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

by David Mahaley on July 18, 2013

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Part 3 – Insights and Lessons Learned from the Student’s Perspective

This is the third part in the series we’ve run this week from Franklin Academy Principal David Mahaley. In the first installment of this review of the use of the iPad in teaching & learning, we examined the administrator’s point of view, followed by a look at the teacher’s perspective. Today we examine what students have experienced as they’ve incorporated the iPad into the learning process.

The Student

Over the course of the three-year implementation and use of the iPads in the classroom, we have collected data to examine just how the students are using the devices.  Data is collected from both teachers and students to target the trends in use that we think are important to monitor as we work to continually improve the learning experience.

Shutterstock iPad teacher administrator educator photo

Through our survey of students we have identified responses to support the following:

  • 75% of surveyed students in upper classes responded “often” or “very often” when asked if deployment of iPads in the classrooms increased the exposure and use of technology in the classroom.
  • A general decrease in the need for face-to-face meeting when students are completing group projects, thus increasing student interaction with the material as a group outside the normal classroom times.
  • More electronic resources are accessed by students with iPads, including textbooks, activities, and other materials used in the classroom. This reduces the amount of hard copies made and number of books carried around.
  • Submission of hard copy homework in the classroom is reduced with the use of the iPad by the students.
  • Number of separate notebooks maintained and carried around by students on a given day has been reduced.
  • Students prefer to type their notes from classes versus handwriting them. They then can save and store their notes electronically.

Lesson 1 -  Organization

Students have reported many benefits to having the device in their hands both for use at school and home.  One challenge that many students face is a lack of organization with their materials for class.  We have noted that forgetting or losing work is much less frequent.

“I’m able to [stay] organized with all my classes and assignments through Dropbox, Evernote and Goodreader – which makes completing and turning in assignments stress-free.”  (Brianna K.)

We have noted that electronic organization requires some additional steps in the classroom to help students find success.  It is very important to develop a naming convention for file and documents so students and staff can easily identify a document as it is posted or transmitted.  This could include an abbreviated name of the assignments with the student initials and graduation year.  (ex.  HW8-12-13DHM14).

“I have found that my iPad has made organization much easier. With everything I need within one device I no longer need to carry around the dreaded notebook.” ( Joshua M.)

It has been noted that typical areas of organizational struggles, such as lockers, notebooks, and book bags have improved.  With less physical items to misplace or organize, students turn towards the new challenge of electronic organization.  It is recommended that when students are given cloud storage with which to keep their documents, that they develop a sound filing structure to include the names of the various courses as well as a place for personal documents.

Lesson 2 -  Timely Workflow & Communication

In a true 1:1 environment, students have the iPad for their use both at school and home.  We have noted as a staff an increase in the communication between student and teacher because of the connections that can be made outside of the classroom.  In our case we have relied upon portals like Edmodo to hold class discussion, feedback, and Q&A outside of the normal class meeting time.  One advantage here is providing an alternate way for students to seek and receive help with their assignments.  Students report that there are times they feel more comfortable posting a question for a teacher than actually seeking them out for a face-to-face conversation.  Sometimes questions regarding assignments come about outside the classroom.  Utilization of the iPad to facilitate this continued learning and dialogue is important.

Students using the iPad have noted concrete workflow advantages to having the device in their hands.  This can be translated into increased efficiency and quality in their work production.

“The iPad has also been instrumental in enriching the fluidity and ease with which I have been able to deliver presentations and to participate in group discussions. Applications like Keynote and CloudOn coupled with the iPad’s mirroring function means that presentations can be viewed on an Apple TV in the classroom without compatibility errors of other technologies.” (Jason S.)

Combining the technologies of the iPad, Apple TV and a few other key apps puts a multitude of sharing possibilities at the disposal of the student.  Communication is not limited to student-teacher relationships.  Group work is facilitated by the use of the iPad to collaborate on assignments students are working on in a variety of classes.

Lesson 3 -  Information Access

A common response from students at all grade levels is the ability to access information from a variety of resources quickly and efficiently. This is truly 21st Century Skills in action!  Students must be taught to critically evaluate resources found electronically for credibility and authority.  Once these solid foundations have been set, students can be very savvy at gathering not only information required for assignments or discussions in the classroom, but also additional sources that can add to the breadth of understanding of a topic.

“With the iPad, I don’t have to wait to go to the computer lab to start the research process, and in general the iPad makes many resources more accessible.” (Tyler S.)

What I have observed students doing in the high school is taking the lesson topic and finding additional information to further their understanding.  In many cases, questions in the classroom become quick exploration activities with the students searching for these answers on the fly.  The discussion now becomes highly interactive but guided by the instructor who must now take on the role of facilitator.

“The amount of freedom to pursue interest, the level of information I can access, and the speed at which I can do tasks when compared to students elsewhere in the state gives me an enormous advantage. When properly used, the iPad can be implemented in my classes in a way that not only adds to the instructional process, but allows me to further my own education and pursue my academic interests.” (Jordan D.)

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 (Part 1 – the Administrator)
Teaching and Learning with the iPad – a 3 Year Review (Part 2 – the Teacher)
Book Review – Teaching and Learning With The iPad by David Mahaley

About 

David Mahaley is the Principal of 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 SHARING WITH THE IPAD: INSTRUCTOR QUICK GUIDE, and has coordinated several regional conferences focused on teaching and learning with the iPad.

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