Discussion about teacher control of iPads in classrooms

Image from Sophie Horwood’s blog

Catering for differentiation in the classroom can open up new possibilities if you combine alternative approach with technology. Some schools are skipping the one-on-one notebooks and thinking about the lighter iPads. Of course, this opens up a whole range of new issues which need to be addressed before the investment is made.

iPads in Education ning features a discussion about teacher control of iPads – one of the first issues to arise when considering the use of iPads in the classroom. Sam Gliksman, creator of this ning, has posted a question on the forum:

Is the relative lack of teacher control over student iPad use a relief or a recipe for disaster?

Unlike laptops, which can be monitored with purchased software, the lack of such control of iPads presents a problem for teachers. Or does it?

Commenters of this post express different opinions. Some see this as a significant obstacle to iPad use, and others are willing to overlook the issue considering advanced features of the iPad. I’ve pulled out some of the positive comments:

What I do know is that iPads can bring up web pages faster than any computer that I have ever used, their use is completely intuitive, apps are endless, their fun, and on and on.

I think that if students are really inspired by their lesson, what they are being asked to research or present – whatever, they will be engrossed and will not bother to stray from the requirements of the lesson.

I generally believe that if teachers are walking around the room and being engaged in the learning process, nothing horrible is going to happen. I prefer to give students more control and responsibility rather than less.

I would like to focus on the positive side of things. Yes, there are issues but if we focus on those then we won’t get to play with the iPads, and we won’t discover their use in the classroom. Before I bought my iPad people asked me what I would do with it. I honestly didn’t know because I needed to have one in order to find out. I’m hoping to do the same if I can convince teachers to purchase at least one per faculty. The lack of control here is no different to a lack of control over notebooks. If we’re worried that students will be able to purchase apps we don’t want, how is it different to students downloading things onto their notebook?

First things first. I’m researching apps for each faculty area, and I plan to show staff or at least faculty heads. My focus in on apps which provide the kind of learning you don’t find anywhere else. I think converting teachers is a necessary step in the the whole process.

Please share your favourite iPad apps for secondary school, and any experiences from which we could learn.





Filed under 21st century learning, learning, technology

6 responses to “Discussion about teacher control of iPads in classrooms

  1. Garry Chapman

    Hi Tania

    I’ve been asking the same questions about iPads in schools. I definitely think there are positives in the size and portability of the devices and I think for many students in the senior years, who essentially will need an internet browser, book reader and email and very little else, they are probably much more useful and desirable than a notebook computer. However, for the middle years, I still think it’s hard to go past a lightweight notebook with a suite of office applications. I find typing text into Pages or similar using the iPad to be very unappealing – maybe I’m just showing my age, but I hope that improves with subsequent generations of the iPad. It’s interesting that you are posing these questions in the same week that the Age reported the imminent demise of the iPod. It’s amazing how quickly the groundbreaking gadgetry of just a few years ago soon becomes old hat and eventually a thing of the past. A final word on iPads. At the IB Asia Pacific conference in Melbourne last week end, Apple reps handed over several hundred iPads, loaded up with educational apps, to the delegates on Thursday morning for our unrestricted use until we had to hand them back on Sunday when the event closed. As delegates came from all over Asia, this was greatly appreciated as they were able to read their home newspapers, check their emails, stay in touch with their schools, take notes in the sessions etc. That’s one of the best conference ‘freebies’ I’ve ever had. Many people were impressed – I had a sense that Apple might get a few sales as a direct result of their innovative support for the conference.


    • Garry, thankyou for your thoughts and observations. I’m also not convinced yet that iPads can replace everything we do on a notebook – I’m trying this out at the moment. I’ve bought my own iPad – not 3G but now I can connect it to the internet at school through my iPhone – and I’m adding apps and playing around with them in view of how they could be used in the classroom. I agree that the typing is much slower but maybe because I touch type, and perhaps students will find their own way to speed type. However, for all the disadvantages, I think if I play around and make a list of advantages, these should demonstrate that we should be taking the educational potential of the iPad seriously. Maybe if we look at what it does differently or in an enhanced way, instead of whether it does what the notebooks do, we might see its value. At the moment, all I’m doing is investigating it as a tool for enhancement, and so I’m looking at talking each faculty into purchasing one and putting it into the hands of kids who have finished work and would like a challenge or creative task.
      I think that the ipad is a one-stop shop for many things we do, eg read news, take notes at a conference – and being portable and light, it’s definitely a winner. Also, some things just look good on a larger screen, eg taking a virtual tour of an art gallery.

  2. Garry Chapman

    Hi Tania,
    Well, all I can say is that I would love to find out more about iPads in schools, so I’ll keep an eye out here for anything you might discover about them. We are about to trial them in our senior years and I think they’ll be very popular. As you say, images look amazing on them, and they are also really nice to read with. I’m hoping some really creative teachers will soon show us what we can do with them.

  3. Hi Tania
    We’ve now had iPads for 190 year 12 boys and approx 80 staff since October. The initial focus tended to be on apps, but now we see the integration of the iPad in all sorts of areas. The instant on for research, the portability of documents through GoodReader – essential app for organising handouts and being able to note, draw, highlight on them are 2 powerful uses. We also have the school calendar and email integrated, and find staff taking rolls through either the Attendance or MyClass apps. Language students have dictionaries, audio notetaking is popular and in the library during study periods I observe a lot of collaborative learning.
    We mandated GoodReader, Pages, Keynote and Numbers after that students and staff have found their own range of favourite apps. We are about to undertake an extensive survey of students, teachers and parents to evaluate our program. Will keep you in the loop when we have some further data.

    • Carmel, I’m really interested in hearing more about how you’ve been using iPads with students and teachers. Do you have any blog posts I could read? The reason I’m going on about apps is that I know that I don’t stand a chance in convincing our school, which has invested in a one-on-one notebook program, into switching to iPads. YET. I think if I start small through my role as learning enhancement coordinator, I could gradually introduce other uses. One of our music teachers can already see the use of iPads in the classroom. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Which school are teaching at?

  4. Pingback: ipads in education | teachnology

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