We are coming to the end of our first year of teaching and learning in a 1:1 iPad environment. A big question that we (our teaching staff) have looked at is:
How has this technology changed the dynamics of learning? Has it? How do we know?
We began to ask ourselves these kinds of questions. The discussion soon began to show some dissonance, and frustrations began to bubble up to the surface. We structured our dialogues so that staff were able to share their concerns and well as their excitement at what this infusion of technology has brought to their classroom. Putting a device in every student’s hands has shaken up everything about the learning environment, and that is a difficult idea to come to terms with. It involves us all looking at our own practice, understanding it more, and looking at what we need to let go and how me might consider changing what we do. Richard Wells and Vicki Davis talk about this struggle in their 10 minute podcast about the SAMR model.
But then we went to the students, which is where I want this post to go as well. Over four Advisory sessions (25 minutes each), our Middle School students evaluated the successes and challenges of having an iPad with them all of the time. They were very frank, and talked openly about what they wrestled with in the way of temptations (games and YouTube), and what they really loved (seamless organisation, no lost papers).
We began to focus our work on the challenges that they had identified, and began to generate possible solutions and strategies to help us overcome those challenges. The students role played some scenarios, and finally submitted what they considered the most important challenges that they felt they faced in their digital learning life.
The main challenges that students picked to share fell into the following general categories:
Distractions – manifested by inappropriate apps on their iPads, using YouTube in class, not getting work done on time, lack of self awareness.
Responsibility – having a charged battery, keeping the iPad safe.
Hardware/software issues – what to do when your iPad is not performing how it should.
Out of the pool of scenarios that were submitted (there are 18 Advisory groups) we were able to generate 6 posters that will grace our Middle School hallways.