Beth Holland

Food for thought…

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iRead, iLearn, iPad…

I’ve admitted this before. I did not instantly love the iPad. For the first few months, I used my iPad more as a clipboard than any sort of mobile device. However, as the device – and my thinking – evolved, I started to become an advocate for it. One of the main reasons for my launch onto the iPad bandwagon had to do with its ability to differentiate learning experiences for students. In addition to providing instant Internet access and a host of learning tools, it gave students an opportunity to customize their own learning.

I started making a Top 10 List of ways that the iPad can be used to make learning more accessible to students, but it turned into more of a Top 8 … (I went with quality over quantity and combined a few items.)

  1. Reading – instant access to dictionaries, annotation tools, and audio make reading on the iPad a whole new experience.Thanks to speak selection, all ePubs, web pages, notes, etc., can be read aloud to support struggling readers.
  2. Note taking – beyond basic text, notes can now include photos, videos, and audio recordings, plus they can be emailed, published, and shared. Whether using the Notes app, or something more robust such as Evernote, SoundNote, or PaperDesk, students have the flexibility to choose a note taking tool that best meets their learning style.
  3. Organization – believe it or not, but “there’s an app for that!” Whether using the built-in apps such as Calendar or Reminders to keep track of due dates, assignments, projects, and appointments, or mind mapping apps such as Popplet, students no longer have to keep track of their organizational materials as well as the organizational process.
  4. Audio recording – just the fact that the iPad has a microphone and recording capabilities opens up possibilities for students and teachers. Without requiring multiple devices or massive files, students can think out loud, orally pre-write, and record class notes. Teachers can give oral directions to supplement written ones, or provide audio commentary.
  5. Research – with a host of note taking, annotation, and citation apps available, students can focus more on the analysis and synthesis of information rather than the collation and organization of materials.
  6. Studying – from flash card apps (I really like StudyBlue and A+ Flashcards) to screen casting tools, students can interact with materials and construct their own knowledge from the content provided.
  7. Digital Textbooks – I know that some folks still feel that paper textbooks are invaluable, but when you rethink the paradigm of what a text could be, then digital content is an amazing vehicle for multimodal communication. Using dotEpub or Joliprint also allows teachers to rapidly and easily create digital content for students that can be annotated, shared, heard…..
  8. Multimodal presentation – students no longer have to rely solely on paper to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding. Videos, podcasts, screencasts, and a host of other options now exist on just one device.

Recently, I had a conversation with a group of educators who wanted to know why I thought they should invest in iPads. To quote Douglas Kiang, the true value of the iPad comes from the Asymmetrical Impact, meaning that it greatly benefits those students who are not usually reached through traditional, standard channels. The iPad puts the power of learning in the hands of the students. So, after over two years of wondering about the value of the iPad, I have found it, jumped firmly on board the bandwagon, and plan to hold on for the ride.

For even more proof, take a look at Doug’s presentation from BLC2011.