Home' Teacher : April 2011 Contents Educational focuses change at an extreme
rate, and for schools, it seems that there is
always some new initiative to implement.
Integrating technology effectively in the
classroom can seem like a daunting and com-
plex task, but it is likely to be increasingly
important as young people become increas-
ingly engaged with and reliant on notebook
computers, smart phones and other devices.
At the moment, the majority of schools
are at one of three stages: they are either
considering and investigating the validity
of programs which use mobile devices; they
are about to implement a program with a
mobile device; or they have implemented
some form of program with a mobile device.
The iPad has emerged to be a serious
player in the educational market. With its
portability, affordability, intuitive interface
and access to such a wide variety of appli-
cations (apps) in Apple's App Store, it is
understandable why schools are embracing
But is the hype justified? Is the iPad a
distraction in the classroom or a real tool?
A necessity or a gimmick?
Ringwood North Primary School,
located in the eastern suburbs of Mel-
bou rne, is one of 10 educational institu-
tions involved in the Victorian education
department's iPad trial. The trial involves
a diverse range of Victorian government
schools including primary, secondary, Prep
to Year 12 and specialist settings.
Ringwood North Primary School already
has a strong emphasis on the application of
Apple technologies to support and extend
learning, through digital storytelling, pod-
casting, animations and movie making. Our
school sees the iPad as another opportunity
for us to revisit and challenge our views on
curriculum and make learning even more
As a part of this trial, 138 devices were
allocated to our current Years 5 and 6 stu-
dents in September 2010. The trial will
conclude at the end of 2011. While there
have been specific apps the students have
been required to download via iTunes using
gift vouchers provided through the trial,
students have been permitted to personal-
ise their iPads by loading their own apps,
music and videos. This has been one of the
biggest changes in thinking, as our students
have been forwarded the privilege of setting
up and managing a tool in a way that suits
them and their learning.
Yet placing iPads in the hands of students
alone is by no means a key to improved stu-
dent performance. Ringwood North PS is
using this experience to revisit, refine and
reform a new approach to the curriculum
and its delivery.
We do not simply want to transfer meth-
ods of teaching, from pen and paper to com-
puter, but rather tra n sfo r m them.
The explosion of social media, and the way
in which we now interact with the internet,
has changed the way the new generation of
learners interact with information, educa-
tion and community. The way we now so
openly share experiences, and the at-times
overwhelming wealth of information avail-
able online, means that while we now have
easy access to greater knowledge than we
have done in the past, we may need to do a
lot of fossicking in order to find the specific
information we are after.
One of the key developments for edu-
cation, and for consumers in general, as a
result of the App Store, has been the way in
which apps now 'funnel' information into
more specific categories. While searching
the internet more efficiently is definitely
a skill we need to continue developing
and refining for our students, the need to
flick through pages and pages of results in
Google is a thing of the past.
This philosophy, and the variety of apps
that promote creativity and originality in
such an intuitive way, means teachers no
longer need to spend as much time 'teach-
ing' our students how to use programs,
allowing more time to revisit the art of pro-
moting cu riosity.
Towards the end of 2010, Ringwood
North PS took a measured risk and pro-
vided iPads for our teaching staff. Rather
than have a handful of teachers in the school
with the devices, we saw the chance to use
the iPad as a tool for promoting this change
in thinking across the entire school.
Since then, with minimal professional
learning on the device, we have seen a
change in the way our staff interacts with
this technology. Our staffroom has become
a hive of collaboration, as teachers share
new and exciting ways to use a new app they
have discovered, or describe a light-bulb
moment with a student in the classroom.
No longer do you need to be a technology
guru to get the thing to do what you want
it to -- and this has resulted in an overall
improvement in our staff's confidence in
using technology in the classroom.
The success of this approach has been at
least in part due to our focus being firmly
on sharing ideas and improving learning
opportunities for our students, rather than
a focus on the technology. Teachers are find-
ing they have more time to provide relevant
feedback, challenging students to justify or
elaborate on their ideas, and working with
students in small groups and one-on-one.
Rather than transferring texts or work-
sheets in digital form onto the iPad, the
school is transforming the curriculum to
provide new learning opportunities, rich in
possibilities for investigation, collaboration
In January 2011, teachers from Ringwood
North PS were invited to represent Australia
as a part of Apple's challenge-based learning
program. This project involves schools from
TECHNOLOGY NEEDS TO TRANSFORM TEACHING AND LEARNING, NOT JUST TRANSFER PEN AND PAPER
METHODS TO DIGITAL DEVICES. ADAM BRICE EXPLAINS HOW iPADS ARE HELPING HIS SCHOOL DO JUST THAT.
FEATURE -- INFORMATION & COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY 31
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