Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Using Ipads for Learning Activities - Categories and apps

I thought I'd take stock of where I'm at with my ipad learning.  Next week I start running my workshop Using Ipads in Educational Setting.  I decided early on that I would be focusing on the different ways the ipad can enhance learning activities rather than subject specific content.  Although the latter is an important and valuable use for this device you don't necessarily need a workshop for this.  You could just give people a list of apps and websites although they still need time and space to explore them. 

My focus will be an exploring the ipads potential for enhancing collaboration, communication and creativity as this is an area where educators need help to practice and understand how each type of app can work in the classroom setting. 

After playing around with different spaces to record my learning, I've settled on a mindmeister mindmap to act the hub of my activity and organise my thinking.  I've decided to share it below so that others can make use of what I'm doing:

Create your own mind maps at MindMeister

Consider this a work in progress.  Apps/categories will be added, tweeked and deleted.  I still have a few great resources to explore and schools to visit where ipads are being used for real.  However, there should be enough there already for this to be useful starting point it someone wants to explore for themselves. 

I always like to have categories so that we don't just talk in terms of individual apps as being synonymous with a particular pedagogical process.  This makes it easier to understand when explaining it and allows for the inevitable changing landscape.

More to follow....

Monday, 12 November 2012

Ipad Research - The Ipad as a tool for education - NAACE (UK)

I wanted to write a short review of the excellent paper written by NAACE called The Ipad as a tool for Education - A study of the introduction of iPads at Longfield Academy, Kent which is freely available.  There is actually more research that I thought about these devices and this is first such paper I have read.  I hope the others are as informative as this one because this gives insight into the impact of giving ipads to each student in a UK secondary school over a couple of terms in the academic year of 2011/12.  Firstly the key sentence from the report:

"The outcomes at Longfield clearly demonstrate the value of the iPad as an educational tool and the role that it can play in learning and teaching." (P4, NAACE, 2012)

What I like is that staff, students and parents were surveyed.  Interestingly, the students have a consistently more positive perception of its impact on their learning, achievement and engagement.  Both staff and students are positive overall on their impact.  There is a consistent 15% of staff negative across many of the questions is pretty impressive for a totally new device.

To comment on the report and give insight into the key findings I'll reproduce the bullet points from the executive summary and annotate with my comments.  Words from the report are in italics and my words are non-italicised.

- The overwhelming majority of teachers regularly use iPads in their teaching - This is encouraging but it covers everything from a teacher using it to do a little research to use in collaborative learning.

- iPad use is particularly strong in English, Maths and Science - This statement belies a tendency for ipads to be used as a deliverer of subject specific content.  I can see how teachers will instinctively explore their usefulness in this regard.  This is partly to do with how technology has been used in the past, partly to do with how ipads are used in general and partly to do with reinforcing the dominant didactic pedagogy where seeking content fits nicely.  I also suspect that there could be more exploration of apps for collaborative possibilities in this context leaving much of this potential undiscovered.  The apps listed towards the end of the document are the standard popular ones and a few subject specific ones.  This is an area that where educators will definitely need help with.  I am certainly more interested in the all purpose collaborative or creative apps than the subject specific ones.

- There is high demand from students for iPad use to be extended further & Students are more
motivated when using iPads - One of the many messages you can take from these statement is that students want to be engaged more in their own learning and welcome the opportunities for working with devices that allow this to happen.

Teachers have identified significant benefits for their workload and have also identified cost savings & Both staff and student feel they can work more effectively iPads & All find the iPad easy to use - This is important because it will attract many of the sceptics.  Much of this is about the paper-saving potential.  What's vital is that the screen glare is far, far reduced from notebooks and laptops of a few years ago.  It's still a bit better with dedicated ebook readers but the ipad isn't half bad in this respect.  Another key point is the easy transition between different applications and format all in one device.  It makes tasks which previous needed planning and different pieces of equipment quicker and easier to manage and more attractive.

- Use of the iPads is increasingly being developed for homework and beyond school activities - There are just so much potential with the 1:1 setup.  Students get their own device where they can continue their learning anytime, anywhere.   What we need to do is help formal education understand the potential and they can set creative activities that can be completed at home.

The quality and standard of pupil work and progress is rising - This point just leaps off the pages.  Raising standard is hard to quantify but there is clearly enough evidence to make this statement.  Now to find more studies that see what they say...

- Levels of collaborative working have improved - The evidence for this seemed a bit vague to me.  But I'm sure its happening.  What's important to understand is the tablets don't disrupt the social dynamic of the classroom.  They can sit within a group discussion context and a focus for activity.  Compare this with a computer room.

- Appropriate use of Apps learning - I'm glad it wasn't inappropriate.  But we need more details case studies to learn more about this.

Minor technical issues have arisen, often due to user error, but are readily dealt with - This was very useful.  I have found with my tablet that there are very few problems that a reboot doesn't solve.  When teaching with the ipads it's the logistics of sorting out the presentation screen that's needs the most attention.  Also, its harder to manage a group of your own ipads for use across different groups than to go down the 1:1 route.  The ipad is designed as a personal device so this is hardly surprising.  I'm busy managing multiple itunes accounts and lots of gifting apps.  Its fiddly.  By giving this responsibility over to the students things are much easier.

