So, last week we learned a little more about the tools on our iPads. I graded lab reports students turned in using iAnnotate PDF-they marked them up using the app, and I made corrections using the same app and emailed them back to the students. We also practiced taking pictures of notes on the board and embedding the images in a unit notebook in the Noteshelf app. Our presentations went better than I expect. Students easily built 5-slide presentations in Keynote (one chose Explain Everything) and then hooked up to our class projector to share what they learned about symbiotic relationships. I have yet to collect some written feedback, but I plan to survey the kids after this unit test. The only paper they will write on this first unit with the iPad is our unit test tomorrow. I have found a new app called eClicker, but I’ve yet to test it. There are a few apps that may allow for testing on the iPad, but I am not trying those yet. We’ve yet to really get the class blog cranked up, but that should start this week. One of the students will author a post about the progress on our rainbow trout rearing project.
Archive for September, 2011
Well, I’m trying to reflect on our first week with iPad2 tablets. My environmental science students were thrilled to get them last week. I have not handed out a piece of paper since them. Students have been managing course information in Google Docs/Calenar via the G-Whizz! app.
Since these high school seniors have grown up with writing with pencils on paper, writing in note taking apps or in iAnnotatePDF has been slow with just fingertips. Some kids are already mentioning they might want a stylus. Thus far, I’ve had kids try to take notes, read pdfs, annotate pdfs, and and use a science app about owl pellets to prepare for a owl pellet dissection.
This week, they are trying to build their first presentations using their choice of presentation apps (Keynote, Explain Everything, or Reply Note). Tomorrow they will project those presentations from their iPads through our classroom projector. After our first unit, I hope to gather and share some feedback from the students.
The day has finally arrived. Today, my environmental science class received their new “digital backpacks.” They were shocked and excited-they had no clue! We are three weeks into school. I’m excited to see what students can do with the tools, and how it might change how I teach the course. Part of my goal is attempt to run a paperless class. Tomorrow I’ll orient them to our class blog, and the WordPress blogging app.
I’ll post our final list of apps soon, as well as lessons learned throughout the 2011-12 school year. Stay tuned!
I was recently reading a post by Ian Jukes, 5 Important Things Tablets Can’t Do. Without you having to read the full post, here is the gist of the list:
1. Typing is not easy on a touch screen.
2. Apps need frequent updates to work well.
3. You cannot print.
4. Tablets do not enhance productivity since apps only do basic tasks.
5. Multimedia is limited (no Flash support for iPad).
After watching high school students work off iPads during a summer school course in Costa Rica, I have some rebuttals to these arguments:
1. While typing is not as easy as using a keyboard, it is easy to get around. When students work in Google Docs, they can save large amounts of typing for when they are back at a laptop or desktop. Some of the cost savings from buying tablets can easily be used for a few keyboard docks for students to use if needed. And, while anecdotal, I’ve noticed kids who send tons of texts everyday on tiny phone touch keyboards do not seem to have much problem with the much larger iPad touch keyboard!
2. While apps do have glitches, rarely do they shut down. After having worked on an iPad2 for 3 months now, I have not found OS updates and app updates to be a hassle. The App Store pushes updates daily, and they are easy to install. I have only had one occasion when an update reduced functionality briefly.
3. While printing has been an issue, things seem to be changing rapidly. Apple recently developed Airprint so iPads can print directly to compatible printers. As the tablet market grows, I think we are going to see this capability become ubiquitous.
4. Tablets do enhance productivity due to their portability, long battery life, and growing market of increasingly robust apps. I have found that toting a tablet is much easier than lugging around my laptop. I can take the tablet almost anywhere. My tablet makes it easy to check email, write blog posts, manage my to do list, view my calendar, take notes…With Google Docs and an app that lets me work on docs offline, I edit docs when I am away from my laptop and they sync up with ease. Furthermore, my iPad2 has over twice the battery life of my MacBook Pro!
5. Do I really need Flash? For now, I do not feel that I am missing a great deal without Flash. Of course, many science simulations run off Flash and that is a problem. Some developers are already developing apps to “work around” this limitation. When I see the rich library of video content available, or recent digital texts like Our Choice, I do not feel like I am missing a great deal at the moment. Who knows what will happen in the future?
I think part of the premise behind Mr. Jukes’ post is that we expect tablets to function just like or replace laptops. Should we? When I watch my students work on the tablets, I do not feel they are handicapped by the tablet. The iPad2 gives them an amazing platform on which to capture, create, and publish almost anywhere! I am trying to run an environmental science class off the devices this year. I wonder how I will feel at the end of year…