iPads in my classroom… now what?
I’m very fortunate that I’ll have access to a classroom set of ipads this fall. It’ll be the first investment in ipads for the school. The challenge will be to make the best use of them possible. These are my thoughts so far (in no particular order), but I’d love to hear what others are planning or any suggestions people might have for best use.
1. Note-taking and practice problems– I’ve looked at a number of note-taking apps and it looks like Smartnote ($2.99) will work best for me. I like the idea that I can provide a framework (outline or activity) in the form of a pdf and these can be downloaded to the ipad, marked up and annotated, and saved on both the ipad and in a Dropbox account of the student’s choosing. This app also has the added feature that ‘notebooks’ in the app can be password protected so that students sharing the same ipad can protect their work from other students. They can also upload or share their work with me in a shared dropbox folder. I’m hoping this all works out. It’s not as easy as using google docs to share work but I’m sure we’ll be able to get into a workable routine. This is likely to be a daily app.
2. Lab tools – right now there are some great calculator apps and timers. I’m currently using TouchCalc (free) and iLab: Timer HD. ( Both of these are great for the lab. SpaceTime is also a great app which I think could replace their TI-whatevers for only $20 or so. (It perform all the trig and calculus functions and creates beautiful graphs, but you wont’ be able to bring it into the SAT or AP exams). There are also some limited measurement tools right now – like Multi Measures HD ($0.99). I’m sure that more will follow. Pasco has also developed an interface to use their lab sensors using the Sparkvue app. Since I don’t have Pasco sensors, I’ll have to wait for Vernier to get on board or for the next budget cycle.
3. Analysis and Writing Tools – I’m hoping that I’ll be able to use the spreadsheets and forms from google docs for students to input, and analyze data and to communicate results. I know they can’t create a form on the ipad right now, but they can certainly input data and access and edit the spreadsheets. They can also write up their lab results. For this, I expect to use Office2 HD. ($7.99) This is a great way to access google docs and although it’s limited in terms of the tools available, it should be sufficient for classroom use. I’m not too enamored of the the iworks apps only because its so darned difficult to share the documents the way I need to.
4. Simulations and Creations – Unfortunately, there are gobs of physics simulations that I won’t be able to show on the ipad since they are predominantly flash animations. There are, however, lots of demos on youtube that we’ll be able to use as illustrations or discussion points. There are also some interactive science apps, but none that I’m in love with. I do have “G” ($1.99) which illustrates gravitational forces between planets. For now, I’ll just be using youtube or other online videos until I find some good apps. On the creation side, I expect to use things like Reel Director (with photo editing in Photogene ) to have students create video responses. Unfortunately, this might be too time consuming to do in the classroom. We’ll see.
5. Research and Resource – I expect to have pdfs (which I create), and CK12 textbooks (free) loaded on iBooks for student resources. In addition, students have the internet at their fingertips if I want to direct them that way. In terms of apps, as a chemistry teacher, I love the periodic table app EMD PTE (free) which gives a wealth of info about the elements and periodic trends (with some interactive features as well). I might also load the Wolfram Alpha app ($1.99).
6. eClicker interactions – I like the eClicker Host ($9.99 for teacher) and eClicker (free for students) apps for doing on-the-fly and planned clicker questions. At this time, it only accepts multiple choice and true-false type questions. It might be nice to have the capability to input numeric data at some point, but for now, its a nice way to have classroom clickers without needing an additional piece of hardware. (This system also works without a classroom set of ipads – students can use any device that connects to the internet.)
7. Moodle/Webassign assignments – I use the online homework system called webassign for practice problems in chemistry and physical science. There are times when we are working on these in class or going over some of the problems. They will have quick access to this as I place the shortcut on the ipad desktop. I’ll also have some assignments on moodle but the rich text editor is not available on mobile safari so this may not be the best use, but it will still be good to follow other links and possibly some hotpotatoes activities I’ve created on my moodle page.
So that’s what’s planned. (We all know what happens to plans.) After looking at my list, I see that I’m going to have to introduce the kids to some of these things slowly so as not to cloud the subject with the tools. To be effective, the technology will need to be viewed as no big deal. It took a few months for my students to get used to gdocs, but I recognized that once they started using it for things outside my classroom, it no longer was a hurdle but a useful method of collaborating… Any thoughts?