Lessons from the Classroom: Discussion

When the tutor interviews took place in March/April the themes that emerged were around general issues with the technology – general benefits and limitations of it, practical issues around access to it & confidence in using it, both technically and appropriately.

The biggest theme to emerge was the importance and value of collaboration, of having other tutors to meet, discuss and share ideas with. Following these interviews the project has continued, tutors have continued to use the iPads with their students and to share and discuss with those in the group they see in offices and in corridors.

So it was only later in the project that I was able to start to unpick what has been happening in the classroom and to reflect on how the technologies has been used. This evidence comes from my reflection on my own practice and the corridor conversations with all the tutors on the project.

The iPads have been used in different ways by different tutors. The Teacher Educator and the maths tutors took a lead on engaging the students in bottom-up activities, where the students were involved in identifying and evaluating how the iPads  and other mobile technologies could meet their specific learning needs.

The foundation studies and ESOL students took a more teacher-centred approach. Here the iPads were used for very specific activities, from short 10 minute activities where the students find and shared images of homes in their home countries to larger projects where the iPads were used for audio, camera and specific research.

I have used to iPads for both purposes. In many lessons the iPads were used as and when by & this was directed by the students. This was particularly true when we were doing any kind of vocabulary work. Early on in the year I did a lesson on crime vocabulary where we talked explicitly about how they learn new words & how the iPads could help them with this.

It took me a while to accept that this kind of use was adding value to the lesson – with the benefits of ease of access, speed and portability being valid. Feedback from my colleague after a peer observation certainly helped me to recognise the value in this activity and she in turn talked about she then also allowed this ‘freer’ access to the iPads in her classes.

The main education apps that were explored during the project were Whiteboard apps such as Ask3 and Educreations. These apps offer similar functionality, where students can create videos while recording what’s on screen. I chose to explore Ask3 following attending the first FE TeachMeet in October 2013. Here a tutor talked about how easy the app was to use and gave the students opportunities to create and share work, so this was a big focus for me during the year.

Finding out that the app will be closed by the developers was really disappointing and since then I’ve been exploring Educreations (along with the ESOL tutor) but at the moment I’m really missing the ease and functionality of Ask3 & I’m not so happy with Educreations. I need to explore other apps, such as Showme and Screen Chomp so the lesson here is a reminder that technology is ever changing and reinforces the importance of having the opportunity to explore and try new things in a supportive environment.

Benefits of the iPads

All the tutors and students talked about how easy the iPads were to use. The size & portability of the devices was also a big benefit, as was the core features of the devices such as the camera, audio and internet. Having access to a wide range of apps was also an advantage, allowing students to explore and evaluate subject specific apps to provide variety & independent learning opportunities within the classroom.







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