Six ideas for teachers when launching an iPad deployment

Here are six pieces of advice I would pass on to anyone leading the Teaching and Learning side of an iPad deployment. I’ve learned as much from our successes as our shortcomings and hope you find this helpful.

1. Start with the learning

Bringing new technology into your classrooms will evoke change, but it won’t improve poor pedagogy. It may provoke new reflection as the old routines and engrained habits are challenged: refreshing for some and unsettling for others. No one wants to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so looking at planning, schemes of work and learning objectives, teachers still need to ask “Where is the learning?”

2. Scaffold activities

Whilst some colleagues will be comfortable with the shift from analogue to digital and can see their way to transforming how learning happens in a relatively short period of time, others will need scaffolding to progress. Developing model activities to demonstrate how to build digital learning into familiar lesson structures will help those less confident to make the leap. Once they have leapt it is easier to take the next steps towards a more transformative approach. My team have found home-made how-to videos a helpful starting point.

3. Create a showcase

Shouting loud about excellent work serves a number of purposes and it’s easy to let it fall to the bottom of the to-do list (it did for me and I regret it!). Students will see great models and be inspired to remix them, adapt them, or better them. Staff will gather ideas about the kinds of output their own classes can achieve. The students whose work is being praised get to feel good about their contributions, especially if they are the ones with rubbish handwriting skills whose work never got shown off before!

4. Create opportunities to play

Fostering curiosity in colleagues is not a uniformly easy task. Some take longer to be convinced, others will be scared of breaking the kit. Creating fail-free play opportunities with the equipment builds confidence and reinforces questioning behaviours in staff that will help them manage their classes. Practicing the workflows and moving away from trying to write everything down will generate further ideas as they experiment and diversify.

5. Share

Discussion where there is no right answer, no competitive point-scoring and no agenda beyond helping each other out is essential. And difficult. Can you find space either physically or virtually to talk about what works and what doesn’t?

6. Always find a workaround, even a partial one

Colleagues don’t want to hear that something doesn’t work. One small limitation colours their perception of all the good stuff the tool can do. Tough though it can be as I’m not a technical expert, I do my best to always present an alternative if a Flash element of a website renders it useless on the iPad, or a particular video won’t embed.

7. Get students involved

A digital leaders programme, a lunchtime club: there are lots of ways to encourage students and teachers to work together on improving everyone’s skills and ideas. Our Year 7 club make video guides about new apps and test out workflows. No-one asked them to, they just showed up! We are only just beginning to harness this enthusiasm and I can see it becoming hugely valuable in the future.




11 Responses

  1. Laura April 6, 2012 / 12:40 am

    I love it that there are clearly seven ideas there and nobody noticed… or at least you were all kind enough to let it go!

  2. Guido April 24, 2012 / 12:24 am

    We encourage all educators to try nearpod! You need an ipad plus any other iOS device to experience the magic of our platform. Is free!

  3. Colin April 24, 2012 / 9:13 am

    Thanks for the seven ideas – this was really useful. I love the emphasis in #1 on technology not being an instant solution to poor pedagogy and that the use is about learning. Would love to read more about the model activities in the scaffolding section.

  4. Derek April 24, 2012 / 3:51 pm

    This is great information! Mobile devices, especially tablets, offer a lot of value to teachers and students. Whether it’s for actual daily instruction and lessons or simply a way to avoid carrying 5 heavy textbooks, there’s a lot of potential.

    And, specifically about #3, I was a student with rubbish handwriting. Too bad these things weren’t around when I was going through school.

    • Laura April 24, 2012 / 5:58 pm

      Thanks very much Derek!

      I agree about the handwriting issue: being able to present beautiful work irrespective of how poor your handwriting may be is a real pleasure!

  5. Tammy May 3, 2012 / 4:25 pm

    Hey, great post!
    If I could suggest an easy to use app to start with, it would be Nearpod. It’s a free and can work if you are starting to use iPads. It’s all about creating multimedia presentations that may have polls, drawing activities….lots of features.

    I’ve tried it with my students. It really caught their attention, we found a new and fun way of working in class.

    Here’s the link Laura, if you want to share it with someone or try it yourself

    Go on posting things like this one!

  6. J Wilson May 22, 2012 / 11:52 am

    We need to make sure that learning is now going beyond what was already being done. If it is used correctly we should expect children to be learning even more and be even more interested so raising our goals. However I see worrying trends towards a lack of actual learning of basics. Technology should be used where a book cant be. 25 years ago there were excellent programmes for teaching science on the BBC B computers – they allowed children to run experiments and change the variables etc. Even now there are very few if any apps or progs available that do such things. The intervening years have seen teachers basically transfer words and pics online. And learning should not be necessarily linear – I hate powerpoint from that point of view. Teachers have a lot of catching up to do – I’m not quite sure why its taking so long to get them up to speed where people in other areas of work are having to use computers regularly.

  7. useful applications July 28, 2012 / 9:09 am

    There are so many good apps out there for Ipad now that it really should start to become part and parcel of a school kid’s development. There are plenty of learning apps to keep the kids busy and learn while developing new skills!

    I think its only a matter of time really rather than whether its a good idea

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