iPads In The Classroom – Marathon Man

Ok it is official. If this iPad thing doesn’t kill me, I will be ready to do a marathon by the time June comes around. At first I thought it was just me and my lousy lesson planning (still a strong possibility) but I think it might just be the nature of the beast. Having a classroom full of kids working on iPads is a high energy, high mileage endeavour. This past week felt like I was running summer day camps for 8 – 12 year olds again or herding cats.

Part of the issue is that, I haven’t standardized much of what we do in class. Certainly my lesson is the same for everyone but when I turn the kids loose to do work on their iPads, that lesson can be interacted with in 30 different ways. This of course is the beauty of the iPad, everyone’s experience with the curriculum is different but it can also be head spinning .

You now have 30 different possibilities in the hands of your students, not that all of these possibilities need your attention, it certainly generates a lot of questions.

As we move along with this project, I am sure we will find ways routinise our classroom activities in a way which make it easier for a teacher to answer the multitude of questions that crop up during a class. With that said, I also think that regardless of what we do to standardize the iPad classroom, it will remain a busier learning environment than a “traditional” learning space.

With all this said, in an effort to make things a little easier for everyone, I am trying to implement the following.

  1. Try to keep activities tied to a single app, 2 at the most.
      • Multi tasking on the iPad is cumbersome at best so keep it simple until kids become proficient with their device.
  2. Try to ensure every student uses the same app so their experience with the content or activity, will be consistent.
      • If you are using a classroom set of iPad’s, set them up all the same so the kids are experiencing the same thing.
  3. If possible, demo any activity you are doing using an iPad rather than a computer.
      • Although you would think students could differentiate between one device to another, some have some difficulties with the difference between the two. Keep your demos as close to what they will see on their own device as possible.
  4. Scale Activities.
      • Just like a Physical Education class you have to build lessons that match skill levels and move from the bottom up
      • One of the errors I made right out of the gate is that I assumed the kids would be proficient at using the iPad… Boy was I wrong.
  5. Screencasts
      • Creating Screencasts to which kids can refer at any time. This has been working well in my my regular classes so far and once I can start screen casting my iPad it will be fantastic teaching tool in the iPad classroom.

As iPad use becomes more popular and its use more ubiquitous. I am sure there will be an app or two, that will help teachers and students be more efficient with their class time. It is only a matter of time. In the mean time we will muddle along break new ground with what we have at our disposal.

Something I would like to see is LanSchool improving their iOS product to include some of the same features that their wired network product has. Specifically, the Send & Collect feature, ScreenFeed and Screen Blanking. These three tools would go a long way in creating a learning environment that was a little more unified and a little less freestyle. I will coin the term for this type of App right now. From this point forward, they will be called Unified Learning Environment Apps or ULEA’s

Until then, I am looking forward to my 4 hr marathon completion time this spring.


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