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In total 37 schools have taken part in MoLeNET. The schools involved in MoLeNET were all partners in projects led by FE colleges.    Other partners in consortia involving schools included local authorities and city learning centres.  In some cases a close relationship between schools and their local college pre-dated MoLeNET.  In others one of the aims of the project was to strengthen relationships and improve communication in advance of collaborating on the delivery of diplomas.  In some cases there was a focus on particular subjects, for example Gateshead College focussed on science teaching, with an aim “to expand the curriculum and widen participation by using mobile technologies to support science demonstrations in schools”.


In City of Wolverhampton College’s Learning2Go-Further project the local authority was a very active partner and their experience as mobile learning pioneers in the schools sector gained via the Learning2Go initiative was very helpful for the MoLeNET project.  Two reports produced by the Wolverhampton project include useful information for future projects, especially those involving schools, local authorities and colleges.  The preliminary report focuses procurement, device specification, working with suppliers, e-safety the political process, training and support.  The interim report includes advice on device distribution and roll out in schools and the college, achieving parental support in schools, utilisation of mobile devices for teaching and learning.


The rise of gun and knife crime amongst young people was chosen as the powerful theme for a set of collaborative projects between South Thames College, Wandsworth City Learning Centre and students of schools across Wandsworth.  South Thames College led the .   In this project “…students worked jointly in their schools and at South Thames College on a range of curriculum based projects incorporating music, performing arts, media, business studies, art and design and health and social care, to demonstrate their commitment to finding joint solutions to violent crime.  Over the course of LIFEWISE students produced a theatre production (which will be toured around schools and community groups); wrote, mixed and produced a professionally mastered CD of original music tracks incorporating anti-violent lyrical content and filmed video promos, and produced an action plan to tackle the social cohesion problems that can contribute to violent crime. Students also created the project name ‘LIFEWISE’ and accompanying logo design.

The project was supported by a programme of seminars, workshops visits and speakers involving figures from across music, media and social services.  The use of mobile technology was vital to this project for communication, collaboration and portfolio development. All of the resources produced were distributed between learners through their smartphones and the Lifewise website (”.  Some key messages from the LIFEWISE project:

“The aim of the technology was to increase communication between students and teachers and to encourage a more learner based approach to portfolio building…we saw a marked increase in communication and good exploration of the devices as portfolio building tools.”  “Communication between staff and students can be increased allowing a stronger teacher/ student relationship to develop.”

“The collaboration between the schools and colleges was very successful. South Thames College students developed skills in mentoring and all school students involved were enriched by the mentoring process.”

No smartphones were stolen and the majority of students did not feel that their safety was threatened by having/ using the smartphone.”

One objective of the project was “3% average improvement in achievement across school courses involved”, a “4% uplift” was reported. 

Another aim was improving Community Cohesion and the contribution of the project to achieving this was described as “This project allowed a new way of collaboration using a common managed learning environment in conjunction with always available, connected personal technologies.”

It was also reported that increased collaboration with, and learner progression between, consortium institutions including the college, schools and the city learning centre, was a significant outcome of their project. 


The Cornwall consortium involved Cornwall college, with 6 campuses spread over the whole county, and 4 schools and their interested in mobile learning was partly a result of needing to support learners in sparse population spread over a wide geographic area.  As well as installing wireless networks in the participating institutions, part of the project involved installing a wireless network on a bus used to transport students from schools in the Camelford area to Cornwall College (approximately a one hour journey) with so that mobile devices could be used to access the Internet whilst learners were traveling. They reported some technical problems and issues with the speed of the Internet connection, which were quite frustrating for the learners and noted that the devices were used for accessing recreational sites as well as online documents and messaging.  Feedback was “generally positive” with participants saying they “enjoyed using the device and would like to have access to them on the bus in the future.”  Roseland Community College, a school in the Cornwall consortium, plan to develop their flexible learning strategy by encouraging and supporting learners to use their own devices.  They report that some students/parents have purchased their own Asus eeePCs and are regularly bringing them into school.


Some 2007/08 MoLeNET projects were designed to prepare for the introduction of diplomas in vocational subjects the following academic year.  The diplomas will necessitate closer co-operation between the different types of organisations involved in their delivery, i.e. colleges, employers and schools, and some MoLeNET projects were a vehicle for introducing such co-operation.

