Friday, July 22, 2011

iPad Brainstorming

Brett Jordan @ Flickr
In general with technology, I think there are few must haves. I much prefer tech that is usable in pieces rather than by wholesale adoption. For example smartphone use vs TI-Inspire. This is written with iPad in mind, but would apply to any tablet computer, I think.

iPads and tablets seem like that kind of technology.  For my school several of us were asked to think about how teachers could use iPads.  Most of the uses involve students having the iPad.  So I thought I would put down what I think of, and then troll for other suggestions in comments. I'm looking for ideas that involve the teacher bringing one iPad into the room. Also if there are ideas to distinguish it from a smartphone or laptop.

  1. Give it to students.  Do they need to look something up, compute something, watch a video, capture a video, read a reference text... The larger interface makes it more suitable for group work.
  2. Constructive use of social media in the classroom. Backchannel, Google Groups or Plus, Edmodo, etc. Recently did #mathchat on Twitter with a class and it was a drag bopping back and forth to the classroom computer and taking dictation on class comments. Instead I could have said, "here's the iPad."
  3. Document your experiences to share with students. My colleagues Dave Coffey and Sean Lancaster do this already. Twitter, Evernote and I suppose now Google+. Portability > laptop, interface > smartphone.
  4. Portable reference library. Mobility > laptop, readability > smartphone.
  5. Data collection in class. Check off attendance, notes on student work or participation. Hard to carrry your laptop around to each group, easy to carry iPad. I used to so some of this on a palm but it was quite clunky. Apps for this are developing rapidly. BlackBoard Mobile is being pushed hard and may figure in for GVSU.
  6. Assistive technology. Differentiate your lessons for a student with distinct requirements for access to a lesson. (Spellcheck suggested Assertive Technology - I like that, too.) See for example this post on iPad assistance (via @langwitches on Twitter).
  7. Moves towards paperless workplace. All those meetings where there's handouts for each teacher that move immediately to the recycle bin...
  8. Meta-use: model new technology adoption and integration for your students. By trying out new tech and sharing your process, you are modeling towards their Technological-Pedagogical-Content-Knowledge development (for teachers; see or the similar structure in other fields.
  9. Who knows? Apps are being developed at a break-neck pace. Putting these devices in teachers hands will expand their capabilities in ways we don't even know because they being created tomorrow. Cf that will allow you or students to control the classroom computer from anywhere in the room. There's a dedicated iTunes room for teacher apps now. (Warning iTunes link opens in iTunes.) Quite an opportunity for innovation in scholarship of teaching or even collaboration with the University's own mobile development lab. Or for students who are budding developers.
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  1. Skip Via (@skipvia on Twitter) suggested this cool video of a 5th grade classroom with iPad.

  2. I administer our schools 1:1 laptop program and this year we rolled out over 400 iPads to our year 7 students (12/13 years old, first year of high school here in Aus).

    From my perspective the iPad has been a huge plus for many reasons. First and foremost, the kids bring them and are keen to use them. There are an incredible number of apps that are available to the students and they are willing to download them and try them out.

    One immediate thing that came to mind was in our Year 7 Maths classes where every student did a project on Angles. One of the tasks required them to find (and measure) angles in real life situations. Many of the kids had photos and downloaded one of those angle apps that allowed them to place a protractor on a picture and measure the angle. The app was $1.19 here in Aus at the time. Quite a number of kids bought that app, downloaded it and used it on the spot. They would not have been a) able to, or b) inclined to, do that on a computer.

    From the rest of the staff's perspective, however, they would not be as enthusiastic as I am. First and foremost, the lack of Flash on the ipad is a huge negative in education. So many of the really good resources for education work on Flash. I am constantly finding really good things to do only to find they won't work on the iPad. And I think this is more pronounced the higher up in year level / age you progress.

    Happy to discuss the use of these fabulous devices futher for anyone interested.


  3. Thanks for sharing that!

    My new colleague Robert Talbert ( emailed:
    I found this article tonight that might have something to do with
    John's thoughts about iPad uses:

    It's a list of 36 iPad apps, indexed by (modified) Bloom's Taxonomy
    level, six apps per level. There's a form to add more. Seems like it
    might get some thoughts flowing about how these devices could be used.

  4. Try BrainSqueezer, a collaborative brainstorming app for iPad.