This post first appeared on Jen Carey’s blog Indiana Jen

Day two of the iPad Summit starts with a Keynote talk by Greg Kulowiec (@gregkulowiec), entitled Plato, Paper & iPads… As someone who has read Plato in the original Greek, I’m curious where he’s going here. I have known Greg for years and seen him present some amazing workshops and talks, so I am excited to see him present.

Greg tells us that this morning, he is going to tell us his story. Greg started teaching in 2005 at Plymouth South High School. When he started, he was wholly on the analogue side and not interested in implementing technology. One day while talking to a peer about a problem he was having, she suggested he check out some “web 2.0 tools.” He didnt’ even know what “web 2.0″ was so he went home and googled it. That was his introduction to integrating technology.

Interactive whiteboard, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

With smartboards, the technology is still teacher directed. Greg tells us that he got a group of old computers at one point where students could access a Wiki and send emails. He had zero compass and zero path. Many of us have been in the spot where we are using technology because the technology is available. We don’t know why we’re doing it. It doesn’t help students at all.

Plato's Allegory of the Cave

In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, prisoners see only shadows and believe it is reality. Finally, a prisoner breaks free, sees the fire, and sees the objects creating fire. His reality is shattered. So, as a teacher, where are we in the story? What is the world? Greg argues that if we don’t have a direction or a purpose, then we are living in shadows. We need to shift our focus to the meaning behind our purpose. What skills do we want our students to have? What do we want them to be able to do? So now that he is more meaningful in integration, he begins to use the tool that will work for his objectives, not just to use the technology. Students begin to make real world connections, interaction with the world, creation of ideas, connection to experts, collaboration, etc. The emphasis is completely different. He then asks us to share our stories; when did our perspective on using technology shift?

Greg then tells us about his experience with iPads. When they integrated the iPad into his classroom, he was back in the cave. He starts using the iPad because… it’s there. He starts focusing on apps, not on what you want students to do! If you want a great list, check outEdTechTeacher’s Tech Tools by subject and skill. The first iPads were very limited, you couldn’t even collaborate because Google Drive didn’t even exist! So initially, everything was focused on “the apps.” You got articles like, “Top 10 apps for History teachers!” We’re back in the cave, isolated.

Greg tells us that with the iPad 2, he realized that the iPad could let him be more creative. It was able to let him create content using the video camera, iMovie, and then publish it to the web! However, you’re still in

Sketchnote via

danger of the tool driving the creation. Greg highlights that language is important in this process. If you tell your students “Today we’re doing Keynotes!” or “Today we’re doing iMovies!” Be conscious of your language so that you do not get locked into the tool. We need to make a conscious decision about how we are using tools, including analogue. We need to look at all of the tools we use around us, including notebooks and paper, to look at our tasks and objectives. Sometimes, paper is more effective than digital tools. Sketchnotinghas taken off as a means to capture information. So we should rethink what role an iPad should play in the classroom. Perhaps most of it should take place off line in a notebook. However, the iPad will allow you to create and share in a way that paper will not.

Greg shares with us his experiences with vinyl. He was a DJ, so feeling and manipulating records gave him a unique connection with the music that doesn’t happen with an iPod or an iPhone. So think about this, are we losing anything when we go digital? Greg next shares the ideal iPad Backpack, Blending Digital & Analog. You can use your iPad to organize digital content, use a paper notebook to capture ideas and sketch notes (even taking pics and dropping them into Google Drive or Evernote), and even a dry erase board with markers. Keep your classroom hybrid. Merge online and offline work. Find tools that are flexible and thoughtful, not using tools to drive your work. He demonstrates this with some sticky notes. He asked several participants to write ideas on a sticky note. He then collected them, used thePost-it App to collect them, shared the post it board, and opened it in Explain Everything!

What an energizing way to start the day!