Link: What I’ve learned from iPad in the Classroom

Here’s an interesting article tweeted by Jeremy Holien, the art specialist at the Perpich Center for the Arts (in this role, he serves as a resource for art teachers across the state and beyond). He’s an active Tweeter, and often posts about technology. @JeremyHolein, if you want to follow him.

The article (here’s the link) is from the Chronicle of Higher Education, from a professor who was able to use ten iPads in his course. The results are not overwhelmingly positive:

  • The students were less likely to invest in the devices because they had to give them back at the end of the semester. This supports Apple’s own marketing strategy in that an iPad is an intensly personal device, and is most effective when it is permanently owned by its user.
  • Students were embarassed to use the iPad in public and did not want to be seen as “early adopters.”
  • The students either wanted a smaller device (phone for texting) or a larger device (notebook) for typing and research. Students did not know about good word processing apps, notetaking apps, or key accessories like styluses or keyboard cases.
  • Students thought the iPad was good for reading and viewing, but also felt that a Kindle might be as good or better for reading.
  • In general, students felt the iPad needed five more years of development, and that they wouldn’t buy one until not having one was a “real cost.”

The professor came up with some conclusions as well:

  • You have to re-think your assignments, so they fit “digital native methodologies.”
  • You have to train your students how to use the device. Even though students can be labeled (as the article does so) as “digital natives.”
  • Buy-in should be institution-wide, with administration leading the charge. If students are only using the iPad in one class, they will be less likely to use it elsewhere.
  • Be aware of how much money you are asking students to spend on specific apps.
  • Have specific goals about the use of the iPad in your class.

I won’t draw any conclusions about this professor’s experience (after all, it is his experience), but I will note that the sample base is pretty small, and I certainly wouldn’t draw any large scale conclusions (positive or negative) because of the sample size. I count it simply as additional information.

For the record, let me state where I stand with the iPad in my classes.

  • My iPad is my own, not provided by the school.
  • My attempts to obtain iPads for my students to use in class have failed, from writing grants to fundraising to asking for dontations.
  • We have a single iPad 1 that has been tasked to me for this term (through March) so that a student can use it in an independent study for Music Theory. She uses the iPad during 3rd Hour, and during the other classes, I am allowing a student to use the iPad for five days of choir (then it goes to another student). I am collecting data (a survey) on their experiences, and I plan to write on those experiences over the month of April and May.
  • I’m fully aware that the best application for iPads is when a student is the primary user of the device. Perhaps my inability to obtain a classroom set is divine providence, and our district will go all iPad next year (well, I won’t question divine providence, but I’m pretty sure we won’t be going all iPad, as there would have been some discussion about that at this point).
  • My own use and discussion of the iPad has led to a number of students purchasing their own. About 15 of my 135 students now own an iPad, and they use them in class, throughout the hour (other than during warm-ups and announcements). A couple of students mention that my class (high school choir) is the only class they use the iPad in! I do take time, on occasion, to discuss useful apps, such as Noteshelf, as well as to offer basic tips on the use of forScore.
  • And finally, although the district has purchased a number of iPads for administrators (of course), counselors (of course), and physical education teachers (they can take attendance in our wi-fi enabled gym or athletic fields), most teachers are buying their own iPads, and the number is constantly on the rise. (Note: our business and technical education teachers were also provided with iPads, but they receive special technical education funding that no other programs receive).


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