- Effective project management has been critical to the success of this development - It's about investing time and space to the implementation process and built in time and space for regular review.  For participants on my forthcoming workshop Using Ipads in Educational Settings we plan to offer the facilitation of action research as a follow up to support any implementation process.  Buying technology and then have them sit in a cupboard is something we all want to prevent.

I like commenting on reports like this.  I really helps me reflect.

NAACE (2012), The ipad as a tools for education - a study of the introduction of iPads at Longfield Academy, Kent.  Online at http://www.naace.co.uk/publications/longfieldipadresearch.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Using Ipads in Educational Settings - 1

I thought I'd reflect and share where I am up to on the subject of Using Ipads in Educational Setting.    Having dipped my toe into the teaching with these devices and learnt a lot about the logistics of this activity, I am currently focusing on two things:

1. Curating, aggregating and studying web resources I find on the subject
2. Making sense of this knowledge by identifying and organising apps into types of activity

Curating, aggregating and studying web resources I find on the subject

I started off doing this on a diigo group, then a wikispace wiki whilst organising my ipad apps into folders.  Eventually I will develop my website - http://ipadsioe.weebly.com/ into something which display my ongoing knowledge.  But for now I am aggregating web resources on this pearltree:

iPads in education settings and Personal Productivity / News aggregation in Tom Preskett (tompreskett)

Each pearl around the central one is a type of web resource. Click on each of these to see the actual sites.  There's a lot of information out there much of which I am still to study in depth.  However, I share it here for anyone with the time and inclination to look at it themselves.  This is just what I have found so far, I'm sure there's much more.  However, I need to take stock so I'm not actively looking at the moment.

Making sense of this knowledge by identifying and organising apps into types of activity

I decided to do a mindmap.  This was an easy decision.  I need to articulate categories and choose relevant apps to go with these categories.  I surfed around the usual mindmap suspects and thought I'd use mindmeister on this occasion.  I also decided to cough up the minimal payment to make life easier.  I'm attracted by their new prezi-style canvas presentation option.  Unfortunately, it doesn't work on IE which is an issue for me at work.  Anyway, below is a snapshot of a first few hours work on this.  My ipad is a mess at the moment of I grapple with how to categorise the apps.  I'm composing the mindmap by playing with each app and then moving to the right category.  Every so often I rejig and rename things.  What will emerge is a neat, tidy mindmap mirrored by a neat, tidy ipad folder structure (I hope).  Below is a snapshot of where I got up to after a few hours work on this:

Sorry if you can't read this easily but I wanted to share this as an image so it is a snapshot of a work in progress.  I've started with the simple types of activity trying to make sense and recommend some apps for core activities like writing notes, or annotating pdfs/documents, or image creation.  On the outer layer are simply the names of apps that I have tried out and deem to be or potential value in educational settings.  Many have been rejected and I've started a rejected apps mindmap which I might share at a later date.  On my ipad I am mirroring what's on the mindmap.  There are many categories to go and I'm still to tackle a lot of the more interesting, multimedia types activities.  I'm more and more convinced that the best option for group work on ipads is apple TV.  We don't have it yet but will soon.  At the moment I'm using the apple 30-pin to VGA Adapter.  This keeps falling out!  Apple TV will allow participants to display their screen as well as the teacher and get rid of the wires.  I digress.

As we know learning is messy but I'm finding this really rewarding.  The motivation for this learning is that I am committed to running the workshop Using Ipads in Educational Settings in London on 30/11 for the first time.  The fact that it sold out in 2 days means I am on the right track with this.  Some school clearly want help with how to use these devices.  If you are based in the UK and this workshop interests you, contact us on T: 020 7612 6689 / 6245; E: londoncentre@ioe.ac.uk

More to come....

Friday, 2 November 2012

Using ipads in teaching and learning - A second Introduction

Earlier this week I delivered my second session about ipads using ipads.  For this session I built on the same idea from the first one (see Using ipads in teaching and learning - an introduction) - presenting a pot pourri of free apps to give participants a taste of the types of activities that can be performed using such devices.  Again it worked well although the group was a small one.  Below are the apps that presented and had them practice using:

Paperport notes


A good, solid example of note taking app. Good usability allowing for text, drawn or narrated notation. You can also import pdfs to annotate. The sharing options are extensive..

Mind mash


Simple note taking app organised in sheets allowing for text, drawing and photos.

Inspiration lite


A good mindmapping tool with lots of template to work from and lots of display options. Can do 5 maps in this free version.

Popplet lite


Mindmapping with the bonus of using images and drawing. Colourfully displayed this is worth exploring. You can only create one popplet in this free version. However, the pay version isn't too expensive at £2.99.

Creative pad


Digitial storytelling tool with more background, character, object options than most. Music background is a bonus and you can share by pdf/email.

Flip boom


Create your own animations with a series of images. There are many such apps and this is good starting point as it only takes a few minutes to master. As with many of the above the free version doesn't allow you to build up a library. However, you can play with its full functionality.

Mental class


A flashcard creation and storage app. The core purpose would be for students to create revision notes but there is scope for teacher use too. Notes can be combination of text, images and audio and organised into subject cases. To share you need to pay but you can use it effectively for yourself for free. Note: search for MENTAL CASE to find it in the app store.

Start lite - Web to pdf


There are many ways to convert a web page to a pdf. Unsurprisingly, there are many ipad apps fro this too. Start lite is a free example allowing for 3 such conversions per day.