Exploring the use of iPads and mobile devices in education.
iPads have been hailed as unparalleled mobile devices for the consumption of media. The ability to browse the news, read an electronic book, display your photos, watch a video - these activities are all integral to the popularity of the iPad. On the other hand, iPads have equally been criticized within educational circles as ONLY being consumption devices. Many educators feel that iPads don't give students sufficient capacity to express themselves creatively.
Is the depiction of the iPad as a consumption device a myth? How are you using them in your classes? Are you utilizing iPads for creative expression ... and if so, how? What iPad apps and activities are proving most effective in your class?
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Interesting link from gizmowatch. There is a typo in the first sentence. And the comment about "access to millions of open source apps" seems a bit of an exaggeration - no? I was hoping you could offer links to real reviews of devices on the market that are half the price of an iPad.
Many of us in education are following the development of the tablet computer market closely. I believe Android devices will eventually catch up with Apple's offering - but that just isn't the case now.
Harry McCracken has a great summary of the current state of the market here.
Brian if you can show me the easy to use tools for deploying, locking down, and managing Android tablets I'd be happy to start considering them. Favor given to those based on a GUI and as little technical knowledge as possible. "Rooting" anything is likely out of the question. How much of an additional overhead is this going to cost? I also assume that any site licenses for Apps would need to be worked out with the individual App writers, which could be a plus over Apple's volume purchase program.
The problem to me as a techie inclined person who's seen what kids can do to a fairly locked down Mac OSX environment, is how much they would be able to dig into settings and options. If that can't be locked down and a "standard" layout enforced it's a no go.
Outside those technical issue on the back end, put an Ed had on over my IT one, I inquire about interface. How complex is it to move a PDF from a web server to an annotation/note-taking app, mark it up, and then send it back. How much does a student or teacher need to understand of connection protocols? This is an area where even computer's in eduction can be quite a pain in the rear.
The biggest problem with Tablets (be they iOS or Android) is they are being built as personal devices first, institution second if at all. I've seen things like the Kineo by Brainchild and am not impressed. If the institution level tools were in place iOS is almost the right level of locked down and freedom. I'm still waiting for an Android system to peg that out of the box. I'm curious to see what Amazon has cooked up.
To Sam's over all question. I'd personally say it gets the creativity tools more directly and accessibly into student's hands. One difficulty I've had time and again doing major projects with students is keeping their files organized. The multi-step process of saving/exporting a file, picking the correct location to save, and then importing that file can quickly loose some kids I've worked with. Even written/pictorial instructions give some of the 'lower' students fits. The fewer steps and fewer possible missteps the better. If a student makes a presentation in the Keynote App it stays in Keynote. If they download an image from the internet, it stays in the Photo App. On the computer these file could go anywhere, Documents, Desktop, Downloads, Pictures. From there it will be shuffled around and even dumped into the trash. iOS takes those organizational options away for the most part.
Aside from say Flash (and with the knowledge that Rich Text is coming in iOS5) there is very little that a PC(Mac, Windows) can do that an iPad can't (again given my experience at a 1:1 computer school). There are specific issues but over all the available tools are at near parity. A K-8 student does not need a personal machine capable for doing 82,300 MIPS (Million Instructions Per Second). That's what my tower is for when I capture or render high definition video. Students can write, they can draw, they can film(counting still and audio). Have the darndest time doing the last two on laptops. Makes me cringe every time their teachers have them do end of year movie recordings outside on the field.
I know Brian pointed Wacom pads, out but peripherals do not make for good school items in anything but a static lab... and then not so good. As a former student who used to use a laptop and a Wacom tablet to take notes during college science and math courses... not fun juggling the two. Would have so taken an iPad if they had been available back in 2003. Speaking as someone who has to deal with managing various peripherals at 1:1 school, nasty job. Anything that gets plugged in can be broken, cords will be tangled/crimped/cut, parts will be lost/stolen.
