I had the opportunity last week to go to an iPad Boot Camp given by Sam Gliksman. Sam runs the popular iPads in Education Ning (http://ipadeducators.ning.com/) and recently published iPads Apps for Education for Dummies (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1118375386/?tag=wwwwileycom-20). He gave a fascinating class about effectively using the plethora of different iPad apps to facilitate the classroom learning. He spent a lot of time showing different ways that the students could create content and show their understanding of the materials.
It was eye opening to see the powerful apps that can be utilized on the iPad. He modeled checking for understanding by having the students create a book and then emailing it to the teacher’s Evernote homework notebook. We learned how to connect our iPads to our computers and use them as a substitute for an IWB . He showed us different strategies in Socrative to encourage active participation. He amazed us when he asked us to input three adjectives to describe a character in a story and used Wordle to make a word cloud out of our answers. The tools that are available are out of this world. If properly used, they can change your classroom. They not only add a visual perspective to the learning, but they also allow the students to manipulate the data and experience the learning hands on.
We sat entranced as we pondered the technological wonders we could incorporate into our classrooms. We now have a device that could motivate our students to want to learn. We would no longer need to discipline and we wouldn’t need to work as hard. The learning would just magically happen…
Then he said it….Technology is not out to replace good teaching. Nothing is magic. A good teacher uses any tool at their disposal to ensure that the students are learning. The iPad is just another tool, albeit a versatile one. Its purpose is not to replace good, solid teaching. It was quite obvious from Sam Gliksman presentation that he viewed the iPad as a tool. It is just a means to the end and not the end itself.The apps were to encourage the students to think. He viewed the iPad as a tool to help us step away from the teacher centered classroom and glide into the role of the teacher as the facilitator. It is proven the retention rate is higher for students who have the opportunity to learn the materials on their own. We are letting the students down if we think it is enough to let them memorize verbatim. They need to be trained to think on their own. They need to acquire the ability to analyze a situation and think through a solution.
The same holds true for any visual learning tool. The web offers thousands of tools that can add flavor to your lessons and pizzazz to your delivery. Many of them can be utilized to help the students understand using real life data and hands on experience. Using them effectively can be invaluable for your students. The key is to use them effectively and not fall prey to the desire to use them because they exist.
It is important to think through each aspect of every lesson you give over to your students. What is the best way to get them to learn. Is it to create an online presentation and collaborate with their fellow classmate or is it to sit down with a pencil and paper and work it out the old fashion way? You need to decide your learning goal and then figure out the best way to get there. If the answer is using paper and pencil, then encourage them to use paper and pencil. If the best way is to post to a wiki, then they post to wiki. Don’t be afraid that you are selling your students short by not using the technology. You are selling your students short by not giving them the best opportunity to learn.