It’s not all about the apps…

ipad_goes_3d_by_darioseyb-d3apa40Its so hard to fall into the trap when implementing a 1-1 iPad program of thinking that apps are the answer to all teaching and learning problems and questions.  Well I know they are not but there is so little research and evidence as yet into the quality teaching pedagogy of how to implement the iPad into the classroom without the technology being the focus and instead ensuring that it is still about what has been important since day one… new knowledge and skills and the ability to put them into practice in new contexts.

When I was at university studying to be a teacher I learned about ‘pedagogy’ as the essential ‘tools of the trade’ so to speak.  Pedagogy is the art and science of teaching as defined by most educational texts and academics.  If I break that down though the two terms that are key in this definition are:

art

/ärt/
Noun
  1. The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture,…: “the art of the Renaissance”
  2. Works produced by such skill and imagination.

sci·ence

/ˈsīəns/
Noun
  1. The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural…
  2. A particular area of this: “veterinary science”.

I think that these two definitions are more revealing to me when I think about teaching and more specifically as it applies to teaching and learning with the iPad.  Teaching and learning experiences with the iPad need to allow for the processing of new information and development of new skills through intellectual and practical activities linked to real-life contexts. The activities also need to facilitate the expression of creativity and imagination through individual formation of new products.  This is my definition of pedagogy with the iPad and it does not mention apps specifically but it can be seen to be implied through the second sentence.

A favourite saying of my Pop was the saying: “It’s what you do with what you’ve got that counts” and I believe that it is so applicable to this particular issue.  Its not what apps we use that is going to make or break the experience but its how they are used that matters.  I am a strong advocate for student-centred learning in every possible way and I want to be able to give students enough facilitation and assistance in the learning process to allow them to be confident and independent learners, however, the question being raised now when we implement iPads is how will we keep them from being distracted?

This is something I don’t believe we can completely avoid but if we communicate our expectations to our students up front, allow for flexibility and student direction then I believe they will own their learning and distractions or off-task behaviour will be minimal.

So much more to think about but something that immediately springs to mind is, how does the iPad support the NSW Quality Teaching Model.  That is for next time…

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