Tag Archives: professional development

Five Changes I’ve Seen in Teaching and Learning with the iPad

autumn leaves5. Changing the Discussion

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.

4. Connectivity

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…

3. Streamlined

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.


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A Reappropriation of Twitter

Twitter: Professional Development

Twittybacking in the snow?

Key Features

Teachers are recognizing Twitter, a socio-cultural tool, can be beneficial integrated into their informal professional development (P.D). From mediating conversations and collaborations to status updates, from a repository of links to group collaboration, society interacts and constructs using 140-characters or less. One technique is to follow a line of inquiry through Twittybacking (Yates, 2011, 24 April) and learn more about a particular subject or topic. By clicking through, teachers can understand the chain of thought and develop a deeper understanding. Twittybacking can be conducted with content, clicking hyperlinks, and interaction, following tweeters.

To examine the potential of Twitter, I conducted action research in which I immersed myself and participated in Twitter chat sessions (#langchat and #eltchat) using TweetDeck. Normally Twitter is asynchronous with varied amounts of time between tweets but Twitter chats are quick, chaotic, and synchronous as all participants tweet and essentially compete with each other for the attention span of other users. Hayles (2008) argues that social media sparks our hyper attention instead of deep attention and teachers must be aware of this when implementing. The concept of twittybacking still applies to Twitter chats as a thought-provoking tweet can be built on and developed collaboratively thereby constructing meaning within the Twitter chat context.

Potential & Recommendation

Costello (2009) lightly refers to connectivism in his treatment of Twitter. I observed principles  of connectivism learning through the connection of information sources through diverse opinions (Siemans, 2004). All Tweeters approached the same topic from a different angle and I developed a personal understanding from the connections I made cognitively.

Engagement with online content through Twitter is a conceptual shift in the way teachers view information and knowledge (Alvermann, 2008). It requires a mobility to laterally move through hypertextual content, in often multimodal formats, reading globally and applying locally, or vice-versa (Luke, 2003). In this scope, there is a question of digital fluency, knowledge of the technology, how to consume and produce content with it and maximising its potential (Resnick, 2004). Teachers should assess themselves and seek guidance in the supportive social space of Twitter communities.

Essentially, this is a strong P.D recommendation for those seeking empowerment through investment in their human capital, the benefits stemming from one’s knowledge or abilities (Becker, 2008), to generate socio-economic opportunities and growth. With Twitter, teachers use 140-characters in a powerful way to connect with other teachers around the globe intellectually, cognitively and emotionally (Wheeler, 2010). Connections, collaborations and constructions can be made to build a teacher’s P.D. Within a socio-constructivist setting, teachers must be proactive to turn this tool’s mode from a passive to active to work towards their P.D.

Alvermann, D. E. (2008). Why bother theorizing adolescents’ online literacies for classroom practice and research? Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 52(1), 8-19.

Becker, G. (2008). Human Capital. Retrieved September 12, 2011 from http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/HumanCapital.html

Costello, E. (2009, 27-28 August). Teaching and Participatory Media. Paper presented at the Fifth International Conference of the All-Ireland Society for Higher Education, Maynooth, Ireland.

Hayles, K. (2008, January 17). My article on hyper and deep attention.   Retrieved September 01, 2011, from http://media08.wordpress.com/2008/01/17/my-article-on-hyper-and-deep-attention/

Luke, C. (2003). Pedagogy, Connectivity, Multimodality, and Interdisciplinarity. Reading Research Quarterly, 38(3), 397-403.

Siemans, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Theory of Learning for the Digital Age.   Retrieved April 01, 2011, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Wheeler, S. (2010, April 3). Why Twitter is so powerful.   Retrieved September 1,, 2011, from http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com/2010/04/why-twitter-is-so-powerful.html

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Interactive WhiteBoard Professional Development

This is an executive summary of an extensive literature review of the hierarchy of conditions needed for effective Interactive WhiteBoard (IWB) professional development (PD). These conditions need to be addressed in order to facilitate the PD and support the integration of the IWBs into teaching and learning. For the full literature review, please contact Nicholas Yates.

