I have been thinking recently about THE point at which I overcame my initial inbuilt skepticism and concluded that the iPad would be a great device for learning. Was there one specific thing that tipped me over the edge? Probably not, but I certainly recall being blown away by my first encounter with the screencasting app Explain Everything.
Let’s face it, every school possesses teachers who will write the device off before they even try it as ‘another technology – and I don’t get on with technologies’ or ‘I’ve been teaching pretty well for years without it’. What I’ve tried to come up with here then, is a list of things that they should at least try to do with their iPads in a 1:1 environment. If after trialling each of these for a reasonable period of time you are still convinced that you and your class are better off without the device, only then you will be permitted to publicly denounce it. Not until then.
Checklist for an iPad 1:1 class (secondary education)
Create and run Socrative quizzes with your class
The first port of call for most iPad demo sessions, instant response system Socrative helps turn the iPad into a great device for assessing learning. Equipping the iPad with all of the tricks of these ill-fated Promethean handsets from a few years back (and more), Socrative provides immediate access to quiz reports that allow for truly differentiated learning – and doesn’t cost £1699.
Create a video using Explain Everything and use it to ‘flip’ the learning
I mentioned that I was seriously impressed when I first came across Explain Everything and that certainly hasn’t changed. Grab yourself a stylus, import a PDF/PPT, stick together a short video and upload it to YouTube. Share the video with your students so that they can access it on their iPads whenever they like and save yourself a bit of time in the classroom for developing your students’ understanding of the topic. Not for everyone, but you can’t rule it out until you have tried it…
Set up your class on Edmodo
You don’t need an iPad to use social learning platform Edmodo, but since your students now have a device that provides them with 24/7 access, this should be seen as the ideal opportunity. Ideal for the quick sharing of documents, quizzes and creating an online learning environment in which your students can help each other when you aren’t there.
AirPlay your students’ iPads
I have found AirPlay to be a major selling point for the iPad. The ability to mirror multiple iPads for display to a whole class opens lots of previously unthinkable opportunities for demonstrating learning. There are a few ways of doing this these days: Apple TVs, Reflector, or AirServer – my solution of choice.
Use iTunes U to deliver a sequence of lessons
Possibly the most important app – in terms of its impact on learning – is iTunes U. By accessing iTunes U Course Manager anyone (with an Apple ID) can create courses and enrol students. Upload videos, course documents, links to websites and provide your students with access to easily differentiated, personalised learning through just one app.
Set your class open-ended tasks
Be brave and set your class open-ended tasks which provide them with the opportunity to demonstrate their learning in creative ways. Don’t tell them which apps to use. They might just prove that the iPad is not a consumption only device.
If you have trialled each of these and still aren’t sure about the impact of the device, make sure to ask your students what they think of the ways you have attempted to enhance their learning. Unless you don’t want to hear it.