Saturday, April 23, 2011

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.

14 comments:

Anthony said...

How many classrooms have you observed using the iPads? It doesn't sound like too many because you are missing a lot of information and functionality that these devices can deliver. I too have been around since the Comodore 64 and have used every technology. It's not even about the apps for me. It is a whole lot more. And yes my students create and turn in assignments to me paperlessly. You need to see what is going on in my fifth grade classroom before you write part IIi. And don't forget to visit different levels who are implementing the iPad while you are at it. Lastly, you do realize that these things are instant on don't you? Of course you do. Do you know how much time that saves me from the ols fashioned laptop log-on each class? Anyway, sent from my iPad.

Jim Gates said...

Yes, Anthony, I'd LOVE to see someone using this device for more than what I've been seeing. Tell me more. what apps are your students using that allows them to turn in their assignments?

If it's about a whole lot more than the apps, what is it? Why don't you write it up and I'll post it here - a guest blogger post.

I'd LOVE to hear of how someone is using it for more than what I've been seeing.

Tony Dusko said...

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.

Tony

Tony Dusko said...

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.

Tony

Kyle Simon said...

Seems like a fairly expensive exit ticket.

Spend more, and get many times the functionality in a laptop.

Tony Dusko said...

It's a bit more advanced than an old fashioned "exit ticket". You might want to read my post again if you don't get that. BTW, we have laptops but just the ergonomic and time saving advantages of the iPads have made them worth the cost. I could go on and on but let me just also say that the shift key will never pop off of an iPad keyboard!

Tony

Michelle said...

In your post, you write: "the device does NOT support the kinds of activities and assignments that we do in school."

To me, that is the problem. ANY device, whether it's the iPad, a laptop, an interactive white board, etc., when used as a tool to transform learning, can do just that. Substituting very expensive tools to recreate pencil and paper activities (or projects) does seem like a waste of money.

Think about a book report for example. Kids have been writing book reports since the beginning of time (okay, so I exaggerate). With the newer set of tools, however, think what they could do instead. With digital cameras, editing software, and some creativity, kids can show us more about what they learned from reading a book and not just regurgitating mind-numbing summaries.

Here's one more take- our kids LIVE and breathe digital outside of school. Why make them power down inside of school? They are wired differently- we need to help them by teaching and learning with them differently.

Jim Gates said...

But, the schools are really just buying a bunch of apps with a cool interface. "Looks at this one." "Look at this other one." So, yes the kids enjoy playing with the apps, but I still question if it's worth the money for kids to play with apps.

Last night I got to thinking about my comment that, "It doesn't support what we do in school." And I thought, "That assumes that what we do in school is perfect and shouldn't be changed." But no, that's not what I mean at all.

I just don't believe that no number of cool apps will make this device worth the price, as all they do is allow kids to practice or explore at the basic levels of thought. We've got technology in the schools already that WOULD allow them to do SO MUCH MORE, but we're not using it. Instead, we fall back on a device that we hand out to the excited kids who will then play.

I'm still waiting to hear an argument that convinces me that the tool allows them to create projects of any kind and share it. Some point to the fact that they can email work to the teacher. Who sets up the accounts? WHo deletes them when class is over? How much time does that take?

Re: e-books and mind-numbing summaries - that's an issue with the teaching method. But, if you're going to talk about now giving the kids digital cameras for the ipads and the connectors to hook them up and then buying the software, then you're into one very expensive set of tools. And, you already HAVE tools to do that - a heckuvalot easier than on the ipad.

I agree with the parents in Maine who are protesting the purchase of ipads for k-2 kids, too.

I just saw a blog last night that was full of ipad resources. I wrote to the guy to see if he can tell me some good uses for the tool that involved more than just playing with apps. I hope ot hear something that will change my mind.

Brandt Schneider said...

I have a music class set of iPads and we create all the time. Real music.

iPads offer:
1. Mobility. Our learning happens anywhere, anytime.
2. Accessibility. Anyone can use it. I spend almost no time teaching the technology.
3. They work. Instant on, battery life, HD video, etc... My class can not even imagine going back.

Jim Gates said...

Tell me more. What grade? What do they do with the music they create? Can they share it with you? Can it print out the sheet music? Can they work on a piece together, with different kids working on different parts?

How does it work when it comes time to grade their work?

I can certainly appreciate the instant on and the battery life, for sure. That part is huge.

Mathew said...

I think you make good points at the same time that I think you're missing the boat.

Your strongest point I think is about hitting higher levels of Bloom's Taxonomy and the same can be said about traditional desktop computers the way they're used in most classrooms I've visited.

