Sunday, May 31, 2015

10 BEST THINGS about having an iPad for learning : STUDENT VOICES from the iLearn Anywhere Program

Over the past year, we have been closely following the progress 500 (now Year 5) students in 8 primary schools from the  Diocese of Parramatta, in Western Sydney. The students have been participating in the iLearn Anywhere 1-1 iPad program for just over twelve months now.  Research surveys and interviews have revealed what the students think about having iPads in their 1-1 iPad classrooms   Essentially the students have identified the following 10 factors as the "BEST THINGS about having their own iPad for learning" to support their learning at school and at home:

1.MOTIVATION and ENGAGEMENT Not surprisingly the students (and their teachers) report that our students find having their own ipads to use for learning in the classroom to be engaging and motivating. This is evident in their increased focus and obvious enthusiasm for learning while using their iPads.

2. ACCESS and EQUITY. Students really love having their own iPad to use as and when they need them. Previously most students had limited access to ICT resources in the classroom– often only using shared devices once a week. They claim that they like not having to wait for their turn. Having their own iPad  enables them to get started immediately on classroom tasks - no time wasting!. Students also report improved access to ICT at home as beneficial. They no longer have to compete with older siblings for access to the computer/iPad at home.

3. EASY ACCESS to INFORMATION. The availability of the iPad means that students have a tool for accessing information at point of need. As well as access to searching on the World Wide Web, they have easy access to essential tools such as online dictionaries, thesauruses, calculators and their Bible when required. This in turn has a positive impact on school resourcing of these tools for classrooms – as many of these tools are free online.

4. LEARNING is DIFFERENT. Students identified that the iPad makes learning accessible in many ways – they can learn using different modalities. In other words, they can listen or view information as well as read print. This is particularly valuable for students who have different learning styles or particular learning needs. Further to this, the iPad has a range of accessibility features which allow students to access the curriculum and also demonstrate their learning in a range of different ways.

5. CREATIVITY; Students love using a diverse range of tools for creating products of their learning (rather than “writing in their books all day”). Tools include ‘on board’ still and video cameras, apps for digital artmaking and music making tools such as Garage Band, Comic Strip apps and iMovie to name just a few. Creativity really clicks in when students work collaboratively and have choice in the apps they can use and as they gain mastery of a range of workflows.

6. AUDIENCE: Students are motivated to compose texts when they are aware that they have an authentic purpose and audience for their compositions. The iPad makes it possible to publish to diverse audiences within the school and beyond. They confidently use tools such as Apple TV for classroom sharing and reflection. They also use online networking tools such as Blogger and Storybird for publishing their writing.

7. COLLABORATION. Most students identify that they enjoy opportunities to work in pairs and small teams in the classroom. Students are becoming fluent in sharing digital assets when collaborating with others on a task. Tools such as Google Drive also enable easy submission of student work and  getting helpful feedback from teacher and peers.

8. HOMEWORK IS DIFFERENT. Students display regular willingness to continue to work on things they have started at school; to experiment and learn the features of new apps ; and to collaborate with peers or the teachers( eg Flipped Learning). The result is a “blurring of the boundaries” between 'homework' and 'school work.'

9. SHARING THEIR LEARNING with their PARENTS. Students indicate their parents are keenly interested in seeing what they have been learning at school. Students like it too. They say it’s better than waiting until the end of the year to take their books home. They love regularly “sitting on the lounge” showing their parents their learning.  They also report that they love teaching their parents how to do new things on their iPads.

10. OWNERSHIP. Finally, students demonstrate a strong sense of ownership of their iPads. They are generally responsible in caring for their iPads. There have been very few breakages and no intentional damage. Students see learning as exciting and different to previous experiences with learning at school before having their iPads. As one student, Brodie, put it "It takes learning to another level!" Indeed our students are are unanimous in saying that they would definitely not want to return to classrooms where students do not have their own iPad to support their learning.

We look forward to continuing to share the journey of the students and their teachers  here on the Learning and Teaching with iPads blog. In addition, you can find further details of the project on the iLearn Anywhere website. For further details contact: 

Nicole Sprainger 
Lisa Nash

at The Learning Exchange , Diocese of Parramatta. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Term 1 and 2 iLearn Project 2015 at St Bernadette's!

What a huge year 2015 has been so far!
Term 1 was filled with a huge learning experience for myself as it was my first year in Stage 3 and being the only staff member to move with the iLearn project. We also gained a new staff member to our space!
As the term progressed, we were also fortunate enough to go on school camp, and was also part of the peer review process. A huge term!
The iLearn project was a major part of the students learning throughout the year. This is the first time the Year 6's were part of the project and they were very excited when they were told that they were going to be receiving their own iPads for use at school. This meant that the Year 5's were the experts and have to encourage and guide the Year 6's with the use of their iPads. This was a wonderful learning experience for our students as we all know that one of the best ways to learn is through peer teaching.
Once our Year 6's felt confident with their iPads, it was full steam ahead!

Term 1 saw the introduction of the "Flipped Classroom" concept. This was a path I wanted to lead our students on after lots of research. I produced a range of videos, some you can find on my YouTube channel, that I emailed out to students according to the learning that was occurring within the classroom.

A link to one of my videos is here:

After introducing this concept, I found that my students were becoming much more engaged with their learning, and were emailing me asking for videos explaining concepts they found tricky. Our students were becoming self-reliant and motivated learners!
I was lucky enough to be featured in the Daily Telegraph regarding this initiative within my school.

With the flipped classroom occurring, we also wanted there to be a big focus on digital writing within our classroom. This was a direct link to the schools implementation plan for English 2015.
As part of our writing program, we wanted our students to develop creativity when writing imaginative texts. We decided to use for our students to publish their pieces of writing.
You are able to view a range of texts written by one of our students on the following link:
Students are able to publish their work and share their writing with the public. This has given our students a passion for writing, as they are able to view each others written work easily, and those from around the World!

What a wonderful learning experience this has been for both the teachers and the students!