I’ve been looking forward to this one. Nicky Newbury teaches at one of our feeder primary schools and I have been down to see how she runs her digital leaders program. One of her DLs is in year 3 which is really inspiring.
Nicky has done quite a lot with iPads in school. She says, nobody who buys a drill wants a drill – they want a hole! And this is key for using iPads – it’s what you do with them that matters. Nicky began by researching all the engaging and motivating apps, but quickly realised it needs to be underpinned with pedagogy. The DLs were particularly good at asking where the learning was with various apps.
It’s worth trying new things because if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got (Henry Ford). iPads allow for personalised learning, but they are a tool which needs to be used creatively. They allow enormous flexibility in teaching and stops the 1-to-30 knowledge transmission method in the classroom. Collaboration is arguably better than a one to one situation, so having only a few devices can help to develop this skill too. They promote independence. Improves connectivity and helps students to connect with peers and the wider world. It’s innovative and different.
We need to go beyond replacing pencil and paper with an app. Infuse the experience with creativity and encourage experimentation. Think about if the iPad is being used for consumption, creativity or discovery. Evaluate the apps and ask the students to do this in the classroom as well.
Why use iPads?
It’s blended learning – no need for ICT suites anymore. The tech is mobile and can go anywhere. Content can be consumed in innovative ways. It lends itself to typical classroom activities, motivates the disengaged and can help students to focus on deeper learning.
Some apps that fit: Epic Citadel for medieval town exploration; Explain Everything, a recording tool for creating explanations; Garage Band for creating music; Book Creator for student writing of books; Puppet Pals for easy animation (a personal favourite for me); and Comic Life.
It’s collaborative learning. Users can share ideas and content amongst themselves and around the country or world. Students can engage with a real audience in real time. Good apps for this: Dropbox; iBooks; Keynote; Popplet for mind mapping; Skype; Audioboo.
It’s Mobile Learning. Portability removes conventional limitations on where learning can take place. Nicky ran a contest for the most outlandish places learning with an iPad could take place, and found the students were very capable of coming up with exciting ways to use the iPads outside the classroom.
Did it have a positive impact? Nicky says yes. Students have developed critical thinking skills. It has n encouraged independent learning and helps students down the path to become well-practised digital natives.
Very inspiring, as anticipated. I totally agree with Nicky that the pedagogy has to underpin it and it’s clear that is the case with this project.