Teachers and pupils switched on to science via their mobiles

27th February 2009 at 00:00
Mobile phone technology may be one way of not only capturing pupils' interest in science, but also supporting and enhancing the work of their teachers, writes Elizabeth Buie

Vic Lally, director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Research and Teaching in STEM Education at Glasgow University, is leading a Pounds 500,000 research project in "networked learning", funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. The project is investigating the use of information and communications technologies to support the development of skills in young people, particularly at transition stages in their life.

But Inter-Life, as the project is called, also seeks to create continuing professional development opportunities for teachers to work in virtual communities by giving them support from other mobile-linked experts when they encounter practical problems.

Keeping up-to-date with the latest advances in science is "a challenge for any active professional", acknowledges Mr Lally, who joined Glasgow University last year and has spent 30 years in education.

"Mobile networking is a way of addressing that issue," he says.

He believes that CPD is key to improving science teaching and that it should start with primary teachers.

His centre is running an 18-month programme in primary science. The current cohort of 30 teachers from the west of Scotland can gain 30 credits on the programme - a third of the credits needed for a Masters degree.

The programme is linked to A Curriculum for Excellence and includes assessment for learning elements, science investigation, and "meaningful science practical work".

"The most important thing is that youngsters are switched on to science early, so by the time they reach secondary school, their enthusiasm for and understanding of science is already well-established," he said.

"A Curriculum for Excellence is a new opportunity to do that. You don't need a lot of facilities if you have the confidence."

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