Exploring the use of iPads and mobile devices in education.
Most of us grew up in an age where knowledge and information were primarily conveyed in textual format. Think of the encyclopedias we used. Photos were used but largely as an enhancement to articles that were text-based. Worse, the high cost of full color printing meant that the images that were used were usually in black and white.
Research has long shown however that people memorize and learn more effectively when information is presented visually and in color. Studies demonstrate that people can be exposed to images for a few short seconds and still retain 90% of the information after a few days (1). Further, we live in a digital world today that is saturated with visual media. Images and video are the language of the YouTube generation. Most classrooms however are still largely the same as they were when we were students. We still depend primarily on aural and textual forms of information transmission in school - either by a teacher lecturing at the front of the room or by reading from a printed textbook.
One of the educational strengths of the iPad lies in its ability to collate and present media from all parts of the world. It allows the user to connect visually to compelling information and events as they are occurring. The use of imagery affords educators an exceptional opportunity to stimulate thought and discussion about important events. Used appropriately it will also leave lasting impressions on students and deepen the quality of classroom interaction.
We were all horrified by the terrible tragedy of the recent earthquake and tsunami that overwhelmed Japan. These are critically important educational moments and it's important to discuss them with your students - whether you approach them from a scientific or sociological perspective. It's one thing to describe what happened in Japan but imagine the impact of opening your discussion by displaying the images below:
Photographs from Asahi Shimbun, Reuters and Yomiuri Shimbun, AFP/Getty Images
Asking students to describe what the girl in the photo may be thinking or feeling enables them to connect on both a cognitive and emotional level. What must it have felt like to live through that experience? You can describe the cause and impact of a tsunami but a discussion of the immense force it would have taken to bring that ship atop the house would elevate that discussion to a far more meaningful and memorable level.
There are many iPad apps that offer a daily stream of high quality photography. If it's news imagery that you're seeking then some of the best apps include:
Creative teachers can develop a wide variety of activities around the images. Some ideas to get you started may include:
Finally, the use of images is not limited to current events. They can and should be used throughout the curriculum. Whether you use search engines such as Google Images or any other resource, the integration of extensive visual media in the curriculum will deepen educational experiences and facilitate more effective classroom exchanges and learning.
(1) Standing, L., Conezio, J., & Haber, R. N. (1970). Perception and memory for pictures: Single-trial learning of 2500 visual stimuli. Psychonomic Science, 19(2), 73-74