Hmmmm! I have to post a blog that reflects how learning is enhanced by iPads. I’ve had mine for over a month and I’m not sure what I’ve done, but I am feeling guilty that I haven’t done more in my classes. What have I been doing? Exploring and reading!
I’ve tweeted and facebooked and RSSd and tried out ideas that have come forth. I’ve purchased numerous aps and played with them. Some do the same thing and I’ve compared them. I’ve talked to students about what they’re doing and I’ve eavesdropped on their conversations to find out aps they think are important. But what have I learned? Perhaps I should just journal and let the random thoughts go…. So for the past few days I’ve just been recording thoughts and A-HAs. Here they are in random order.
I’m one of the last hold outs; I don’t have a smart phone or a data plan on my iPad or iPod. I am WiFi dependant. This has restricted my use to McDonald’s, Boston Pizza and my home. It makes for some interesting searching of sports scores and random facts. I often watch television and look up something that is mentioned. Is this authentic research? This reminds me of what my students have been automatically doing all year. They pull out their smart device and look things up. One student in particular who struggles with writing was charged with preparing a presentation for our job fair. He visited his dad’s work and had to create a presentation to the other students in our school that would convince them this was the best job to apply for. There he was sending text during class to his dad to check his facts! Cool! He was hiding it, but I was thrilled that he was doing authentic research and checking his facts. He also used Safari to look for photos to add and whether YouTube had any resources. So, a student who previously would not have done the assignment because he had nothing to say contacted an expert. I can do that on my iPad! We can do that on my iPad, and it could be done with more speed and immediacy. Just-in-time learning! I love it!
Have iPad will travel
During our recent vacation time, I vowed to spend more time with family and with my iPad. I took it with me while I went to a ski resort. While driving to Kicking Horse I listened to music and played with VociceThread. I had tried this in class with a student who was having difficulty in translating his thoughts into writing. I had given him and an EA the iPad and asked them to try recording in voicethread when he had a good idea. I thought it would work like a charm, but he came back and reported he didn’t like it. We let that go and declared we would try again later. When I played with it, I agreed with him. It is horrible to hear your own voice and it takes quite a few recordings before you become more comfortable. We’ll just need to get over this photbia – so we’ll try again. I love it!
I also played games – this is not what I want to do on my iPad – or is it? I used BrainTuner, SpellitRite2, WordSearch and three versions of flashcards. I can definitely use the flashcard aps. However, without WiFi, I was limited. So I made some notes in Evernote and looked at the instructions for OneNote that I’ve used on my PC before. At the resort, once I hooked up to WiFi, I explored what music we could listen to. I discovered the coolest app that allowed us to listen to over 1000 radio stations from around the world all classified by type of music and location – Online.Radio.Free.
Flying to the Clouds – everywhere
I have been anxiously waiting to gain WiFi access at school, so was thrilled when we learned about the Aruba access and the PSDAD access. I started playing around with apps in spare moments and using Evernmote and OneNote but haven’t done much with the students yet. I see great potential for these aps for student use. Together with Google Docs, this should allow all my students to work on their personal devices and be able to create documents and share them with others students and submit them for me for feedback and assessment. I was really pumped when a student who just got an iPad for her birthday asked me if she would be able to use OneNote. She is going to show me how it works. We should be able to jump into cloud learning with a bang. Yahoo! Today she told me she switched to Pages because she likes it better and is going to use it with Dropbox. I’ll have to check that out, but a free app compared to a $10.00 app – I know where my loyalties will be. Interestingly, I just got an attachment from a parent that was a Pages document and I couldn’t open it, but because of my student’s tutelage I knew that the parent could send it to me in word with the touch of a button. I love it!
I danced around the room when we got hooked up to Shaw, and thus WiFi, at HPS yesterday. This is going to be so cool.I love it!
I’ve spent quite a lot of time on Twitter trying it out and getting comfortable with hashtags and @ symbols. I still get them confused, so I hope everyone is patient with me. When I got retweeted and discussed whether CBC should feature more skiing or give the time to more hockey with someone from Vancouver, I felt connected. I brought in the new year with a fabulous meal followed by a Three Stooges marathon. It was fun to receive tweets with facts about the episodes I was watching and vote for my favorite Stooge. I connected with PSD colleagues and have been getting good hints from RSS feeds.
Throughout this I have been comparing Hootsuite, Twitter for iPad and G-Whizz. I’ve decided I like the integration and convenience of every google app plus twitter and facebook in one place. I’m lovin’ it.
Down to Earth – iPad for teaching others
As I said, my iPad use has mostly been about my learning. It was great to have my husband ask to use the iPad. He is a recently converted technophobe who uses internet purely for researching ideas and browsing YouTube for howto facts, songs by familiar artists and obscure TV and movie facts. We were watching a TV program and he specifically requested to borrow the iPad – “that other device” – so he could quickly check something. It was cool as he is usually reluctant to try new technology because he is impatient with the learning curve. Clearly, he felt the iPad was simple to use, so this gives iPad a glowing review.
My next exploration happened today. We were making historical timeline in social. I’d introduced what I wanted them to include, and since we didn’t have access to our school’s computers or laptops, we are doing them on paper. A student asked if he could do his on Microsoft Word, but I said no. Why didn’t he work with his partners in Google Docs and utilize the spreadsheet? Everything worked as smooth as the proverbial silk. I now have an example to show others. I’m also going to check to see if there is a timeline making app. Also on my list are scrible to annotate research from the internet, vimeo and see if I can find a screenr app. I also am checking out AppsGoneFree.
So, I love my iPad. Somehow it is more than just a laptop or a smart phone. I don’t fully know why yet. I can speculate about it providing me with another tool that extends the anytime, anyplace, anyjob idea and facilitates 21st century learning. Whatever the reason, each time I use it, I am usually successful and I go away knowing more. Perhaps most important for this project is that I know if I can do it, my students can do it. The iPad – or Smartphone, Android or Blackberry – will take us places that it is important to explore. So cool …