Five Tips for Supporting iPads in the Classroom

The article that I read was written by Jennie Magiera, the digital learning coordinator for the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a network of 25 Chicago Public Schools.  In it, she discusses the use of iPads in classrooms (something which has been mentioned more than once in our own class, as well as many other education classes that I’ve taken), and how to best utilize the technology within the classroom.  According to Magiera, there are five things which she believes are most important:

1. One Classroom > Three Classrooms

Instead of having a small number of iPads that can be checked out by teachers and circulated throughout the building, much like many schools do with laptops, it would be much more efficient to keep a cart of iPads as a permanent fixture in a classroom.  Magiera touches on a caveat of iPads; that in order to share information and programs between the devices, they must be synced, and this requires time and skill to do effectively that wouldn’t be possible through an occasion-checkout system.  Allowing students more time with the devices would also allow them to become more familiar with the interfaces.  And I must say I agree.  A student with more access to any technology will become more literate in its use.

2. Teacher Buy-In Is Half the Battle

This point is a bit more teacher-centric; if a cart of iPads is to be kept in one teacher’s classroom, who is the lucky teacher that gets it?  Magiera suggests having teachers share a video or blog demonstrating how they would effectively use an iPad in class, as well as giving an honest expectation of how, and how often they would be able to incorporate the device into their lesson plans.  Once again, this seems a good idea.  No sense letting the iPads sit in classrooms and go to waste, only being used two or three times a year, when they would be better off in a different class.

3. We All Need a Little Help From Our PLCs

Mageria focuses on the importance of teachers practicing together to support one another.  After spending two-days together, teachers learned about the basics of iPads; syncing, apps, certain technical restriction, etc.  From there, teachers would meet once a month to discus problems, challenges, and goals.

4. Plan for Incidental Expenses

Apps.  While a $1 or $3 may seem like an insignificant expense, keep in mind that number must be applied to all students in the classroom, as well as any other students in any other classrooms that may have iPads as well.  Allow teachers to make some decision making; cost of app against how often it will be used.  This is extremely important, for the cost off apps can quickly add up.

5. Save Room for Failure

Perhaps the most important thing, Margiera says, is to not be discouraged by failures or mishaps.  According to her, her initial failures are one of her most useful learning experiences that she had.  As a result of the failures, and the schools giving them the room to fail, teachers are able to grow, and improve their pedagogical practices.  Most importantly, and something that I think is incredibly important, is how these failures can turn a teacher into a role model for their students.  “I was demonstrating that it is OK to fail, and that it’s rewarding to reflect, learn, and try again.”

Here’s the article itself.





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3 responses to “Five Tips for Supporting iPads in the Classroom

  1. christinaspinelli

    Local relevance: Massachusetts’ very own Burlington High School (Go Red Devils!) is currently using iPads instead of textbooks


    Was this article sponsored by Apple? Just kidding ….

    My mother has been a teacher for a long time. She just learned how to send a text message last year (now she’s a text junky) and still hasn’t mastered the art of retrieving her voicemails (or, maybe it’s just when I call). I think it might take quite a bit of training to get older teachers fluent in iPad use. So, half of the training and learning would have to be for the teachers themselves rather than just the students.

    I wish the article had gone more in-depth about the actual apps that can be used in the classroom. Until we can prove to teachers that these apps have more value than actual human, face-to-face instruction, it will be hard to get these teachers to buy into an iPad scheme for the classroom.

    I received an iPad as a gift and while I was skeptical at first about it, I now love it because I don’t have to lug around as many books because they are all usually in ebook format that can be accessed on an iPad. Other than that, though, I remain unsure of whether iPads are really so much better than good old fashioned computers.

    – Mary Beth

  3. I am all for technology in the classroom but I agree that we need to be taught how to use it effectively.

    I was given an iPad as a gift awhile ago from my grandfather, who has never been on the internet in his life, but someone at work had told him it made college student’s lives so much easier. At first I didn’t know very much, especially educational wise, but after learning and researching apps and uses, it is now such an important part of my everyday life.

    For example, many of my teachers send out lots of PDF files to read, and being someone who does not want to waste paper, I hate the hassle of printing all these pages. Instead I found an app that allows me to open these PDFs, read them, but most importantly mark them up with highlights and notes. When I am done there is also an option to send myself or print just the highlights/notes I made, which comes very handy in writing papers. And more recently I learned how to give a power point presentation from my iPad.

    Knowing these tips and more now I definitely see how iPads can be very useful educational wise. But we need to be taught how to utilize that. I am in my 20s and I had to be shown how to use my own iPad to my advantage. I think that this is very important for teachers, to be shown this, or else it just becomes a $500 solitaire playing machine.

    My mom recently mentioned to me that my brother’s high school was now requiring all freshman to have an iPad. She thought this was great, as long as they were taught how to use them properly concerning their education so that when it got to college and whatnot they already knew how to use it effectively.

    I agree that this is great, but again training needs to start with the teachers. Teachers need to be experts in using such technology before it is implemented into a classroom setting.


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