Saturday, May 11, 2013

BYOD vs BYO iPad -
I began this year's iPad pilot fully expecting that we would be come an iPad school eventually. The term "pilot" when used as an adjective is defined as an "experiment or test before using something more widely." When used as a noun it is "the person who operates the flying controls of an aircraft." As the pilot of this iPad pilot, it has definitely been a wild ride. Over the course of this experience my opinion has shifted considerably.

There were three reasons that I thought the iPad would be the best device for us as a school.

1. We would all have common apps that we could use for projects.
Of these three, my biggest shift in thinking has been around number one. This became even more clear to me yesterday at a meeting of the AISNE tech directors. I thank Jeremy Angoff  for helping me to expand my thinking here. I wrote in an earlier post that I felt the iPad was getting ahead of the pedagogy and that the learning should come first. Rather than thinking about our projects as defined by the tool, I should be defining the project by the goals and letting the students find the best tool for the job.

For example, my goal with my Explain Everything project was to have students create a movie illustrating one of the Greek myths that we study. But this doesn't have to be done with Explain Everything (as awesome as that App is). If we focus on a goal  of creating a 2-4 minute video that explains the key points of a myth, the students can decide on the best tool for the job. I think we can still offer suggestions and support, but I know that students will also do that for each other and for their teachers.

From a technology perspective this approach gets kids thinking about the goals of the project and forces them to find the tool and figure it out. Those are key skills that we all need to have TODAY (see my earlier post on the term "21st Century"). In addition, it frees the teacher from having to know the tools, which is particularly helpful for our less technically comfortable faculty. Because each device will have a different set of options, the choices students make will be more varied, and perhaps even more interesting and creative.

2. The iPad has a low profile, making it less of a barrier to class discussions around a table.
Almost three quarters of my students have chosen to purchase a keyboard for their iPad, thus making this benefit moot. Admittedly the screen is still smaller than a full size laptop, but it still gets in the way.

3. The iPad touch screen and size allows for reading and annotating books and articles.
I don't have an answer for this one. The iPad is still better for annotating and reading. I would imagine that some students will choose to have two devices, an e-reader of some kind and a laptop (If they can afford it). Other students will read the old fashioned way and annotate using a highlighter and a pen.

We aren't quite done with our pilot. We are taking one more year to make this decision. It will be interesting to see where we land. At some point the plane is going to run out of fuel. (Couldn't resist the metaphor ;)

Friday, May 3, 2013

5 Things Learners TODAY Should Be Doing

     First of all, I have finally found another word for 21st Century. I have struggled with this for a while, "21st century" is such an overused term, especially since we have been living in the 21st century for 13 years. Then it hit me, the 21st century is TODAY, right now! By labeling it anything other than that, we make it feel like we have time to get there. We have no more time, we are here.

    I have also been thinking a lot about ways to simplify my vision of what schools should be doing(see my last post) and what learners should be doing. Last night I was sitting down with my cousin, who is a college professor, and my husband, who is a software engineer, trying to boil down the essential skills learners need to succeed in college and the workplace. This is what we came up with.
5 Things Learners TODAY Should Be Doing:


1. Inquiring
Asking questions about ideas and issues throughout the local/school school community.
Asking questions about ideas and issues throughout the world.
2. Investigating
Finding and researching answers and solutions using the people in the local/school community.
Finding and researching answers and solutions using the internet and other online tools.
3. Collaborating
Working and connecting effectively with classmates and teachers face-to-face and online.
Working and connecting effectively with people around the world face-to-face and online.
4. Creating
Building, Designing, Inventing and Producing solutions to local/school problems.
Building, Designing, Inventing and Producing solutions to global problems.
5. Communicating
Using writing, video, art, and other media to share solutions with the local/school community.
Using writing, video, art, and other media to share solutions with a global community.