iPads in the classroomWhy use iPads?

How the iPad 2 Will Revolutionize Education in the March 3, 2011 online issue of Fast Company suggests a couple of ways iPads will enhance learning:

  • Mobile Learning: includes deadline alerts, continuing classroom discussions beyond the school day, idea sharing, interaction (via front-facing cameras), language learning, exploration of museums, gardens and libraries, and “the end of snow-day cancellations.”
  • Lectures and Office Hours- e.g., the ability to replay lectures or for teachers to assign lectures as homework; college professors holding online student conferences instead of scheduling office hours.

Even if you don’t believe the iPad is transforming education, consider this quote from the Wired Educator: “When I passed my iPad around the room there was absolutely no instruction needed. Every student just ‘knew’ how to use it.”

iPad as textbook

While there may be some lingering questions about the potential value of the iPad in the classroom, educators in Roslyn, New York, are banking on iPads to “extend the classroom beyond these four walls.” English teacher Larry Reiff, quoted in The New York Times article Math That Moves: Schools Embrace the iPad earlier this year, predicts that his school will save about $7,200 in printing and textbook costs per year by using iPads in lieu of textbooks.

The use of electronic textbooks was made even more attractive this past March when McGraw-Hill and Pearsons invested in a company called Inkling. Inkling strives to “reinvent the notion of the textbook from the ground up” by creating an interactive experience that the company promises will help you “save money, do better, and study faster.” Students can collaborate with their peers and teachers by annotating text within a book that will then appear as a comment stream. And, unlike some electronic versions of popular books, the e-texts are actually cheaper than their print versions.

While we are still waiting to see widespread adoption of electronic textbooks, Educase’s Things You Should Know About™…Ipad Apps For Learning describes an application that can be used as a model for how textbooks can and should work. The Elements: A Visual Exploration is a wonderfully illustrated app that allows users to interact with the periodic table to click on icons representative of an element (e.g., a tin soldier for tin, a golden nugget for gold) to bring up a 3-D, rotatable model.

In a partnership with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, California students were involved in a pilot study to compare learning Algebra from an electronic textbook versus a traditional hard copy textbook. In a series of articles about this HMH-Fuse Pilot Study, Tina Barseghian explores the outcomes of the program and concludes that:

  1. Convenience is crucial (interactivity).
  2. Kids still need their teacher.
  3. Learning happens outside the class (extension).
  4. Kids love learning by watching videos.

Getting started

Twenty-one Steps to 1-to-1 Success: A Handbook for Planning, Preparing, Implementing and Evaluating Programs provides a step-by-step outline for creating a project plan that will take you from developing your vision for the use of technology in the classroom to preparing the physical space, as well as developing school guidelines and policies.

Getting Started: Classroom Ideas for Learning with the iPad comes from the same source, iPads for Learning, and includes suggestions on working safely and responsibly using technologies, a primer on bundled apps, and suggestions for apps for content areas, classroom ideas, collaborating online and changing learning and teaching.

You can download a basic presentation on using the iPad from the ISTE 2011 iPad in the Classroom Presentation - Take 2 (you can read the presentation in your browser or as an e-pub). And as any techie will tell you, read the user guide. If you’re a visual learner, the iPad2 Guided Tour will highlight the software features through a series of videos.

Five Reasons Why I Want iPad 2 in My Classroom describes the differences between the first iteration of the iPad and the newest iPad2 features:

  1. Video mirroring (allows teachers to share their screen on a projector).
  2. The addition of two cameras (allowing for face time and videotaping).
  3. Content creation (using iMovie and Garageband).
  4. Size and durability (it has a unibody design and it’s thinner).
  5. Speed (it’s faster while still offering up to 10 hours of battery life).

Sixty-two Interesting Ways to use an iPad in the Classroom (formerly 58 ways) highlights everything from using iPads to make music, create read-alongs in your own voice (or recording students reading), practice letter formation, painting and drawing, present information, use Skype, and more. It even includes a suggestion for using dish racks as an inexpensive alternate to the iPad charging station.

iPads in the Classroom from Cathy Schrock provides a wealth of information including a list of apps Schrock has used for K-12 teaching. Other resources are links to tutorials, rubrics and apps for special education, digital storytelling, classroom uses, and much more.

In How to Design a Beautiful iPad Lesson, Rob Miller (robkmil4801 on Scribd) describes a lesson for teaching students to use the map feature on the iPad to explore their ideal vacation spot. Miller walks you through the steps students will take from researching their destination, creating an “app” using the notes and photo apps, collaborating with two iPads, creating a comic strip and video podcast, and finally, submitting their work.

iPad management

Educator and consultant Tony Vincent posts outstanding technology advice on his Learning in Hand “educator's resources for mobile learning” site. His list of Classroom iPod touches and iPads: Dos and Don'ts includes many tips that will help implement iPads more efficiently in your classroom. He suggests that you:

  • Sync your iPad.
  • Name your iPad.
  • Delete content.
  • Set up classroom iTunes accounts.
  • Buy a charging cart (or see the dish rack tip above).
  • Secure your iPads.
  • Buy ear buds for each student.
  • Create a web clip (a shortcut on your home screen).
  • Shorten URLs (tinyurl.com and bit.ly).
  • Create student use contracts.
  • Set up e-mail accounts.

The list of don’ts is equally impressive: don’t give out the iTunes password, don’t buy expensive accessories, don’t mistreat batteries, and don’t forget professional development!

Royan Lee is an educator who’s learned through classroom experience and describes more dos and don’ts at How to Set Up Class iPads and iPods. As with most other reviewers, he describes setting up a Dropbox as essential. Dropbox is “cloudware” that allows you to upload or download files to and from your iPad (while there is a device that allows you to transfer to a flash drive  from your iPad, it’s pricey – saving files to the cloud is still the standard for iPad users).

Fifty really useful iPad tips and tricks will help you optimize your iPad settings. This site shows you how to create folders, use the orientation lock, set up password security, turn on the home-sharing feature, control notifications, set up a virtual private network, quickly mute the volume, connect to an HD TV, use AirPrint, backup your data, and much, much more.

iPad's Hidden Keyboard Functions: Tips and Tricks is a YouTube video that shows how to enable the hidden functions on your iPad. An extensive listing of iPad tips are bookmarked at Craig Nansen’s diigo and more management tools can be found on his diggo tagged iPadManagment.

You’ll also want to learn how to lengthen the battery life at How to Maximize Battery Life on Your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch from “How-To Geek.”

In the November Toolbox, we’ll be exploring Apps for Education. We invite you to share any great apps you are using, lesson plans you’ve found or created, or creative ideas for using iPads in your classroom. Please send comments to me at linchpinsolutions@gmail.com.

Patricia Bruder, president of Linchpin Solutions LLC, consults for the Educational Information and Resource Center (EIRC) located at the South Jersey Tech Park at Rowan University, Mullica Hill. EIRC is a public agency specializing in education-related programs and services for teachers, parents, schools, communities, and non-profit organizations throughout New Jersey. Learn more about EIRC at www.eirc.org or call 856-582-7000. Contact Patricia Bruder at linchpinsolutions@gmail.com.