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Published on November 17th, 2012 | by Mark Anderson

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iPad in schools 102 – why?

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I’m being asked over and over again at the moment about iPads and how they can be used in education. Here are some of the questions I’ve been asked lately.

“My Head has given me 30 iPads and an Apple TV, what do I do?”

“I’m looking at iPads. Are they the best way to go?”

“What do you think about replacing all of our desktop machines with iPads?”

“What’s the best way to go about getting some iPads in my school?”

“I’m looking to put iPads in to our SIP, what’s the best app to go on there?”

This series of blog post is by no means a bible, but over the past 18 months I’ve learned an awful lot about how bringing mobile devices in to education can help to develop and transform teaching and the ways learning can take place. I hope that this and subsequent posts go some way to answering the questions above. Most of all though, I hope that you realise in order for me to get to the stage that I am at, I have had to go along a journey. I urge you to do the same. Rather than jump in feet (or wallet) first, take the time to experience and learn from the things I have, and more.

I’m not going to give you all the information you require, technical or otherwise in this post, but certainly I’ll give you some signposts, just don’t just expect the information on a silver platter. Seek advice yes, but experience it too.

Over the years we have seen too many digital schemes fail. We’ve seen schools spend hundreds of thousands, millions even, on initiatives such as IWB’s and VLE’s and more, to get technology in to education. Unfortunately, all too often, it has just been a waste of money. Mobile technology in education offers a new and exciting way forward with new opportunities for transforming learning in our schools. It also however, gives us new opportunities to fail. If we don’t take the time and the effort to learn, plan, engage and interact with every stakeholder in the process, it is very likely that it could be another massive investment by thousands of schools (and in this brave new education landscape we see ourselves in, parents too) wasted. This will, of course, keep manufacturers and sellers happy, but what is most important is that our learners are happy and making the best use of the technology to equip them fully for their lives in the digital age we now live.

The same is absolutely true in relation to the pedagogy behind the use of technology in the classroom. As Matt Pearson wrote here “iPads do not have magic learning dust coming out of the back vent” and he is correct. He also echoes this too in this excellent post “You are not doing an iPad project”. Sound thinking about how and when technology is used in learning contexts is absolutely key if we are to make these transformational learning gains that so many people talk about. And that’s what it’s about. Learning. Of course, in this series of posts I’ll talk a lot about the technology, but never lose focus; it has to be about the pedagogy and thinking behind the choices made, both by us as facilitators of learning in our classrooms but also in the choices students make when they are learning in the classroom too.

The brilliant Zoe Elder says that using technology should…

“enhance the learning, not dictate the learning”.

Make sure that thinking is at the forefront of your thinking too.

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About the Author

Assistant Headteacher and author of the successful "Perfect ICT Every Lesson book". Interested in learning, teaching, geekery and making learning relevant.



One Response to iPad in schools 102 – why?

  1. Peter Scurr says:

    Nice set of articles here. Thank you for your efforts. I’ve come back to this one because it occurs to me that while I have an iPad and am the ICT coordinator at school, maybe they just don’t suit some teachers. I honestly think some are terrified by all this new freedom they come with. Phrases like mobile learning and independent learners mean that they have to get creative and invent stuff from their own mind. Heaven forbid! Where are the Schemes of Work? The programmes of study written by the government? Where are the folders with all the lessons laid out in order for me to follow?
    Now I don’t mean to belittle such colleagues but just make a point. Some at my school like to teach from a manual. That’s where they feel safe, it has procedure, boxes and dates.
    I think the iPad requires you to get to know the machine and the apps, do a bit of homework, experiment and then, in a flash of inspiration say, “hey, I know, if I did x, y, z then they could do that!”.
    Like much apple stuff it suits the creative, not the methodical. Thought needs to be applied as to how we bring such teachers along with us in this respect.

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