This fact there are over 14 million iPads in schools illustrates how many ‘decision makers’ have chosen the iPad as a tool for learning. As we continue to integrate the iPad into schools, it is worth reflecting how the initial setup and training can have a real impact on the success or failure of a 1-to-1 programme. The recommendations below are borne out of a desire to help teachers without overwhelming them and to model good practice to students. There are many apps that could have been chosen, but those mentioned below are generic and able to serve a purpose across the curriculum.
Early engagement can be facilitated by linking email accounts to the iPad and suggesting users sign up to apps like Flipboard or perhaps a daily newspaper. Interest in the content means that basic gestures on the device will be used. Sharing of information helps to introduce the options available to users and when coupled with the camera roll, can lead to greater understanding of ‘sharing’ options.
In my opinion it is crucial to model good practice particularly when the distraction element of the device is apparent. Whenever I use the iPads with students there are different levels of instruction to ensure the device remains a tool for learning. From ‘screens off’, to ‘cases closed’, these instructions should be followed throughout any training sessions. In particular, it is important they are used with other staff in the room so classroom management has a common strand for the students to follow. Similarly, if a student doesn’t follow instruction, a consistent approach is required when dealing with the student and their iPad. One of the biggest fears for educators is that the device will be used inappropriately. Ensuring classroom management techniques are included in the Acceptable Use Policy is one way to make sure educators have a frame of reference.
ENHANCE CURRENT METHODOLOGY
It has become clear that because of iPad introduction, educators are having to consider pedagogy. Consequently, it is a good idea to choose apps that can be used for collaboration, formative assessment and workflow. I’d suggest using Socrative 2.0 for assessment, Explain Everything for collaboration and Google Classroom for workflow. Hopefully, this can all be underpinned by cloud based storage such as GoogleDrive.
It is also worth being mindful of how easy it is to wow an audience with what an iPad can do in the classroom. Unfortunately that can lead to a ‘show’ with no follow up. The nuanced applications that have an element of awe and wonder tend to have a very short shelf life when it comes to the classroom. Indeed a number of subject specific apps are suitable for use once or twice a year. I would suggest demonstrating apps that meet the demands of workload. Put another way, educators need to understand how GoogleDrive or Dropbox will work to share information with students or how Showbie will allow them to annotate and grade assignments without paper. They don’t necessarily need to see the amazing Solar Walk just yet.
For students, it is about understanding that they can still meet the requirements of workflow on the iPad as well as having ‘fun’ with the new toy. I strongly suggest incorporating iMovie into any training programme as the level of effort students put into such projects is unsurpassed. I am a firm believer that any work that will be shared with ‘the world’ always focuses the mind of a student. The fact that an iMovie project is likely to be shown to a class means students take greater pride in making sure content is correct. There is also the potential to post the finished project on a school website or blog.
Finally, Notability would be the first app I would use to demonstrate how students can work in a way they will recognise on the iPad. Acting as an interactive exercise book, Notability has many features that the students and staff will become comfortable with. However, the initial impression is always one of understanding as workflow seems comparable, apart from the lack of paper!
There are a number of options available to schools that allow for collection and assessment of work. They cater for a mixed platform environment as well as 1-to-1 iPads. Personally, I would ensure students and staff are comfortable with Edmodo and GoogleDrive as applications to help with workflow. The key is to remove any barriers to the initial setup. Spend time linking iPads to individuals’ GoogleDrive accounts and trialling the interaction between stakeholders in a room full of troubleshooters. Once educators grasp how easy the workflow can be there are a number of lightbulb moments that centre around ease and efficiency. It is particularly satisfying when educators realise the student can’t make the excuse of printer problems! Again, Google Classroom is well worth looking into.
Perhaps the most important tip at this stage of integration. Each class needs experts that will be able to troubleshoot for teachers and students alike. Those experts should be the students themselves. Take time to work with them them and give them access to as many training sessions as possible. Digital Leaders should help all the way through the training process and perhaps badge them so they are easily identifiable. Teachers will be very thankful that there are three or four individuals who are able to help with the technology in the classroom. It might even make them more prepared to try something new. It is worth remembering that, once an individual gets to grips with the iPad interface, many applications have a similar functionality. The ‘safety net’ that Digital Leaders can provide is invaluable.
They might even run a Genius Bar for you!
On reflection this post is more about the approach than the specifics. When it comes to implementing something new in the classroom, inevitably there is resistance to change. We see it as our remit to remove as many barriers as possible and take small steps to allow individuals to decide where the iPad will fit in the learning process.