In their most recent issue, School Library Journal featured our iPad pilot in the article, iPads for Everyone. As we are entering year two of a 1:1 deployment, I notice interesting changes, (which I’ve also written about in Internet @ Schools). Most significantly, I see iPads becoming just another tool in our students backpacks. Chris Lehmann often comments that technology should be “ubiquitous and invisible”–just a part of student learning. More and more, instead of focusing on the “iPads” and apps, I see teachers who are gaining experience with the tool turning to deep teaching/learning that is even more facilitated by having “access” in the students’ hands. I’m seeing exciting things going on, like passion based blogs in our English classes, incorporating blogging, RSS feed apps for gathering information, chat tools, etc.
As far as tools we have added to our collection this year (for last year’s list, see www.eaneswifi.blogspot.com) , they include eBackpack (a document delivery/turn in system), DocAS (a pdf annotation and recording tool) and creativity apps like comic strip makers, scriptwriters, etc. I’m crazy eager to get Haiku Deck into student hands, and we’ve found Pulse a nice supplement to Flipboard for RSS feed gathering. We are looking at Nearpod, which is an amazingly easy instant assessment app that is quickly set up and implemented. Its ability to function wirelessly as quick, temporary assessment has a good place in the feedback loop in the classroom . And the ability to do “guided” instruction with Nearpod has some very interesting possibilities for students that need that sort of structure or minimized distractions. (You can throw a website to students and they are limited to using/searching that site if they are in your Nearpod). Although I do worry about tools that solely focus on lower levels of the learning taxonomies, teachers are using such a variety of sites and apps that their uses range across levels of use from the SAMR model.
In fact, teachers are now more able and WILLING to use tools like blogging, discussion tools like TodaysMeet.com, etc. because all the students in their room have a device and “blogging” isn’t solely dependent upon having space available in the computer lab, but can be a natural outgrowth of activities in their classrooms.
I hear debates about whether iPads are creativity tools or just text replacement tools frequently and I find that frustrating. Most devices afford a variety of uses, and it’s ultimately the educator who determines how creatively and transformationally it is used. What I see is that like any device, iPads are a versatile tool, and how they are used is dependent on the teacher’s and student’s needs at any given moment. I think this would be true of any tablet (or laptop implementation for that matter). We can’t put any tool in a box and assume it has just one use. We do have students creating video announcements on iPads, editing films, creating art, taking photographs, writing blogs–and we also have students taking notes, reading pdfs of class handouts, reading books — in other words, the uses run the gamut of the SAMR model. And again, at any given moment, the use depends on the needs of the learner and teacher. But simply by having the device, it makes all of those uses possible (and probable).
So what I’ve seen this fall is our devices become more ubiquitous and much more “invisible.” Last year, we would scurry around the building photographing every use of the iPads and now we all take them almost for granted as a learning tool that students rely on. (I don’t mean taking them for granted in terms of not feeling fortunate that our district made this decision, but taking them for granted in terms of not “marveling” over the novelity of them).
What I also find interesting, not having been through a schoolwide adoption like this before, is how important “Year Two” is in terms of “getting it right.” This is when it gets serious–when we have to make sure we don’t take the tech support side for granted as we add new students or apps, when we have to make sure that we don’t take teacher needs for granted, and when we really start tackling some of the issues that arose the first year. It still means teacher “lunch n learn” times, iShare sessions where we can share instructional ideas, collaborative meetings between our tech team, Instructional techs, library staff, tech staff, etc. to iron out details. And it means deepening our conversations about information literacy–an effort our librarians and instructional techs will be undertaking shortly.
I hope the article will answer some questions about how we got started, but feel free to contact us, or to continue to follow along with the progress of our program on www.eaneswifi.blogspot.com, and also reflections on my colleague, Carl Hooker’s blog.