Friday, September 13, 2013

Six Things We Know About iPads in the Classroom

The school year is off to a great start and we as trainers are deep in the trenches with our iPad Academy Participants.  After last year’s experience it felt great knowing what was ahead of us as trainers.  It was also nice that our apps, Apple Configurator and iTunes have improved with updates. Our comfort level is such that nothing really throws us off course anymore.    

Here are six things we know for sure will happen with iPads in our schools….

Reflection becomes a key piece of this experience.  Being able to look back, analyze, and rethink how something was done only brings us closer to being effective digital teachers.  Some of our tools for reflections are the Google+ community and Hangouts, Twitter using the #ipadacademy, Google Hangouts, and group meetings.  As educators we understand the importance of reflection, however as the years pass and we master our routines, this skill is often overlooked.  As a trainer, I get to push teachers to reflect, discuss, and rethink instruction.  It is amazing to watch their teaching change as a result of quality reflection time.  

Helping our teachers realize that the pace of their instruction must slow down while the iPads are being introduced.  One teacher stated this week, “OK. I know I tried to do too much.”  This after introducing the iPads and also trying to accomplish curriculum goals all in 45 minutes.  It just isn’t possible. Once the students know how to get around the device and utilize specific apps, then the curriculum pace can increase.  But not until then.

We know now that there will be moments of rethinking processes and overcoming the inevitable obstacles that will arise.  Obstacles like blocked websites that need to be opened, Apps that have updates that force some relearning,  and lacking enough time to accomplish teacher goals will always be present.  However, we now have processes in place to deal with these; maybe not the lack of time issue, but that is always the case with creative teachers in a 24 hour day.  

One thing is for sure; the teachers that we get to work with evolve in a way the others do not.  The use of an iPad on a daily basis changes the way students interact with each other, their teacher, and their content.  In this supportive environment, teachers are able to try new ways of teaching old content.  Differentiation becomes easier with the iPad.  Teachers actually state that they have more free time once the paperless workflow is mastered.  The delivery of information often goes through the Google Drive App.  Workflow becomes paperless with immediate feedback through Drive, Socrative and other web based applications.  

Students have access to a variety of apps that allow for creativity.  Showing what students know through Explain Everything, iMovie, and Keynote give students flexibility to demonstrate their knowledge instead of a multiple choice paper and pencil test.  Students begin to own their learning through the creative process on the iPad.  They are proud of their work and eager to share their products.  

Collaboration for both teachers and students increase as a result of our iPad Academy.  Teachers collaborate together on ideas, problem solving, and support.  It is scary trying new things and knowing they have each other is a huge help!  Students begin collaborating more often because now the tasks have changed to creating videos, multimedia projects, and Google docs.  I believe we are better together and this experience often proves my point.

While it is still early in our school year, I can’t wait to watch all of these things happen as I know they will.  And for all you edtech trainers out there- way to be there for your people!

Written by:  Jenny Krzystowczyk  @jennykbps