I’ve been asked in a number of school visits recently about the ways an iPad may be used in the classroom, so here are a couple of interesting resources I’ve come across. One is a Google slideshow titled 23 interesting ways to use an iPad in the classroom, and the other is a wiki called Making the most of your iPad. An interesting thing about both resources is that they have been created in a public online space, and released under a creative commons license – a sign of where innovation and the development of ideas is taking place.
In terms of the ideas shared in these resources, despite the impression that these resources may contain information of pedagogical value, the information provided is more of a list of applications that can be used, or the “top-of-head” ideas like “use it for web searching”, or “for sending emails”. It’s probably an indication of the relative “new-ness” of the technology. I guess we’ll have to wait a while before we see cool ideas emerge that demonstrate the real potential of these devices beyond simply ‘doing on a cool-looking portable device the things we used to do on our laptops and desktops.” I know that the touch interface changes that experience – but I’ve yet to see the well-thought through evidence of exactly how this is providing pedagogical advantage. Don’t get me wrong – I’m optimistic that it will emerge, just saying that what we have now is probably indicative of the fact that we’re still at the ‘fascination with the tool’ stage, and not quite at the ‘appropriation and innovative use’ stage.
It should also be noted that while we still seem to be in the early stages of discovering the pedagogical value of these devices, the technology itself is still also in early stage of development, as commentators such as Jeff Utecht and the team at Ed Galaxy point out.
A recent article in the TES titled The iPad and the Academy is a move down the right path I feel, with an examination of the features of the device in the context of how they might impact on classroom teaching and learning (in this case, tertiary). The rather philosophical comment at the conclusion of the article could provide the catalyst for some interesting staffroom or workshop discussion:
Obsolescence is a necessary part of capitalist exchange. As sociologist Thorstein Veblen described in his thesis of “conspicuous consumption”, wastefulness confirms class and status. If a shopper can waste money on extravagant goods and services, they “perform” affluence. The iPad is an object of desire and opportunity: it is also an example of waste.
But for academics, the platform enhances daily teaching and research. In an age when universities’ core functions are under threat, the gadget offers a vision disconnected from the crumbling teaching and learning experiences in our libraries and classrooms.