Sunday, June 5, 2011

Apple Study Trip: Day 3

     On the final day of the Apple Study trip, we had the opportunity to come together as a group and reflect on our observations from the schools we visited and to learn more about the trial itself. We were also given the chance to do some hands on exploration with iPads using apps that are being used in the schools. 

   Steven Doyle, the Apple education representative from Australia began by stressing that each school is unique and that each iPad trial will reflect this uniqueness. The important thing is that each school understand that the iPad can't just replace technology but allows schools to do things differently than before. One of the keys to its success it that it is the one device that everyone can use equally. As such, PD needs to focus on how to best use the device in education rather than how to use the device itself. 

Where does the iPad fit in? 

     Students should have access to different technologies and each has their own purpose in education. The iPad is seen as fitting between the laptop computer and smaller mobile devices such as the iPod Touch and iPhone. It can be used alongside these other devices and can serve as a personal learning device which can seamlessly connect personal day to day tasks with education tasks. Teachers and students can use it for both content consumption and content creation, allowing them to make content that is accessible.  

The benefits of the iPad 2: 
  • Can plug into projector to show content
  • Built in cameras can help to capture learning. One rear camera can be used to record photos and videos and the front camera is good for doing personal reflections. 
  • Facetime  makes it possible to connect with each other for live video conferencing with the click of a button.
Leverage the experts: 
  • It is strongly encouraged to leverage the students who are skilled with technology and using the device and giving them the role as "Apple Angels" who are in charge of helping other students and teachers. 
  • These students can be given Apple badges, caps, t-shirts, water bottles, etc and be recognized as the Apple experts. Not only can they walk around to offer help, but teachers and students could use Facetime  get live video help. 
  • Empowering these students gives a powerful student voice to how the iPads are being used. 
Finding and downloading apps: 
  • One clear message from our school visits is that students need autonomy in downloading their own apps as they need them.
  • The large availability of free and cheap apps has encouraged people to take risks and students have become the masters of finding apps. 
  • With more than 65,000 apps designed specifically for the iPad and over 400,000 apps on the App store, there is no shortage of apps available for children to use. 
  • Schools can certainly find certain apps for students to use but the choice should not be limited to those that are chosen by teachers or IT staff. 
 Here are a few apps that Steve recommended: 

Word Lens (free)

  • Point at text and translates live in four different languages
  • Included on the iPad
Tripit (free)
  •   Designed as a travel app to take any flight agenda  and send to tripit - puts all information to help you (itinerary, hotels, maps, etc) - synchronizes into calendar
  • Many activities in class that could be done using this app such as challenging students to use the information to measure t carbon footprint and then display their research using the iWork software

Screens ($19.99) 
  •  can control desktop from iPad
  • Also check out Doceri 

Dropbox: (free with 2gb of cloud based storage) 
  •  interacts with all of your device
  • A must have for any deployment
  • As a teacher, you can have a shared dropbox with your class and push content to them
  • Follow the soon to be announced iCloud which may prove to be a great option for cloud storage 

  • Allows you to build your own custom newspaper
  • Also check out Flipboard 

Soundnote ($4.99)
  • can record what people are saying in a meeting - can write and draw together with audio
  • Great for project groups - record interactions and share their work - can share straight to dropbox
  • Great to capture process learning

GoodReader ($4.99)
  •  Takes multiple files and allow you to read them

The process of implementing iPads in the Victoria government trial

     The Victoria Ministry of Education began with a top down approach model by setting up a content management system and the deployment of netbooks into schools. They found that they got low adoption rates and then approached Apple with a deployment trial request.  

     At Apple's request, a website was put together to share the learnings from the trial. With the success of the initial trial, it was expanded to now include twelve participating schools. The department purchased the devices and gave them to schools. The schools gave them to students (without cost) and the students were given autonomy to self-manage the devices. Students were also given iTunes gift cards (usually around $100) which they could use to purchase the required apps. Many critics argued that this was a bad idea and that students would use the money to buy inappropriate apps. The reality was 100% compliance from students. 

     One of the things that they learned is that students did not like being required to download apps that were being matched to those available on netbooks

     This led to a rethinking of the deployment strategy and students were asked what it was they wanted to do with the iPad. It turned out that students did not want the iPad to replicate what they were doing on netbook computers. This led to the realization that educators are curriculum experts who should set the outcomes for tasks and students should be given the freedom to find the necessary tools to achieve these outcomes. 

     A Wicki was created and students were encouraged to post their discoveries. In the end, students were content to use multiple apps to accomplish a task and were able to get everything they needed for less money than was being spent by the "experts". Each student spent an average of $67 and were rewarded with using the money saved to download personal choice apps. 

     It was fount that success really depended on having at least someone from each school's leadership team being on board with the trial. For this reason, Apple encourages that all leadership staff be given an iPad so that they can use it and see its potential first hand. 

     It is also imperative to get the support of parents. Parents were informed from the beginning and sessions were run to show them how the iPad fits in to teaching and learning. In many cases, these sessions were led by students themselves. To avoid high home Internet bills, students were encouraged to download apps from school and to create a backup image in iTunes in the event of any problems with their device. Students were taught how to self-manage their own devices to give them autonomy and to reduce the need for IT staff having to manage all of the devices. 

     When trialing the iPads, schools are encouraged to develop a community with other schools doing the same thing so that they can learn from each other. Celebrating the implementation as a community event is important is helping gain support. When iPads were given to students in the trial, everyone in the school community was invited to join and it was done as a celebration. Students removed the red bow and set everything up themselves from the start. They were also given adequate time to just explore the device and to personalize it. 

Reflections on our school visits: 

     Teachers were asked which schools they liked during the visit and why. From these discussions, we generated a list of the important qualities of successful integration. These included the following: 
  • Passion
  • Vision
  • Leaders role modeling
  • Use of space - mix of open and closed spaces if needed - doors all swung open to create open spaces
  • Trust - allowed children to get the devices on their own as needed
  • Pedagogy in place - student centered classrooms
  • Self-directed learning
  • Program structure
  • Technology integration coach who is pedagogically sound and who works closely with leadership and IT support. Schools that were most successful had a clear partnership between their IT department and teaching staff. In many cases, they shared the same room and worked together.