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.
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.