cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by Tsubaki Kaworu
I recently got an iPad 2. Well, I should say my wife recently got one that I have claimed as my own. Being an Apple guy myself, I was prepared for most of what it had to offer, but was pleasantly surprised by many features I didn’t expect. As I played I found that the iPad, in combination with Google Apps, the iOS5 software upgrade, Dropbox, and Diigo, served MANY purposes for me as a classroom teacher, and it got me thinking…
I have been in on conversations about the validity and affordability of setting up every student with an iPad or other tablets. I always have advocated for devices like these in the classroom, the ones our students will be using in their near futures (or for many, right now!). What I noticed the more I played with it was that it really could serve teachers in a large number of ways.
1) Digital Camera/Video Camera
In most schools I have worked in, the school makes a large financial commitment to ensure the school has a number of cameras, for documenting school events, for classroom activities etc. Along with the cost of the cameras comes the cost of memory cards, batteries and cases. There is also a hassle with making sure the batteries are charged, the disc has enough room and that the camera works. I have done more video recording in the past two weeks with my iPad then I have in the previous 10 years I have taught. It is so easy to use, the camera works quickly, and the files are easily transferable and archived using cloud resources.
2) Mobile Assessment
I have always found it difficult to circulate around my classroom and accurately record assessment of my students at work. Whether I scribbled stuff down in a duo tang, or on a prepared form, I never felt like it worked very well. The other day, as I was working in my Robotics/Technology option, I whipped up a quick Google Form with check boxes and specific criteria I was looking for. That, in addition to video of the students at work, made for easy assessment of their collaborative use of the technology provided to create a robot that could complete the assigned task.
3) Supporting Resources
So I am big on finding a video, an online article, a picture or simply a concept explained in another fashion. If I am teaching integers I want to relate the lesson to as many different real world examples as I can, and in as many types of media as possible. If in my class I saw students having trouble with negative integers, I would try and find some footage relating to bank accounts, temperature or maybe a sport like golf or football to express this in another way. It would probably require me to find a good video, hook up my projector, and stop the ENTIRE class to show my video clip, to help those 3 or 4 students who need the concept reframed. Well with my iPad, I can sit right beside a student and we can search for a video clip or article right at the desk, and watch it on the screen.
4) Planbook & Calendar
With some purchased app software I have been able to make my iPad work as a Teacher Planner, an efficient classroom calendar, and a nice place for reminders and to-do lists. Using cloud computing, I obviously can access these from multiple machines and can be sure that I always know what I need to prep, mark or plan for. You can of course have this on a laptop or a desktop computer, but I find the portability of the iPad means that I can easily take this to meet with my colleagues or administration and not have to worry about hauling a laptop and cords around with me.
I have only been using my iPad in class for a couple of weeks, so I know with more research and play time, I will find even more uses for it. The idea of dropping $600 on an iPad for each student quickly becomes a deal breaker for most administration, but $600 on every teacher is a different story, especially when it can take the place of other technology you may be purchasing.
One day, the idea of having an iPad in every students’ hands may be affordable and realistic for most schools, but for now I don’t believe that having an iPad in every teachers’ hands is that far fetched. What do you think? What am I missing?