It is the end of October, and the arts teachers in the collaborative inquiry group I facilitate have had their iPads for roughly a month and a half. We met mid month, and each one has shown evidence of enthusiastically embracing the iPad for personal productivity, some are also beginning to use them in their classrooms.
There have been some concerns and some bumps. One teacher is trying to use the iPad to project and finding it’s limitations in that area. For this teacher the question becomes:
What are the iPad’s limitations and how can I find a work around?
One teacher raised some very valid questions about its portability, and worries about theft. For this teacher the question becomes:
How do I make certain that classroom resources remain accessible while dealing with the realities of vandalism and theft?
Another teacher has a tech director who is concerned about the iPad accessing the internet when their school goes wireless in a year. For this teacher the question becomes: How do I learn to create a relationship with my tech director so that we can negotiate ways that work for both of us so that I may utilize the resources given me?
For me the questions continue to be:
How may one iPad be used most effectively in a classroom of twenty or thirty students?
How may an iPad be used as a transformative piece of technology?
How can I best facilitate the iPad becoming a transformative tool for the group?
To approach these, I began by taking stock as it were of where we are right now.
Reported uses for personal productivity:
keeping a calendar
notes and memos
storing sheet music
entertainment (news aps, weather aps, cooking aps, games)
Reported classroom uses:
students are using the iPad with educational games as a reward or extension to a lesson
So far the group is following the same pattern that I went through personally; first becoming comfortable with the technology and finding personal productivity uses and then branching out to apply the tool in my classroom teaching. I have to ask myself what made me take the leap to classroom use?
Certainly part of it was this blog. Listening to other educators exploring the use of their iPad and just the self-imposed discipline of wanting to keep searching so that I would have something to blog about.
This raises several questions as I consider how best to facilitate for the group.
– Would a group blog serve the same function to help us all make the leap?
– Should I plan iPad activities/sharing into every meeting to encourage transformative use?
– How might a focus on the NETS standards (International Society for Technology in Education Standards) encourage transformational use?
– What support might a classroom teacher and their building technology director need to add new technology to a classroom?
It seems that in addition to an inquiry, this collaborative inquiry group may be propelled into an inquiry into iPads if the tool is to truly become transformational. This creates a tension between the group’s need to determine their own inquiry question and the dynamics of this situation. Have we have thrust them, like it or not, into answering some deeper questions? I am anxious to get started, listening and learning as the teachers in my group begin to work through the use of this gift and all that it means.