February 4, 2014

iPads in the 21st Century: It’s Not About the Apps! with Stephanie Harman – from Jen Carey

This post first appeared on Jen’s blog.

The last session of the day (after presenting at my own) is “iPads in the 21st Century Classroom: It’s NOT About the Apps!” with Stephanie Harman. You can see her presentation material here.

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 2.35.21 PMStephanie shares her iPad evolution experience. Her first summer was overwhelming, so many apps (especially content specific apps) and believing that her tools would be far ahead what the students were doing. She said that the biggest error that she and her peers made was finding a “cool app” and then designing a lesson around it. THey quickly learned that it’s about using the iPad as one of tool of many and a way to develop their 21st century skills! It’s not about transcribing or scanning in worksheets, but building innovative pedagogy. It’s not about designing your lesson around an app, but around what you want your students to know and do.

The great thing about iPads is that it enables students to “conduct research and present their findings using their own voice and creativity.” This does mean giving up some of the control, trusting your students, and allowing them to be creative. She demonstrates some learning projects that her students created. What is striking to me is that they clearly are invested in their projects and learning! Michelle highlights that her students will often be inspired by one another’s work, leading to more out of the box thinking and greater investment in projects. I appreciate that Stephanie highlights that processual projects are important to ensure that students think out and plan their projects in advanced. We’ve all seen students throw together a presentation and try to “cover it up” with flashy elements.

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 2.54.05 PMAnother element that Stephanie highlights is that “students will synthesize ideas in original and surprising ways.” She shows us another example of students creating a silent film to present the life and times of a scientist! Another student used Comic Life to tell the story of the Earth’s Layers! What is really great about multimedia projects is that students can surprise us. Some kids that are not as good at “traditional” school assignments can shine when they are allowed to be creative and really invest in their own education.

Movie Trailers in iMovie are another great tool that students can use to “hook” their classmates into stories or projects that they are creating. If you would like to see some examples of this, check out her presentation here. This is a great way to teach them the value of production/presentation in their work.

iPads allow students to “communicate in complex, engaging and modern ways.” Instead of having students write out their Spanish sentences or conjugating verbs, they can create an interactive eBook that includes writing, images, and written language!

iPads will “allow students to apply their knowledge in new situations.” What they learn in your classroom will be applied in other classes as well as in other facets of their life. I find it thrilling when a student tells me that they made a video for another class after learning how to do it in my class in our student documentary project or that they use Google Drive to store their vacation photos!

iPads will encourage students to “work collaboratively to solve a problem and achieve a shared vision.” Students can use the iPad along with tools like Google Drive to create a collaborative and engaging research project. By engaging students on their level, they can accomplish great things. You can see a great example of this in her presentation in the video “Climate Change.”

So by not focusing on the apps, but instead what your students can do this will enable them to do some great things in your classroom!