The Apprentice students have been given Blackberry phones and are trialling new education apps that enable tutors to deliver course content, tests and resources straight to the device.
Both RIM, the makers of Blackberry devices, and T-Mobile are supporting the project which will help teachers, students and employers identify what works best for learning delivery, support and assessment whilst students are working.
The students can use the exciting new apps, that are being developed by both RIM and X:OR, to learn and participate in formal assessments, as well as upload course work, remotely.
The trial is taking place over the next 12 weeks, after which the students and tutors and employers will present their findings.
Terry Salt, head of computing, IT and e-learning at Barnfield, said the new apps were ideal for apprentice students who undertake much of their learning in the work environment.
“Initially, we are focusing efforts in areas like plumbing and hairdressing, where skills are developed in the workplace,” he said. “It is here that we believe the new mobile education apps will demonstrate greatest benefit first.”
John O’Sullivan, of X-OR, added: “We need to understand the real impact that mobile learning has on students’ opportunities. Clearly we are working with a medium that the typical student age group is extremely comfortable with, but is a student using the new mobile education apps actually prone to completing qualifications better or faster?
“These are the things we need to know as mobile education capabilities roll out across the UK college network.”
Barnfield chief executive Pete Birkett said he was proud that the College had been chosen to take part in the pilot. “Barnfield prides itself on using the latest learning techniques and I am delighted that our students are among the first in the country to try out learning using mobile phones.”