iPad Trial: Day 4
My school is currently running a trial 1:1 iPad program by rotating a set of iPads among different groups of students every six weeks. It is now my turn, with my AP Latin class. The students are allowed to use their iPad 24/7 for the duration of the trial.
The students have had the iPads since last Wednesday, but because of various timing snafus and absences for various retreats, today was really the first day trying to learn Latin with the iPads. Some thoughts from the first few days:
- To project my iPad onto the board, I plug my computer into the projector and use AirPlay via Reflection. It works fine for both me and the students (once I made sure my computer was on the same wireless network as the students access), but I am still hoping to find a way to use an Apple TV instead. Unfortunately, I think our network’s HTML login page might make that impossible, which is a shame.
- Unsurprisingly, the wireless network has been flaky. Several students were connected to the network but unable to access the Internet. A restart of the iPad solved the problem, but was a bit frustrating. I’ve experienced this quite often with my own devices, but still haven’t figured out the problem.
- The first thing the students wanted to do last week was get their email working. This actually surprised me, since that does not seems like their primary mode of communication. Still, just going through that process helped those who had never used an iPad before get more comfortable with the basics of operation.
- Next, I had them go into the App Store and download the iTunes U. app. Again, most of them were pretty familiar with using the App Store, but a few were hesitant. Fortunately everybody remembered their Apple ID, and there were no issues downloading the app. One student is particularly wary of using the iPad (she has a strong preference for Windows, and named her iPad “Lamey McLamesauce”), but perked up a bit when she saw the free My Little Pony game in the App Store. Whatever, at least she knows how to use the store.
- I told them the enrollment code and got them all signed up for the course in iTunes U. Even young Ms. Lamesauce said, “This is pretty cool, but I’m sure Windows has something similar.”
- I walked them through the set-up of the iTunes U. course. For their next assignment, I had attached a PDF that I want them to mark up in Notability. I showed them how to download the PDF, send it to Notability, and add notes. They seemed pretty pleased with the workflow (if not the assignment itself).
- Then we discovered the first hiccup that I’ll need to investigate. We have been using a Google Doc to keep track of in-class translations. While you can edit Google Docs in Safari on iPad, it seems to require that you be signed in, even if the file is set to be editable by anybody with a link. I’ll have to research if there’s a work-around, or if they will all need Google accounts. For now, some of them have Google Accounts, and the others can simply type a note to themselves and paste it in later.
- One student who is accustomed to bringing a laptop into class has already decided that she prefers it to the iPad. I tried to gently insist that she try using the iPad, just to give it a fair chance, but she refused vehemently enough that I decided not pick that battle. She is pretty tied to her laptop, so it’s not surprising that she is reluctant to give it up. Teenagers do not like change.
- We tried out using Nearpod, simply going through the sample presentation to see how it worked. The students know they will get the chance to do some presentations, and they seem genuinely excited to use this tool. Today they asked if I had created another Nearpod presentation for them, and were disappointed when I hadn’t. We also tried using Socrative, and while it was interesting we had some issues with it not working properly.
- Thanks to a lot of absences and retreats last week, today was our first real day of trying to simply read Latin like we have done all year, but using the iPads as a new tool. We didn’t attempt anything too innovative today, and really substituted iPads for notebooks. Still, I think things went well. I was marking up the Latin text in Notability as we went along, and I noticed that several students were doing the same. I pointed out that I could simply email them the PDF, but they preferred to follow along and do it themselves. I have done essentially the same thing simply using the projector and whiteboard, but this was the first time that they really wanted to follow along this closely. It could certainly just be the novelty of the new tool, so I am eager to see if this lasts or not.
So, just a few days in, have my goals or preconceived notions changed? One thing that has surprised me is the extent to which the students are both quick-learners and also very tentative with new technology. Even in my small class, there is a wide range between students who are eager (and unafraid) to explore and those who are pretty tentative with the new tools. High school students are not that different from the public at large: some are quicker to adapt to new technology than others. The other item that has surpsised me is just how differently they interact with their iPad as opposed to a laptop. Virtually every student in the class had brought a laptop at various points in the semester, some more regularly than others, but they are actively looking for ways to use the iPad in ways that I never saw with their laptops. Again, some of that could simply be the novelty of the device, but I really think that the personal aspect of an iPad makes a difference. My primary concern is the same as before I started. The students’ access to an iPad enables entirely different modes of learning, and my pedagogy and curriculum needs to change along with it. But since this is an AP course, I have virtually no control over the curriculum. How do I move from simple “Substitution” to “Redefinition” and “Augmentation” activities?