Time flies when you are having fun and this week blew by incredibly fast. I am working with the “Mobile Learning Initiative” in Parkland School Division and we have started the ball rolling this week with the students. The “Mobile Learning Initiative” is a project that is looking at the implementation of mobile devices, specifically, the iPad, as a learning tool in the classroom. Of course, the students are incredibly excited to have access to an iPad but what really surprised me was the amount of learning that can happen when students are given some free time to work on a project of their choice. After spending some time walking students through various aspects of using the iPad and introducing a few of the educational apps, I gave the class a chance to “explore” any of the apps on the iPad with the purpose of learning or creating something new.
This is where it got interesting!
Students were reading about new technologies in medicine on Zite, creating movies with iMovie,learning new concepts in mathematics with Khan Academy and investigating the Chernobyl meltdown site on Google Earth. Students were motivated to further their learning and this motivation was all happening organically and without my direction. For every student in the class, an unique learning experience was happening. Just before the end of the day I asked students to share some of their learning with the rest of the class and the excitement could not be contained. In fact, even after the bell had gone and the students were dismissed, I had a swarm of students crowded around my desk sharing what they had learned with me and each other.
Sure, some of this excitement and engagement might stem from the novelty of having a brand new iPad in their hands, but I also think it has a fair bit to do with students having the ability to learn and create on their own terms, about topics they enjoy. Over the course of the “Mobile Learning Initiative” I expect to see the excitement from the novelty of the new iPad subside a bit, but I really hope this tool can continue to provide choices in how the students access and express their learning. The fact that students were given choices helped to create the excitement and engagement in the students’ learning. Giving choices to students on how they express their learning is one thing I will be using whenever possible even after this project is over and the iPads are gone.