This week saw the beginning of our iPad training for staff, ahead of next year’s 6th form 1:1 rollout. The initial focus was on the basic functions of the device and the first wave of ‘essential’ cross-curricular apps that we are beginning to familiarise staff with. The training had a heavy focus on staff content creation, partly in support of the ‘flipped learning’ model that iPads promote.
Staff have yet to be given their own iPad, so the session was very much ‘part familiarisation’, ‘part wetting of the appetite’…
The initial apps covered in my sessions are listed below: (I may have digressed away from these at some points)
1) iBooks – Store, navigation, dictionary, notes & highlighting.
iBooks is ideal for A Level English as many texts are available for free in the iBookstore. The dictionary, notes and highlighting functions both useful and easy-to-use. Very few A Level textbooks are available in the iBookstore at the moment, but this will surely change in the future (I will save the details of my ongoing battle with Pearson for another post…)
2) iTunes U - Courses, subscribing, notes & highlighting, introduction to content creation.
iTunes U shows the huge scope of what could be achieved when we begin creating our own courses, mainly containing university content at the moment. Additional training necessary on creating iTunes U courses. Potential concern at sharing created courses with a global audience.
3) Dropbox – PC version, picture upload, sharing folders, opening files.
Picture upload to Dropbox recognised as a handy tool in a non-iPad classroom, replacing visualisers. Emphasis on sharing folders with students only needing to be done once, although still a bit of a pain. Highlighted as the easiest way to move files from PC to iPad.
4) Explain Everything - Recording, inserting items, importing from Dropbox, exporting to Youtube.
Works particularly well with reflections/airserver for student demonstrations. Major tool for developing staff content creation, through creating videos students can access at any time on their devices. Potential use in a ‘flipped learning’ environment. Ability to insert pdf/ppt key and export directly to YouTube gives it the advantage over alternatives.
5) Notability – Handwritten notes, text/audio notes, filing, import & export options.
Introduced as the student note taking app of choice at an absolute bargain of a price. Huge selection of import/export options and large variety of note taking options allow Notability to be used for lots of different tasks. Perhaps not the most straightforward app to use, but potentially rewarding.
6) Evernote – Taking notes, PC version, searching, Evernote email.
Can be used as a note taking tool, as a home to a digital portfolio or for sharing resources with students. Email option offers serious flexibility. Text search function and multiple device sync particularly noteworthy. 60 mb monthly allowance concerning.
7) Socrative – Single questions, exit tickets, creating quizzes.
Last but not least, a very cheap alternative to our Promethean ActivExpression handsets – provided you already have some iPads. Flexible tool that can either be used to gain feedback on a single question or multiple questions created in advance. Easy to manage, create and edit quizzes despite numerous available options. Emailing of reports and sharing of quizzes the icing on the cake, although the lack of rich text options are a pain (for a Maths teacher).
Initial feedback from staff was very positive with plenty of questions being asked and plenty of food being provided for thought. The apps that were chosen reinforce the idea that the iPad is an easy-to-use device that can be used to complement the learning that is already taking place. Apps that promote creativity – where the redefinition of tasks is most likely – will be covered in future sessions. In 1:1 programs with older students, providing students with continuous access to learning materials is likely to be just as important.