iPads in the classroom

This evening I attended a ‘Learning Hub’ session on iPads at Clevedon School led by Mark Anderson (@ictevangelist). The session provided a great overview to the iPad, its functions and its uses in education. These are some of my brief reflections (written rather poorly as it’s late for me!)…

Back in March 2010 I blogged about the Microsoft Courier tablet, which looked to be the rival to the iPad (post found here) and I have been rather sceptical about the benefits iPads can bring to primary classroom learning due to their high price tag. However, after spending a term in school facing multiple technical and logistical problems when using laptops in class, and following tonight’s session, I feel confident that the benefits to learning would be well worth the cost. 

Firstly, their ease of use, portability and accessibility to all ages and abilities is the first obvious benefit iPads can bring. Children can be engaged instantly and ready to focus on the learning of a lesson, rather than spending time turning on, logging in and then realising the battery has run out on their laptop. That said, I am not disputing that there would still be some technical issues to be faced when embedding the use of iPads in school. In particular, for me, the issue of compatibility would be the key issue that I would need to tackle. This issue was raised and discussed, with practical tips on getting around compatibility demonstrated, focusing on the ‘share’ options built into many of the apps.

Mark shared with us a wide range of apps, most of which were free to download. For a complete list, see my evernote of the session (and ignore spelling/punctuation mistakes!) 🙂 It was discussed that where apps had to be paid for, they were in fact still cheap compared to most school-based ICT software and that using iStudent, apps can be pushed to multiple devices keeping costs at a minimum. 

Whilst most of the examples shared were secondary based, it was obvious to me how easy the iPad could fit in to primary classroom teaching and learning. For example, ‘puppet pals’ would provide a fantastic story telling and quick animation tool for children to use to share their understanding of characters in a story, or plan the development of their own characters in their own writing. Garageband could easily be used to produce quick ‘plenary podcasts’, or longer weekly podcasts, which many schools already produce. The 2 built in cameras could instantly allow for the recording and sharing of work around the classroom or school and for children to instantly produce ‘diary room style’ videos, documenting their learning or understanding of a topic, or instructional videos to share on the class blog. (Sorry, I’m thinking aloud now!)

The iPads benefits for me even go down to the physical interaction that is necessary with the iPad, which provides a very tactile experience and is instantly much more interactive than using laptops, bringing the user closer to the learning that is taking place (this is certainly how I felt using the iPad). 

These are my brief reflections that seem to have turned into a slight outpour of thoughts and ideas, but they have certainly forced me to reason about the beneftis of the iPad in the classroom. My conclusion: I would love them in my classroom 🙂

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