7 Reasons iPads Rule?

English: iPads offer a variety of software
English: iPads offer a variety of software (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Some impressive facts from ign.com on the impact of iPads:
  • Over 100 million sold 
  • iPad sales topped all other PC Manufacturers in the second quarter of 2012
  • 94 percent of Fortune 500 companies use iPads “in an official capacity.”
Despite these mind-blowing numbers, I am always interested in the discussion of what device is best in an educational setting.  Audrey Watters wrote a post this week asking, “Why Tablets?” that got me thinking about this a bit more, especially given the fact that we currently have over 1,200 iPads in Burlington, a number that will soon be over 2,000 as we deploy iPads at the middle school level.
Audrey wrote the following about iPads:

 I was struck once again by the abundance of hype over tablets. I confess, I just can’t do the work I need to do on an iPad, but I don’t want to suggest that that means they’re useless for others. It does make me wonder about what I’m missing by being a skeptic, as well as what students are missing when we give them tablets and not (my preference) laptops.

While I love the iPad myself, I too find myself utilizing my laptop first in many cases.  I feel quite guilty sometimes by the fact that I can pull out my MacBook Air to accomplish many tasks while students only have an iPad to access.   While I have tried at certain points to put away my laptop and get through my day with the same device that our students have, I have not been successful in doing this for more than a day.

Thinking back to our 1:1 planning meetings, I remember our main issues were cost, battery-life, and ease of use.   We looked at laptops and minis for a while and then the iPad hit the market it quickly moved to the top of the list (since we could not afford MacBooks for everyone).  Of I wondered if we were just buying the shiny new toy that the novelty would wear off quickly.

While we certainly did buy the shiny new toy and yes the novelty has warn off a bit, our satisfaction with our choice has lessened little.  The main reason is that for even the most techno-phobic user the iPad could not be easier to utilize.  There is no complicated operating system to deal with or software to learn. The ease-of-use allows us to focus our time and energy on the numerous resources that we now have at our fingertips. Instead of training on the device, we are spending our time referencing our learning goals and pulling in from the plethora of resources that allow us to reach them in new and engaging ways.

In regard to the list of reasons that iPads rules, I really don’t have a list of reasons.  Honestly, it’s up to learners to find out which tools/resources work best for them.  Make your own list! It’s a lot more fun than using someone else’s! 

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Edutopia Blog Highlights Work of BPS First Grade Teachers

A blog post by Andy Marcinek went up on Edutopia’s Site this week highlighting the efforts two Burlington Public Schools First Grade teachers have made this year to integrate technology into their classrooms. The two teachers, Irene Farmer from Francis Wyman and Erin Guanci from Pine Glen, are part of our first grade iPad pilot and they shared their insights from the first few months of the school year with Edutopia.


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by flickingerbrad

From the Edutopia Post 

In my last two posts, I detailed the iPad initiatives at Burlington High School. I talked about what we learned after a year of a 1:1 iPad environment and dispelled some myths surrounding iPads in education. Recently, I had the opportunity to connect with two of my elementary teachers at Pine Glen Elementary and Francis Wyman Elementary schools. This year, four first grade classrooms will be piloting a 1:1 iPad environment. The iPads stay in the classroom and are only used during class time. Two of the teachers involved, Irene Farmer and Erin Guanci, sat down with me and answered a few questions about their expectations of the initiative, how they are using the device at the moment, and how they feel it will work in an elementary classroom.

Read the rest of the post here

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Breaking News From The BPS Ed Tech Team! – Google Drive iPad App Update

From The BPS Ed Tech Team:
By Andy Marcinek

After a long wait, Google Drive is now available for the iPad with the full functionality of the web-based version of Google Drive. To refresh, Google Drive is the new name for the Google Docs Suite. This suite includes Google Docs, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Forms, and Folders.
The updated version of the Google Drive app allows you to create, collaborate and edit documents with ease on the iPad. Before, this process was rather cumbersome through the mobile view and desktop interface on the iPad, however much has changed with this update. Users can also upload photos and video right to Google Drive directly from the iPad. This will allow students to upload video projects and photos immediately.


The home screen for the Google Drive App

The best update to arrive in version in Google Drive version 1.1.0 is the editing option. Users can edit much easier and with a cleaner interface. Plus, the editing and collaboration features are much faster through the Google Drive App. Users can also see who is editing on the doc at the same time. In addition, docs can now be accessed offline as well. Users can edit a doc offline and once it hits a wi-fi connection, the doc will sync with Google Drive and save in the cloud. This feature will happen automatically or via the refresh button in the upper-right hand corner of the home screen of the app


Editing view in the Google Drive App

The Google Drive app also gives users the ability to organize their entire Google Drive. Users can create and share a folder as well as create and share a doc through this app (at this writing only docs can be created directly through the app). Also, users can move docs to folders and organize their entire Google Drive from the iPad app.


