Technology is in no way a synonym for ‘outstanding.’ But, it is something that can facilitate that outcome again and again. It can seem melodramatic to say things like ‘iPads have changed the world,’ but they have. The very fact that there is a debate within educational establishments across the world as to whether they and their likenesses are the key to unlocking the future of learning should show all the sceptics that technology is not going away. It is something that needs to be embraced and explored. So what does an outstanding iPad lesson look like?
Well, the truth of it is that I asked this question a lot in the early days of my experimentation with iPads in the classroom. Indeed it took me about 6 months to realize that this was in fact a ridiculous question. I was looking at the end goal in completely the wrong way; iPads in my classroom wasn’t about doing something separate to what I normally did and measuring one against the other, the point was to see how and if iPads and indeed other technology could enhance, extend and embellish what was already working for me.
Perhaps this seems obvious to you, but I am often asked what a good iPad lesson looks like, so I’m guessing I’m not alone.
So the answer to this most important, but carelessly worded question is that an outstanding lesson that uses technology looks like your regular, bog-standard outstanding lesson, but it just happens to use technology to facilitate that outcome.
Your learners are engaged, you are just the right amount of sage and guide, and at the end of the lesson the students can walk out knowing that they learnt something in a way that has left an impression upon them.
How could you achieve this? Well here are a couple of simple ideas…
Whether this is in class or in response to homework, the ability to give and receive feedback from your students that can manifest itself as data that you can capitalize on, is invaluable to you and your students. You could use Socrative or Geddit, or many other tools to get feedback from your students; this feedback may test their learning, understanding or simply how they feel the lesson is going. A tool such as Showbie which can be used to submit homework, allows you to let your students know what you think of their work, the moment you’ve looked at it, whether that is in the lesson, in the evening after they submit the work etc. The feedback loop is tighter and more immediate than it has ever been and this can only be a good thing for the advancement of your students’ learning.
Genuine and rigorous peer review between students is a glorious, but incredibly difficult thing to achieve beyond the kind of thing that occurs between students who are partnered up in class. Technology such as Apple TV however, means that you can now share the work of your students to an entire group with genuine ease and spark a conversation about the learning that they are experiencing. A VLE or perhaps even better a blog, offers a similar opportunity for peer review, but this time on a more public scale than the classroom, and for the reviewing to be more formally given. The combination of these two things raises the stakes and in turn offer a more outstanding experience for the students.
The first two of the these may only account for a few minutes of a lesson, indeed the peer review might happen online after the lesson or as a homework assignment, but that doesn’t diminish their impact or contribution to an outstanding learning experience. But the truth is, the thing that you’re looking for is engagement and this comes from all sorts of different sources. It may be one of the above things that causes this engagement, it may be that it’s the well-timed use of an app which explains a process you’ve been introducing, it may be connecting with students or experts from somewhere else around the world, but whatever it is, it will be true that the engagement doesn’t come from the device in hand, but from the thoughtful planning and research done by the teacher.
The best uses of technology in a lesson may be fleeting, or almost invisible. A lesson dedicated to using an iPad may have little or no value whatsoever. Teachers and student alike will use technology best when they are confident in what it can do, and when using it makes sense. There’s no right answer here, at least there is no generic, all-encompassing right answer, only answers that are right for you in your setting, with your specific classes and specifically in the lesson that you’re teaching.
Technology will not be consigned to a cheap gimmick in the realms of business, medicine, defence, and transport. Education simply cannot afford to be the poor relation. If you ask the question, “What will make me a great teacher?” Technology is not the answer. If you ask the question, “What can facilitate great learning?” Then there are lots of answers. But my top two would be the teacher, and technology.