Our Apple in the classroom series continues with six more educators explaining how Apple technology has helped shape teaching and learning, and what their favorite Apple technology in the classroom is and why.
Global collaboration: creating an eBook with students from 20 other countries.
One of the best examples showing how Apple has transformed learning is the “If You Learned Here” Project, according to education consultant Lucy Gray. She had presented at an Apple Distinguished School meeting on global connections, and two teachers Mary Morgan Ryan and Carolyn Skibba went back to their classrooms to design their own collaborative project. In the end, it involved 70 schools from 20 countries using a myriad of tools, including Flipgrid, Padlet and Book Creator to pull together a collaborative eBook written by students from around the world. The project offers “a great example of how educators can bring the world into their classrooms,” adds Gray.
What’s her favorite Apple Technology? iTunes U, as it offers a repository of mostly free content for all levels of education. “There is a treasure trove of material within iTunes U including videos, podcasts, iBooks, and other digital documents. Colleges and universities, K12 schools, and institutions of informal learning have created channels showcasing great resources for others,” says Gray. “Also, iTunes U Course Manager is available for those who want to build their own collections of content. My favorite channel on iTunes U is the Apple Distinguished Educator channel!”
Using apps to offer discrete, individualized instruction for fourth grade math students.
“Apple has transformed learning by increasing mobility, collaboration and creativity,” says Scott Newcomb, a fourth grade teacher and blogger/consultant. Having iPad Minis in his classroom has had a huge impact on his students: “Their learning is no longer tethered to their desks. It has leveled the playing field. All students feel that they can contribute to the activity.”
Specifically, Newcomb has his students use math apps on the iPad Mini to sharpen their skills. He also incorporates blended learning by having the students use online math programs to differentiate instruction.
The technology is great for him because it enables Newcomb to individualize and differentiate instruction through these apps, as well as tailor instruction to fit each of his student’s individual needs. “Through the integration of iPad Minis, I am able to differentiate instruction without drawing attention to specific students, as all will be working on the same type of device,” he adds.
Just tap twice for a media-rich learning experience on the big screen.
Daniel Edwards is director at Stephen Perse Foundation schools and co-author of Educate 1-to-1. His schools work on two key principles when using technology to enhance learning: providing seamless access to content and removing barriers to learning.
In terms of achieving the former, the schools use iTunes U as the content delivery mechanism. For the latter, they offer a 1-to-1 iPad environment to provide students with instant access to materials they need. Using the iPad, “students can now receive feedback on their assignments and act on it before their next 'contact' period with the teacher,” he says. “We see this as a crucial aspect in our desire to enhance the learning process.”
The iPad has greatly changed Edward’s approach to teaching by offering a media-rich platform coupled with access to student information and feedback – all available with “a couple of taps on a screen.” By pairing this with the Apple TV, Edwards says he is free to teach and address individual concerns more readily, “It used to be so difficult five years ago to do the things I've always wanted to do. And now I just tap a screen.”
Apps are the new textbook, and we’re nowhere near our potential.
“While the iPad hardware is impressive, Apple was way, way out ahead of competing platforms in fostering the growth of high-quality, innovative, and polished apps,” states Terry Heick, founder and director of TeachThought.com. And while this hasn't ‘transformed’ learning, it has created a compelling alternative to the textbook, made project-based learning more accessible, and began to illuminate what's possible with mobile learning. He adds, “we're nowhere near our potential here, either.”
Heick believes that the iPad is probably the best thing Apple has created, as he says that BYOD is not something most schools and districts are comfortable with. “So even while the iPad seems to kind of hit a wall in terms of sales, by empowering students, it wins,” explains Heick.
Laura Blankenship, Chair and Dean of Academic Affairs at The Baldwin School @lblanken
Students demonstrate learned concepts by creating movies about robots and binary code.
Laura Blankenship is chair and dean at The Baldwin School, which became a 1-to-1 MacBook school two years ago. “I have to say, it has transformed so many of our classes,” she states. The biggest result Blankenship has seen is that learning is now less passive, as teachers now have students actively shape their own learning. By using e-texts and online resources for classroom materials, the school has also expanded the kinds of materials it uses and is no longer stuck with static textbooks, “which can get out of date far too quickly,” says Blankenship.
She enthusiastically calls out iMovie as her favorite Apple technology, adding, “there are so many ways this can be used for students to demonstrate what they know, and it's such a flexible platform that students are really only limited by their imagination.”
In the classroom, her students use iMovie to create videos to demonstrate the concepts they've learned, even in computer science. Examples include how-to videos for making robots sing or draw, and explanations of the binary number system. Blankenship explains, “Because they can easily add video, photos and music all together, students can easily make many different kinds of videos. The end results are never boring!”
Tablets for the win: enabling intuitive and easy student learning.
“My favorite Apple technology is the iPad because the tablets are intuitive and easy to use for students,” says Beth Blecherman of Techmamas. Her sixth graders integrated iPads into their curriculum this year with wide success, making it a “transformative year.”
For other classrooms looking to do the same, Blecherman recommends leveraging an infrastructure of automated tools to help with your school’s internal communication. “We had that this year and all teachers participated which made the school workflow very efficient. I commend the staff at our Middle School for the work they did to bring the technology and workflow into the classroom in a way that enriched the kids’ learning environment and made the workflow more organized,” says Blecherman.