The second presentation I attended today was “iPad Tablet Technology – Student Centered iPad Projects” by Vince Delisi. Vince is a Canadian educator at Holy Trinity School in Ontario, a 1:1 iPad school. As an iPad pioneering educator, Vince has a great deal of experience, both negative and positive, with an iPad roll-out. Also, he says “aboot” which makes me smile 😉
Again, he highlighted Dr. Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model and emphasizes the need for us as educators to move past the substitution and augmentation level – that we need to be modifying and redefinition. Research demonstrates to us that our students will only advance in achievement with students working at the redefinition level.
The most prolific, collaborative tools available to educators and students are Google Apps (like Google Drive, Google Earth, etc). Still, he highlights that Google Apps are still best used on a traditional computers rather than the iPad – it is still a work in progress in mobile form (at least for the iOS platform). Google Applications can and do fill roles across the board on the SAMR model – they can be purely substitutional (Word Processing) or entirely redefined especially by using the collaborative features of the tools.
Google Apps are just one example of tools that students and teachers can use to create. What was most interesting about Vince’s talk is that he discussed not just the finished project (many of which were impressive), but rather the journey. No project went simply from point A to point B. Rather, there were pitfalls and struggles all along the way – software compatibility issues, budgeting struggles (how do we buy this software we just learned we need?), learning new skills, time budgeting, etc. What struck me was that the learning process, for both teachers and students, was about overcoming obstacles.
As an “ed tech” implementor at my own school, I try to learn as much as possible from others’ journeys, but I also know that I’m going to run into my own struggles.
One of my favorite projects that he discussed was application of an iPad project during a field trip. The sixth grade annual field trip to the Capital, Ottawa. The teachers established a project along with a rubric for the field trip assignment; essentially a visual journal with detailed notes.
The student projects, however, far surpassed the rubric’s basic requirements and the file sizes of the projects became too large for the application, Notability, to handle! What a wonderful problem to have – students being too excited about the project and the assignment that their work was too detailed and thorough. Still, it led to problems of (virtual) space and limitations of software as well as readily drained iPad batteries (primary lesson learned – bring chargers!!).
The most interesting student project that he demonstrated was an Urban Planning unit (3rd grade) in which they used the program SimCity Deluxe. Students built a large urban settlement and had to solve common urban problems like – natural disaster, crime, transportation, allocation of resources, etc. As the game progresses, you have to solve common issues in an urban settlement. If you are unsuccessful, the city will die.
Not only does this program allow students to explore real world problems and solutions, but it does it in the setting of a game environment, which just keeps the kids coming back for more. It’s one of the few times when a problem is that students are spending too much time on their homework! I’ll admit, I loved this game as a child and I may need to re-download this application on my phone for the flight home.
What struck me about these projects is that many of them were highly sophisticated and required extensive understanding of various subject matters – sociology, english, mathematics, science, art, and more. The iPad is an innovative tool that allows full integration across various subject areas. More importantly, students have to collaborate and learn from one another – they got advice from others who were successful and shared their struggles.
Another interesting technological infrastructure note, as all of the students and educators have iPads, they have moved to Apple TV integration in the classroom so that they no longer have to worry about constantly plugging and unplugging dongles into the projector. I wrote about the Apple TV in my article, “The iPad, Apple TV, and Classroom Management.” As an educator, it’s a huge time saver for me. However, I have not opened it to the students yet – there are management problems that need to be addressed. I think it’s time to become twitter buddies with Vince Delisis and explore some solutions.
Overall, what I’ve taken from this talk is that the iPad not only has the potential to be used powerfully in education, it already has! Teachers every day across the world are actively employing the iPad in their classrooms and changing the ways that students learn.