Shifting Conversations: iPads in Education

I am quite amazed at the transition that is taking place in education. After attending the Florida Education Technology Conference, and reconnecting with many of the amazing educators I have had the pleasure of getting to know on Twitter and elsewhere, I have noticed the depth of conversations about the integration of technology and particularly iPads has shifted. While I am sure that there are many educators out there who still have not used iPads in education, the ones who now have a year or two of integrated use of these devices have shifted their analysis of the value that they bring to education. Generally, the initial conversations were theoretical and dealt with the surface level outcomes to be reached. As conversations have moved forward, there is more of a blend of pedagogy, curricular outcomes and real assessment of the learning processes that students are are engaged in. I have seen amazing lists of apps sorted into Bloom’s taxonomy, but going even further I have seen highly developed criteria for assessing the value of an app.

In my current school, we are looking at taking a significant number of apps off of the iPads, as they aren’t meeting our developing need to use these devices in a more focused and less ‘edutaining’ way. We are developing a committee and criteria to do this, a way to maintain the educational integrity of this technology and move the iPad fully from toy to tool in the classroom and move out of the ‘wow’ factor and solidify its position as a regularly accessible technology.

On the converse side, the concept of gamification of education is taking hold and maintaining traction in education. I don’t think that this is an either/or scenario. I really think that true gamification, the use of game design and immersive game-based learning is a far different thing than using edutainment to rehearse a concept as a worksheet might. Gamification is not about a device, but rather an environment, and is really quite distinct to using a tool like the ipad educationally. I will write more about both of these concepts soon, as I am completing more research on game-based learning, but in my research and mind, I see iPad implementation as significantly different, even as the depth of gamification increases as well.

I’m curious to know if others are seeing this shift as well, and whether you have seen your own conversations around iPads in education changing. If so, let me know what you think the key takeaways are, and how you are distinguishing the valuable apps from the ones that are less about learning, and more about entertainment.


One thought on “Shifting Conversations: iPads in Education

  1. Hi Derek.

    I agree with your observations. At EdTechTeacher, we have supported 100s of educators as they have worked to integrate iPads into their curricula. Much of our conversation has focused on the WHY of not only iPad integration but also of mobile device integration in general. If you haven’t already seen some of our resources, here are a few:

    1. Our blog

    2. iPad As… – apps organized by learning outcome

    3. FREE webinar series – in the past 12 months, we have hosted numerous conversations (all of which are archived on this page) and will begin our Spring Series next week.

    4. iPad Summit USA – April 10-12 in Atlanta, we will be hosting over 600 educators for continued conversation about putting these devices in the service of learning. Come join us!

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