Sunday, March 6, 2011

Enter the iPad...

... well, the iPad entered my life back in September and the iPad 2 has just recently entered the collective conscious of the digitally connected, but when I speak of "enter the iPad" I speak in regards to putting my thoughts to paper.

At the start of the school year, September 2010, I purchased a singular iPad for some experimentation. There wasn't a lot of buzz about the device among my fellow teachers, but everyone was aware of it and the question I most often got was "are they just for games or can we use tem in school...?"

My lone iPad was to answer that question. In this current climate of budget cuts and threats of layoffs I didn't want to blow a large chunk of our already diminished budet on an untested and unproved educational technology. Was the iPad unproven? Not in the least. Were there wealth of apps designed for the education market? Not so much. The amount of people using the iPads in education and the amount of apps for education, and apps in general, has been growing at an amazing rate. What I saw available in September, and what I saw as possible, has been dwarfed by what is available and possible today.

Starting January, 2011 we bagan a pilot program of teachers and iPads. We have purchased iPads for our 3rd-5th grade teachers as well as our Coaches and ESL teacher, principal and assistant principal, 20 in total. Some are taking to them more than others, but all are excited and all are using them for instruction. We have put in place ongoing professional development for the teachers involved to give them the tools and knowledge to use the iPads effectively as well as for them to document how they are using them. Our hope is, budgets permitting, to expand this pilot program to other grades and when we do we will have a solid core of experience and knowledge within the building to push us even further.

At this point I live and die by my iPad. I'm spending more and more time outside of the computer lab, with more administrative duties, and my iPad is invaluable. I have seen a number of the teachers involved with the pilot program take to them as well, being used for conferencing, running records attendance, and so on.

So, back to the "enter the iPad" concept...
... I am now going to be updating this blog with all the apps we use, the ways we use them, the problems we've encountered, the solutions we've discovered. Basically all the knowlege we are developing as we spend time with our iPads in the classroom.

Next up, my must have "killer apps" for education...

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