Create a new doc, folder or upload media

While creating presentations, spreadsheets, and forms is still unavailable, I imagine this feature will be added soon. Even though you cannot create presentations, spreadsheets, and forms directly from the app, users can still view these documents within the app. In addition, users can open a Google Spreadsheet and access the “open in…” feature from the app that will allow users to open the spreadsheet in supported apps (such as Notability, Evernote, Dropbox, etc.). For presentations, users can view and present from the app, but not yet create a presentation directly from the app. Again, I imagine these features are not far behind this update.


Open spreadsheets in supported apps

Users also have the ability to share a doc directly from the app and can access a populated contacts list from simply typing in the first letter of the email. The share feature also allows the doc owner to set permissions for “can edit”, “can comment”,  and “can view”. The doc owner can also toggle viewing permissions and completely remove a user from the doc.


Share docs, view and toggle permissions

If you’ve struggled with Google Docs on the iPad in the past, this is update will make your life and classroom work-flow more enjoyable. This is not a perfect update, but it is a giant step in the right direction for those of us using Google Apps for Education in a 1:1 iPad environment. If you have any questions about this update, please visit the help desk for assistance.

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Trusting Students (and Staff) – Looking Back At Year 1:1 (with iPads) – Part 8

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BHS staff member Andrew Marcinek, who blogs  regularly for Edutopia, had a great reflective post regarding our first year as a 1:1 school with iPads.  It is extremely helpful for me to see the reflections of staff and students from the past year. One of the major points I take away from Andy’s post is the focus on trusting students.

Trust students.

“One of the best decisions we made before we deployed 1000+ iPads to our student body was to create a student-run genius bar. With this decision, we were putting a lot of trust in the hands of our students. However, it turned out to be a core component of the launch…

…Aside from simply troubleshooting, our students help their former teachers at the middle and elementary levels as well as create how-to scripts and videos for students, faculty and the Burlington community. Our students have not only helped within the BPS community, but have helped our Tech Team organize two major conferences in the past year…”

Beyond the student help desk, I think the trust of students in regards to access of social media sites and other apps and sites that can be used for non-educational purposes allowed our efforts to focus more on supporting educational uses of the technology. We did not go into this undertaking with a mindset of blocking and denying access.

We went into this with a mindset that we are preparing our students for life after school where they are going to have to know how to make choices about appropriate use of apps and sites that do not apply to their work. We felt strongly that the conversations that need to take place and the authentic experience of making choices about what to access and when to access it is not something that can be replicated with theoretical conversations.

As an organization, we do not feel we can have the type of learning and interactions between learners that we envision if our default reaction is that the individuals who inhabit our school will choose to do the wrong thing.

We trust teachers and we trust students. Then on the rare occasion that someone misuses that trust, we address the situation with that individual.  Should it happen any other way?

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Looking Back At Year One of 1:1 (with iPads) – Part 6

ipads with students
ipads with students (Photo credit: patricklarkin1967)

So it’s time to look at the feedback from 177 of our students who responded on our brief end-of-the-year survey asking about some of their impressions after a year of 1:1 with iPads.  For today, I would like to focus on the responses to the three questions below:

While others may not think this is important data, I think that we have to take some time to look at this data and recognize the fact that most of our students and staff managed to alter their workflow to incorporate the new tools at their fingertips in a very short period of time.  I think this is a credit to the work of our staff and the support provided by the adults and students who make up our BPS EdTech Team.
I love the way that Bernajean Porter describes the technology integration process as one that contains the three distinct steps described below:

Literacy Uses: Student uses are described as technology storiesAdaptive Uses: Learning is telling the same stories with new toolsTransforming Uses: Learning is creating new stories with new tools

It is exciting to see that we seem to be moving well into the adaptive uses in just one year. While it is important that we look for an even higher percentage in this area in year two, the focal point also must move to transforming uses and ensuring that we are supporting a learning environment in which these types of opportunities will be prevalent. 

It reminds me of an excerpt from Cathy Davidson’s Now You See It:

“What if instead of telling (students) what they should know, we asked them?”

We need to continue to learn from and with our students as we continue to seek to maximize the potential of our devices. While some people are quick to question the cost of an iPad and whether our money was well spent, I believe they are missing the point if they are only focusing on the technology.

This quote about iPods could easily be transferred to our iPads initative:

“The iPod experiment was not an investment in technology. It was an investment in a new form of attention, one that didn’t require the student to always face forward, learn from on high, memorize what was already a given, or accept knowledge as something predetermined and passively absorbed.”

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Looking Back At Year One of 1:1 (with iPads) Part Five

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As we begin to look at the data from our students at BHS on their thoughts on year one as a 1:1 school, I thought it would be interesting to look at how teachers and students from other schools who also just completed a year of 1:1 felt about the impact made by putting a web-enabled device in the hands of each student.

