I had two initial thoughts back in March when I first heard we were getting iPads. The first was PURE GOLD. iPads are fun. I had read a little about them in education and they seemed to be transforming classrooms. At that time, typically the classrooms that had them were elementary (primary) education classes and they were showcasing their use of apps to help with early childhood literacy, science or numeracy and maths. I began reflecting on applying this into the university ESL foundation classes that I teach and my next thought was WAIT A MINUTE. We have a curriculum in place and our students need to obtain a certain benchmark on the standardized IELTS test. With limited knowledge of the iPad, I wasn’t fully aware of how to integrate the iPad with the curriculum and learning objectives that I had for my lessons. Initially these institutional were parameters that didn’t seem as flexible, that is, until I realized the value of two things: the iPad as an All-in-One device and workflows.
Our university decided to implement iPads and based on my experience and knowledge of teaching and learning with educational technology, I applied and was successful in teaching a pilot class with only iPads (instead of laptops). I had earned my wings! I started reading feverishly and realized like a lot of people out there that the iPad is an All-in-One device. I realized the potential of integrating their real lives into their learning. If we’re doing a grammar tense or structure, then we can personalize it with their content. If we’re doing small research projects, then apps like Notability or Evernote might be useful in their collation of resources. Students here drift towards rote learning before exams. Whilst I don’t condone it, I certainly see that our current assessments promote this and we’ll need to start talking about that. But after we learn the words and actively produce the language, I showed them the flashcards app. Students loved it and couldn’t get enough. I even have students pulling unknown vocabulary from reading and listenings and making personal lists. Students never had the motivation before to do that on their laptop.
In my opinion, the iPad’s true potential is only realized when you use the All-in-One iPad within workflows. To me the workflow is using two or more apps to complete a task (I use task liberally). Students want to personalize a paragraph they’ve written in Pages? Then they take the photos on their camera and retrieve them from the photo library. They’ve created a very small workflow between the camera, photo library and pages. Another time, students created videos to explain different aspects of humanitarian aid. Students researched using Safari, stored notes using Evernote, discussed and shared resources on Edmodo, took photos using their camera, and created a video using ExplainEverything or iMovie. This was possible because the iPad has it all and I was able to design the learning task to move between these apps.
I believe in the potential of iPads but it must be based on sound teaching and learning. GREAT POTENTIAL INDEED.