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Teaching and Learning with the iPad – a 3 Year Review (Part 2)

by David Mahaley on July 16, 2013


The Teacher’s Perspective on iPad integration and Lessons Learned.

Today we continue the article series from Franklin Academy Principal David Mahaley that we began Sunday. In the first installment of this three-part review of the iPad in teaching & learning, we examined the administrator’s point of view. Today we learn about what teachers have experienced and on Thursday we will conclude with insights shared by students.

The Teacher

Over my 20+ years in education, I have been a part of numerous technology initiatives.  What seems to make the implementation of the iPad into the classroom successful in terms of the instructor is the personalization of the devices to very specific instructional needs.  The iPad is useable, portable, and quick to move from application to application.  As we have seen with the students, there are a number of noted benefits of the device in the hands of the learner.  Likewise, I believe instructors learn great lessons with the iPad in their own hands in the instructional environment.

Shutterstock iPad teacher administrator educator photo

Lesson 1 – Change of Habit

There are fundamental differences that take hold when teaching in the classroom with the iPad.  As an administrator at the Franklin Academy, I have also had the opportunity to continue to teach a class while completing my duties as leader of the school.  This experience has kept me in touch with the front line approach to using the iPad in the classroom.  Changes of habit noted in staff members include rethinking of resources, providing richer content, and planning for learning that exists outside the normal in-class time.

“Once I became used to using the iPads in the classroom I took a different approach to planning.  Gone were my worries about how many sheets of paper and how much ink I was going to use in printing, and I was free to create materials that were in full color with illustrations and interactive links to other content.  I was empowered to bring together information and media from a variety of sources and put it all together in my activities: articles, video, audio clips, images, even songs.”  (Anne K.)

Instructors have recognized the need for production of materials with an anytime-anyplace access approach.  Lessons are flipped.  Documents become active tools. Lectures are now interactive and dynamic.

“The iPad and its apps allow for continuous access to instructional materials, leading to an increase of assignment completion/submission.”  (Joy C.)

Evolving technologies require us as educators to understand the needs of the learner of the 21st Century.  Much time and research has been spent addressing what these skills are and why it is important to equip our students, however, less detailed have been training options for teachers on how to best make this a reality.  The iPad makes the instructor a practitioner of these skills.  The practitioner becomes the model for the students, thus leading to a higher level of mastery of these important skills.

Lesson 2 – Success is in the Support

Clearly the ultimate weapon in the battle for successful implementation of iPads in the classroom is relevant and sustained training.  In the field of technology this has always been the case and is no different in this initiative.

“Teacher training and sharing is crucial.  Students learn technology quickly and easily but teachers, some of whom have been doing things in a particular way for years (like myself), have to learn how to make the best use of this classroom resource..teachers need to be given time to make the adjustments and to migrate their old material to digital/interactive formats.”  (Anne K.)

Every school has staff members with varying levels of experience and expertise in the area of technology.  Training must be designed to meet the needs of the novice while also facilitating the advanced needs of those ready to take the iPad to the highest level in the classroom.  We have found that thorough training for new staff members is required at the beginning of the school year.  Secondly, we sustain this growth through “technology tidbits” we introduce at our monthly faculty meetings.  In addition to these two formats we offer in-depth training with a specific app or complimenting apps for instructional purposes.  Many of these training sessions are run by fellow staff members, who have taken a keen interest in a particular app in their classroom and share this application with others.

The support for the 1:1 iPad initiative does not only include the necessary professional development.  There must be clear expectations established for the use and maintenance of the devices by the administration and IT support personnel.  This is facilitated through the issuance of clear expectations to students regarding acceptable use, and supporting the teachers as issues arise.  Technical support must be readily available, especially for the instructors.  My rule with the IT staff at my school is that if a problem comes up that is preventing the teaching and learning in the classroom, this becomes priority #1 on their to do list.

Lesson 3 –  1:1 iPads Changing Student Performance

There are noted changes in student performance with the use of the iPad both in and outside of the classroom.  Our staff has noted a motivational change in student work ethic.  In schools, positive student motivation can open the doors to a far more successful education experience.

“As a foreign language teacher, I’ve received feedback from students that the listening assignments that I give them outside of the classroom have had a significant impact on them. I believe we can all extend the learning day to hours beyond the classroom, and hope that the students take advantage of these opportunities.” (Franca G.)

The ability to be a self-directed learner is an important quality to instill in our students today.  This technology initiative has opened the door to students to take their learning to all levels of Revised Blooms Taxonomy, and the results of the application of these skills can be quite impressive.

“When students have quality instruction in the classroom and access to everything they need from outside the classroom, learning really is in their own hands.”  (Anne K.)

From our teacher feedback we have found responses supporting an increase in the quality of student work submitted.  There has also been a trend to get assignments in prior to deadlines as the 1:1 arrangements offers the tools to the student to turn in their work at almost any time.  There is early evidence that the use of the iPad has resulted in a higher engagement rate while in class, and extended the connection time with the content to moments well beyond the normal class time.  As far as standardized test results – we are awaiting the results for this year’s state tests, due out in the Fall, to compare with previous performance indicator.  Our hopes are high that we continue to see strong indicators of performance here as well.

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Teaching and Learning with the iPad – a 3 Year Review
15 Favorite iPad Apps As Selected By Teachers
Book Review – Teaching and Learning With The iPad by David Mahaley


David Mahaley is the Head of School at the Franklin Academy High School, a North Carolina K-12 Public Charter School located in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Mahaley has overseen the implementation of iPads in the teaching and learning process at the Academy, a program initiated in 2010. Mahaley has also authored the eBook Teaching and Learning With the iPad: 20 Days to Expert, and coordinates the annual Teaching and Learning With the iPad Conference

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