Friday, August 12, 2011

iPads in Education

Through the years, certain things have made their way into the classroom that have looked really cool, but in reality may not have been the best idea.  One year, a parent donated some prize box rewards for my classroom and I was very grateful. I was, however, taken aback when I realized that some of the rewards were brand new, classroom-targeted, fruit-scented glue sticks.  I was always told from a young age, "Don't sniff glue", and had to rethink that particular reward. Not everything new has a place in our classrooms.

The iPad also provides a reason to have that discussion. The money spent on an iPad just to be a centers-station reward game just isn't worth it to me. However, there are certain populations and innovative teachers in our schools that give great value to iPads and other mobile media devices.  In a July article in The Transforming Education Through Technology Journal, Peter Levy shared experiences from teachers about how their use of iPads made dramatic differences in their classroom instruction.

We don't, however, have to look past our district to find innovative teachers who are using iPads in authentic and powerful ways. I had the honor of assisting Lora Netherland, a Life Skills teacher at Clayton Elementary, as she presented her experiences to a crowd of teachers during the 2011 Texas Computer Educators Association conference.  She uses her iPad in various ways to help non-vocal students communicate and students with limited motor skills show understanding of concepts. Her video records show an amazing growth in skill and confidence in some of her students. The ease of use and multitude of specialized software available for the iPad provided great support for Netherland's already masterful teaching in the classroom.

How have you seen iPads being used in innovated or effective and authentic ways in the classroom?  What other mobile devices have you seen to be effective in ways that computers couldn't do as well?

There will be ongoing posts about the use of mobile technology in our district. Please share your experiences as we take that journey.

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