Saturday, March 24, 2012

Arguments for the iPad in Education

As we continue to explore the possibility of becoming a 1:1 iPad school, I am starting to put together my arguments in favor of this adoption. Here are some of my thoughts so far. I would welcome your feedback on this document!

Why 1 to 1?
In a digital world where information on a multitude of subjects is both abundant and immediately available, students today must learn to effectively access, analyze, synthesize and integrate this information on a regular basis. By providing our students with immediate access to a digital tool, such as a laptop or a tablet, we provide them with the world at their finger-tips (literally). In a time when the ability to discover an answer is more important than the ability to memorize and regurgitate the answer, we must make those answers readily available to both our students and faculty. If we want a pedagogical shift, 1:1 access to a digital tool will help both to facilitate and to force this change to happen.

Why the iPad (and not a laptop)?
There are many reasons that the iPad makes the most sense as the best tool for our 1 to 1 transition. The low screen profile makes a huge difference in a Harkness/discussion classroom, retaining the intimacy of the classroom conversation without the distraction of a laptop screen. The portability and tablet format allow the iPad to double as an e-reader for textbooks. This will lighten student backpacks and lower their textbook costs. Finally, in addition to internet access, iPad education Apps provide new and engaging ways for students to learn and understand complex concepts.

Why the iPad (and not a different tablet or a bring your own device model)?
Given that we are an Apple school, the iPad makes the most sense for us as an institution. Our faculty are comfortable with the MacOS and many already use iPhones and iPods. Maintaining a single platform for all students will make for the smoothest transition to 1 to 1 by giving all students access to the same tools, books and Apps.

What about the iPad 3 (or 4 or 5...)?
At this time the additional features of the iPad3 are not meaningful enough for us to upgrade and the new lower price of the iPad2 make it even more attractive and accessible to us. As newer models of the iPad are released, we will have to consider the lowest version when we make our App and book choices. If we look at the iPhone as a model, as each new iPhone was released, the newest Apps and Operating system continued to function on older models. Just as we replace our faculty laptops every 3 years, we will need to consider a replacement schedule for our iPads. Students should be able to make it through grades 7-12 with no more than 2 iPad purchases.

Will students and faculty continue to need access to a laptop or desktop computer?At this time faculty will definitely continue to need laptops or desktops for word processing, printing and more complex computing tasks. For some students the iPad may be sufficient for their needs, but many will continue to need access to a computer.

Photo Credit: A Bit of How I Study on Flickr by wwward0

Sunday, March 4, 2012

From Dream to Reality - Making Things Happen

EdcampIS Organizers Introduction
I just returned from Seattle where I helped to run edcampIS, an unconference for independent school educators following the National Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference. If you read my blog or know me, you know all about this. You know that I have been running unconferences for years. You know that I love them. And, I loved this one just as much as the rest. The day went wonderfully. I had conversations about iPads, about assessment, about parent education and much more. I have lots of notes and lots of ideas of things I want to try, change and do.

EdcampIS Session Board
However, my biggest take-away from this entire experience was that it ACTUALLY HAPPENED! I'm still just not over that. I had an idea, I shared it with my PLN, people stepped up (amazing people) and my idea became a reality. Over the years I have had lots and lots and lots of ideas, but this is the first time I've ever attempted something this big and had it come to fruition. I've been talking about the power of the network for a long time (blah, blah, blah), but I'm not sure I really believed it until now.

Delicious Food!
I lobbed an idea onto the interwebs and Greg Bamford, Anthony McGrann and Jac de Haan caught it and ran with it. Ben Lee opened The Northwest School to us, providing us a beautiful space, coffee, delicious food and a willingness to allow a group of strangers invade his school. Kim Sivick was there in the home stretch to lend her support.

EdcampIS Participants
Finally, there were all of the people who showed up to make the conference happen. Many of whom had never been to an edcamp or an unconference, yet were willing to open them selves up to the possibilities. I've never seen a session board fill so quickly. I hope we can continue this experience at NAISAC13 in Philly!

Now it is time to turn my attention to edcampBoston. I hope to see you there, April 28th Microsoft NERD center, Cambridge MA. Be there or be a rhombus.

Thank you also to Rachel Went-Chaney for all of her wonderful photographs of the event.