4 key questions about iPad classroom management

Posted by | December 18, 2014 | iPad Classroom | No Comments

In the United States alone, more than 4 million iPads are deployed in schools each year. The stakes are high for schools that choose to build an iPad program. Resources need to be allocated and significant changes in instructional practices need to be implemented to make sure that the program becomes a success. This post covers 4 different aspects of iPad classroom management that every school should think about before they hand iPads to their students.

The successful implementation of iPads in a classroom largely depends on developing a workflow that meets teachers’s instructional needs. This workflow should address the daily interactions that students and teachers need for instruction on the iPad. Having a workflow in place will make it easier for teachers to use iPads more consistently with their students. This will increase overall iPad use in a school and start to bring about new instructional practices that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

A basic but robust iPad workflow must answer 4 challenges. A thorough iPad classroom management plan should be able to answer the following questions:

1. Is your school’s curriculum in the right format?

Transitioning from paper to digital is critical for schools embracing mobile learning. Teachers need easy access to a digital curriculum with lesson plans, activities, worksheets, and videos to be able to work with students every day.

An organized digital curriculum enables teachers to distribute educational resources  to students, while also providing them the flexibility to customize their lessons. Teachers should be able to use their iPads to create their own instructional materials or to search for additional resources to share with students. There are many databases of credible educational resources which are free and publicly available.

Here are a few tips on digital formats:

  • PDF is the best file format for students to annotate or record over them using a variety of apps from the App Store.
  • DOC files can be edited with programs like Pages.
  • Video recordings can be shared through links to streaming services like Khan Academy or through a school’s YouTube channel.
  • Links to flash content will not work on iPads.

2. How will teachers assign and collect schoolwork?

Teachers need a way of sharing different file formats with their students which also allows them to work on and submit assignments back. The iPad is a fantastic tool for students to create work on since it gives them access to a variety of apps and lets them use touch and audio to create unique audio/visual recordings. There are many solutions that can accomplish this step. These include traditional learning management systems, “LMS”, and native IOS solutions that are designed to simplify the student/teacher experience.

Keep in mind that whatever solution you chose should also make it easy for teachers to differentiate student work. This means, teachers can personalize individual files or complete lessons for an individual or group of students.

Below are important questions to consider at this stage:

  • Which apps allow students and teachers to record voice and hand notations over files?
  • Can students submit work from multiple apps?
  • Where is student data being stored, locally or on the cloud?
  • Can students work on assignments without internet?
  • Do all  the students have access to internet at home?
  • How many apps/solutions are teachers expected to learn and use?
  • Is my wireless infrastructure ready to support the traffic increase from students working all day from their iPads?

3. How can teachers take advantage of the iPads capabilities to provide meaningful feedback?

Research supports the notion that providing meaningful feedback to students is one of the most effective instructional practices available to teachers. A touch screen and multiple recording capabilities make the iPad and ideal device for leaving audio/visual feedback directly over student work. In addition to providing feedback, teachers can use these features to create different types of recorded content, including, class answer keys, test prep, short lessons, or demonstrations. These recordings should be easy to share with students and can be played back from anywhere and as many times as needed.

Below are important questions to consider at this stage:

  • How long does it take a teacher to grade and provide feedback to an entire class?
  • What are the needed steps to create and share recordings and how can this process be simplified?
  • Are those recordings being shared publicly or privately?
  • How large are the recorded files?
  • How long do they take to render?
  • Where will they be stored?

4. Can progress in the common core be tracked by standard?

iPads can be a valuable tool in teaching and assessing the common core. By aligning lessons, assignments, and resources to standards teachers will be able to track their student’s progress in specific standards. They will also be able to easily search for and share a variety of common core aligned resources. Best of all, these resources can be differentiated for students who need remediation or accelerated instruction in a specific standard.

An important point to keep in mind is that tool you use for this part of the workflow should allow teachers to grade student work with common core aligned rubrics. This will make it possible to create digital portfolios of student work by standard and measure their growth over time.

Using technology to meet the challenge of common core is a game changer. It makes it substantially easier for teachers and schools to keep track of hundreds of standards. It also makes it easier to communicate a student’s progress in the standards to parents or other teachers.

A common core aligned workflow allows teachers to:

  • Collaborate in the creation of content by standard
  • Search for publicly available content by standard
  • Use that content to supplement a lesson or share it with students who need remediation
  • Differentiate student work based on their performance in specific standards
  • Track student progress by common core standard

Use these 4 questions as the foundation to successfully manage your iPad classroom. A robust workflow should be able to take care of all of these steps.

Closing thoughts

A point that can’t be forgotten is that teachers are at the center of the recent shift in instructional practices. They are also the most important component in any change that occurs in the classroom. For this reason, technology can ONLY be great when teachers are able to confidently use it to enhance their daily instruction. They need ongoing support and training in the solutions they are being asked to use and access to resource such as hardware, apps, support, and a digital curriculum.

Below you will find our full presentation on iPad classroom management.

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