Monday, July 23, 2012


The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I spent the morning at a free "iPads in Education" workshop at my local Apple store.  It began with a promotional presentation of the new iPad 3, a bit of a meet & greet between the participants and a discussion of what we hoped to learn.  Everyone there was fairly new to iPads and was hopeful about learning different ways to use iPads effectively for educational purposes.  Every single teacher there mentioned iPads and SMART Boards, which do not work together yet!  I was shocked to learn this last month, as my school prepares to go 1:1 iPad for grades 5 and 6.  The new SMART notebook app is supposed to be released some time this summer, and was announced in May 2012.

As we progressed through the workshop and looked at various apps, I was struck by how little things have changed in education.  We've taken all of the traditional tools of our trade and made them digital.  Lesson Plans?  There's an app for that.  Spelling quiz?  Dolch words? App for that.  Printing practice?  There's an app.  Dissect a frog?  There's an (admittedly amazingly cool) app for that, too.  Grade book, essay marking, math flash cards...I could go on and on and on.  I saw some really amazing things, but little that I couldn't replicate with traditional classroom materials.

There is an ongoing argument that kids will be much more "engaged" simply by transferring our standard, traditional lessons and assessments onto iPads.  I'm not convinced by this. I think the gadgets, bright colours and reward schemes are exciting in the short term, but this isn't innovation in teaching, that can't be accomplished simply by adding technology. 

I'd heard this argument before, and I'd heard the counter argument, but I hadn't really taken a look at the apps.  It had never been staring me in the face.  Almost all of the apps that I learned about at this workshop replicated traditional teaching methods. That was disappointing.

After the workshop, an article called Teaching Innovation is About More Than iPads in the Classroom.

After all of this, I'm left with a lot of questions about how to meaningfully use iPads and computers in the classroom.  I don't want a lot of flash in my classroom, but I do want excitement, passion and collaboration.  I want students jumping up and down because they are excited to share what they have learned.  I think that this can and should happen in conjunction with technology in the classroom, but in order to move from "traditional" to "transformative" teaching and learning, we can't keep using technology to continue teaching and learning in traditional ways.  I'm not suggesting that we throw the baby out with the bath water, a lot of what is traditional teaching and learning is such because it works....for some people.  However, things are changing and they are changing rapidly.  We need to change teaching to meet the needs of the children in our classes today. 

I found this graphic on a colleague's blog and I find it really interesting and a great way to reflect on the past school year and plan for the next.  How will you use technology to move to transformational learning?

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