Not so long ago, the main learning tool in any classroom was the blackboard and a sturdy piece of chalk. Perhaps a textbook or two. Nowadays, the scene has changed considerably. Walk into most modern classrooms, and you’re most likely to see the children using iPads to reinforce their learning. So, how are teachers incorporating this latest technology into their lessons?
During the 1980s, we first saw computers being introduced into schools. Back in those days, there may have been just one or two computers per school and classes would take turns to use this cutting edge technology. As we progressed through the 1990s, computer suites began to be introduced and as the Millennium turned, we saw laptops being brought into classrooms. However, today, it is the iPad which is the learning tool of choice. It can really change the way that pupils learn and interact with their subjects, but how are teachers adjusting their lesson plans to accommodate this new technology?
What Can An iPad Do?
If you’ve never used an iPad, you’re probably unaware of just how much these clever tablets can achieve. In fact, there seems to be almost nothing the iPad cannot do!
Students can word process with ease, make their own media presentations – the contemporary version of show and tell, find key information about their subject through the internet rather than having to visit the library, graph data in an electronic way and answer interactive quizzes independently to consolidate their learning. Even better, the iPad is fully portable and can be taken between classes – what’s not to like?
The iPad In Practise
If we take a look at a case in point of how a teacher can utilize the iPad to its full potential. Let’s assume we’re in a math class. How can the iPad help a class of students studying geometry to develop new skills and consolidate their understanding of their subject?
Let’s imagine the teacher wants the children to find an ideal geometric form which could be used for a submarine. Yes, that would be possible without an iPad, however when you actually have this tool at your fingertips, the breadth of learning and the independence of thought that the children can put into their project become much wider.
Students can go online to find out about the pressure under the sea at different depths that the submarine could dive to. They could research which is the strongest geometric form which could be used for a submarine. They could work in collaboration with others thanks to the portability of the iPad. They have access to a class network and so can ask their teacher any questions they may have, even when at home. They can watch expert lectures on iTunes U. Most importantly, they can upload their results to the school network so their knowledge can be shared with the other students. They can even graph the results which they have obtained and sketch examples of their own submarine design. Finally, they can create a presentation and present it to the class outlining their new knowledge.
Developing Thinking Skills
Most importantly, children have these key tools right at their fingertips so they can use their own creative thinking to decide which tool to use for which purpose. The result is to broaden the children’s range of skills that will stand them in good stead for a lifetime in the workplace.
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics have stated in their principles, standards and expectations that a the latest technology should form an integral part of learning in the classroom today. By incorporating iPads into lessons, teachers can easily meet this standard.
Resolving The Issues
Of course, iPads in the classroom don’t come without their problems. Firstly, how do teachers resolve the problem of playing games on these devices rather than learning? The key to this lies in supervision and in the setting of such engaging work that children don’t feel the need to play in class time. Another problem which also needs resolving centers around protecting such delicate and fragile equipment from damage. Choosing the right protective cases is essential and Otterbox is clearly Apple’s biggest rival when it comes to finding the right cases for iPads for school use thanks to their sturdy design and useful inclusive stands which make classroom use so convenient.