9 projects included diplomas as one of the national priorities that were addressed. Eccles, Norwich, Weston and New College Swindon stated that the technology would be put to use in their diplomas programmes in the future.

4 projects considered diplomas to be a local priority. Eccles focussed on the development of new diplomas including creative and media courses whilst Tower Hamlets concentrated on a new IT diploma with extensive mobile learning opportunities. South Thames reported that their partners were much better prepared for delivery of the Diplomas in the subsequent academic year as a result of their MoLeNET collaboration: “The LIFEWISE project has created a platform for collaboration and communication for the new Diplomas” South Thames.

Mobile technologies can be particularly helpful in supporting diploma students whose time is divided between learning locations at school, college and in the workplace, a student from New College Swindon commented You don’t always get to carry your books around with you but you probably always carry your iPod around so if you want to look at something you can look at your iPod instead of waiting to get home and look at your books” and “When you have ten minutes between appointments you can go and look something up, send an email, do whatever.”

Potential problems for college/school collaborative mobile learning projects

Cultural and procedural differences

A clear message from MoLeNET projects which involved both colleges and schools is that it is important to take some time to learn about each others cultures, policies and processes. “Although understandings can be drawn up very tightly there is no compensating for not understanding the procedures in other institutions...”  Weston.

This is easier where there is some history of communication and collaboration between the institutions involved:  “Partnerships work best where there are tried and tested relationships and links, as well as common needs of course. Partnership work is beneficial, however it does require time and therefore has cost implications if it is to be effective”(Gateshead)

The problem of negative or restrictive mobile phone and Internet policies

Several MoLeNET consortia have encountered problems, or been obliged to limit their ambitions for the involvement of school partners, due to negative attitudes and policies regarding mobile phones.  For example the Norwich consortium, which had planned to involve learners in 10 partner schools, found:

 “most schools have in place a policy on mobile phone usage in class (in most cases an outright ban). To introduce a small number of learners in each institution that are allowed to use mobiles in the classroom can cause friction. To begin with the project management team attempted to have a common policy of “licensed” usage of phones within the schools. This would have meant issuing each MoLeNET learner with a “licence” that they could show to their teacher and peers that explained they were allowed to use their phones in lessons. Unfortunately most of the schools viewed this as too problematic and resolved to keep their “no mobiles” rule.

However, in some cases exceptions were agreed with positive results: 

 “One of the partner schools … were hugely keen to get fully involved in the trial with a single science class – looking at evidence gathering, peer assessment and group work. The team arranged to conduct inductions and supplied the school with the requisite number of Smartphones only to be informed that…camera phones were completely banned from the campus. .. this looked like a showstopper. However, after some discussion the management of the school took the matter to their governors to request dispensation for learners involved in the trial. Duly given these learners worked well throughout the project and their teachers reported no disciplinary problems and a real raising in the learners self-esteem through the trust given.”

South Thames also had some difficulties with school partners’ mobile phone policies and concluded:

“The use of mobile phones in lessons will need to be reviewed. Rules that ban mobile phone use may have to be more flexible to allow for work to be completed whilst still discouraging personal use of phones in a classroom environment.”

Many schools (and some colleges) have Internet policies that restrict students’ access to some popular social networking sites which mobile learning innovators see as potentially very useful for teaching and learning and/or have implemented “whitelisting” which is a strategy of trying to predict and restrict access to only Internet sites deemed to be suitable for students.  South Thames believes that “The project would have been more successful if the restrictions on the firewall were removed more quickly. Students were not able to access social networking sites and websites related to research for the project.”

IT department collaboration

In the modern world any collaboration between organisations must involve consideration of the compatibility of their IT systems and policies and co-operation between their IT departments.  Norwich warn that working with a large number of partners means involving a large number of IT departments – each with its own more or less unique way of doing things. Many are reluctant … to support new technologies unless they’ve had a good deal of time to test, assess and prepare for them… and, in virtually all cases, they are not prepared to let “outsiders” come and work with their systems. In some ways this is to their credit, IT departments stand as gatekeepers to a schools data and learners’ protection..”.  This situation has the potential to delay or stop mobile learning projects and should be anticipated in the planning stage by ensuring early involvement of all IT departments and adequate time for them to prepare and to agree common strategies.