Wednesday, 25 March 2015

iPad in teaching and learning

I love my iPad. I thought that I would be able to manage with a laptop and an iPhone, but I can't be parted from it.

Our school has an 1-2-1 iPad scheme, so I was really excited today to attend the iPad teaching and learning day at Rachel Jones' school Kind Edward School in Southampton. It was free, and it was in our holidays so three of us went from my school.

This has been one of the few external training events I have been to with colleagues. That was great. I know that science learning centres research says that training courses have more impact when more than one person from the same school attends and I certainly felt that was true from today. 

For my birthday I got a pencil 53 from paper 53. I was feeling inspired by the sketchnote pins I have seen Lucie Golton put on pinterest, and wanted to try this approach in recording the conference. 

I found the comments from Bob Allen the deputy head at King Edward VI School the most interesting. He obviously did a lot of research into the aims of introducing a 1-2-1 scheme. He explained the errors that were made in looking more into WHAT? than HOW? and WHY? He discussed that WHY? should have been the most important. 

Does a 1-2-1 scheme reduce the amount of paper being used? (This is one of the aims at my current school), does it reduce the number of ICT suites needed in a school? (Not the experience of KES). Does it enhance learning? Is there another reason to introduce a scheme, such as SLT thinking iPads are cool as they are shiny and new? After the introduction of our scheme I wrote a blog post about ICT savvy students. I think that the aims need to be related to giving students the ICT and digital skills necessary for when they leave school. The things that formal qualifications don't currently teach.

Over the course of the day the theme that came up was 'TIME and SPACE'. KES staff had four training days with time devoted to the implementation of the 1-2-1 scheme. Bob Allen explained that during this lead up time the enthusiasm of staff rose and fell.  The support for staff at KES was flexible, and included training by experts. Throughout the implementation SLT were honest with staff, admitting mistakes. The school consulted and engaged parents, even running 10 sessions for them. 

In Bob Allen's later session I was impressed by the amount of knowledge he had regarding iPad implementation.  What I was interested in was that he was connected to many other schools and following their implementation journeys with interest. I do think that this type of network is important in the implementation. Learning from the experiences of each other can only be a good thing. 

I have to say that I didn't do any doodling on my iPad during Rachel Jones' session as we were using nearpod, so I was looking at my screen and engaging through the feedback activities. However, I was interested by this diagram:

It is important now to ensure that teachers have knowledge of how to use technology in lessons as well as their subject and pedagogical knowledge. I suppose my question is what does this technological knowledge look like?

Things that came up during the day that I had not considered were age related apps. Some apps are rated 18+ because of the content that students might be able to reach through it. I didn't know about buying apps in bulk. I didn't realise that students could buy their iPads through the company stormfront and that buying 50 iPads gives 1 day of training. I didn't know there was an app for printing "paper cut". I had never considered the importance of students backing up their iPad. I really liked the idea of students being able to charge their iPads in the library at lunch and also being able to borrow battery packs during the day.

I know that Rachel was super proud of her digital leaders. They came to talk to the room at lunch time. From even just a short meeting it was possible to see the impact of them within the school. I hope that at some point our digital leaders can reach the same level of engagement with the 1-2-1 iPad project.

It was fairly obvious from all the presentations that the school had thought carefully about the roll out of iPads and staff were embracing the technologies (although to varying extents). It was also great to see how the school had learned from mistakes and were going forward. Rachel's energy for the project was obvious, but I think we already knew that.

My next steps are to look more closely at workflow and how to mark electronic work and give feedback. I would love students to send me their work electronically and the day has given me some ideas on how to do that. Firefly, Google classroom and Showbie were all mentioned as solutions to this. The way that firefly linked to the MIS looked really useful, so it can be used as an online student planner. We all went to useful sessions on workflow in the afternoon and I think that this will form a large part of our discussions back at school.

Thank you to all at King Edward VI School. A very useful, interesting and informative day. It was well organised and well pitched to reach a wide audience. It was also very generous of you to share your school and experiences (good and bad) with others of us on a 1-2-1 iPad journey, we appreciated it.

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