Thursday, October 28, 2010

iPad as Teaching Tool after two weeks

My main goal for the iPad centered around tracking student progress during class discussions. I've not had much success with this yet. I've been using forms created with Google Docs. These are ok, but not quite there yet. I think I'll need to buy a good spreadsheet program, maybe Bento or Numbers. I like the idea of using Google Forms, as I can easily track how results change over time. Unfortunately they prove a bit problematic when I use them during discussions. It's just not as fluid as I'd like and I can't see the past data while filling in new data. However, I absolutely love the iPad plus Google Forms when I'm scoring tests and quizzes. I just poke the dropdown of student names, check off what they know or don't know and enter their score. Awesome and much faster than trying to type all this into my computer or writing it down on paper (I done both of these earlier this year).

So, iPad as tool for teaching? Jury's still out. I've used it with AirSketch and MobileMouse (more on these apps in the future), but these haven't really changed the way I teach. However, as a tool for personal professional development the iPad will be tough to beat. I've already shown off FlipBoard for getting me back into Twitter. But I've also downloaded a number of apps for media consumption. These include:
  • NPR - Full audio and news stories
  • PBS - Has some full episodes of great shows, including Nova!
  • TWiT - The Twit network is a great place to keep up on changes in technology
  • NASA - Includes some great pictures, videos, and info from NASA
  • NY Times & USA Today - I far prefer my newspapers in this form. No stacks of paper to deal with
  • TED - Great inspiring talks.
Now all these apps are just pulling information I can already get from the web. So, why not just use my laptop? The iPad is a heck of a lot lighter and I'm not tied to a wall outlet. The battery life in my laptop is about 2.5 hours. I have yet to run into a time when I have to charge my iPad during the day.

In addition, it makes a great ereader. It's pretty easy to pull in PDFs, I've been using GoodReader as my app of choice for this. Again, noting I couldn't use my laptop for, it's just more pleasant.

The bottom line is that I've been consuming more media related to education and improving my teaching with the iPad than I was before the iPad. So, the direct impact on my teaching may be minimal so far, but the indirect impacts will likely be large.


dixie said...

Interesting. I'm debating whether to buy an ipad or not so I'm thrilled to have found your blog. I'm even more thrilled that you are looking to do something similar to myself (I'm looking to track my student observations while they are working in collaborative groups).

I look forward to hearing more about the benefits and drawbacks so I can (finally!) make a decision!

Steve said...

If you end up having any specific questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

gillettd said...

I've used my iPad in a tech support role in a middle school and you're exactly right on everything. GoodReader is great and the recent update allowing PDF annotations made it even better.
All of my pdf manuals and school docs are now saved in iBooks. iMocha VNC works great to get to my desktop.
Just tested Google Forms and now understand why it works so well.

Thank you for your thoughtful post.
ps. The Special Ed teachers love the iPad for kids but Apple products are not allowed in our district. Yet!!!

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