Saturday, April 30, 2011

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

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Counterpoint to my ipad rant

My keyboard wasn't even cold yet before I had my first comment on my ipad rant. Tony took exception to my viewpoint and here is his response. It's in the comments area, as well, but I wanted to give it more 'air.' 

BTW - do you also think I'm way off base? Convince me. Tell YOUR story in the comments.

"Here is an example of using the iPads to improve instruction without any apps other than the Safari web browser that comes with the device: Let’s say I am teaching the concept of warm blooded vs cold blooded animals. At or near the end of the lesson, I can have the kids quickly turn on their iPads and go to a bookmarked Google form that I call a discussion form. It is nothing but a place for the child's name and a text box. I then ask them a question to test their understanding of the main concept. The kids know that their name will not appear on the LCD projector but I can see who says what on my screen. What this does is allows me instant feedback of who still needs more instruction or who is not getting it. It is hard to visualize without seeing it in action but I can walk around the room with my device right up to the struggling kids because I know instantly who they are as they submit the Google form. I have been able to actually help struggling students gain understanding in real-time. Now if a bunch of kids are struggling with the concept then I might have to re-teach the content in a new way (which has happened). However it is better that it happens during the instruction than at test time. Now how is the iPad better at this than a laptop? Well again, it is instant on with no log-in required for this. I have 3 science classes and all they do is leave the device on the desk. A bulky laptop on a desk leaves little room for books and just did not work when we left them there for the next class. I have also found that the kids really type faster on the iPad keyboard allowing me to offer thick questions with generous expectations of text and still not cut out a lot of instruction time. Lastly, all the responses are put into a spread sheet by Google Apps for a permanent record of how well my instruction went to allow me to reflect on how I will approach the lesson next year. And I will give you one more benefit that I did not expect. I had a student who was sick for a test. So I let him take it when he came back the next day. He did not do well at all so I looked back in his formative assessment data from the Google spreadsheet over the instruction period. It turns out that all the data proved that he understood the concepts well. So it made me think that he was perhaps not feeling well yet and I let him re-take the test the next day. He got an A. Needless to say that I am excited with implementing this new technology right now and I have several other examples which I think are unique to my classroom which I will talk about as I perfect them. I am not trying to push the iPad by any means, however for now it seems like the best device for my way of instruction. I am sure another device will come around that might offer even more benefits. But the kids really do like these things and after 5 weeks, have still not tired of them. I will keep you posted. Thank you Jim for letting me share."

The ipad craze. Part II

A while back I wrote about my thoughts on the ipad craze. At that time I didn't own one. I do now and have had it for about 4 months. I like it. I'm not WILD about it, but I like it. I enjoy going out and finding apps that I think might help me be more productive on it, and I like finding challenging games, and I like the interface a lot.

Would I buy a cart full of them for school. Absolutely NOT.

To me this idea is STILL insanity. Normally rational people who are sound educators are touting the ipads as THE device to save our schools.  They point to all the apps. They talk about putting textbooks on it. And they point to a few specific apps like Pages, iMovie, and garageband, and OfficeHD as evidence that the device is NOT just a consumer device.

I do agree that for some kids, the interface will keep them focused for a while. And some apps will also help to reinforce a particular skill. There are some flashcard apps and some math practice apps and some history facts apps. Insert your favorite app here - I don't care what it is. Some folks say, "You can put Google Earth on there, too!" OK. Google Earth. So? You're going to put your textbooks on it, too? So? So you think they're going to finally READ that textbook just because it's on the ipad?

The point that I just can't get past is that the device does NOT support the kinds of activities and assignments that we do in school. At least with OfficeHD and dropbox there's a way to turn in an assignment. Of course, dropbox requires an account. When I ask teachers how students will submit work they do they say they can email it. Really? Where did those email accounts come from and will the students have to set up their accounts each time and then delete them each time? Will they even have access to the settings area to be able to do that?

What kind of product can the kids create with this device? Copying and pasting is still clunky. How do they manage to find images, say, and then save them... where? What about all the other kinds of resources they deal with routinely?

Some rush to point to google docs. You've not tried that recently, have you? The application gets in the way. The INTERFACE gets in the way. Google docs is NOTHING like it is on a computer. (I'm going to distinguish between the ipad and computer, although I do know that the ipad IS a computer.) So, what other program will let the students create a product - AND be able to turn it in somehow?

And if this isn't important to you, then let's talk about what level of Bloom's you're reaching when the kids play with the apps. Remembering level? Understanding level?

Here's where folks rush in with their favorite app to make their point that no, it's NOT all about Remembering and Understanding. "Look at THIS one!" One? Two, maybe? Line up the apps to match the curriculum and THEN tell me. And, line up the apps for ALL of the different subject areas where this device will be used. What is this device being used for NOW? Practicing? Remembering? Understanding?

Don't point to an app and try to make the point that I'm totally wrong. One or two apps does not prove me wrong. Nor does it justify the expense. NOR, I might add, does it justify ignoring sound educational practices just so kids can be entertained by the slick interface.

There MAY come a time when this device IS suitable for schools. I just don't that now is that time. Will you give kids admin rights on the device? Heck no. So, the only thing they can do is all the stuff YOU put on there to keep them entertained. And really, when all other arguments fail, doesn't it always come down to, "They LIKE using the ipads." It's NOT about how they support your curriculum, is it? It's NOT about what it lets them do that they cannot do (and a LOT MORE) with a laptop. It's about giving them a device that they will like playing with.

Stop the madness.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

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Saturday, April 09, 2011

Friday, April 08, 2011

THIS is why we do it!

THIS is why we have schools:

Creative Commons license: Flickr: m00by

NOT this:
Let's not let government forget that!