iPads in the Classroom- why they can benefit children and how.

It’s of great importance to me that my teaching is responsive to the needs of my students.  These will vary over time, and each child is different.  I used interviews to support my reasoning for using iPads in the classroom, and the parent responses are real  – these are parents from my daughters’ school and their genuine feelings about the use of iPads in their children’s classroom.

Please have a look at the website I designed to provide more information on how the integration of iPads would look, what it would involve, and how every child can benefit.

You can find the website at

www.mrsljrose.wix.com/ipadclass

Enjoy!

 

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Copyright Licencing, and all things “ownership”

The latest hurdle I’ve had to overcome in my studies is understanding the implications of copyright on the use and distribution of what is found on the wwww.  Yep that was 4 w’s- it’s a Wonderful world wide web.  It’s wonderful because the web is so rich and full of so much stuff.  Stuff.  There’s no other simple way to put the enormity of everything imaginable and even things you can’t imagine that can be found in the unfound pages of the web.  I love that no matter what I come across in my studies, or in life, I can open up my browser and search for hidden treasure.  Just today I started thinking about my 4 year olds birthday in a few months, and off to pinterest I went.  Invitation ideas, themes, inspiration was all coming at me.  It’s so effortless that it’s become thoughtless.  I don’t think about where the picture I’m viewing has come from, whether that’s someone’s art, whether I owe someone thanks for what they’ve presented me in my treasure hunt.

I have thoroughly enjoyed doing my latest ICT assignment, so when it came to addressing the copyright issue I desperately wanted to put my fingers in my ears and sing “lalalalala” while going to my happy place.  It is mind boggling.  But it’s important.  I think the lesson for me is that part of my teaching has to be to remind my students that despite the wonders of the web, we are viewing someones’ something.  Someone’s pictures, thoughts, work, ideas.

We are already understanding the importance of being mindful of what is put on the web- it is there to stay and we are making a footprint of sorts with what we post on social media.  However, what about the stuff we “re-post” or “copy”? We need to get more savvy with what we use, how, when and why.  Who owns what you are “right-click, save” ing? I’ve had a big wake up call this week, and I’m certainly on a road to recovery of less right click save-ing.

Check out more info here on Creative Commons licensing.

General Capabilities: ICT

The subject of my learning path at the moment (I’m a week behind!) is looking at the integration of ICTs into other subjects as defined in the Australian Curriculum.  The curriculum uses the term “General Capabilities ” to define subject/understandings that need to be incorporated into all other learning areas of the curriculum.  ICT isn’t the only one – there is also

As someone who has worked with the Australian Curriculum since I began studying my bachelor of education, these General Capabilities have come up frequently.  I genuinely appreciate their inclusion in the curriculum, and am enthusiastic about what this means for teaching programs.  Unfortunately it’s my experience in prac, that many educators aren’t aware of the importance of these general capabilities.  These are underlying priorities that should be thought about at various stages of planning for teaching/learning.

The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (MCEETYA 2008) sets out a very distinct goal that students should “be supported to become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens”.  The general capabilities works towards this goal.  There is a lot to think about as an educator, and organising the flow of all these priorities is a challenge.  Here’s a graphic I have made that represents my understanding.Image

One of my peers, Amanda Strickland, has written a blog post that addresses the importance of using ICTs for differentiation.

Imbedding of ICTs ultimately is invaluable especially in terms of creating a learning environment that is conducive of learning for all children including those with learning difficulties whilst encompassing as many learning styles as possible.

While I have written about this before, with the above graphic in mind, the general capability of technological understanding doesn’t just apply to our lesson planning, but also differentiation.

 

A real life chat

One of the points I made early in my course to some peers was that I was looking forward to sharing the authentic communication and reflection that is a natural part of my life.  If you haven’t already guessed, I’m what’s commonly known as “an extrovert”.  I enjoy having a chat, socialising, and pretty much feed off interaction with others.  Therefore, this technological communication can often leave me feeling less than satisfied, as I’m not getting real time interaction.  Interestingly, I have the benefit of interacting with parents on a regular basis as I do school drop off and pick ups.  This is a priority for me, as I believe building relationships with other parents at my child’s school serves my child well for many reasons (which I won’t go into now).  When I picked her up on  Friday, I had an awesome discussion with some of her peers’ parents outside the classroom.

We are all parents of children in an iPad class, so in full disclosure I said “I’m doing an assignment for an ICT subject, and I’m going to be addressing the use of iPads in a classroom.  So far, here’s the reasons I have for why I think it’s great – can you give me your thoughts?”.

Many good points were made – they were authentic, real life experiences, and one thought that I had not come up with myself.  It was so lovely to hear some honest responses from parent’s genuinely experiencing the benefits of ICTs in the classroom.  I can’t wait to share their thoughts with you when my assignment is complete.  What it highlights to me is that having conversations like I did on Friday, being physically present, and not “hiding” behind our technology is very important – nothing can replace that!

I’m Afraid…

I hope this post doesn’t confuse anyone, as my aim is to shed light on the very real feelings of someone who is both optimistic and pessimistic about technological advances in education (specifically).  In last weeks learning path, our lecturer asks us to make sure we are truly considering the merits of what we are reading and doing in this course and that we engage in an authentic way with both course material, and the processes associated with the course.

