradford Mobile Learning and focuses on “the effective use of new and existing mobile technologies to engage learners, accelerate achievement and stimulate creativity.” This theme this year was “Creating Creativity” and although at one or two times speakers seemed to be focussing on creativity for creativity’s sake most of what was talked about would engage most learners and accelerate achievement.


The bMobLe conference is well worth going to, not just for the inspirational real life examples of how to use mobile technology in the classroom but also for the networking with other educationalists, the chance to chat with pupils who are using this technology, the exhibition and workshops. I know that there are a lot of other events happening at this time of year but if you are interested in the use of mobile technology in education, make sure you book a place for next year! In the next few blogs I’ll write about some of the things that impressed me.

bMobLe is at