24 April 2012

The New iPad and the New 1:1 - Personalized Learning

I've written about the iPad before, but the more I use it in the classroom and the more feedback I get from students and teachers the more I am convienced it is the right device for personalized learning in a 1:1 setting. ​The iPad, moving beyond the traditional capabilities of a computer or laptop, is the natural choice for a 1:1 program. As Greg Kuloweic has so clearly stated, the iPad is mobile recording device (audio & video), editing device (audio, video, images & text), publishing platform (blogs, websites, video, audio and screencasts to YouTube), digital notebook and digital research platform. Because of the recent introduction of the device, in-depth data and research is limited, but recent studies have shown an increase in student performance when using the device.

 iPads offer many distinct advantages over laptops or other tablets available, making it the best mobile learning device available. Some commentators have even seen it as a total replacement to their other computing devices. Here is the most comprehesive list I have been able to develop (based on my own experience and the experiences I have read from others) on the features that give the iPad a clear advantage over all other platforms.

 • With iPads and cloud-based computing systems, students can work from anywhere at school with greater portability and connectivity. Schools also don’t have to pay for computing power that they no longer need. USB and optical drives become irrelevant and unnecessary with cloud-based storage such as iCloud, Dropbox, and Evernote.

 • Schools have found creative ways to use iPads to save money, especially when moving toward a paperless environment. From homework and tests to digital textbooks, the iPad offers numerous ways to eliminate paper, saving dollars and the environment. Wireless printing can also be accomplished from the iPad via Airprint, but will become less necessary with paperless assignment submission.

 • It occupies a new space in technology, one which is still undefined to some extent, yet which is likely to be significant over time. The space is between the mobile space occupied by phones and iPods, and the portable space which is where laptops and netbooks live. The new position in between these established areas is one in which the iPad largely does what the other devices offer yet also offers so much more.

 • The iPad will help to personalize learning - it is widely recognized the 1 to 30 one-way knowledge-transfer model is fast becoming redundant as project/problem/inquiry-based learning is becoming more prevalent in modern schools. The iPad is perfect for this type of personalized learning. As teachers begin to create new ways of tackling this issue, the iPad could play a useful role in this transformation. The form factor, battery life and apps mean that the iPad can be an ‘anywhere anytime’ learning device. This makes it ideal for projects and learning which take place out of the classroom, in the schools grounds, on a day visit or residential stay.

 • The iPad could be the beginning of the end of the dominance of old, slow school-based networks in education. How much time is wasted not being able to ‘log in’? How often is the network ‘down’? The iPad could hold all the apps a learner needs for a day/week/month/term’s work on the device itself or on off-campus cloud storage.

 • The iPad's instant-on & all-day battery features really make it a ideal devce for regular use in education. It’s possible to get on the net and find the information you require using an iPad before a laptop has finished running through its boot-up sequence. Using a device all through the school day without having to charge it up saves a huge amount of time for teachers and learners.

 • The apps which run the iPad (and other iOS devices) signal the way forward when it comes to saving work learners produce and create with the auto-save feature. Saving files takes place automatically ‘behind the scenes’ constantly in the background, which means learners (and teachers) know their work is always safe. No more excuses like ‘I forgot to save my homework’ etc. anymore!

 • Apple’s App Store has more educational titles than any other location, many of them free. This is advantage over many competitors’ apps stores and also allows for high quality, virus-free apps that are guaranteed to work on the devices. The new iTunesU platform also allows for easy and free online course content creation and sharing.

 • Wireless connectivity via Airplay allows the iPad screen to be wirelessly streamed to a projector or television via the $99 Apple TV device (this can also be done via PC using various apps). This is much less expensive than a Digital Whiteboard and allows the teacher to move around the class while interacting with the screen and allows both student and teacher devices to connect to the projector as needed.

 • The iPad, unlike a Nook or Kindle Fire, has the ability to download and read books from all various bookstores and publishers through iBooks, the Nook App, the Kindle App, and various others. The new iBooks Author tool also gives teachers and students the ability to create their own books.

When all the potential functionality of the iPad is added up, it becomes clear that the iPad is the ultimate personalized-learning device. It can be a science lab, literacy tool, research station, history archive, language lab, art canvas, music studio, video editing suite, math computation center and library.

 - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

01 April 2012

Creating the 21st Century Classroom

Technology does not make a classroom learning experience. The interaction of the learner to the skills and content central to the class, supported by a great teacher is central to a successful learning experience. But, as any engaged teacher knows, the current learning environment is changing rapidly due to the massive changes happening in our world. Technology is a central part of this change, driving innovation in science, business, communications and politics.

I've been fortunate enough to be in a position at the school at which I teach to be a leader in new techniques using technology, as someone who is has a voice in decisions relating to these issues, and as an educator who has been given the tools to experiment with new learning methods.

So, in this post, I just want to give a brief overview of the tools that I am currently using. In later posts I will talk about the impact and usage of each in a high school social studies classroom in 2012.

I have a dozen student desktops in my classroom. These "middle of the road" machines are great for internet access, typing, creating webpages, recording video and audio (via webcams)

I also have a set of a dozen iPads and a dozen netbooks which make flexible the learning process in the classroom. In using the iPads over the past several months, I have become convinced that they are powerful learning and creation tools capable of interactions not possible on desktops and laptops.

And while I think getting technology in the hands of students is by far the most important goal in using these tools, having strong teacher tools for demonstrating and modeling are critical. I am lucky to have a desktop PC attached to a projector and interactive whiteboard. I also have an Apple TV connected to my projector to mirror the iPad (mine and the ones the students use) on the screen. I also have a scanner and printer (for those limited times when paper still is used). I also have a webcam set up on my interactive whiteboard to have guest speakers in class via Skype (see the pic below of a session I just had with a friend from Germany.)

I know that I am luckier that most educators in what I have available in my classroom, but steps can be taken by all schools, teachers, and students to incorporate technology into 21st century learning by using what is available and taking advantage of items like smartphones to break the old paradigms.

What tools do you think are critical to a 21st century learning environment?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad