After three years into this technology gig and months spent working to get devices in students’ hands, train and support teachers and administrators I have come to a conclusion. It’s not about the iPad. It’s about innovation and mindshift. This journey has evolved my role from “tech trainer” to “innovation coach”. I observe classes, team teach, and guide teachers and students to do things differently. To consider other ways to accomplish objectives, and to literally leave behind the old and embrace the new. To break through ingrained barriers of teaching they way they have always taught. We also push our teachers to “let go”. We encourage them to hand off the responsibility to the students for their own learning with a guiding hand on the side.
At a recent State Conference, NETA, we shared our philosophy and achievements with iPads in our school. We used 4 “C’s”; create, connect, collaborate, and coach as our outline for the presentation. Even though our title was “How We Roll in a C of iPads” very little of our talk focused on the device. Many educators understand how an iPad works. They are aware of some of the more popular school apps. Educators are ready to understand the power of the WHY when it comes to the iPad.
The iPad is simply the tool that facilitates this mind shift. Through apps that increase creativity and ownership of learning (iTunesU, EE, Stick Around, Garageband, iMovie, and Google Drive) we are able to move to a model of engagement, creativity and ownership of learning. The iPad frees the teacher to change up even the basic classroom elements like furniture. We have teachers ditching the student desk and replacing it with a bean bag, a rolly chair, or a sofa. The iPad provides access to online resources allowing for better research skills and efficient project completion. The iPad provides a platform for multimedia projects instead of an essay. Google Drive increases collaboration and provides opportunity for immediate feedback from teachers to students. None of these things happen without the willingness of the teacher to shift their mind about instruction, objectives, and projects.
I am not saying that the iPad is the only tool that could help change the classroom, but I will contest that it is the best out there. It continues to improve, is becoming easier to manage, and the wealth of iOS apps is unique to any other device.
Handing someone an iPad isn’t going to shift the way things are done in their classroom. This shift takes place when an innovation coach works with you side by side, day by day in the classroom. Having an Innovation Coach is critical to the success of transformation in the classroom. If you have an open spirit and a willingness to try something new you are halfway there! If you are being given an iPad, ask your technology department, “Who is going to coach me?”
Written By: Jenny Krzystowczyk