Rangitaki | Blogs

When the iPad 2 came out and introduced to the classroom there was great excitement at our school among both staff and students. This was followed by a bit of a struggle as to how to actually use them effectively. Looking back we didn't have the right apps designed for the classroom nor did we really have the experience to transform these devices from toy to tool.

This, along with frustratingly fickle wifi, meant that when Chromebooks came out at a cheaper price point we gravitated towards them. We rolled out 1:1 Chromebooks in the Year 5/6 classes and 1:2 in Years 3 and 4. We slowly made our network more robust and things seemed to be going well. However what started to happen was the staff, myself included, started using the Chromebooks simply as a substitute for pen and paper without really trying to extend ourselves.

Somewhere along the way I attended a few Apple events and it was one in particular that started me back along the iPad path. Abdul Chohan was in NZ for ULearn and there was also a session arranged for him to speak in Auckland before he left. His main message of portability v mobility struck home and I started to see the possibilities. What also impressed was the research and robust pedagogy behind what he was presenting, especially around engagement, experience and extending learning.

A particular analogy stuck with me. Abdul talked about how the device is like water coming out of a tap, it is what you see. However it only works because of all the plumbing behind the wall that you can't see. Likewise the device is only effective with the right pedagogy, thought and 'plumbing' behind it. Inspiring and challenging stuff.

Another factor, in my opinion, was that Apple had really stepped up their game in relation to education friendly apps and a curriculum that gives teachers ideas of how to use it effectively. I was keen to try them and I was able to set up my class and the class I share a space with to trial iPads in a 1:1 setting.

I loved it! The flexibility, creativity and seamless integration across apps made it very engaging and opened the door to many possibilities. I really enjoy thinking of a lesson and then thinking 'how can I make this more interesting, challenging, or deliver in a different way?' The iPad gives me the platform to do this.

The updates in Pages and Keynote along with the Everyone Can Create initiative have transformed how learning happens in my class and I love experimenting and trying new things. I believe the students have too. A byproduct that I am most pleased about is the effect on the students. As we were growing together, trying, failing and retrying they became more resilient and more willing to try new things. When presented with a challenge at the beginning of the year you could see the trepidation and doubt on their faces. Fast forward to the end of the year and faced with a challenge that attitude changed to a shrug of the shoulders and a "Ok let's give this a go."

The process wasn't necessarily smooth and we did have teething issues which I will write about in another post some time. In the meantime we have rolled out 1:1 iPads in the Year 4 classes with the intention of doing the same with the rest of the Year 5/6 classes next year. 

The iPad has exceeded my expectations and is an amazing platform with which to teach, create, grow and learn. In fact in talking with the other teacher in the trial we often mention how hard it would be to go back to not having iPads. 

Jonathan Mulholland

Jonathan Mulholland

Using iPads to create, inspire and learn
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