The IWB PD Hierarchy

Unique to the pyramid is the base of situating the P.D. in the context of the integration. Any PD should be situated and school grown. If there is a school need, can the school pool their resources together before seeking outside consultation? If outside help is sought, will this person facilitate school targeted PD specific to the teachers’ IWB needs and not their stock standard cookie cuttings. Any PD should be developmental as once a set of PD objectives have been met, another set will probably rise. Glover and Miller (2009) engaged teachers in cooperative P.D. that requires teachers engage in a cyclical process to investigate, evaluate, and reflect and their hands-on experiences is exactly what’s needed; the sustained process of discovery syncs well with an object that we must actively touch and use.

The next hierarchical step in P.D. is dealing with extrinsic factors that affect teachers and the P.D. The extrinsic deals with things that are external to the teacher but must be met in order to progress towards effectiveness. Making sure there are no technical issues with the equipment or the infrastructure consistently supports IWB use are two main extrinsic factors. Also a lack of time from contractual duties (teaching, marking, etc…) is often reported as another factor against PD and this can hinder the developmental nature of learning the IWB. Assessment might be considered an obstacle of overall progressive change and this is no different here. Technology integration faces the assessment hurdle as innovation rarely syncs with standardised testing. Hew and Brush reported that high stakes assessments force some teachers to revert to old beliefs in lecture style classes being more effective at information transmission. IWBs are an emerging technology and there must be leadership to guide and encourage teachers in their pursuit of PD. Leadership is a cornerstone for further integration as most other extrinsic factors can be reduced with the right leadership.

The next section is another synthesis of the nature of P.D. stemming from the literature. The intrinsic refers to the P.D. targeting a teachers’ cognition in order to effectively integrate the IWB into their pedagogy and classroom whereas the experiential are teacher experiences to compliment the cognitive side. The experiential factors happen in conjunction and thus the positioning in the hierarchy depicts the complimentary, yet slightly subordinate, nature of the experiential. Collaboration and Community of Practice (COP) are two approaches towards experiencing a range of content, knowledge, attitudes and beliefs. Through inquiry and reflection, educators can experience the IWB and allow the intrinsic elements to operate.

The intrinsic elements to effective P.D. occupy slightly more of the top of the section as many articles point to teachers’ cognitive filters when integrating IWBs and reflects that once teachers have IWB experiences, they can then cognitively process the experience before integrating it into their teaching repertoire (Lewin, Somekh, & Steadman, 2008). Many have noted that effective PD must challenge teacher beliefs and this is particularly the case with emerging technologies which are often displacing another teaching aid and beliefs associated with this. Teacher knowledge here must also be targeted as the PD must facilitate knowledge production about the IWB in terms of it can relate to their technological, pedagogical and content knowledge. In the end, a litmus test of the PD is whether there is value congruence between the PD’s message of IWB good practice and the educator’s set of values. If there is a synergy, the teacher may slowly integrate the IWB into teaching and learning in their classroom.

The peak represents the ultimate realisation of effective P.D. for IWB integration.  This hypothesis lays the situated context as a foundation and points to experiential factors reflexively influencing with the intrinsic processes; yet in the end, the intrinsic processing of the experiential will lead towards effective P.D., IWB integration. The culmination is more effective teaching and learning through integrating IWBs.



Glover, D., & Miller, D. (2009). Optimising the use of interactive whiteboards: an application of developmental work research (DWR) in the United Kingdom. Professional Development in Education, 35(3), 469-483.

Hew, K. F., & Brush, T. (2007). Integrating technology into K-12 teaching and learning: Current knowledge gap sand recommentdations for future research. Educational Technology Research & Development, 55(3), 245 – 267.

Lewin, C., Somekh, B., & Steadman, S. (2008). Embedding interactive whiteboards in teaching and learning: The process of change in pedagogic practice. Education and Information Technologies, 13(4), 291-303.


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