iPads In The Classroom – Week 3

Well we are three weeks in, our routines are entrenched (kinda), the curriculum is flowing and summer break is a distant memory. This coming week will be our first scheduled check in with all the iPad teachers and I am looking forward to finding out how things are going.

For the most part, it would appear that things are going fairly well. At the very least, when an administrator walks by the classroom, the gentle glow of the iPad shining up on the students faces creates the illusion of engagement. I am not sure that this is what was imagined when the word “enlightened” was coined but somehow it is strangely appropriate.

What I do know for certain is that kids are getting work done and with surprisingly little fuss or muss. To be honest, I envisioned being in a constant battle, keeping kids on task and off Angry Birds but it really isn’t working out that way. Certainly I have kids playing games instead of doing their work but they are isolated incidents and hardly difficult to control. I have far more difficulty in my other classes with kids squandering time on addicting games in a networked computer lab, where I have complete control of each and every computer.

I think the difference is that because the iPad is application based, the ability to transition quickly from classwork to game and back to classwork is clumsy and inefficient. With a computer, this transition is much faster because almost everything is browser based and switching between tabs is quick and seamless. The result is that the iPad student is locked into one task at a time, therefore eliminating the tiring game of catch me if you can.

The biggest issue around distraction comes from getting the kids to listen for instructions and pay attention to what you are doing at the front of the class. As a general rule, when I talk, I like their attention. What I have to do is get the kids to turn the iPad face down on the table or put the cover on but it is astounding how quickly 25% of kids will be back on the device. As Stuart Shanker would say, they have some difficulties with self regulation. I have yet to master how to get the kids to resist the urge to play but I am working on it.

As for how I am distributing curriculum using the iPad? I am using the Edmodo App and for the most part it is pretty magical BUT there is one glaring shortcoming. Students cannot turn in completed work done on the iPad to Edmodo. This is more of a shortcoming of the iPad, as it is the way Apple has created the device but it is a pain in the backside regardless of whose shortcoming it is. I have been reduced to getting kids to email me the assignments but this is messy and time consuming. Kids can still link to an on line document and submit that but then you are defeating the purpose of having Apps like Pages or Keynote. I am investigating options such as Google Docs, Evernote or simply blogging an assignment but in my mind it is defeating the power and the purpose of the iPad and its Apps.

Finally, I had a little bit of a Twitter breakthrough this past week using the iPads, which was really kind of cool. I have used Twitter before to participate in various current events over the past year and I set my classes loose on a our Province’s Administrators during their 2010 BCPVPA conference but I haven’t used it as a question answer medium within a regular class. I have always been a bit hesitant about letting kids loose in this manner but this past week I had the kids fire up questions and observations they had about a documentary we were watching using Twitter and it worked phenomenally well. I find our iPad cohort a pretty tight lipped group but the twitter thread generated some great thoughts and questions which spun into a fantastic post viewing discussion. Twitter served as a fantastic discussion starter and I will definitely be doing this again.

So this is my third week. Nothing earth shattering or shocking to report just steady as she goes. At this point I cannot make any definitive statements about whether iPads are good bad or indifferent, they just are, and only time will tell if they are the panacea of an education system in transition.

Check Out: iPads In the Classroom – Assumptions


  1. Ingrid Veilleux

    Fave parts of this post:

    #1 Age of enlightenment – LOL
    #2 great comparison of ipads versus the computer lab (good food for thought) – Where should computers be situated??
    #3 technical probs
    #4 networking and collaboration opportunities

    Here is some food for thought:
    In his book: Supporting Struggling Readers (I have shortened the title), Richard Allington says that we need to set volume targets for how much children should read and write each year. Reading and responding to 25+ books per year (Grade 4 and beyond) is the minimum target in New York. I think you should match the tool with a goal such as observing, How does the ipad increase the volume of reading for intermediate students? Perhaps replacing the word ‘ipad’ with ‘pencil’ might be useful in helping you find a specific focus. For example, we would not conduct a study on how people use pencils (too general) but we might conduct a study on how pencils support literacy (?) Not sure if the analogy is a good one but rather than investigating how people use ipads, it would be more useful to consider how ipads contribute to the achievement of a specific goal. Just food for thought.

    A great post! l look forward to following your learning journey – so interesting!!! I really enjoy your writing style. And this really got me thinking…

    Bye for now,

  2. Christina

    Hi – I use my personal iPad and Edmodo in my classroom. I, too, was frustrated by not being able to upload documents. I did some research and found that by using the paid app “iCab Mobile” Internet browser instead of the Edmodo app, I could upload my documents on my iPad from pages or keynote to the students! Try it out. If you have questions, I’m more than willing to help out!

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    @Ingrid Veilleux Thanks for you post Ingrid. I sometimes wonder if I am the only one who reads my posts.

    I appreciate the notion of “setting targets” but I would still have to wrap my head around what that target would be. Our primary focus here is to see if the ipad is a good tool for learning and teaching with. Since I do not teach a “testable” (in the traditional sense) traditional measures of learning do not apply.

    At the moment, all I am going on is time on task, assignment completion and whether the kids are enjoying the class and are leaving with a smile on their faces.

  4. Fred


    Has anyone else tried this out? It seems unlikely that any browser can upload files to a website given what I know of the way the iPad file system works and the restrictions placed on apps by apple.

  5. Jeremy Reid

    I enjoyed reading your post.
    As I also have iPads in my classroom also, I can relate to your pro’s and con’s that you mentioned.
    I have also found that students don’t seem to be too distracted with the playing games and instead seem quite focused. Time will tell if this continues or maybe we are in a novelty phase with these devices right now.
    Keep blogging!

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