Ipad : what about it?

With today’s new tactile technology, devices such as the ipad are being offered to consumers all over the world. Some may think that these tablets are expensive and not much better than regular computer, but many schools have adopted this tool in their teaching. I intend to write about certain facts and opinions on the matter of using electronic tablets, and, in a more particular way, the ipad.

There are many ways ipads can be used in classroom. David Savenije on edudemic, proposes 14 ways to use it. As much as these ideas are great, they cover two major themes: interactivity with knowledge and practicality. Ipads in education, a website dedicated to the use of ipads even offers  applications packages for teachers and students. This website also presents ways of using the ipad that links with the two major themes presented earlier. What about statistics? On emergingedtech, researchers have found that ipads are well used and that they increase motivation and academic accomplishments and that over 60% of people in schools think we should use it. Great!

There are many ways of using this tool but apart from its usage, let’s have a look at why we should use ipads in classrooms :

To help us on the matter, and especially to help teachers, ETML presented 12 questions one should ask himself before using this tool. However, here are some advantages I found :

1. It gives access to multimedia. As Amber’s educational blog says it, having a webcam, access to internet and a video camera in a tool no bigger than a book is a great asset. Your students can have exchanges with other students more easily and there is no need to move to a computer lab each time you want your students to use multimedia.

2. Alike the IWB, the ipad is visually attractive and, as Steven David Pearce writes it, it can fit many types of learners and intelligences. It also takes creativity into account since many applications help students use their creativity.

3. Ipads are really resistant and easy to use, just like all apple products. I know from experience that apple products may be more expensive but they are dummy proof and last a long time.

Now let me give you the main drawback of what I feel is a wonderful tool : it is somewhat expensive. I can’t see how, unless funded by the government, everyone could get an Ipad that costs somewhere around 500$.  Erik Duval and many others agree on that point, making the cost probably the major flaw of this tool. Parents would have to pay for it and not everyone can afford it. It is a bit like social programs where the idea is great but when we see the price, we realise that we can’t afford it as a society. On the other hand, by using the ipad, we save money: money on paper, pencils, pens …. which may be something positive on the long run? Furthermore, as Mike Silagadze acknowledges it, ipad can lead to a lot of distraction in classrooms if not used properly.

From my point of view, I think it is a great tool, I would most likely integrate it in my teaching and here is why. Previously, I have written about the IWB and how it should be used as a great tool for both students and teachers. When we think about it, ipads has the potential to be the same intuitive/creative/practical tool the IWB is. It can be so for a lesser price, and for all students. Imagine if we could easily transfer data from the ipad to the IWB. We would therefore have a really efficient tool where teachers and students can communicate and share information easily. Furthermore, having interactivity in teaching is great since not all students are good at classical classroom memorization and practice. Some students learn a lot better when confronted with a practical problem. These are the main reasons why I strongly support the use of ipads in class.


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Class dojo : how not to give human consideration!

A couple of days ago, my associated teacher presented to me a tool for assessing/feedbacking students called classdojo. This tool is easy to use : each student has an online avatar and the teacher gives them thumbs-up or thumbs-down according to certain elements preset by the teacher. The teacher can also, as seen on Technology Ressource Teachers, apply it to the whole class. The parents also have access to this tool and so everyone can know what the student’s behaviour is according to the teacher. You can have certain analytics on the behaviour and comments can be left for different aspects. Furthermore, this tool has been awarded top prize at NBC Education Nation.

There are some advantages with this tool that can be exploited :

1. It is easy to use and even more so when you have a touch screen. As Troy Seyfert experienced, this tool is great because in one click you can add or remove points from your kids avatar. He pointed out that it becomes even easier with a touch-screen tablet or phone. I, for example, have an ipad mini and since there is an application for it. I can, with one touch, control the behaviour of my students while going around in the class. I don’t have to sit at a computer to do so. Furthermore, I can easily add comments and print those comments so the parents can see them. You can also, as Terri Eichholz presents it, have the program choose a random student and it really makes it on-the-go and easy to use.

2. You can control different aspects of behaviour easily. Indeed, as betaclassroom writes it, you can choose what to give or take points on. It becomes handy when you have certain aspects such as homework control. You could even use it instead of a name list to see if everyone has done their homework. Instead of using pen or pencil, a single click is sufficient. You could even create a class dojo only for the purpose of correction… many options are possible with this tool.