I wouldn't use an iPad to simply have students type up assignments. With blogging, moviemaking, and keynoting it would be very easy to get student work off of the iPad and assess student learning.

I don't think the iPad completely replaces laptops or computers and neither does Apple. However, as device for doing things we don't usually do in school like moviemaking, looking at multimedia, and internet research, it has a distinct advantage over other devices in that it's less expensive, has a longer battery life, and requires less maintenance.

Tony Dusko said...

This is how we share assignments with the iPads. At my school district, every student who is enrolled already has a Google Apps account along with a Gmail address that goes though our servers. (It is not a public account). So my students can share work with me one of two ways: Let’s say I assign them a writing piece. As soon as I assign it, I create a folder in Google Apps and share that folder with all of them. Then when they are done with the writing piece, Docs to Go lets them drop the finished piece right into the shared folder for me to access. This is one reason we went with Docs to Go over Pages in that it syncs with Google Apps. I also had them set up their Gmail on their devices. It only took about 30 minutes and all their iPads were good to go. Now they can share many different things besides written projects, such as recorded oral readings so I can check on their fluency at home at my “leisure” and not use valuable instruction time. They can also email digital storytelling projects, complete with audio and images; certainly a way to address my visual learners and give them an alternative way of assessment other than the typical written narrative. And yes, kids can also share work with each other which does have advantages when it comes to peer editing. But please keep in mind, I am learning on the fly here and I will be the first to admit the challenges of this new frontier. However, as long as the plusses outweigh the minuses, I am going to forge ahead. One bit of advice on this kind of sharing is to keep the parents informed from the beginning. Parents hear that their kids are using Gmail at school and they immediately worry about are emailing each other socially; however we inform parents that their Gmail account is on school servers and for school use only. We also inform parents that Gmail is just a small part of the Google Apps suite of programs that we use in the classroom. I plan to make a presentation of this at the beginning of each school year at our Meet the Teacher Night. By the way, we don’t allow the kids to use their Gmail for any personal or non-school purposes and I threaten them with the loss of iPad privileges. I have not had any problems with my fifth graders in this respect so far.

Tony

Jonathan Nalder said...

Hi Jim, it's not an iPad craze or yes, there is a problem. It's a post-pc (although not sans-pc) personalized learning craze- or should be. But what you are talking about I think is what happens when a new device is plunked on top of old pedagogy - it'll just reinforce it. First we must challenge ourselves to implement a pedagogy that will actually allow students to reach higher than consuming knowledge and to be creators of it instead. If we get that right, mobile personal learning tools like the iPad will be perfect extenders.
One other thing, it is all about the apps with these devices. It's because they become whatever app you load with the device itself basically disappearing - emphasis on the you - they fit you, not the other way around. Please fell free to head over tonour slidetolearn.ning.com community or follow the #slide2learn tag on twitter to explore more.

Sue Holt said...

I think the success and usefulness of using the iPad in education is just as dependent on the teacher using the devices as the device itself, which is true for any classroom technology or curriculum.

I teach K and use 10 iPads in my full day class. Kids use them as whiteboards (and I wish I had a class set because it would save a lot of in passing out whiteboards, markers and erasers). I have a group use the. During my center time (I used to use laptops...) The iPad is so simple that kids can use it with little or no help, there are many many apps that are cheap or free and work on skills I want to focus on; most cd-roms or websites allowed the student to go down the rabbits hole. Now I simply make a folder, put it on the dock and the kids pick from those.

I know you dont feel that the apps are wonderful, but i do. Many of them replace materials i create year after year, or puzzles whose pieces get lost. They are much more powerful than worksheets, which many classrooms still use today. Take preschool university's apps; abc magic-typically it would take about 15 minutes to get through a worksheet, including passing out papers, pencils, explaining directions and walking non reading students through each problem. Using apps from preschool U, a child can go through a dozen worksheets worth of words in the same amount of time, at their own pace, with instant feedback. teach me k/1st asks kids to add, subtract, write
words and more... And gives feedback and support if the child struggles. Make a word replaces set upon set of word
family cards... And it too offers scaffolding for struggling kids.
I could go on and on (I know I already did) but I want to share my favorite thing about using iPads in K- it makes differentiation so much easier. My student who is at a second grade level can work with apps made just for him, while the. Kids who don't know their abcs can practice over and over... Seeing, hearing, touching... And they all love it. Behavior problems have dramatically decreased too; if kids get in trouble they can't use iPads... They are much more careful now.
I blog about tech in my class... Http://digitalkindergarten.blogspot.com