Thursday, July 4, 2013

1:1 iPads in Teacher Education - preparing teachers for tomorrow

Presented June 25 at ISTE 2013 in San Antonio TX 

Tim Pelton,                       Leslee Francis Pelton,

This poster examines the experiences of one instructor working within a pilot program where iPads are being introduced into a teacher education program.  This program was initiated because we see iPads proliferating in homes and schools, and we perceive that iPads are highly suitable for classroom use.  Specifically:

  • The touch interface is more direct and concrete than previous generations of computers.  Its appealing and intuitive interface supports student engagement.
  • The operating system (iOS) and apps are low threshold and low friction - they are easy to master and adopt (Pelton & Francis Pelton, 2008).
  • iOS is sandboxed – even if an app fails, everything else still works.
  • iOS devices are ubiquitous. Many instructors and students are already familiar with these devices and apps in other contexts.
  • There are almost a million apps available, and, even though only a very small percentage of the apps available might be judged to be educationally sound, a small percentage of a large number is still worthwhile – we just need to identify and share what works!
  • Apps and course resources can be easily linked to, or distributed, via a website, blog, class Moodle or email.
  • The costs associated with purchasing an iPad can be at least partially mitigated by adopting course texts that are free or less expensive.

6 Ways iPads can be used to Support Student Learning

  • Acquisition of Information – e.g., textbooks, websites, wikis, videos, etc.
  • Exploration of interactive learning objects - discover relationships, shared learning
  • Consolidation of processes - build mastery and fluency
  • Demonstration of mastery and skills - capture a performance
  • Construction of interactive objects - share representations, problem solving
  • Creation of conceptual vignettes - share understandings, communicate with others

Goals and Expectations

  • Align theory and practice - Pre-service teachers are most engaged when they can see the connection between the theory and tools they are being taught and the practical application of such – from motivational theories, to constructivism and problem based learning.
  • Teacher educators should be role models - Pre-service teachers need to experience the appropriate use of technology as students in order to fairly evaluate the potential of these tools. We want to provide multiple opportunities and situations for students to see and use iPads in authentic ways as students.  This will support their technological and pedagogical content knowledge.
  • Collaborative learning with technology scaffolding - Encourage students to work collaboratively to develop resources, lessons and assessment strategies in a challenging but still low-stress environment.  Encourage and support appropriate integration of technology by students.
  • Systemic change - As faculty and students are dive into this new paradigm together – it is a shared learning experience.  Authentically mastering a set of tools (iPads and Apps) that are readily available will shift the focus from ‘finding ways to teach with technology’ to ‘teaching in a world with transparent technology’.

Some Recommended Apps used in our Math Class (a small subset):

MathTappers(free) - Seven different exploration and consolidation apps created by the authors
  • ExplainEverything ($2.99) - Create visual manipulatives (teachers and students) and create video vignettes/animations (teachers and students)
  • BackgroundEraser for iPad Mini ($0.99) - Trim unnecessary background for use in animations
  • Paper(Free + in app purchases) - An excellent intuitive drawing app

Initial Observations

  • Paperless classroom (facilitated by a class Moodle) provided enhanced quality, access and use of classroom resources, while simultaneously providing students with resources to carry away. 
  • Annotation tools support focused exploration of resources (zoom, highlight, annotate).
  • Access to video content improved. Very low threshold means video can be part of the flow.  Because it is easy to scrub/search/review content there is less learned helplessness.
  • Creation of sharable resources and video exemplars is supported.  By leading the students through the process, skills and confidence are built.
  • The ever-present camera can be used as a tool to support sharing of resources (i.e., documents and artifacts) and student processes or products. 
  • Airplay (with an Apple TV or an emulator) allows teachers and students to share examples, but a direct cable connection is more reliable (given wifi limitations).
  • Switching between multiple applications is easy – supporting the learning process.
  • Apps that worked well to support learning are used, apps that don’t are discarded.

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