September 2017 begins the third year of our iPad initiative. Two more 1st year classes will be coming on-stream bringing the number of iPad classes to five in total.
Before embarking on this initiative, we conducted research on the various models of iPad technology in the classroom as well as the impact the use of iPads would have on the teaching and learning of students. Because students complete their Junior Cycle examinations with pen and paper we are cognisant that they develop their writing and literacy skills to a high standard thus they carry out written homework in copies and complete oral work as usual.
In order to fully embrace the use of the technology in St Vincent’s we decided to produce interactive iBooks for our students. Our subject specific iBooks include links to much interactive and engaging content such as videos and quizzes. This means that students learn to take ownership of their learning and can readily participate in peer and well as self-assessment.
From our ongoing evaluations of this initiative we can state that teachers, parents/guardians and students conclude that the engagement with iPads is a beneficial enterprise and involves student learning while engaging with and perfecting the ability to use a 21st century skill. The following quotes are taken from some of the research we have conducted as we continuously evaluate this ongoing iPad initiative.
“Videos and the use of certain apps like Kahoot and Quizlet have really helped to reinforce the information they are learning every week” Teacher
“It is more contextualised and the interactive aspects of the iBook have helped reinforce concepts” Teacher
“Content is much more engaging, links to quizzes, interactive content and easy to add notes to which are all stored in one place. Cannot lose notes.” Teacher
“Information is also provided as videos, links to web pages etc…..deepens her understanding” Parent
“her notes are more organised and accessible on her iPad” Parent
“It supports all types of learning. People who learn by reading can read the information from the iBook. People who learn by seeing or hearing can watch the YouTube links. People who learn by memory can use flash card apps” Student
“the iPad is very interactive with things like videos, so you’re not just looking at a picture in your book, you see it happen which gives a better insight into what really happened” Student
“you can highlight or put a note onto any word in the iBooks and if you don’t understand a word you can double
tap it and define it” Student
Each year we organise an information meeting for parents/guardians to assist them in their awareness of monitoring activity on their daughter’s iPads.
We have also used this opportunity to engage with the parents/guardians on the value of the initiative and/or the issues arising from working with iPads in the classroom. This has led to a an energised and effective learning community who work together for the benefit of all. Some parents/guardians have noted that;
“…her access to information with the iPad makes it easier for her to learn” Parent
“…she is thriving and enjoying learning” Parent
It may be suggested that we have passed the initial and exploratory stages of the St Vincent’s iPads initiative. We are now seeking ways to make the learning experience an even better one in terms of interactive content and iBook Author skills. This has an added benefit in that many of our teachers are digitally upskilled to a high level and use digital technology in all other classrooms, as well as with the iPad classes. We are working hard to provide the optimum learning experience for all of our students and strive to do so in a holistic manner catering for each individual learning need. For some students the iPad class is a wonderful gift, for others they prefer to participate in a more traditional experience of learning with the teacher taking responsibility for driving content within the world of digital technology. This means that there is a place for everyone as learning and teaching is at the heart of what we do. As mirrored in the social, educational and professional world, the degree of participation with digital technology continues to escalate in St Vincent’s. We provide an opportunity for every student to excel. It is within this context that we are confident the iPad initiative is working well and we look forward to developing and driving it into the future.
“I can’t imagine her doing so well and being so interested in learning without the iPad” Parent
“Personally, I have very much benefited professionally from this exercise and I am very much in favour of the iPad as a concept” Teacher