Giving up a Saturday to embark on professional learning with no real agenda set, may seem a bit daunting, but the EduCamp type unconference is a great way to meet and network with teachers who have similar passions and interests. This past Saturday was the iPad version of EduCamp. Having attended the previous EduCamp at Stonefields - I was excited to attend an iPad specific event.
As with the last EduCamp, the experience has given me even more to think about, from the set-up to the role these tools play in our students learning. Here are the main points of interest:
Determining the role that iPads have at your school is a crucial first step and one I wish we had thought a lot more about and had a clear definition for staff. I see there being two main purposes for the iPad in the classroom and although each purpose may cross over, clearly defining the devices role will affect the set-up and management of the device in the classroom.
Teacher iPad: some schools issue each teacher with an iPad. Teachers use this to collect assessment data and keep anecdotal notes on students. Staff have their emails set-up and it is predominately used for the teacher, although, like staff laptops, students sometimes use these.
Student iPad: The role of the iPad in the classroom for students is all based around student learning. All apps on the iPad are for student learning and students these apps on the iPad to capture student voice. The set-up of these iPads may have specific settings disabled according to the schools' e-learning philosophy.
We have not been very clear in our school about the role of the iPads in the classroom. Some people have the iPads set-up solely for student learning, with no teacher-specific apps on them. Others have a hybrid version with staff mail being set-up on the iPads, notes from PD courses, then students using the iPads for learning during the school day. On top of this, we have teachers with apps/ features enabled for their own children (when they take them home), some even have another (personal) iTunes account on the class iPads - is this good practice? So the role of the iPads in our school are not clearly defined and although I don't like a lot of rules, think this is an important step to take.
Our staff have full access to the App store. Being able to download anything (as long as they have $'s left) they want. We have no criteria set and no evaluative process. On one hand this allows staff to find and install apps when they need then, on the other hand, iPads end up with hundreds of apps that are unused or apps that are similar (e.g. 5 different interactive whiteboards!)
So with all that said and learnt - what is next?
I think a re-definition of the role the iPads play in our classrooms (specific to our school) would be hugely beneficial. Do we have a nominated teacher iPad, where staff can enable certain features or are they all going to be defined as student learning tools?
We have had a term to 'play' with multiple iPads in the classroom and staff are getting to grips with the management of these. We have discussed moving from playing to deliberate acts of teaching and learning. Some staff are well down the road of using the iPads to collaborate and share student voice, but some are still (unfortunately) using them as a digital worksheet.
Having had a term to get used to multiple iPads and apps, I know I have a handful that we (the students in the class) use all the time. Sitting down in planning teams (year group based e.g. year 5's) and deciding (as a team) the apps that clearly capture student voice, that should be on the iPads. We need use evidence based on the pedagogy of learn, create, share to justify an app being on the iPads. This will hopefully get teachers to think critically about apps and ask the question: how does this capture student voice and is so, how can this information be used?