Technology can make life a lot easier in the classroom. In the past criticism was often aimed at new technology coming into the classroom, recent advances in tech have made drastic changes to the learning environment.
This has actually been the case for numerous generations. When televisions were introduced to schools and kindergartens, many people were outraged at the invasion of technology into the educational process but of course, television became an integral part of the learning process. It is therefore fair to say that when used properly, tablets such as the iPad can be used effectively in the classroom.
No matter what the educational focus is, there is an app which supports practically any curriculum target imaginable. Finding them involves the arduous task of downloading, appraising, ranking and discarding apps based on usefulness and engagement. While apps provide numerous educational benefits as well as entertainment they are not always appropriately connected to curriculum targets. Kathy Shrock provides an excellent evaluation rubric for download which judges applications across multiple areas including effect on student motivation, user friendliness and how it incorporates the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Teachers and institutions can also rely on some of the many quality iBooks that have been written up in the last 2 years that provide constructive reviews of applications for use in education environments. Among the most recent and useful publications currently in the app store is Annalisa Kelly’s guide: “iPads in the Classroom 2013” The publication serves as a beginner’s reference for teachers in primary and secondary schools. This guide discusses aspects of using iPads with students across grades and is inclusive of special needs, regular stream and gifted students. The text not only provides guidance to teachers who currently augment their lessons with iOS devices but it is also intended for those who are planning deployments in their schools. A useful “App-endix” has also been added to the guide which lists over 35 applications that educators will find useful based on their usability for educators and their pertinence to curriculum.
Ensuring teacher confidence is an integral component in successful deployments of new technologies. iPadagogy is an excellent online resource available to educators on YouTube. The channel adequately covers applications by reviewing and giving pointers for practical use by teachers. Staying up to date on the most recent applications of educational value is next to impossible but there are many who have helped enable educators to gain skills and confidence to augment their curriculum.
iPadagogy covers many of the recent educational apps that provide real-time feedback on student performance and understanding. When asking a question in class and then waiting for a show of hands, there can be a tendency for peer pressure to sway what some students will say. This can skew the actual findings of understanding in the classroom but using an iPad can resolve this. Some apps allow each student to answer questions with no input or influence from other students. This can ensure that a teacher knows what each student is picking up on or what they are struggling with in the class. iPadagogy’s video reviews of these popular applications help educators to see the immediate usefulness of apps being reviewed. Viewers can witness user interfaces that measure student understanding and how they are growing more user-friendly every day. There is no doubt that ed tech startups who can smoothly integrated this much needed functionality into their products will have an advantage in the race to develop the perfect applications for our children.
The iPad the classroom provides a great level of educational support and is well worth considering by all educational bodies. Teachers need to actively learn this new technology but the benefits to their practice and their students are immeasurable. The multitude of discoverable apps really stand out with respect to quality, learning relevance and fun. Engagement of our students ensures that they remain fully focused, keeping them entertained and focused on the learning process. This may be just the thing to ensure students are developing well.