Friday, November 5, 2010

What Value is there in Using iPod Touches, iPod Nanos, FlipCameras, and iPads in School? Answering the Bureaucrat

14 months ago I left behind a professorship at a private college in NY and joined a public school PreK-12 system in NJ.  During this time period more than 700 Internet ready devices (iPod touches, laptops, netbooks, iPads) have been added to the high school, all of the district schools have been made wireless, and technology restrictions regarding what technology middle and high school students can bring to school and use (such as smartphones and other Internet ready devices) have been lifted.   These purchases, infrastructure changes, and policy revisions represent a commitment of public funds and public trust.  As such, the reasoning behind these acquisitions ought to be transparent.

I have found that it is not unusual then that I am asked by someone (such as auditors and state government types) to justify the purchases of iPods (Touch and Nano), flip cameras, and now iPads.  These are not mean spirited requests, but rather inquiries asking me to explain the purchases given the volume I have purchased and the funding sources I have used. I always dash off a response to satisfy the request as I am often in the middle of something that feels more pressing.  Tonight though, I have some time and thought a more thorough response might be in order, along with a request to those of you who read  this blog post to add your thoughts.

So how do we make use of iPod touches, iPod Nanos, iPads, e-readers (Kindle, Sony Reader) netbooks, laptops, flipcameras, IPEVO USB document cameras, as well as net-based services such as Web Design, software such as  Mathematica and Read-Write Gold, and many, many apps to name but a few?

We have dynamite administrators/supervisors, librarians/teachers, students, and computer techs/teachers who work collaboratively to try out hardware, apps, and software and then formally and informally teach one another.  Their work helps us to consider which apps we might want to ensure are on all devices (or most) and which ones will be reserved for more idiosyncratic uses. Some common uses of the iPod touch and iPad include serving as Internet ready devices that students use in the course of their learning. These on demand devices allow students to consume information and to use Web 2.0 apps and software to produce work.  They also allow for students to connect with others in the class and beyond the class through iChat, skype, twitter, ning, wiki, and email.

In weeks to come several teachers and supervisors will be guest bloggers and provide a more detail accounting as to the ways they engage learners and the technology they use to do so.   For now, I am going to simply list some of the ways these technologies are used to enhance, deepen, and complicate learning.

Students & Teachers use:
  1. Internet ready devices to connect to others.
  2. iPod touches and MacBooks to make podcasts.
  3. iPod touches, iPads, Sony Readers, and Kindles to read/listen to text and use Read,Write & Gold to create readable texts to hear.
  4. iPod touches in world language class to record dialogues in the target language and share the audio files with peers and their teacher who respond in the target language.
  5. many, many different apps on the iPod touch and the iPad such as: DropBox, Evernote, Star Walk, Tweet Deck, iBooks, Kindle App, Keynote, Pages, Numbers, Google (docs, gmail, calendar, blogger, etc.), Dragon Dictation, Dragon Search, Brushes, SoundHound, Pandora, Civilization Revolution, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Flipbook, Side by Side, The Elements A Visual Exploration, Free Books, You Tube, TED, Good Reader, Google Earth, History: Maps of the World.
  6. netbooks, iPads, and laptops to blog.
  7. laptops (and desktops) to edit film/images, produce weekly television broadcasts, make digital stories and Animoto films & post finished work on the Internet.
  8. any handheld device to access podcasts in order to review and/or strengthen learning.
  9. any handheld device to access how to videos and use jing to make videos.
  10. laptops to access Mathematica.
  11. any Internet ready device to access Web Assign and Moodle.
  12. iMacs to make music.
  13. MacBooks to run business simulations, make slideshows, iMovies, iBooks, run Final Cut Pro for film making.
  14. iPod Nanos to film, listen to music.
  15. Flip Cameras & digital cameras on field trips to record impressions, make walking poems, create art, record sights and sounds, record interviews.
  16. netbooks & laptops to video conference.
  17. Internet ready devices to watch film.
  18. Internet ready devices to check email.
  19. Internet ready devices to surf the web.
  20. Internet ready devices to send and receive tweets.
  21. iPods/iPads to record lectures.
  22. MacBooks to create digital portfolios (upload to iTunes)

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