In this section we will consider the following topics:
- What an iPad is and how it works.
- The practicalities you'll need to consider before using tablets in your classroom.
- Ways you can use tablets in your lessons.
iPad is just one of a host of tablet computers available today. Tablets are great because they are relatively small, light and transportable when compared to a desktop PC and even some laptops! Even though they are compact, they have a screen (touchscreen), microphone and camera. Although they may have physical buttons for speaker volume and power, typing is performed on a pop-up virtual keyboard. These qualities mean that they are quickly becoming the device of choice for schools that are looking for greater flexibility and variety in how they use ICT to improve teaching and learning.
Tablets use apps (short for applications) to enable the user to access software. Apps are basically little, self-contained programs that are simpler and quicker to open and use than using browsers. Having said that, there are also browser apps which will open a familiar internet browser. There is an app for EVERYTHING these days and downloading them is pretty straightforward. The official app stores are Apple, Google and Microsoft. There are unofficial options, too but it may be wise to avoid these. The Apple store alone has hundreds of apps, interactive textbooks, videos and podcasts suitable for use with learners of all ages and abilities. Very often, when accessing websites via a tablet, you will be offered an free app that you can download that will enable you to access the site quicker and easier in future. Apps will also give you tablet-friendly versions of sites that are easier to use and navigate using the touchscreen.
Here we must consider 2 things so that your personal experience of using tablets is as positive as possible.
1. The practicalities.
A Tablet needs to be charged just like a mobile phone. Unlike a mobile phone, how long the charge lasts depends on many things, including how many apps are left running on the tablet for any significant length of time. Assume that you will need to charge the tablet(s) every day. Of course, this is easier done overnight when the devices are not in use. Most schools have started to buy tablets in batches, adding to their stock as and when finances allow. In the UK, many schools buy in multiples of 15. This is because classes are usually made up of 30 students and they organise students in pairs for lessons that include the use of tablets. However, it is becoming increasingly common (especially in Apple sponsored schools!) for every single pupils to be given their own personal iPad. Most schools store their devices on a trolley in a locked cupboard. They also nominate a technician (or another unfortunate staff member) to ensure they are charged overnight. As a teacher, you will only need to collect your tablets and take them to your class when you wish to use them
2. How to use them.
As stated already, there really is an app for everything but tablets are particularly useful for researching, games (literacy and numeracy), problem solving, teaching students with AEN (additional educational needs) etc. If you want students to word process, create spreadsheet or to create presentations that they'll need to save to the device, it is advisable that they do this on a regular PC.
Here are some great ideas
that will be far more useful (and interesting) than anything I can write here! But the bottom line is that the way you currently teach will need to change very little but a tablet can help you enhance your already existing lesson plans. When you figured out that balance, the ideas will come thick and fast. Consider all the audio and video capabilities of iPad and how they can bring your lessons to life. I've outlined an example for you below.
Instead of assigning a traditional book report, why not ask students to identify 3-5 of the most important scenes from a novel. Ask learners to use the GargaeBand app to build a soundtrack for those scenes, it will really make them think about what was going on in the story because they will need to reflect the emotion and energy of the scenes — the rising action, the climax etc. - in the music that they compose. In addition to the soundtracks, you might ask students to write a justification paper to support their work. They can also name their music tracks and design album covers. Throughout this exercise, it is important to remind students that they aren’t being graded on their GarageBand or creative skills, but on their overall interpretation of the novel.
It is especially effective to ask students to present their work to the class. In turn, ask students to connect their iPad to Apple TV whilst everyone else sits back and listens to the track. Almost always the class erupts in whispers (or shouts?!) of ‘I know that scene!’ Tablets are particularly suited for use in Video assignments. Use the iPad camera and iMovie to shoot and edit movies. It is easy for students to shoot movies on iPad because the device is so light and easy to carry around.
To understand particularly challenging novels, students can create everything from commercials and newscasts to mock interviews. They can shoot movie trailers for books like The Hobbit to learn about elements such as persuasion or you can ask them to film parodies in order to learn about irony. It is a good idea to model something for them, to make a short video so they can get the gist of what you mean. The great thing with doing it this way is that they will all be so determined to make a video that is better than yours that the standard is bound to be high!
This is great too http://www.interactioneducation.com/ipadsineducation.html