100+ ways to use iPads in the Classroom.. and a mini-lesson on digital literacy

I stumbled across Edudemic when I was researching various blogs on the integration of educational technology, specifically iPads, in the classroom.  There are many blogs posted regularly on Edudemic with useful ideas, infographics, videos and news on current best practices and trends in educational technology.  My post today, revolves around this excellent infographic above by Jeff Dunn, “25 ways to use iPads in the Classroom by Degree of Difficulty”, one of many useful posts I found on the website.  I’ll also touch on some aspects of developing digital literacy in our students.   Continue reading and I’ll reveal over 100 other ways innovative educators are using iPads in the classroom.

As I was reading a number of Edudemic’s blogs, a few questions came to mind:  Who writes for Edudemic?  How do I know if the content is reliable and relevant?  These are questions I would pose to my students.

So, where did I start? On Edudemic’s website, I learnt that Jeff Dunn, Executive Editor of Edudemic, along with a number of other bloggers, several of whom are teachers, write regularly about developments in social media and the impact of social media on education.  I was able to find Dunn’s profile on Linked-In, from which I learnt that he is also the Communications Manager at the Harvard Law School, and subsequently I verified this on the Harvard University’s website.  You might be wondering how I knew it was Dunn on Linked-In:  His profile pictures were identical at this website as well as Edudemic’s.  Apart from his work history, I cannot tell you too much more about Jeff Dunn’s background, but further research on Google and Google Scholar revealed that Dunn’s posts on Edudemic have  recently been and regularly cited by several reputable universities, such as the University of Mississippi’s Educational Technology blog, the National Education Policy Center of the University of Colorado, Dillard University and the University of Business and International Studies (UBIS) in Geneva, Switzerland.  Dunn has also been referenced in several scholarly articles and journals, including the Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges.  In other blogs by Stephen Downs, Senior Researcher at the National Research Council of Canada, and Dr. Robert T. Plants, visiting professor at the University of Mississippi, Jeffrey Dunn and Edudemic have again been cited.  This information leads me to infer credibility of the author and the reliability and relevance of online content.  In my classrooms, I would model some of these web research strategies and thought processes to help develop digital literacy in my students.

Ipads in the Classroom:  How can we use them to help our students learn better? 

Firstly, I was impressed by how succinctly the infographic above presented K-12 educators with valuable and fresh ideas on how iPads can be used in the classroom, categorized by students as digital consumers, as digital collaborators and as digital producers.  It’s a great starting point for educators interested in integrating tablet technology in the classroom to further research some of the iPad Apps presented here, for example, using Prezi to deliver engaging presentations, developing problem solving skills in Mathematics and Economics with Khan Academy, collaborating on documents using Google Docs or producing liveblogs on Storify.  For me, I’m excited to have discovered various ways to use the iPad in the classroom and to one day soon experience using a class-set of iPads for teaching.  Whether using iPads or Android-tablets, what’s important is for us educators to engage our students using a medium or technology that most of them are already comfortable and competent at using.  The next step for me is to figure out how to implement these ideas and link them to the curriculum, all the while trying to maintain the interests of every student I teach.  I feel that Marc Prensky very concisely summarizes my thoughts, “Today’s kids are challenging us, their educators, to engage them at their level.  We have to find how to present our curricula in ways that engage our students—not just to create new lesson plans,  not even just to put the curriculum online” (2005).

I strive to be an educator who is an early adopter of technology, like many of my students, and this is an ongoing challenge considering the rate at which technology is developing and at the same time the rate at which certain technologies are becoming obsolete.  Some educators argue about the value of using iPads in the classroom, wondering whether they represent another fad or fancy gadget, and others will point out the challenges that come with using new technologies, such as classroom management, privacy, credibility, obsolescence and plagiarism.  To these peers, I would like to offer a counter argument by Burbules and Callister that  “the familiarity of certain objects, materials, and practices makes them relatively invisible to us as ‘technologies’.  No one would think today to pose questions such as, ‘Are blackboards good or bad for teaching? Do textbooks help children learn?’ ” (1999, p. 1).  I believe that mobile devices like tablets and smartphones are enduring technologies, and together with the constantly evolving Apps that have educational value, these technologies in my opinion, will be fully embraced in the majority of classrooms in the future. What I find most exciting are the possibilities and the ‘unknowns’, since “new tools cause people to imagine new purposes that they had not even considered before” (Burbules & Callister, p. 10).  In most cases, it is not the actual technology itself but how the technology is being used and how it changes the “social processes and patterns of activity” that greatest influences the changes we see in society, in ourselves and in education (p. 7).  Personally, I’m convinced of the value and potential of using iPads in an educational setting, and as such, I’m not writing this post to outline the benefits of using iPads.  For this, you could easily find research or scholarly articles on Google Scholar on the matter.

At this point, I must admit that I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by the choices available on educational Apps and the variety of ways to use iPads in the classroom.  At the same time, I’m left feeling excited at the possibilities of engaging my students and enriching their learning.  So here we are at the end of this post, and I shall keep my promise.  If the 25 ways suggested by Jeff Dunn on using iPads in the classroom  are not enough for you to get started, here’s another of his posts that shares over 100 other ways innovative educators use iPads in the classroom.

References:

Burbules, N. & Callister, T. (1999) Watch IT:  The risky promises and promising risks of new information technologies for education.  Westview Press.

Dunn, J. (19 April 2012).  50 Innovative Ways to Use iPads in Schools. Retrieved 23 May 2012, from http://edudemic.com/2011/04/ipads-in-school/

Dunn, J. (18 April 2012).  25 Ways to Use iPads in the Classroom by Degree of Difficulty. Retrieved 23 May 2012, from http://edudemic.com/2012/04/25-ways-to-use-ipads-in-the-classroom/

Prensky, M.  (2005).   Engage me or enrage me.  Educause Review. September-October 2005, 40 (5), 60-65.  Boulder.


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