Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Roadmap or Round Robin Hood's Barn

Roadmap or Round Robin Hood's Barn

So, do you think you want an ipad roadmap or do you want to go round Robin Hood's barn?
We know ipads are important to education, but right now we don’t know how important. There are many educators, parents and students who will agree and as many who will dispute this. The fact remains the ipad allows for instant differentiation in a classroom. This one tool allows for incredible differentiation without too much of a learning curve for student and educator alike.

When I bring the ipad into a class, all the students take notice. First they begin thinking, next they ask questions, “Is that yours?” “Does it belong to our school?” “Why do you have this?” “Do you have Angry Birds?” “Can I use it?” Each student and adult will have their own agenda of questions and their own ideas for use. That is the point! The ipad allows for purposeful differentiation.

However, at my school, I think we have skipped a step with our students. Without defining the specific use for the ipad, and leaving it open ended, we left a doorway open. Of course the students had their own uses for the ipad figured out long  before the adults. We never discussed the purposeful use of the ipad in school. It is not too late, but the time has come.

How did I come to this realization? When I went to upload some audio books for our students, I noticed that I had run out of room on the ipad. A yellow caution triangle appeared as an indicator that the space on the ipad was filled! How was this possible? Well, our students are savvy, and they have logged into the ipad and downloaded games using their itunes accounts. Yes, we left the ipads “open”, we chose not to lock things down. It is easy enough to restore an ipad to the original software, and then re-install the chosen classroom applications.

So, now we will implement the roadmap of acceptable use with our ipads. This is similar to the roadmap of acceptable use we have modeled for computer and laptop use. But to our students the ipad is ‘different’ enough that they did not internalize the same kinds of explicit parameters for acceptable use that we expect with our school computers and devices. We  will now be purposeful and explicit about the ipad use.

So, do you need a roadmap or can you travel round Robin Hood’s barn to get to a happy medium of ipad acceptable use in your classroom? A little bit of both! Since the ipad is so new and the availability of apps changes every day we need a little bit of traveling the circuitous route in determining  uses of the ipads in our classes. However, the roadmap that we can put in place should be purposeful and explicit so all adults and students know the classroom rules and expectations for the ipad.

Here are some apps of purposeful and explicit expectations for a high school special education resource room:
Easybib- a tool for collecting bibliographic information when researching
Evernote- a tool for storing the information you collect when doing research
Dragon Dictate- a speech to text tool where one can speak about 30-40 words and then email the written text to themselves
Audio Notes- a tool for recording information which can then be emailed
Animoto- a tool for making short photo movies about a topic
Kindle- the Kindle app for collecting your books
Dictionary- Oh yeah!
Quizlet- compatible with Flashcards apps
Whiteboard- a tool for drawing and recording
SAT prep
Google Earth

Watch for other ipad posts coming soon. Let me know your favorite apps for the ipad!