I found the following information which was posted by Ian Jukes on the 21st Century Fluency Project’s blog very relevant:

Data Brief (from Digital Wish):We surveyed 30 teachers and 465 students participating in 1:1 computing initiatives this year:

  • Student Engagement – Student engagement increased 140% in word processing and writing, creating presentations, and video production.  52% of teachers now feel that the majority of their students are highly engaged as opposed to only 37% pre-initiative.
  • Problem Solving – Students who say they can “figure out just about anything on their own” increased from 38% to 51%, a 134% increase.  The number of students who say they have participated in ten or more technology projects that required them to solve a problem, gather information, or draw a conclusion, has nearly doubled, from 23% to 42%.
  • Creativity – Teachers now say that 46% of their students are experts or peer coaches in creating a new idea or original project using technology, a value that almost quadrupled the pre-initiative’s mere 12%.
  • Students becoming Tech “Experts” – The majority of students say they are experts at digital media, word processing, making presentations, safely and responsibly using the internet, solving problems using technology, and researching a topic on the Internet.  At the beginning of the initiative, almost 50% of students said they didn’t know how to do these things.
While the questions on our student survey at the end of the year may have been a bit different, I think there are equally positive data points. We will look at these tomorrow!

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Looking Back At Year One of 1:1 (With iPads) Part Four

During the course of the year, we talked to students and staff and asked them to share some of their thoughts on the iPad initiative at BHS. Here is a glimpse of what some staff and students say about the iPad initiative thus far.

http://swf.tubechop.com/tubechop.swf?vurl=Dl-ImuCEKYQ&start=88.26&end=265.65&cid=460334

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Looking Back At Year One of 1:1 (With iPads) Part Three

One of the positive things about our iPad initiative has been the positive recognition that our school has received due to the efforts of our staff in undertaking this exciting work. The Boston Phoenix published an article this week that highlighted the work of BHS and other schools integrating the use of iPads.

I do want to say that I am not a fan of the headline – iPads Innovate Education in Massachusetts Schools because I think we need to continue to be clear that technology does not innovate by itself. It is thoughtful practitioners who know how to integrate the right tools at the right moment who are innovative.

Here are some of the other articles and that have been done on our efforts at BHS due to our wealth of innovative educators who are willing to take risks and integrate new technology in order to create more engaging classrooms:

July 2012

The iPad Initiative Did it Make the Grade – Burlington Wicked Local

June 2012

7 Habits of Highly Effective Tech-Leading Principals – THE Journal

March 2012

Schools Abandon Textbooks To Go All iPad – WBUR Radio

November 2011

How Students View Digital Citizenship – Edudemic


September 2011

How Steve Jobs Transformed The Classroom
How Steve Jobs Influences BHS – WBZ News
A Student’s Tweet Lands Me On Fox News
BHS Featured on WGBH TV


August 2011

Associated Press – Many U.S. Schools Adding iPads, Trimming Textbooks
Daily Times Chronicle – iPad Program Drawing Attention For Burlington High
Boston Globe – Leading The Way To Cyber-Learning
T.H.E. Journal – When Students Run The Help Desk
Fox 25 Boston Checks Out Our iPad Deployment
USA Today – Students Cast Wide Net For Mentoring With PLN’s
Edutopia – How My School Is Transitioning to Digital Textbooks (Organizing: Step 1 of 5)
Edutopia – How My School Is Transitioning to Digital Textbooks (Organizing: Step 2 of 5)
Edutopia – How My School Is Transforming to Digital Textbooks (Process: Step 3 of 5)


July 2011

Edutopia – Creating ePubs: A Model for Multi-District Collaboration


February 2011

Boston Globe – School Plans to Provide iPads

Previous Posts On This Topic


Looking Back At Year One of 1:1 (With iPads) – Part One

Looking Back At Year One of 1:1 (With iPads) – Part Two


 




Looking Back At Year One of 1:1 (With iPads) Part Two

One of the big questions that is asked about our iPad initiative at BHS is – What are the goals of the initiative and how do you know if it is successful or not? My response to this question is not meant to be evasive, but I do think if this question is being asked too much that we did not do a good job communicating up front about this initiative.

The biggest point we want to reiterate is that technology by itself will not have a significant impact in our schools. I mentioned this last week in a post referring to Jim Collins’ book Good to Great.

Technology alone is not going to move an organization or an individual from Good to Great. However, technology that is thoughtfully deployed can help us move a bit faster. “

We continue to focus on higher levels of student engagement as a primary target in all classrooms and our work in this area will continue. We believe strongly that students having access to a web-enabled device will allow us to increase the qualities of an engaged classroom as described by Phil Schlechty (below).

  • Personal Response – More than one right answer
  • Clear/Modeled Expectations – Student knows what success “looks like”
  • Emotional/Intellectual Safety – Freedom to take risks
  • Learning with Others (Affiliation) – Learning has a social component
  • Sense of Audience – Student work is shared
  • Choice – Students have meaningful options
  • Novelty and Variety – Learning experiences are unusual or unexpected
  • Authenticity – Connections to experience or prior learning

It is important to note that this is work that started well beyond the distribution of iPads. However, we feel that the access that is no provided opens up a number of additional access points to these engaging qualities.

Previous Posts On This Topic

Looking Back At Year One of 1:1 (With iPads) – Part One