Exploring the use of iPads and mobile devices in education.
A little more than four months ago, the “next big thing” began at Xaverian. Since the middle of September, nearly half of the students and the entire faculty have received their own iPads. So, what is different?
The short answer is: things are changing. Among the faculty and students, there is a variety of sophistication in how the iPad is used, yet, in most cases, the potential of the device is being actualized. Here are just a few examples:
❱ Teachers are creating learning communities among themselves and with the students using the app, EDMODO. With this application, the students are able to communicate, reflect and critique each other’s work in the classroom or at home.
❱ Others are using EVERNOTE, giving students the ability to take their notes and have them available on the iPad and Cloud, making them accessible to students virtually anywhere.
❱ Students are able to make short films and audio clips using iMOVIE and GARAGEBAND.
❱ Teachers are implementing TED, YOUTUBE, and VIMEO to enhance lessons.
❱ Students are communicating through SKYPE, reading with their KINDLE and iBOOKS apps, writing with a myriad of options and creating in ways that were little more than dreams just a few years ago.
Clearly, the first step of developing Xaverian into a one-to-one computing environment has been taken. We have successfully integrated the device into the existing educational paradigm and established ourselves as the leader among Catholic schools in the New York area. More than a dozen schools have visited or called for information to see what we are doing. The next step, however, is where the revolution, truly, begins.
As we continue our iPad roll out, the emphasis will move from using the device
to follow older educational paradigms (ie: replacing traditional paper notebooks and textbooks, doing research, etc.) to creating new ones. Terms like differentiated learning, problem based learning, and flipped classrooms are being embraced. We are looking for more integration of material across the curriculum.We continue our quest to turn “digital natives” into “digital citizens.” It is our expectation that the walls of the traditional classroom will be torn down and replaced by communities that create these digital citizens and lifelong learners of which educational classes have always dreamed.
Now, the only way that this can become reality is through the leader- ship and direction of our faculty. Unlike the educational initiatives of yesterday that relied on the passive reception of data, we seek to create the integration of information for problem solving. Our teachers, the creative descendants of the Xaverian Brothers, are using their professional development to research and adapt the latest advancements of the
21st century classroom.
Through the leadership of Ms. Sandi Mummolo, our Assistant Principal for Staff Development and Curriculum, our teachers have been working on creating differentiated learning. This approach requires them to present the curriculum in a number of ways, in order to acknowledge and utilize their student’s varying learning styles. Another fascinating approach which a few teachers are looking into is the “flipped classroom.” Instead of using homework as the way to reinforce skills presented in class, the homework is the presentation of the content through reading, video or podcast, and then, in the next day’s session, the material is integrated into class projects.
Whatever tools our students use, or methods our teachers employ, they serve as nothing more than a contemporary mean to an ageless end. In the midst of all the cutting-edge technology, as well as the development of curriculum and creativity in the classrooms, our teachers remain rooted in the Xaverian tradition of demanding academic excellence. We continue to educate young people who have the skills to be the leaders and builders of God’s Kingdom.