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Monday, June 25, 2012

iPads in the classroom survey results--what I take away

I think I'll probably be spending a lot of time going over the data from this survey all summer long.  But first impressions are important, right?  So here they are:

1) iPads help with organization.  However, for students to maximize the benefits of the iPads, they need to use one platform for organization.  Evernote, Noterize, Sundry Note are all free apps that help with this, Notability is a paid, but cheap, app that was far and away the student's favorite, as it combined both writing and typing. When they use these apps, they are better able to access the information that they wrote down during their classes--notes are neater, legible, all in one place and can't be destroyed by rain, snow, siblings or pets.

I think about it this way: I spent years convincing students that when it came to taking notes, it was vital for them to use a new page for a new day, date their notes, and then dedicate notebooks to subjects. (one for math, one for Spanish, one for history, etc.)  Now they need the same sort of structure, only digital and cloud-based.

Students have to learn to use their workflow app effectively.  Use labels/tags to identify their subjects and topics. Keep all their notes in one cloud.  They can use a different app for different subjects (so Sundry Notes for English, Notability for math, Evernote for history) or they should just stick with one for all academics.  (This could be problematic, as some, like Evernote, limit the amount of data on a monthly basis...)

The problem is that there are other apps that get used (like ShowMe or educreations) that deposit other activities/class materials into a different cloud, so students need to be able to bundle all the different clouds together so they remember what they made and can then make use of the materials.  I'm thinking the way to do that is to use their class blogs, but I'll need to think about that some more...

2) iPads are distracting.  Students are very open about the fact that they like games, they are heavily invested in social media, and they are addicted to the internet.  I need to adopt new classroom management to help them work through those distractions.  There is a vital need for this, as they are all the things that the students will have to deal with in the workplace too.

The reality is that turning the iPad over renders it no longer a distraction.  I've tended to let them have the iPad out on their desk even if we aren't directly making use of it, and I'll be re-thinking that next year somewhat.

BUT, the commentary also clearly indicated that when students felt engaged by the material they were not distracted by the iPad's siren song of temptation.  Soooooo, I think I need to work harder to keep them engaged, while also working to limit their temptations...how? I'm not sure yet. Check back with me!

3) iPads are a tool.  They are not a solution, they are not a problem.  They are value neutral.  They help students to access information, present what they know, and in some cases, demonstrate their understanding in new ways.  But lots of other tools enable this as well, so the world does not stop turning if I have them in my class or don't have them in my class!

But I'm glad to have them, and I'm looking forward to thinking about how to use them better next year!

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