Friday, 8 July 2016

In defence of iPads

From the Maine Educators: Why I Still Love the iPad


Shawn Carlson, Assistant Superintendent for Technology, Curriculum and Instruction in Boothbay, Maine points out features which have made iPad implementation successful in his school district. Here are five:

Mobility: Students can take an iPad anywhere.
Accessibility: The iPad includes built-in features like text-to speech, dictation, and word prediction.
Recording Features: There are built-in cameras and microphones.
Screenshare: The iPad includes “Airplay” to allow screen-sharing with the class.
Airdrop: Users can share files or quickly move them to another device for collaborative editing.
Features That Support Student-Directed Learning

iPads allow students to easily collect images, audio, or video of student work and performances—all on the fly—which can then be preserved in digital portfolios.
Reyes-Henderson of Foxcroft Academy works at the first high school in Maine to implement a 1:1 iPad initiative, dating back to the fall of 2012. She points out that the audio feature has changed her classroom; not only can she record herself for her students to hear, but more importantly her students can record themselves. Because of this, students develop better speaking skills when they can listen to—and correct—themselves. Self-training apps on the iPad allow students to practice outside of the classroom and increased the amount of time students spend practicing. And that practice translates (yes, pun intended) into greater development of fluency.

Reyes-Henderson also reports that students enjoy the hands-on learning. In fact, she’s not the only one to highlight the movement away from worksheets and toward greater creation. Back at Boothbay, students have created a variety of products to demonstrate their learning (e.g. animations, blog posts, radio theater) for a real audience, not just the teacher. In fact, assistant Superintendent Shawn Carlson points out the one of the most successful uses of iPads in Boothbay has been in assessments. iPads allow students to easily collect images, audio, or video of student work and performances—all on the fly—which can then be preserved in digital portfolios.

21st Century Skills

Similar to Ann Luginbuhl, a middle school teacher at Charlotte Elementary School in downeast Maine, has found that iPads encourage 21st century forms of communication, pointing out that students are not growing up in a world where written communication will be the default; they need to be encouraged to use audio, video, and images to communicate effectively.

Luginbuhl finds that the iPad makes these important kinds of communication easy to generate. She is excited to be refreshing with iPads—and Reyes-Henderson and Carlson both agree.

From the beginning of the MLTI program, the focus has been on learning with technology providing a tool to meet the learning objective. As technology evolves, deeper thought about learning and lesson design is needed. Teachers will require time, and professional development around this new mindset, to create powerful new learning experiences for their students. That’s not specific to the iPad—that comes with the introduction of any new device. And because of that, it’s too early to lose hope for this flat, digital piece of technology.

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