Monday, July 23, 2012

Make Your First iPad Project About Using It For Academic Success

This past year, nearly all of my students received iPads as part of the district's ambitious one-to-one technology initiative.  It was a challenging transition, especially in terms of getting students to view and use their devices for academic purposes and not just for chatting, gaming or watching music videos.

So one of my first projects using the iPads was to get them to think about ways the devices could help students do better in school.

It was originally supposed to be a mandatory project, but I assigned it far too close to end of the grading period for that to be fair.  That's why it became an extra credit project.  I would highly recommend doing this project with every iPad-wielding student.

Format: Video, Keynote presentation or publish online

Topic: 5 Ways Students Can Use Their iPad To Do Better In School
Sample Topics:
  • How to use the iPad to take notes
  • How to use the iPad to keep track of assignments, tests, grades, etc
  • How to study better with the iPad
  • Apps for drawing, making animations, editing pictures, etc
  • Apps/websites that can teach you one or many subjects (example: Khan Academy, iTunesU)
  • Where and how to get free eBooks, magazines, other things to read on your iPad
  • Useful apps/websites (calculators, dictionaries, references, etc)
****You should focus on the apps already on the iPad, free apps to download, and websites that students could visit. Creativity and originality will count for your grade.

****Videos should be less than 5 minutes. Presentations should no more than 10 slides.
I would make a couple of small tweaks if I did this project again: 1) allow more time, 2) change it to ten ways, and 3) increase the emphasis on finding useful apps.  In fact, I ended up creating a separate project later on where students found and installed practical apps due to that last oversight.

Many students did participate, and there were a lot of common themes throughout their suggestions: they could use the iPad to take notes, keep track of assignments (on a to do list or calendar), do written assignments, do research, and use the calculator.  I was also surprised by a couple of students who looked forward to videotaping my lessons so that they could replay them later, which I thought was great.

One final note: my district installed Keynote along with the rest of Mac's iWork suite. If your students don't have it, here is a list of alternatives your students could use.