The role of the teacher is changing. From the ‘flipped class‘ discussion to the curriculum ‘focus’, a teacher’s remit is evolving. There is a developing pedagogy with new technology and the phrase ’24/7 learning’ permeates discussion. There are always opportunities to learn for students but the confines of the classroom are no longer the perceived determinants of education.
The iPad assists learning in many ways with perhaps the most significant being the continuity of learning between home and school. A student can open the device and continue with the work they have been set or need to complete. An application automatically stores the last student entry and this is instantly accessible whenever it is required. This may seem a small matter but we have found that it has removed a number of the processes that present barriers to learning – a compact working environment with instant on capability.
Students are also immersed in learning as the application features are designed to be engaging. The competition for app sales has meant that developers seek to engage the learners to maintain traction in the market. This is of great significance to educators as the software is consequently updated to meet the user and iPad requirements. This also leads to variations in use with teachers using subject appropriate applications, as well as the general workflow apps, to enhance learning.
Our staff training usually centres around a couple of suggested applications and an opportunity to discuss any issues with the device. However, talk quickly turns to how the device could be used to enhance learning. There are often methods that are transferable but it is still down to the teacher to guide the learners in their class. I am impressed with the way individual teachers apply the device at certain points and develop their own methodology to suit both subject and learner. There is talk of being a facilitator at times and how ‘I do less as a teacher’. Of course the teacher isn’t doing less, they are just performing a different role from ‘the Sage on the Stage’ (Alison King 1993 College Teaching).
It appears an iPad trial promotes more discussion about learning than it does about the device and this is a desirable by-product of what was once a controversial scheme. Informal discussion tends to involve challenging the use of the device and it’s impact on learning. There is less conversation around ‘is there an app for that?’
The hard evidence to support these anecdotal conclusions will hopefully come in time. However, it is already clear that the iPad has a place in education and it is up to teachers to determine its impact in their classroom.