3. You can use analytics to have an overview of your comments and behaviours. Since the system offers a lot of possibilities, you can use it easily to evaluate,week after week the progress of your students and data tally is easier with this tool. Futhermore, by using the whole class setting, you can make this a cooperative effort for all the students.

4. It is great for the kids who feel comfortable with technology. Think about your little Bill Gates in the classroom. They will love using this tool to assess their performance and it gives them a different class management approach than more traditional ways. Why not offer your students different options for behaviour management? You may be surprised.

A word of warning :

I just wanted to reflect upon what they call ”behaviour control” and specifically what I would call ”online behaviour control”. I must say that, as much as I find this tool interesting, I have certain reserves on it and here is why :

I consider that behaviours in classroom should stay in classrooms, and I believe that by making it online, it only makes it less personal. Some teachers that didn’t like the tool said it didn’t fit their style of teaching, but I think that the principle behind it is be deeper. Indeed, I believe that by making it online, feedback cannot be given personally and on the spot. Furthermore, students don’t get contact with teachers on feedbacks. I think that the attitude of a teacher towards a behaviour is as important as the consequence that comes with it. I believe that humans always try to categorize things, make them less human, more machine-like because it is easier. That’s the danger with classdojo. On the other hand, as Tony Vincent explains it, it is handy and easy, but I think we should be careful with such a tool for it is another step towards ”dehumanisation”.

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IWB : a classroom experience!

 I’m a student teacher and one of the novelties in ICTs that many teachers present to us as a great tool for our going-to-be teaching is the IWB. It is also known as smartboard or activboard, two common brands used in our school system.

How can I integrate this tool?

Upon reflecting on how to integrate this technology in my teaching, I first read about the four steps of using this tool. The authors of this document refer to those steps as ”ways” to integrate IWBs. Of course, my first view on the subject would have been to say that I should use it in an ”Interactive” way but I believe that another step may be taken into the account of these steps. Another step that may be linked to all the ”ways” presented in this paper. I would call it the ”creative way”.

With further explorations, I came across different programs and online activities that may offer a certain type of creativity or ”canvassed” activities. I first came across makebeliefscomix that offers the students and the teacher an opportunity to create comic strips and print them. Then I came across another document that showed different possibilities offered to teachers and students and some of them were creative such as draw characters on the board using TuxPaint and other software and as much as these ideas seemed appealing. I will surely integrate them into my teaching but I still didn’t find what I wanted.

Finally, I came across the idea that most activities presented on the interent that were prepared by teachers were student-directed or teacher-directed. Of course, classes mostly exist for students but I think that the ideas proposed are for students only and teachers only and not for the ”classroom as a whole”. The idea of ”classroom as a whole” is well depicted in a video made by the ”Comission Scolaire des Milles-Isles”. It creates an atmosphere in which students and teachers can be creative and in which IWBs are used as a simple tool, just as a pen and a piece of paper may be used. I think that this is the way I would integrate this tool, just as any other tool, an efficient one, in the classroom and not only for the students but also for teachers and both combined.

Why would this make my teaching better?

After answering the question how, we have to answer the question why.

I believe that, by integrating this tool, my teaching will be better. I think it may be better because, as said by Kai-Ti Yang and Tzu-Hua Wang, IWBs are flexible and versatile. Indeed, you can have students of any age use this tool efficiently and it is really easy to adapt to different subjects. For example, if I wanted to use this tool to have my students work on geography lexicon or on different musical themes, I could do it. It is an intuitive tool and students can easily get the hang of it.

Another point to consider is,as Dr. Mary Ann Bell writes it, that it is also a very colourful and attractive tool . Think about this example. You have created a great activity with colours and pictures but you have to print the copy for the whole class to be able to follow your instructions. Printing in colour is expansive and your students wouuld end up having a gray sheet of paper that could have been nice and colourful. The IWB makes the whole difference from this point of view.

Including interactive whiteboard in my teaching would also make it better in a technical way. Indeed, when you think of the fact, as IWB-EFL points it out, that you can save all your work on the board and send it to other students, it makes for a great tool. If you mix it with the ”creative” way, it makes your teaching better because you can have the students create on he board and save it. You could even share it with other classes and teachers.

