Closing the Door

This afternoon, I had the wonderful opportunity to talk to three middle school teachers who are finishing their first year in a 1:1 iPad program. 

I first met these teachers a year ago, the day they got their iPads. They knew they were going to a 1:1 starting in the fall. They were nervous. They weren’t sure what they were going to do. We had a great conversation that time about digital resources, about how they thought they might use the iPads. Their goal by the end of the first year to use the iPads maybe 50% of the school days.

I wasn’t sure what to expect today. Would they be excited and love the iPads? Would they have found they used them once in awhile, but not much? Would they find the kids too distracted? Would the technology have been too much of a hurdle for some?

I was amazed and impressed. The iPads are just another tool for learning. But this tool has proven to be a significant game changer for all of them – and these are seasoned, experienced teachers. They all feel that despite the learning curve, they are teaching better than ever. They find that their role has changed – no longer are they the “expert” but rather the guide. They feel the students are taking more responsibility for their learning. The students have been empowered by the iPads to learn on their own, and they are living up to the responsibility. I did not plant these ideas, really. It is exactly what I hear from teachers all over who move to a 1:1 program.

Were they using all the latest and greatest content apps? Nope. Their most used apps were all in the productivity area: Office, Keynote, Notarize. They are all content creation apps, apps for collecting and processing information. There were a few content related apps, but not many.

I reminded them that their goal had been to get to 50% of the days. They laughed. How often were they using the iPads, I asked? The reply was a unanimous and resounding “everyday.” They use it during lectures. They use them for teaching organizing. They use them to communicate. 

Are the iPads distracting for the kids?? Yes, it exists. Yes, they all have new classroom management techniques. Did distraction exist before? Yup. It’s not any different. 

Without my prompting, they said one of the biggest impacts they see is on kids who don’t have access to technology at home. It’s empowering them and it’s empowering the kids who struggle with learning. 

The conversation is best summed up by the exchange we had about what they’d do if the iPads were taken away — a fear they brought up.  What would they do? They’d survive, of course, but as one of them said, “I’d feel a door was closed to education.”

 

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