How has Apple transformed your classroom? Part I

In this three-part series, we asked a group of educators their perspective on ways Apple has helped shape teaching and learning.

June 24 2015 by

Hear from educators on ways Apple has changed teaching and learning.

This week, education experts from around the globe are gathering for the annual International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Philadelphia. The event is set to cover best practices and emerging trends in inspiring learning and teaching with technology, including – but not exclusive to – Apple devices such as the Mac, iPad, and iPhone.

In the spirit of the conference, we asked a select group of top educators, education technology experts, and education consultants for their perspectives on how Apple technology has helped shape teaching and learning, and what their favorite Apple technology in the classroom is and why.

Read the first of our three-part series to hear what they had to say.

Nicholas Provenzano, High School Teacher and Blogger for @thenerdyteacher

A sound mobile platform lets students learn on the way to the game.
As a teacher for over 13 years, Nicholas Provenzano has witnessed Apple technology help transform the learning experience by creating a “sound mobile platform” that allows his students to work “in class, at home, on the way to the game, or anywhere they want to work.” By being able to access their information whenever and wherever they need it, he says, the result has been increased student engagement.

Apple devices are a huge part of Provenzano’s classroom, as students use their iPhones and class iPads to “take notes, research, create, record, and anything else they want.” For him, “these devices are providing students with the flexibility to use the tools and apps they are most comfortable using to engage in their classwork.”

Julie Lindsay, Lecturer at Charles Sturt University, Director at Learning Confluence, Founder of Flat Connections @julielindsay

Putting students’ needs first with challenge based learning.
A lecturer at Charles Sturt University, Julie Lindsay is also an Apple Distinguished Educator. Part of her professional learning has focused on “challenge based learning,” which is inquiry-focused learning with actionable outcomes. “It is above and beyond what is known as project-based learning, and is based on constructivist pedagogy that puts the learner’s needs first,” says Lindsay. “This is the best example of the new learning modes that Apple has supported in recent years.”

What’s Lindsay’s favorite Apple device for the classroom? The MacBook, which she says is reliable, hassle-free and versatile, and meets the needs of learners to support new modes of working and learning.

David Hopkins, eLearning Consultant at the University of Warwick Business School @hopkinsdavid

The ability to be always on in the classroom . . . or coffee shop.
For University of Warwick Business School eLearning consultant, David Hopkins, there’s no denying that recent technology has transformed learning, specifically with the rise of mobile computing. For Hopkins, smartphones and tablets bring about an “always-on” availability, and by developing the iPhone and iPad, Apple has contributed to this in the classroom.

Easy access to the Internet is enabling interaction and engagement such as, “networks of learners from any location, from coffee shops to shopping centers to libraries and schools,” Hopkins explains.

The rise of the App Store, he adds, has helped bring about this change in approach via the delivery of learning resources to teachers, parents, and children. “At no other time have so many passionate and talented individuals been able to design and implement such a varied range of learning resources, and have the ability to reach a global audience,” says Hopkins.

Jonathan Nalder, Founder/Director of JNXYZ.Education @jnxyz

Switch Control: learning and starting a business with Cerebral Palsy.
Two years ago, Apple added support for ‘Switch Control’ into iOS and OS X. “This has allowed now-18-year-old Christopher Hills to teach himself online, gain Final Cut Pro accreditation, and start his own business – even though he has Cerebral Palsy and is wheelchair bound,” says Jonathan Nalder, Founder and Director of JNXYZ.Education. “If he can learn and thrive with only the ability to tap a head switch, anyone can!”

For the classroom, Naider considers the iPad as the perfect combination of a mobile device that also allows for powerful creativity. Naider adds that the apps available “allow students to go beyond just consuming content to creating and publishing it.”

Erin Klein, Second Grade Teacher and Blogger for @kleinerin

No instructions needed: three-year-olds can focus on the content, not the device.
According to teacher and blogger, Erin Klein, Apple is transforming learning by driving a “generational shift in how users today connect and interact with one another and their tools.” Klein points to the learning experience of a three-year-old, “I couldn't illustrate my point more vividly than to have you imagine the experience a learner at age three can gain from the device without guided instruction on how to operate the functions. Because there is virtually zero learning curve with many Apple mobile products, learners can focus on content, not the device.” 

For the classroom, Klein loves her iPhone because it’s easy to personalize for her learning endeavors. “I think this speaks to the importance of allowing learners to personalize the devices they'll be using for instructional purposes. When I'm in a situation where I have to do work on a computer other than my personal Mac Pro or my iPhone, the ability for me to work at the same level of comfort and quality is reduced,” says Klein.

Shelly Sanchez, Author, Speaker, eLearning Specialist at @ShellTerrell

Learning English by rapping with Talking Tom the cat.
Apple technology has been transformative in helping to bridge the gaps in learning, says author, speaker and eLearning specialist Shelly Sanchez, “I love the way students with disabilities use Apple apps and devices to communicate and express themselves.” For example, a young boy she mentored with autism loved to draw pictures on her iPad, and was also a big fan of an app on the planets. He would open it up and use it to share information, and his family was amazed at the progress he made in such quick time.

The power of Apple devices and tools has been instrumental in getting students to connect, collaborate, create, and explore. Sanchez highlights an experience she had while teaching English to children in Germany in 2007: “I pulled out my iPod and introduced them to Talking Tom who mimics everything that is said. They laughed so much and wouldn't stop talking to him. They would ask me for phrases to say to him and even created raps for Tom. This was one of many apps I used to get my students to enjoy learning English.”

Check back tomorrow for the second installment of our Apple in the classroom series.

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