2010-2011 Ralph McCall - iPad Research Findings

We received 15 iPads from the Innovative Technology fund and our school purchased an additional 15. We allocated the 15 to our ESL specialist, six to our EL specialists and nine to our Resource team. All of the specialists were eager to utilize this new form of technology. We did not provide a mandate or schedule of use, rather we used the excitement of the technology drive its use, letting each specialist set their own direction and timeline of use.


Technical Implementation:

 Some notes on our technical management of the iPads:

· We purchased a special cart to house the iPads in order to make sure they are fully protected. This also gave a central location for the iPads and facilitated proper tracking because individuals were required to sign out the iPads.

· We gave the responsibility of signing out the iPads to only a few key individuals so that we could track them better. This worked out well because we knew who had the iPads and each individual was very diligent with the signing out process.

· We synced the iPads once a month. This means that we could only install new apps on the iPads once a month. If there was an app we wanted on the iPads, we emailed the link to our Technology Specialist and she made a note so that when it came time to sync, she put the new apps on. Each iPad has to be synced individually, which is very time consuming.

· We created a school iTunes account, but took off the method of payment so that if teachers or students accidentally accessed the iTunes account there were no funds available for them to make purchases and it also allowed teachers to receive updates on current apps without fear of accidentally making further purchases.

· We have two ‘enthusiasts’ on our staff. They made many app purchases on their personal accounts, which they then ‘tested’ for the school and made certain recommendations. This was a very useful pre-screening method because it acted as a filter for a lot of terrible apps.

· Figuring out a schedule for disseminating the iPads proved challenging at times.

Effectiveness – Students

 The following observations were made concerning student effectiveness:

· All the students demonstrated an increased level of engagement when working on the iPads. They were excited to have the opportunity to use them; and when in use, the students were engaged in the content that was being presented.

· Reluctant readers and writers engaged content more successfully through the iPads.

· The students were able to practise multiple skills on the iPad because the different apps allowed them to focus the tool to their needs. The students were also able to navigate the iPad independently as long as they had been shown how to previously. The lack of physical buttons helped simplify workflow for the students.

· The touch interface seems intuitive for the students and they demonstrate absolutely no hesitation when working with the apps.

· The transition time was cut down substantially by the ‘instant on’ factor.

· The students have created picture books, comic strips, word documents, powerpoint presentations and cartoons all using the iPad, which testifies to the iPad’s ability to be a creative medium, not merely a tool for consuming media.

· The touch screen allows the students to interact directly with the content, instead of indirectly through a mouse or keyboard.

Effectiveness – Facilitators (T.A.’s and Teachers)

 The following observations were made concerning facilitator’s effectiveness:

· Creating content was streamlined with the iPads. For some teaching tools, such as flash cards, the facilitator’s could quickly look at what was happening in the class and have the flashcards ready for use in a manner of minutes on the iPad, as opposed to writing them down, cutting them out and laminating them.

· Content created via one iPad is easily shared across all the iPads. This allowed or one creation process for all the students, as opposed to have to duplicate the learning tool and the time needed for the creation of said tool.

· Ease of use. The facilitator’s found the iPad easy to use and appreciated the student’s excitement.

· The battery life allowed facilitators to work for an entire day on the iPads without having to look for an outlet or constraining them to a certain room because they need to be near a power source.

· The facilitator’s report that having iPads dedicated to them exclusively help tremendously in helping them get comfortable with the operating system and getting a consistent program set up.

· The ability to set their own direction helped in encouraging staff to use the iPads as they did not feel pressure to perform.


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