By the autumn students in the 2015-2016 school year have become used to their teachers and new routines. Gone are the sunny days of summer. In October it is time to focus on learning and passing exams. Complementing the education of these children and adolescents is, once again, mSchools, the educational programme backed by Mobile World Capital Barcelona in cooperation with the Regional Government of Catalonia, the City of Barcelona, and GSMA.
In 2015 it is also expanding its scope: after two years in the classrooms of 4th-year ESO (Obligatory Secondary Education), senior school and vocational training students, in 2015-2016 mSchools will be available for the first time to 3rd-year ESO students, who will be able to study app creation within the subject of Technology, now a core course. This change in the syllabus will allow teachers to incorporate mSchools as optional content within the course’s curriculum. Since the start of the school year teachers have had at their disposal the materials for “App Education” course, specifically designed for younger students. Course materials are available in Catalan and English, with a view to promoting the use of the latter language in technology classes; about 25% of the materials have already been distributed in English.
In addition to the “App Education” course, which has been taken by more than 18,000 Catalonian students to date, the mSchools programme has supported, over the course of two years, various initiatives to promote the introduction of technology into the educational system. The Apps Awards and Tech Camp, for example, are a direct upshot of the application development course, and since their launch they have been well received by both students and teachers. In July 2015 137 projects were entered in the App Awards, with the 24 finalists enjoying a technological immersion experience allowing them to expand their knowledge.
Another mSchools initiative, the collaborative georeferencing project Mobile History Map (MHM), is expanding, with a view to students not just being able to geolocate monuments and attractions, but also to reference historical figures through “geobiographies.” Thus, in addition to containing cultural, historical and social heritage elements, Mobile History Map will also feature information on key figures. MHM targets Primary students in grades 5 and 6, as well as secondary school and vocational training students, and has already impacted more than 4,000 students at 600 schools across Catalonia.
During the 2014-2015 academic year the mSchools Mobile History Map became one of the categories included in the Mobile Learning Awards, a competition that also recognises the top educational projects in the categories “Educational experiences with mobile devices” and “Audiovisual Micronarrations.” Designed to showcase the educational potential of mobile devices in the classroom, the Mobile Learning Awards honour the most innovative projects carried out by teachers and students.
To promote teacher training in technology, thereby encouraging the introduction of mSchools initiatives into Catalan classrooms, in May 2015 the educational community was provided with access to the Toolbox platform, an online catalogue of applications selected and evaluated by teachers themselves. Today the directory lists about 500 applications, and there are plans for further additions at the end of the year.
mSchools is also a project committed to families. More than 400 mothers and fathers have participated in training sessions organised by mSchools to address the relationship between young people and mobile devices. The aim of these sessions, organised in collaboration with each school’s parent association, is to provide families with tools allowing them to understand the use and potential of smartphones and tablets in the educational sphere, and promote the responsible use of mobile technology by their children.
The use of technology in classrooms is now a reality, and tools such as those launched by the mSchools programme are a first step towards its widespread implementation.