Tablets for Learning

In your opinion, what are the three most significant ways in which a tablet device may be useful for learning? Support your answers.

Tablets, specifically, iPads have transformed the learning in my classroom. As I have mentioned in an earlier blog post, the Anatomy apps we use allow for a richness of images never before achieved in the class. The iPads and apps allow students to work on their own pace to discover the anatomical structures we’re focusing on for the day. Students can manipulate the images as they need. This ability allows for individualized learning that enables students to learn on their own at their own pace. Additionally, students are more engaged and motivated to learn with their shiny new devices. The iPads have been working out well in my class from my experience. However, I foresee that students can be more productive if we were on a 1:1 iPad program.

This summer, I’m going to be part of a team of teachers to help pilot an iPad classroom in the summer school Biology program at my school. Although I have taught summer biology for the past three summers, I’m choosing to take a step back from being the classroom teacher this year to help support the integration of iPads into the curriculum. The students will be assigned an iPad for the duration of the course. Additionally, we plan to have a laptop cart along with several desktops in the classroom.

We are just beginning to discuss the potential of individualized learning and other benefits of having an iPad classroom. In a nutshell, we already know that iPads can be used for content consumption. There are some amazing apps for Evolution and Cells that we will have students use. The next steps are ways to have students curate and create their own content using the iPads. Maybe they can create their own iMovie presenting as aspect of the Hawaiian ecosystem. Or they can create an iBook chronicling their 6-week journey through the summer biology course. We’re hoping that from our experience this summer, we will have additional ideas around the successes and challenges of the iPad classroom.


The OESIS Factor

After spending 2 full days with other independent school educators from all over the US with varying expertise in online education, I couldn’t help but observe the following:

Online learning presents itself in many different forms:

  • Individual vs. cohort programs
  • Synchronous vs. asynchronous
  • Competency-based learning vs. fixed time, variable learning
  • Discussion forums vs chats
  • 1:1 vs small groups vs lectures

With all of these options, many are asking:

  • Is blended better than fully online?
  • What’s the best LMS?
  • What’s the best collaboration tool?

And the answer… “IT DEPENDS!”

It depends on:

  • Size of schools
  • Students’ needs
  • Teachers’ needs
  • Teachers’ goals and objectives
  • … and money.

I did learn a ton of new ideas from the sessions I attended. The take home message couldn’t have been stated more simply by Michael Horn during his keynote:

Personalized learning and DIY education will disrupt the future of tradition school

And as educators, how will be leverage the technology available to use to foster learning in our students?

An Oasis in OESIS

I’m attending the Online Education Symposium for Independent Schools for a couple of days. What a day it has been with many inspirational speakers about the future of independent schools and e-learning in general. Just from today, I learned about, EdSurge.

I’ve had great discussions about computer/online assessments and the Bill of Right for the Digital Age. Other sessions touched on whether MOOCs could replace AP courses, what are the challenges and benefits for blended learning, and how some schools have embraced online learning through collaborations with various online consortiums and Center for Talented Youth. Really fascinating topics.

In all, Mark Milliron puts it best, “Education is the pathway to possibilities.” – that’s why we as educators continue to refine our trade and sharpen our tools.