Over the last few years I have occupied a relatively unique role in the world of education technology in that I have both delivered and been on the receiving end of seminars, conferences and training about using iPads in the classroom. I cannot profess to know all there is to know about the iPad and so I continue to sign up for courses that suggest I might learn more about what it can offer.
The truth is, it’s pretty easy to pick up what an iPad can do and even master this, within a short space of time.
What is far more of a challenge is staying on top of what YOU can make it do for your teaching and your students’ learning.
My philosophy has always been to focus on workflow and absolutely nail a few apps that work together to allow you access to a range of different teaching and learning opportunities.
When you go on ‘iPad training courses’ you tend to get a slightly different view. You will often be faced with someone extolling the virtues of Book Creator and to a lesser extent, iMovie. Both of these are great apps, but they cannot be the beginning and end of creative opportunities on the iPad.
So dig a little deeper and you find there is indeed a whole world of apps that give you and your students the chance to approach learning in creative ways, such as ‘Plickers’ which was discussed on this site recently. However, does this count as creativity and does that even matter?
It’s hard to read anything about a ‘21st Century Education’ without being told that creativity and collaboration are at the heart of everything you need to be a successful and complete human leaving school and readying oneself for the world of work.
- I need to teach my students to be creative, and collaborative,
- I’ve got the technology of choice,
- I know about iMovie and Book Creator,
- I’ve got a few niche apps that solve some problems, or enhance my current workflow,
so I’m ready to go…
And yet I feel that if I were to send off other staff with this message they would be sorely under-provisioned for what lay ahead.
What’s the answer then?
Here are some ideas……..
- Don’t focus on apps.
- Decide what you want to facilitate and then ask Twitter, or Google, or even your students, how they would go about accomplishing the task you’ve identified. The chances are that even if someone hasn’t done the exact same thing before, they’ll have an idea about how you could get to where you want to be.
- Bear in mind that making a film is a task that involves creation, but not necessarily creativity, so be sure that the end-product has given your students the opportunity to express themselves in a different and unique way, not just a platform to deliver the same information that they could have delivered on paper or through a PowerPoint.
- Think big. You have a device at your disposal that can do an incredible amount. Neil Armstrong made it to the moon with a computers significantly less powerful than your iPad, so whilst space travel may be out, why shouldn’t your students connect with students in other countries, publish work to an international audience, get to meet (virtually) famous thinkers or experts that will enhance their knowledge or understanding of a topic? Why can’t they have YouTube channels and Twitter feeds and blogs that share their learning and their best selves with others?
Ultimately an application can’t make you or your students more creative – the only people that can facilitate creativity are, well, you and them. The technology just makes it easier to try out never before possible things (see the SAMR model for more on this).
Creativity is important. It’s important not because someone somewhere says that students of today will fail if they can’t tick to off of a list of skills and attributes, but because as we move towards a time where more and more tasks can be completed by machines, a creative response to the situations we find ourselves in is going to be at the very heart of what it is to be human.
Perhaps there is a certain irony in suggesting that technology can be used to enhanced creativity in an age where we are increasingly a slave to the beep of our phones, the tweet of social media and the bing of email, but it is in fact for that reason that we need to create a more positive and unique relationship with our technology.
Picture credit: laffy4k, Crayola Lincoln Logs, https://www.flickr.com/photos/laffy4k/404321726/