How to go 1:1 – iPads for Education

Sep 11, 2011 by

Is your school jumping on the 1:1 iPad wagon this year?

If so, you’re likely excited yet perhaps a bit anxious about implementing hardware and software with which you might not be entirely familiar. The iPad has amazing potential to unlock opportunities for 21st century learners. Rafael discussed some of the benefits of in his post, One iPad Per Child, so definitely check it out if you’re curious or even skeptical.

The Victoria Department of Education and Early Childhood Development has put together a phenomenal Getting Started guide for learning with the iPad in a classroom setting. With over 40 pages of helpful tips and strategies, here’s the distilled version with some added insights to get your school up to speed on 1:1 iPad use this school year.

The Basics: Integration

I love that the guide opens with a strong stance on 1:1 technology: “1-to-1 is about learning, not technology.” At the core of tech integration is the belief that any new devices we bring into the classroom should promote and enhance meaningful learning. If not, we might consider poorly integrated devices as “toys.” This is okay, but we shouldn’t try to fool ourselves.

When implementing new tech school-wide, teachers and admins alike should be working together to think through how the iPad should impact the curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment. The following illustration from the Victoria Dept. of Ed’s guide is simple yet powerful, as it reminds us that instead of merely adding in new tech, we must think through how devices like the iPad can fundamentally shift the ways in which schools and students think about learning:

1-to-1 iPad implementation

The iPad “Mindset”

Today’s teachers did not have access to iPads when they were in school. This is obvious, but it is also extremely telling. When I was in the classroom, I supplemented the pedagogy and curriculum that I learned in graduate school with my prior experience as a student and my understanding of what school was “supposed to be.” Despite reflection and open-mindedness, it’s easy for teachers to call on their longstanding values and beliefs in the classroom to guide instruction.

When we launch 1:1 iPad initiatives, real thought has to go into understanding how we think about learning and why we harbor those beliefs. Through structured questioning and reflecting, the Victoria Dept. of Ed guide urges school leaders and instructors to better understand their value system. This is the first step in re-configuring your mindset to be a super effective, techie teacher (if you haven’t been one thus far)!

Ready to rock!

Next, the guide covers how to safely and responsibly use tech, various types of apps, applicable ideas for immediate implementation, online collaboration, and more!

Safety. Public verses private is a huge concept that students working online must master to be responsible digital citizens. The “Me We See” framework explained in the Victoria Dept. of Ed’s guide is a kid-friendly (and teacher-friendly) way to convey how information can be seen online.

Online Safety in Schools

iPad ins-and-outs. To teach effectively with the iPad, teachers and staff have to be well-versed in “bundled apps,” those that come standard with the iPad, as well as any apps you’ll be utilizing additionally. Playing around with the iPad is a wonderful place to start, but there are also tons of resources to help you get to know your way around (like the aforementioned guide, hint hint).

Apps to use. My favorite thing about the Victoria Dept. of Ed’s guide is the plethora of tested and recommended iPad apps for education. If they don’t strike your fancy, be sure to series on iPad Apps for Education where we share awesome apps for early childhood, special education, and k-12!

Summing it up

The moral of the story here is that the iPad will offer innumerable opportunities for learning in your classroom. The catch, however, is that successful implementation necessitates thoughtful reconstruction of curricula as well as an invigorated mindset. It’s not about finding the app that will be a magic bullet for student achievement, but rather, going 1:1 is a process that can utterly reshape the way teachers, schools, and students think about school!

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