Upon reflection, I’ve felt it necessary to be truly honest.  I’m not sure if my previous posts show the true fear I have about the part ICTs play in our education system, specifically the classroom.  I am truly afraid.  I said just two days ago to my husband that “I’m not sure we should put AR into an iPad class next year – I’m worried she relies on it too much”.  He responded that I “have to get used to it- they’ll be used more and more as she gets older”.  The truth is I’m scared.  The future is unknown, and as a parent I don’t know if this incredibly powerful and exciting tool (the iPad) is something that is benefiting my daughter’s education or not.  I don’t know if what we have allowed her to participate in (the iPad class) is a good thing or not.  I don’t think that this question can be answered through a uni subject, or even through the course of a year of using the technology.   I may not ever know, or it may not be for 20 years, but I have to make the decision – is it right to be putting such a large emphasis on the use of the iPad in the classroom or not? My belief is that the tool itself isn’t positive or negative.  It’s a tool – like a spanner, it can’t do anything without human intervention.  So, I’m relying on good educators to ensure that the tool is used for the right things, at the right time in the classroom.  If I think about this, isn’t that what we do anyway? Whether there’s an iPad, a calculator, paint, pens, paper, scissors; we are relying on educators to use these tools at the right time in the right way.  How is the iPad any different??  But then, I can’t escape the fear I have when I see her using the iPad every night for “school work”.

So I’ve asked you to “Suck It Up” but at what cost?

It’s interesting to see my peers as we all reflect on our navigation through this study of ICTs and pedagogy.  I had already decided to reflect on the importance of addressing potential concerns when presenting new ICTs to children, and reading Megan’s Blog has furthered my thoughts.

Megan writes with passion as she reflects on the fears of many parents/educators when dealing with ICTs:

“Should we as teachers be encouraging the use of technologies that much, that students are losing what I see as important everyday skills, such as writing with a pen and paper?!”

These are the exact concerns that were expressed by parents as we were given the opportunity to volunteer our child’s participation in a BYO iPad program at her school.  I have to say, these were never my concerns.  So many parents and peers have expressed their worry that pen and paper will become extinct but I don’t believe this will ever be the case.  It’s my opinion that many would have had the same concerns when calculators were first put on the school booklist.  I wonder if they were concerned that children would never be able to mentally calculate once these were commonly used in classrooms, and what about when we were able to take them into classrooms? “Gasp!”.

However, these concerns are valid! Therefore, I think as educators, when introducing a new ICT to children, it’s important for us to see the potential concerns, and address these to allay parent’s fears.  Part of the first assignment for this ICT course is to present an online artifact and I plan on making some of my artifact dedicated to addressing potential concerns.  I believe this is an important approach to teaching – understanding the concerns of parents, and addressing these in a compassionate and understanding way.

There’s another great article about the use of iPads to transform the classroom by Ben Johnson on his blog.  Click on the image below to see his interesting point of view about appropriate use of iPads vs inappropriate use.

Image

Transforming Teaching and Learning

Interestingly, this subject is something very personal for me.  The school my daughter attends offered an iPad class for her prep entry, and it was upto parents to nominate whether their child would be considered for the BYO iPad class.  As an educator, it wasn’t a decision I took lightly, and considered many things when making the decision.

Firstly, I considered the benefit to being a part of something quite groundbreaking- while it wouldn’t be a perfected system, there would be opportunities for me as an educator to be a part of something I will probably need to use and integrate as an educator, and see this from the perspective of a parent.  Looking at how this class would change the way we discuss/reflect and quiz my daughter about her schooling through the use of photos, videos and presentations she makes on the iPad.

It never concerned me that she wouldn’t do enough writing, as I am well aware that the Australian Curriculum still requires these elements to be taught, assessable and evidential.  I was however concerned that she would become so wrapped up in the technology that her rough and tumble, gross motor, role play activities would become extinct, and we know that this is vital to neurological development (see an article from Doug Imig of Urbanchild to regarding this here).  I raised my concerns with the Principal, and the he assured me the children would never be on the iPad more than 70% of the day.

I imagined the use of the iPad to support classroom collaborations, such as math games that would normally be played on an interactive whiteboard, being used as a class, collectively, enabling differentiation – one student who is struggling has more opportunities to repeat the activity if required, while another can move up to the next level.  One example is the game I’ve seen used in prep (below) called “Ladybird Spot Total“; usually students would do this in the classroom using the interactive whiteboard, taking it in turns.  Activities like this could provide better differentiation by allowing students to complete the activity independently with self correction, or in pairs, collaborating.

LadybirdToday, however, I had my daughter’s eyes checked and the optometrist (who specialises in  children’s behavioural optometry) gasped when I told her my daughter was in an iPad class.  “Why?!” she said.  I had this instant thought that I did the wrong thing by agreeing to send my child to the BYO iPad class.  “What have I done?” I sat silently while miss 4’s eyes were tested and contemplated my decision.

Then I came home and as I write this I’m reminded that while I’m not 100% sure that the iPad class will provide better opportunities for differentiation and opportunities to excel, I do believe that it can.  The difference you see, is up to the educator.

As with any educational resource, how it is used is up to the educator.  Do you want to use a resource because it’s pretty, sounds good, or makes life easier, or do you want to use a resource (and I mean ANY resource – not just ICT) because it can transform the learning of students in your class?  This slideshow (Tranformative use of iPads) inspires me to think about opportunities to transform learning, and specifically through the use of various ICTs.

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