Without a shadow of a doubt, training staff (and students) is the most important part of my job, and the part that will probably never end! After all, technology is changing at a frightening pace, especially when we consider that the iPad is only 5 years old this week! How far we have come in such a short space of time, especially given education’s rather well-known reputation for being slow to change.
So assuming that you have some knowledge and expertise in the use of an iPad, and you have staff who are willing to learn, where do you start with getting them skilled up enough to face their students with an iPad, or even a class full of iPads?
Get a small group of what I called ‘iPad Champions’ to volunteer themselves to be the front line. Make sure that they know that they will make mistakes, the technology will go wrong and lessons won’t go to plan and that all of that is absolutely fine, because it’s part of the process. You might also want to mention that if they do find themselves in a difficult situation, one of their charges will probably be able to lend a hand and fix things for them. That’s OK too!
Start with the 1 iPad classroom
It’s probably easier when first getting to grips with the iPad, to have a classroom situation where only the teacher has the device (as long as they have access to Apple TV). This will give the teacher a chance to figure out what workflows they like and also allow them to become familiar with AirPlay and the role that can play in a classroom. And just because they are the only one with an iPad, doesn’t mean that they can’t let their students have a go too.
Make sure there’s a class set to practise with
That said, a class set will be needed so that your staff can see what it’s like to be confronted by a classroom full of technology-armed students. It’s crucial that this happens early on so that staff can see how they want to adapt and adjust their classroom management style, as well as begin to figure out how their lessons are going to evolve with the access to the wealth of resource an iPad brings to the classroom.
Allow them time to go away and test things out for themselves
Don’t do the training in one big block. Often if you buy iPads in bulk, you will be offered a certain number of training days, Whilst these can be inspiring and exciting, they will also be completely overwhelming and much of what is learnt will be forgotten if it isn’t quite relevant or there aren’t immediate opportunities to put things into practice.
I offered 7 hours of training to my staff, but spread this out over about 3 months, so that they had a chance to go off and try out the things that we discussed in each session. This meant that over time they could slowly build up an increasing arsenal of tools to call upon in lessons without feeling too bombarded.
Once you’re done with your first round of training, make sure you get feedback from your staff to see what they found to be the most and least relevant to them and what you might have missed. Obviously you’ll find that different people will pick things up at different speeds and eventually you might find yourself putting on different types of training. For example you may offer basic workflow session to some teachers, while with others you may find that delving into the world of sophisticated content creation such as iTunes U and iBooks Author is more appropriate.
It is essential that you are as flexible and accessible as possible with all of this, so as to include as many staff as possible along this journey.
Do it again!
The more you train your staff, the clearer the right workflow for your environment becomes. What works for me, or for one school, may not quite work for others and it is important not to try and shoehorn in one approach because you know it worked for someone else. For example, Google Apps For Education is a great tool for a school that is willing to make a wholesale change in the way they operate and interact with documents. For other schools it will be too big a change when combined with new hardware coming in and so different solutions and workflows will need to be found. There is no right answer, but there are certainly some workflows that work better than others. Your colleagues will be best placed to help you figure out which solutions are right for you.
Image credit: Wikimedia