After vising Acacia College, we had a chance to visit Victoria College of the Arts in the afternoon.
The Victoria College of the Arts is a well-established middle and high school with impressive facilities and programs. While the iPads are being used effectively in this school, it was seen more as an add on to everything else that is wonderful about the school and was not the focus of the tour. In this sense, I never really got a detailed understanding of how they are being implemented beyond being told that the school has an open use policy where students are taught to use the technology responsibly. One innovative use of the iPad was for sketching a planning art designs. Students used a sketching app to design a piece inspired from Alice in Wonderland which they created a model of. It was also clear that students were using other Apple computers to do music composition.
Over the two days visiting four different schools, it became clear that iPads are in fact being used to enhance teaching and learning across different educational environments. To be effective, teachers need to embrace the new technology and new ways of teaching that come along with it. Students need to be given autonomy in managing the device and there needs to clear guidelines in place for proper use accompanied by trusting the students to act responsibly. Learning spaces themselves need to be reconsidered so that the learning environment is consistent with they collaborative and open learning that comes with using the new technologies. In addition, careful planning needs to be given to infrastructure requirements and learning management systems which promote sharing of learning.
When implemented well, I do think that mobile devices like the iPad can serve as very powerful tools in the 21st century classroom to help enhance teaching and learning.