Creating Workflows

The great realization, using iPads, has been that iPads augment learning in dramatic ways. I alluded to this in some of my earlier commentary. I am always surprised when I read articles which describe the iPad as a consumption device and not really being capable of productivity or creative workflow. My perspective is very different. In fact, as time progresses, with updates to apps and new apps arriving I am finding the scope of the iPad (in our Primary School context) to be so much more powerful than the PC alternative. The iPad really enhances the learning spectrum of the technology in our classrooms. It adds real everyday functionality with provisions of cameras, calculators, compasses, voice recorders, and a host of functional apps which can be available at the touch of a finger. Additionally as an individualized learning device it can cater brilliantly for different needs in a differentiated or a PBL classroom.

The thing that I like most about the possibilities which the iPad offers is the ability to create. The apps which are designed to teach or practice skills are useful, but the iPad is capable of so much more.
The idea of using apps in conjunction with each other and of creating a workflow to show understanding / learning is where the iPad can really shine. Moving between apps of different capability and then combining features from each to produce an end product is greatly enhanced by the iPad.
Example: Literature Study, Blabber Mouth – Year 5 develop a Country and Western song which reflects events in the novel. In the novel Rowena’s father is always breaking into Country & Western song. This acted as a catalyst for this idea.

20120829-205117.jpg

Enabling

20120829-210031.jpg

We have adopted a 1:1 iPad program for about a quarter of our students and have a central supply for use across other classes. Just rolling out the iPads hasn’t been the main game. Managing the iPads and truly integrating them is where the real endeavour lies. There is no question in my mind about the positive impact of this program. Both teachers and students are using iPads to create, explore, communicate, share and learn. They have embraced the possibilities.

Our iPad Program was launched through the generous contribution of our community following our Spell-a-thon fundraiser last year. Our first 45 iPads were purchased with the money raised. One of the great things about iPads is that compared to laptops and even small netbooks is their cost. They were a cheaper option and this created possibilities for volume.
Initially this first group of 45 iPads was delivered to two groups. We created a central bank for students and we also issued class teachers and some support teachers with iPads. Initially this felt weird because we had always prioritized students (we aren’t a wealthy school) and diverting valuable resources away from direct student use seemed unnatural.

Providing teachers with iPads was an enabler. The provision of iPads to teachers aimed at the broader goal of introducing a more extensive program in 2012 – where we planned to introduce an additional 100 iPads (realized in April 2012). We needed to make sure that our teachers were serious iPad users. We needed them to be experts. We needed them to embrace the possibilities. A small investment really in ensuring the success of a much bigger program.
As it stands now all teaching staff and some administrative staff are iPad equipped. They are linked through email, Dropbox, Evernote etc. Preparation for staff meetings, parent teacher meetings and all sorts of day to day matters are enhanced amongst the teachers using their iPads. They are expert or becoming experts. Of course the most crucial thing is that this expertise has been translated into the classrooms.
This development has been further supported by encouraging teachers to be active in recommending apps and sharing their experiences. We have also had some PD generously supplied by Apple. This PD focussed on pedagogy and the crucial ideas around creating workflow. Workflow is in my view where the real iPad possibilities start to emerge. The ability to integrate capacities of various apps is really exciting and takes the learning into new territories. Those who doubt the capability of the iPad to be a really productive and creative tool obviously haven’t really tried.
There are certainly other enablers required such as Internet and Wireless infrastructure, device management systems, iTunes and email account setup etc. The crucial things in my view are community buy in, teacher fascilitation and developing purposeful pedagogy.

iPossibilities in Year K

Image

Recently I have had the pleasure of working with Year K. We have been using iPads to enhance learning in various ways. Some aspects of what we have been doing has been traditional and other experiences have been more open ended and creative.

Apps that we have used have included interactive books such as The Monster at the End of the Book and PopOut! Peter. Wonderful apps which add some new elements and perhaps breathe life into traditional books. We have had the opportunity to look at narrative structures in fun and interesting ways. We have used these sorts of book experiences in both a shared class experience, in individual and share with a friend approaches. Great opportunities for the children to immerse and engage themselves in literature.

We have also learnt to use apps which have more open ended possibilities. Apps such as Viz (Visualize) and ShowMe. These apps offer possibilities for children to create in different ways. ShowMe has the capacity to record sound, drawing and writing. In the classroom it could be used to respond to literature, tell a story, recount, explain, communicate ideas etc. Viz enables the children to create amazing posters which can include pictures, words, objects and symbols. Once again a way for children to respond, explain, show, communicate.

We have also used Scribble Press which is an exciting way to get children writing and drawing as they produce their own book. This sort of experience is exciting and dynamic and provides great open ended learning opportunities.

Our latest exploration has been into using PuppetPals to explore narrative. We started by modeling the process with the large groups and this week we plan to produce some more independent small group work. Our first productions were fabulous experiences and involved the children in planning, making decisions, acting and producing a group story about “The Princess and the Witch”. You can view our amazing productions by clicking the links below.

