Congratulations! Your school district or principal has just decided to use iPads in your school. But how do you make sure this new technological tool enhances learning, while tying in with your lesson plan—and doesn’t just provide another way for students to spend too much time playing Candy Crush or connecting with friends on Snapchat?
Before we explore the many different ways educators can use iPads with their students, let’s first talk about the benefits of giving students hands on access to this technology.
Since iPads were released in 2010, numerous studies have examined the impact of their usage in schools. Some of the results include:
Although many teachers appreciate the advantages their students gain from using iPads, they are also very conscious of remembering that the devices are simply tools—the cart, if you would, and not the horse.
In a school in Zurich, Switzerland, where every student from kindergarten to 8th grade was given an iPad—600 in all—the emphasis is not on what kids can get from the iPad, but on what they put into it. iPads are used as video cameras, audio recorders and multimedia notebooks that contain the students’ creations. For example, students were told to find an example of a system and make a video that explained it.
At Buck Lodge Middle School in suburban Washington, D.C., students use the tablets to shoot videos, create presentations and use educational software as part of their lessons—with good results. 175% more students who use the iPad are at advanced levels in math, versus similar schools that do not have iPad programs.
These studies and anecdotes are just a sampling of the research that indicates iPads can be a very useful tool to have in your educational arsenal.
Technology moves swiftly, and there’s no shame in not being knowledgeable about every device. And yes, your students may be more comfortable with an iPad than you are—at least initially. Luckily, here’s a handy cheat sheet on operating the device. And remember, even if the kids are more familiar with the devices than you are, you still can create the bigger picture of new ways to use the devices for learning.
We talk a lot about how students can learn using iPads and their apps, but let’s not overlook the ways iPads can help teachers teach. The Teacher’s iPad Spectrum provides a jumpstart to help educators think creatively on how to use iPads and other technology.
With the understanding of how iPads can benefit students and teachers in a learning environment, the next question is how, exactly, to use these tablets to enhance education.
What iPad apps, for example, work best to promote creativity, analysis or understanding? Allan Carrington, from the University of Adelaide, created a Padagogy Wheel using Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy and a list of applicable educational iPad apps. This wheel helps connect different aspects of teaching while using iPad apps, in an easy to digest format.
By selecting your own apps, you can create an iPad that matches the needs of your lesson plan. And with over 80,000 educational apps in the Apple App Store, it’s a virtual playground for free or low-cost learning. Educators have found many ways to use their tablets by combining apps with lesson plans, such as:
iPads can provide plenty of ways teachers for teachers to enrich their lessons. By targeting the apps and activities that augment your teaching, this technology can help your students –and you—approach teaching and learning from a fresh perspective.
Editor’s note: This article is a revision and combination of several older Edudemic articles, updated and re-analyzed to reflect the latest innovations.