The vast majority of my students have already had experience of Apple multi-touch devices and I didn’t anticipate any difficulty in them having the capability to use them in my classes. But we are naive if we believe that students will be able to automatically use them for work without making our expectations clear. Most students have only played with this type of device up until they appear in a classroom and a shift of approach as well as a slew of new skills becomes essential.
The (in my view obsolete) theory of digital natives and immigrants has no place for me at all anymore: in my classroom with a set of students, learning to do and an iPad each, we are all immigrants of sorts. For now, no one is more than a few minutes’ expertise ahead of anyone else. For students and teachers that can be liberating, exciting and unsettling in equal measure!
Navigating through the paradigm shift
My first task was to group desks together in my classroom, and when we have iPads in use I have in place a simple set of routines.
- I model everything needed to get students started, but not the finished product I am hoping for.
- I remind everyone about the learning behaviours we expect.
- Students have a learning buddy who is their wingman. Any problems, technical issues, ‘how do you…?’ questions have to go to the learning buddy first. If they can’t work it out together, they can ask me.
- Creative problem solving and independence get lots of praise from me.
- I leave plenty of time at the end of the lesson to do checking and cleanup. Week 1 left me and my colleagues frazzled with shouty ends of lessons that damaged all the good feeling generated earlier in the lesson.