Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Reflections on Year 1 of our 1:1 iPad Program

After completing the 2013-2014 school year, it is time for some reflection. Our school pushed forward with numerous new initiatives, but this blog posting is just about one: our 1:1 iPad Pilot program.

We gave iPads to the entire 6th grade and a few select high school classes. Our implementation plan asked our Social Studies teacher to use the iPad regularly from the start, but that all other teachers had time to integrate the tool, with many of them starting slowly and only really seeing the fruits of their labor in the second semester. The key was edtech support; our school investing in 4 educational technology integrators throughout our 3 schools and that made all the difference the world. If your school is considering a 1:1 without edtech integrators, do not do it. Teachers need constant support to integrate the iPad and transform it into a learning tool. 

We move to next year where we will be adding to the program with both 6th and 7th graders receiving iPads. In addition, we will be expanding our high school pilot to approximately 75 students. This is a more limited pilot in that these students will be using the iPad in class with only 1-3 teachers who will be utilizing the iPad. We have moved ahead with more classes and hope this will be the transition to a full 1:1 in 2015-2016.

I have learned a lot from this experience, but the single most important thing is the need for having a framework for the types of apps you want to implement and knowing which should be the “meat and potatoes,” and which should be the “dessert.” To make the point, most people mistakenly think that the key apps are the subject specific apps. In my humble opinion, that is way off target and can move an iPad program totally of course. 
Let me explain:

The way I see it, there are six educational categories of apps:
Subject Specific

Aren’t we all looking to implement technology so that students can take control of their learning utilize their creativity to show mastery of learning beyond the classic pen and paper tests we all grew up with? I believe so. That is the first category of Creativity apps for Students and Teachers(such as iMovie, Explain Everything, Educreations, etc). After that we move to Student Assessment (such as Socrative, Google Forms and Haiku Assessments), Workflow/Organization Apps (such as Google Drive and Haiku Learning/ LMS) and Presentation apps (such as Keynote and Nearpod). 

If you can get those categories down, then the last two categories would be iBooks and Subject specific apps. Next year we will be piloting an iBook in our 6th, 7th and 10th grade Language Arts classes, our computer classes will be trying out the Common Sense Media’s iBook for Digital Citizenship, and we even have our social studies teacher creating her own iBook textbook with iBooks Author. We are hopeful this experience will shed light on the future of iBooks for our school. In terms of subject specific apps, we will be piloting a few in science, math, language arts and social studies. We view them as ancillary and enhancements, but not the key to student learning the way the first categories are seen.

Our Edtech team has spent much of this school year building a website for EdTech Tools to help our teachers learn these tools. CLICK HERE to view it. It is a substantial work in progress and we would love your feedback.

Next post coming in a few days.... Reflections on ISTE 2014.....

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