Furthermore, think about those students who do not like using a dull pen or pencil to write text on paper. Using the IWB in a ”creative” way helps to focus on those students practice those skills they like so much and show their real colours, not the ones that are related to a more orthodox way of teaching. A few years ago, the concept of ”multiple intelligences” appeared in the field of teaching. I think that integrating IWB in teaching can make it better because it helps the teacher reach certain types of students. It also helps certain students who would not find it easy to use a small screen like a computer.

All these  are going to make my teaching better with the use of Smartboard.

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Flip Class : Redefining the Roles of Teachers

”Flip classes” or ”inverted teaching” is a new way of teaching that focuses on activities in classrooms rather than lectures by using instructional videos and technologies.

Who invented flip class?

The idea came from Jonathan Bergman and Aaron Sams, two teachers who first made some videos to teach students who had missed classes. The videos became surprisingly popular when students who had not missed class actually used the videos to study and review previous classes. The two creators of this new trend saw in this surprising fact a new way of teaching.

What is flip class?

Flip class is basically a learner-centered classroom based on the use of information technologies, a concept opposed to the traditional lecture-centered and teacher-centered classroom. In a more practical manner, it:

  • Offers the students the opportunity to watch instructional videos at home and to learn from those videos instead of having a lecture in class.
  • Allows class time to be spent on activities and homework instead of lectures, things that were usually done at home.
  • Gives time to the teacher to help the students to master the knowledge in a more personal manner by helping them in class individually when necessary.
  • Offers the opportunity to use technology to teach the students through videos but also allows them to find their own information with the different tools that are now offered (such as the internet).
  • Allows students to work together on tasks that were traditional given as homework to be done individually at home.

As an image is worth a thousand word, this info-graphic from Knewton found on edudemic summarizes and provides incredible information on what the concept of flip class is :

Why use flip class ?

As my own opinion is in favour of flip class, I will not cover the arguments against it’s use, but I will try to show why I believe it should be used and adapted for different types of teachers and subjects.

  1. Development of autonomy and criticism :As many have shown through blogs and videos, this type of teaching allows for a great deal of autonomy and possibilities to develop criticism and skills. For example, as Jon Bergman has shown with young students on one of his blog posts, the use of flip class encourages students to dig in the different information and problems you offer them and it helps them to use a critical eye to look for the right information.
  2. Individual monitoring and cooperative working :It also allows the teacher to focus on individual needs of students as they are allowed more time for practice and personal questions that in normal lecture-centered classes. This is also great because by doing the exercises in class, the students can help each other during the exercises since they are all together doing it, and not in distant homes. Shelley Wright experienced this spontaneous cooperation and talked about it in her article The Flip: End of a Love Affair. As much as she might not like the idea of a flip class, she still shows the endings of it.
  3. Helps certain types of teachers and redefines their roles :The idea of flip class can also be an advantage for certain types of teacher. Actually, some teachers may be good at helping students and guiding them on the right path but are afraid of having a one, two or three hour lecture. Some teachers may be great activities planners and managers but are not so good at giving lessons for an extended period of time. This may seem weird because the perceived role of a teacher is for him to be in front of a class, teaching students, but it goes beyond that : a teacher must be an example and a good monitor for students. This may help certain people who could be great teachers when individual or group monitoring is needed but don’t feel comfortable speaking in front of a crowd. By doing videos, that, opposed to a lecture, can be remade and rethought, these people would have a great advantage.I will go even further by saying that I believe that a good teacher is not someone who is good at talking in front of people. I have seen shy teachers that made a greater difference in the lives of students than a skilled orator. Many skilled orators didn’t lead people to a good life. Just think about Hitler… I think that a good teacher should be a good leader and a righteous person who loves his students and wants them to make the best of their lives by giving them the right tools to meet that life with strength. I believe that flip class can offer this type of teaching and life preparation in a greater way than any lecture made by the greatest orator.

A word of warning.

Aaron Sams is right when he warns teachers on chemicalsams to be careful with the use of this type of teaching. He warns them not to take the principles of this teaching as a whole, religious and ritualistic technique, but as a philosophy on how to teach. I totally agree with Aaron Sams and, as Shelley Wright experienced and described in her article, I believe that flip class should be one of many steps and not something unique in itself. I believe that flip class should be a step leading to autonomous learning and strong teacher monitoring in a cooperative environment where students, having the right tools, could see the world a different way and be ready for what awaits them.


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This blog offers different topics and suggestions on ESL teaching.

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February 13, 2013 · 2:33 am