I think the discussion has moved slightly away from its original purpose. However, I am an Apple advocate and I can give 101 reasons why I use Apple products in my school over any other company/android devices. Here are a few:
So yes - there are other mobile devices/tablets on the market - but when we really get down to which ones can be used successfully in school as a tool for learning, but also for maintaining and ensure a successful 1:1 or similar initiative - then I would always advocate Apple. Maybe the other companies will catch-up one day?
Regardless of whether in the end it is an iPad or other tablet, there are a number of distinct differences from ed tech of the past that make them more suited. The hardware design makes them less intrusive (how many meetings have we sat through looking at our cooworkers and students over the backs of laptops?). The operating system is simplified, which at time is frustrating, but as Jeremy mentioned above, it leads to less missteps. It can better keep kids on task doing educational rich stuff rather than trying to find stuff, fix stuff or get distracted by stuff. Not to mention that before we were trying to get 1500 machines into carts and labs and not everything is in the 250-1000 range.
One of the major shifts that I see is from the special tech project to the everyday project that uses a lot of tech. For years, I have taught kids and worked with teachers and tech where the end result of our project was days away and a culminating event. We would take picture/movies, spend many hours editing etc. getting them into a final powerpoint, movie, book, etc. We would bring in stuff from the new fangled internet and spend days adding in animations or other bells. These were great and I still want to do some, but what I think is a big game changer is that when kids meet in small groups they can report back to the class backed up by a Keynote. They see something notable in their science lab experiment, they can write about it, take a quick snapshot, even markup that snapshot and then put it in their lab report. 1:1 Laptop programs have made some progress here, but laptops are more intrusive and less media usable (take a pic of your experiment with your laptop camera ...). Note taking will become more multimedia. You meet for extra help, why not record you teacher/tutor when she/he reexplains that troublesome concept to you. The most mundane things will become richer. I don't doubt that many cool things will emerge and tablets give us all sorts of new capabiblities, but there are so many basic ways in which they can help tech make education richer, more efficient, reach more learning styles,and more.
Not only are iPads consumptive devices, they are limited by the capabilities of the aps and the inability to get around Apple's control of what can be consumed. At a games for education conference, the number of developers writing in Flash gives one to understand that they see other ways to deliver. The number of ipads at the meeting from 2010->2011 seemed to be less w/laptops and net books returning w/attendees. The introduction of Android to the Nook shows the possibility of lower cost and more flexible tablet options.
Tablets are evolving but still are hammers looking for nails. Apple seems to be trying to protect its net book market while android systems seem to understand that mobile devices are becoming more flexible and interchangeable. Educators need to pause and think whether tablets are the best investment w/limited resources and then whether the iPad is the tablet of choice
We have been finding amazing uses for the iPad. For example we taught our 3rd and 4th graders about self-advocacy and their IEP's. We got the iMovie app and each student had to find a way to showcase their talent. Some did a news report, a jump rope chant or an interview. Other students made up a song, and some even played the song on the iPad. They had to say what they were good at, what was hard and something about their IEP team. It took about a month to get it memorized, filmed and done. We invited the special education director, parents and other teachers. It was amazing to see the on the kids' faces when I connected the iPad to the mimio board and they were in the brit lights. It was amazing and I learned as much as they did.
I think the discussion has gotten somewhat off track into a debate about devices rather than the original idea of creation vs consumption.
I manage a set of 21 ipads in a primary school. They are used by all year levels and by special needs on a 'book to borrow' basis. Although the iPads were always intended as individual devices, we are making do with sharing them and still having a lot of success.
As for creation vs consumption - we are having success with both over all year levels ranging from drill and practice type apps to cement underlying skills to children creating stories, podcasts, pictures etc and sharing them via email, or using our learning management system. I think the main advantage over these devices is the ubiquitous access to information. Any thread of discussion can be followed up straight away - strike while the iron is hot! Teachers can challenge students to find the answers on the spot. Teachers can help students to personalise their learning by giving them the choice of many apps that achieve the same purpose so they can choose the one that best suits their learning style.
We are hoping to soon enter into a 1:1 program one year level at a time to take full advantage of what iPads have to offer.