Unlike my colleagues, I had only three days to trial the iPad with my students before they left for break. Having rolled out the pilot with my chemistry students I left on a four day senior retreat. Although I left an iPad-based assignment in my absence, the project was not totally successful. There were too many tech issues that needed to be addressed before downloading could begin. Issues such as apple ids and variations in tech ability, newness and excitement were all obstacles in my absence.
That said, when I returned, the students gave me honest assessment and together and with Jesse, we overcame the login issue and on the second day we were able to load iTunes U and get started.
On day three I worked with my students to load all of the necessary apps that would allow them to work, experiment and play during our Easter break. I jumped the gun a bit and I allowed them to take the devices home one day earlier to do an assignment and to make sure that they could affectively use them at home.
When they returned on Thursday, several came to ‘check in’ and to ask if they “needed to turn them in or keep them for the day?”
With only a few days under my belt, I have to agree with Michael that it has changed my way of thinking about and doing my planning. I find it difficult to let go of my old ways, but I keep searching for new things that will help me reach the students. Some of the videos I asked them to watch seem to have helped in their understanding. While other activities have flopped. I guess that one of the cool things is that students are actually coming to me to let me know what is good and not so good, helpful and not so helpful. They are offering suggestions for activities and apps and communicating…messaging….with each other.
I like that they are engaged, but like Michael I wonder if the distraction will be too much.
Mostly, I am excited because it has given me a new tool in my arsenal of teaching tools. Will it be a Panacea? I doubt it, but if it reengages at least one underachieving student in this class, then it will have been worth it.
One last thought about the pilot…it is a lot of work to form new plans that integrate the technology into the one class while having to prep others. Like any new method or practice it takes time and effort. While I am glad I was given the opportunity, it has been a lot of work and it has taken a lot of personal time. My sincere hope is that the time we spent organizing and testing will pay off for our colleagues in terms of shorter learning curves and easier implementation when and if we go full school implementation.