Within my teaching context, there is a long institutionalized history of photocopying from textbooks and assessing students with essays, reports, and presentations. Of course, many teachers employed student centered pedagogy within their classrooms but you get the picture.
The implementation of the iPad has moved the goal posts so to speak. Instead of asking which textbook might supplement a lesson, we are now questioning why a textbook needs to be used. Instead of photocopying worksheets, we are looking to incorporate apps and use iPad based activities to get students interacting with the language they are learning. The discussion is exciting and all aspects of teaching and learning are student centered.
As a department we are learning more about the apps we have at our disposal and we are integrating them to increase students connectivity with the language they are learning. Students use the language and can make personal connections with it. Need a picture for visual support? Students take photos to make connections. Need to learn a grammar point? Students make videos to outline that grammar structure. When students become teachers of other students, there is a stronger desire to learn more about it so that they have all the answers. There is a stronger connection than just discrete grammar worksheets.
Students are connecting interpersonally in both face-to-face and online environments more than in the past. Of course I used learning management systems in the past in a blended approach in or out of class. But the ease in which they can upload and share their work is amazing. I often see iPads exchanged between hands to share something interesting or to show off their work. I admit sometimes it is to give answers as well…
But the ease in which students can produce something on their iPad and then upload is far more efficient than before. Before if a student were to write a report and include images, then a student would need a digital camera with a cord to transfer the picture into word document and upload. The iPad streamlines this as students use the one tool for everything.
Workflows are common for iPad activities and tasks. I find that students realize this and go in and out of apps with ease. They write in pages, find research online or ask questions in our Schoology page. Most students know gestures to get around really quickly too.
2.Variety of Tasks and Assessments
I have already eluded to this a number of times but I am constantly amazed at the creativity and resourcefulness of teachers in designing tasks and workflows for their students. There’s a growing trend for us language teachers to utilize apps that feed into image-based apps like Instagram. This is not to say we use Instagram itself, but apps that allow users to write text and design their photos are being used to provide authentic ways to use the language.
Assessments are being reviewed and as stated before, no longer are we settling for the essay. Teachers are turning to tasks and projects that incorporate student creativity to produce. I’ve seen this many times; when students have an audience beyond the teacher, they work much harder in terms of quality and quantity. Students love sharing with their classmates and their family. These assessments are providing a real audience that increases student motivation.
1. Student Creation
Students are now creating and producing language within real-world contexts. Before it was just words on a worksheet but now they are words on a picture or e-book that can be easily shared with a larger audience. Teachers (and students!) are discovering apps to utilize. They are finding no limit to supplement the teaching of learning objectives. For instance I teach a unit on interior design and before students might make a diorama or a collage cut from magazines to complete design projects. Whilst there is nothing wrong with these, students invest more time on apps where they are designing and modeling 3D rooms. Students have commented that they feel more invested in the task and feel like interior design is their job.