The iPad revolution in teaching
I have become very interested in how iPads’ can be used in hands of educators. This is because of a brief return to teaching for me during April and May this year. While I was working as a teacher in a Catalan school, working as a language teacher, I made great use of my iPad. I used the iPad in the classroom as a place to keep all of my notes, of course I used Evernote for that. I used the iPad in the classroom to show video and also to play audio to the students. I also used Bento, the database application for taking the register of attendance. Truly one of the best iPad apps for teachers, and there is a plethora of apps for teachers.
I would have loved it if I could have included and made use of the iPad even more, within my classes. Certainly it would have been absolutely brilliant if the students in the class had iPads to use also. As you might expect in Spain, even though I’m working in the relatively well-off area of Catalonia, the cost of Apple gear seemed prohibitive to the students and also to the teachers within the school. There was a good deal of interest in my iPad in the staff room as well as in the classroom. There were gasps of, “Hey that is cool!“ When teachers saw me using my Apple Bluetooth keyboard for inputting text into the iPad. The kids were delighted when I let them speak into the Talking Tomcat application, so that they can hear themselves speaking English with a funny voice. Great to see the Catalan children suddenly becoming less shy about speaking English, so the Talking Tomcat was a complete success.
A one to one Apple iPad program seems impossible, but what about BYOD or BYOT?
This is where the creative teacher and also the students alike, work on the basis of bring your own device or tool. Where the money is not forthcoming from the school administration departments, then there maybe possibilities of allowing students to bring in their own devices. In the school where I was teaching, the students had cheap Windows laptops which can be used by them in the classroom. Unfortunately I didn’t get the opportunity to see how they were being used, I would certainly have been interested to find out more.
There are certain applications that can be used as collaboration tools within a classroom. There are also Web services, like Socrative and VoiceThread, that can provide a way for students to work together to produce content for their own class. Teachers that are diving into this type of use of technology within the classroom are saying that iPads and teacher software are having a revolutionary effect on teaching.
To a large extent, teaching using technology is still in a transition phase. In the UK, for instance there has already been a huge initiative to install the large interactive whiteboards in most if not all classrooms. There are some lucky schools both in the UK and also in the USA, that are going down the route of the one-to-one iPad per child. In many cases, students are allowed to take their iPad home with them. Often in these instances there will be a free iPad for teachers, well it is needed for teaching with iPad.
iPad Apps for teachers and digital textbooks too!
The iPad is there to be used for digital textbooks. There are a number of good reasons to move towards digital textbooks, such as the content being more up-to-date and a large number of books being able to be carried in one small device. No longer will children have to carry large rucksacks full of books from one classroom to another. The iPad does everything that the student is likely to need within the classroom using a variety of iPad educational applications. There are iPad apps which are specific to the subjects being studied, as well as iPad applications which can be used for creation of content as required by the whole learning process.
Digital content management – Creating a student digital portfolio
As part of the daily grind of student life, pupils have to produce work that can be there to either gather as a repository of their learning, or use for revision of learning in preparation for exams. So what is needed, is a student digital portfolio which will have all of the content created, during their time in school and also from home work completed. However the teaching is conducted during the school periods, it seems there will always be the need for homework. Having such a digital portfolio has certain advantages and benefits, for example the multimedia nature of learning by using good technology, should make the whole thing more engaging. Teachers should be encouraging the use of video and audio alongside text and pictures, to bring the subject matter to life. Get more of the senses working. I have seen some teachers turn to iTunes for keeping a digital portfolio. Not really made for the job and a database like Bento could be employed.
iPads as a tool for education
Jumping headfirst into teaching using technology with tools such as the iPad, could certainly be rather daunting for many teachers. Such an approach would require a completely new way of thinking. Instead of teachers being the font of all knowledge, standing in front of the class pushing out the information, teachers may need to work more as facilitators. It may even be the case that teachers will allow themselves to get into a situation that would lead them also to learn things from students. That is not a bad thing, it shows students that we are all lifelong learners as well as boosting the self-confidence of pupils. If such a process is handled correctly, there’s no reason why it should have an impact upon the classroom management.