Link 1

Link 2

Impressions – Technology K – 12 National Congress 2012

Link to Congress 2013

20120829-210353.jpg

At the end of May I attended the Technology K – 12 National Congress. I think this is one of the premium events in my PD calendar. This was my brief overview from the first day.

This week I am attending a two day K-12 national conference at Darling Harbour. The focus of this conference is around technology and is being attended by 1500 delegates from across Australia.

As I am writing I have just listened to presentations by some international speakers. Alan November and Stephen Heppell. Both of whom spoke about the trends in education across the world and the need to change teaching practice. To not only equip students with essential work skills and behaviours, but also to engage students. To make them more effective learners. To change how classrooms work and to leverage technology along with current best practice to improve outcomes. One of the common threads from speakers today has been to recognize the ability of technology to individualize learning and to move towards less teacher centered classrooms and towards student centered learning. There is also a strong sense that iPads and other mobile technology has shifted the range of possibilities for schools in general.

It was also interesting listening to Barry McGaw, Chairman, Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). He spoke about the structure of the new National (digital) Curriculum and the inclusion of technology as a Key Area as well as becoming an integral part of all other subject areas. The roll out of the National Curriculum is already occurring in some States. In NSW its roll out has been delayed until around 2015. Barry McGraw also recognized that the current Naplan testing isn’t reflective of the Curriculum and needs revision. A digital online format for the Naplan test is in development. This test is also expected to be adaptive and will be focussed around the Curriculum.

I also attended a series of workshops which looked at specific areas of interest. Topics explored were around virtualization, 1:1 tablet programs and Digital Curriculum.

At the end of this first day Sir Ken Robinson, who is regarded internationally as a leading proponent of educational innovation, delivered a wonderful live online session to the packed auditorium of delegates. The discussion with Sir Ken centered around creativity and tapping technologies to drive transformation. He was a very compelling and engaging speaker.

iPossibilities – iPads in action

20120816-001816.jpg

iPossibilities

Providing a context for our iPad initiative (Re: 1:1 iPad program – Years 5 & 6).

There is an updated post regarding our iPad program below.

https://rhp123.wordpress.com/2013/06/30/change-for-the-better-11-ipad-program/

Our purpose has remained focussed on the idea that technology is an essential and necessary part of our students education. It is where the future lies. This idea has driven the Australian Governments decision to invest in the introduction of a 1:1 laptop program across secondary schools in Australia and is also a driver of the National Broadband. Of course the evolving National Curriculum also sees technology as a central driver across the Key Learning Areas.

We have maintained the view that technology is an enabler. Helping students to learn, create, innovate, collaborate, solve problems, present and communicate.

The introduction of iPads is a continuation of that journey and of that idea. The iPad is simply a much better solution. Offering fast connectivity, mobility and a sophisticated range of tools and capabilities at a much more affordable price. Importantly it offers a unique capacity to become an individual learning tool which is capable of being tailored specifically to student needs.

Indeed, with our roll out, that has been the intention. Each child has their own device and their own individual school accounts. Each student has an iTunes account allocated to their individual device with a predetermined budget applied. While the device and the apps purchased remain the property of the school the students have the exclusive use for their senior years at the College. We were also not adverse to the idea of iPads being taken home. We could see great benefits, however at this stage concerns for the safety of the children carrying iPads in public situations and issues around insurance have meant that at this time the devices will remain at school. The increased capacity to use the cloud to access files will mean that student files should be accessible both at home and at school anyway.

Evidence is rapidly mounting internationally and nationally regarding the benefits of iPads in an educational context. As a result we are seeing a massive uptake by schools both nationally and internationally and across preschool, primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. We are also seeing a massive surge in the development of e-books and e-textbooks specifically for use with tablets. The College remains true to its goal of providing state of the art facilities to its students. We were early adopters of mobile banks of laptops, of Smartboards, of Netbooks and now of iPads. We are just at the start of a revolution which is transforming classrooms and learning environments around the world.

Creating Possibilities

I had a conversation with another colleague in which we were discussing the use of technology in the classroom. The discussion centered around the pedagogy and how it is vital for the teachers to be driving change rather than the technology driving the educator.

An interesting discussion. It is to some extent “a chicken or the egg scenario”. The arrival of the iPad for example has the potential to change the learning environment in dramatic ways. The technology is creating possibilities which may not have existed before. The educator is the one who needs to perceive the possibilities and drive the change in learning. Just having a brilliant tool doesn’t mean brilliant learning. What makes brilliant learning is educators seeing possibilities and brilliantly incorporating ideas, tools and thinking into their lessons. I saw this in action in Year 6 where the children are physically building electrical circuits and using technology to record their observations and processes. A frenetic and exciting learning environment; real learning, using real tools.

When we get excited by technology it isn’t so much about the technology as it is about the possibilities which are created for the teachers and the students.