The iPad is good for classroom management
While I was teaching in the classroom in the Catalan school, I ran into the age-old problem of a couple of kids thinking that they could mess around while I was writing on the whiteboard. I was able to get around this to a certain extent by moving myself to the back of the class and getting students to write on the board for me. One of the great things with the iPad is that it can be used in such a way that you can write on your iPad, having it mirrored onto the board at the front of the class. This can be onto one of those interactive whiteboard beasts, it could be through a projector onto a screen, or it could even be onto a television screen.
There has been a report by a teacher in charge of a school where instead of using the interactive whiteboards, he was able to set up a alternative system within the classroom. This system was based around the iPad used by the teacher and then mirrored to a large television via the Apple TV device. Teachers using this system found it preferable, as they were able to unchain themselves from the front of the classroom. They were able to stand behind or near to the typical back of the classroom type of kids, to ensure their participation in the lesson. Teachers were able to do this at the same time as getting the information in front of all of the students in an effective way. There are lists of best apps for teachers and teaching with iPad in the class can be fun too.
Another use for this type of system could be where a teacher wants to show a student work to the rest of the class. For instance a student might have completed a particularly difficult mathematics calculation. This work could be photographed using the iPad and immediately displayed on the display device at the front of the class. Even easier if the work is digital, if the class have their own electronic devices to work from, that work could be shared either directly to the screen or shared to the teachers device and then displayed. There are one or two iPad applications that allow the teacher to pass the connection from his or her device to the screen, so that, the students work will be shown instead. Content for interested students could be made available online and at the end of the class there could be content that is shared out to the whole of the class.
Advantages of iPads in education
- Students are more motivated when using technology like this.
- There is a feeling by students and staff alike that they are working more effectively.
- It seems that there are more chances for collaborative working when using iPads.
- Teachers producing classroom content using iBooks author can tailor the work to the class.
- There are cost savings compared to traditional textbooks.
- It has been found that the standard and quality of work by the students is higher when using good technology.
Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater
While I love technology and the use of it to improve teaching and learning, I wouldn’t like to see tried and tested successful practices being lost and forgotten. The technology doesn’t have to be used for the sake of it and there will still be a place for the pencil or pen on paper. It would also be terrible for a teacher to use the iPad or any other technology, just because they felt they had to. Especially so, if the teacher was not prepared to make other changes in order to be able to properly integrate the iPad into their teaching. I have come across teachers that have a dislike of technology and a mistrust of change. Change is going to happen, whether we like it or not and we just have to embrace it.
Obviously for some parts of the teaching faculty, there will be a need for training in order to get the best from iPads in the classroom. Without a doubt, education has to develop for the 21st-century and it is an exciting period of flux and change. In a few years time, schoolchildren will think that the use of technology such as iPhones, iPods and iPads as well as devices from other operating systems such as Android, as being totally normal. There is going to be a mix of schools that go with a 1 to 1 iPad per child and some that will go down the route of Bring Your Own Device. The BYOD is going to be harder to manage for the teachers in the classroom and may require a more creative way of working and of expectation to get to the required objectives of a classroom session. I could see that collaboration between students in groups that have a mix of devices.
iPads for schools along with iPad apps for schools for creative teachers is the way forward into the future. There are wikis and Twitter conversations going on to spread the knowledge about iPad school apps and school books on iPad.
- What are your favourite iPad apps for teachers?
- Do you plan to take up teaching with iPad technology?
- Have you done any iPad teaching? How did it go for you?
- Can you recommend the iPad for school work?
- Do you have experience of best apps for teachers?
Put a comment on this web page, I would love to hear what you have to say about this, if you are a teacher. In fact if you are a student in a school, what do you think about all of this?