So give them something to do…

So give them something to do…

I’ve done a few 1:1 implementations in my time – firstly with laptops, but now across schools with iPads, which is not necessarily any harder or easier, but just a different kind of approach. Anyway, I thought I would spend a few lines documenting some of the major issues that I’ve come across in my work thus far.

1. They won’t put their iPads down…

This is probably the biggest issue that I hear – and I’ll be honest, we’ve all been in this situation at some point. You know what I’m talking about. There you are, desperately trying to explain something to the class, and you end up spending half of your lesson telling students to put the iPad down, stop playing games, get off Minecraft and so on and so forth. Big problem, right? And every time you get one section of the class focussed, you end up addressing another group – so that, by the time the lesson is over, you’re a frazzled mess and you’re wondering what’s the point of you teaching at all if no-one is listening to you.

Trust me. I’ve been there.

But here’s the thing. The real issue is that teachers compete with the iPads. And even when they are not competing with the iPads, they’re competing with phones… or anything else. Distraction is not new for students – since the day of ink wells and slate tablets, students have tried to do anything but what the teacher wants them to do.

The solution is not a blanket ban. Sure, that might work for a bit, but kids find their ways around the ban somehow. And ultimately, you’re not doing their long term future any good, are you? These distractions are going to be there when they’re older. So, a radical proposal: why not try to make use of the distraction? Make use of the distraction. In other words, give them something to do on their iPads. Don’t muck around with the old-fashioned approaches to teaching and learning. Don’t expect them to put their stuff to one side and copy off the board. Don’t expect textbooks to hold their interest.

Instead, throw all that to one side, and let the iPad drive the learning. Of course, you’ve still got to plan and prepare and resource the lesson, but plan, prepare and resource for the lesson to use iPads at every step of the way.

I know, it’s a big jump, but it’s not as big as you think. You might be worried about things like note-taking skills or essay writing. Sure, they are still important, but why don’t you allow a backchannel via twitter? Or have collaborative essay writing via Google Docs? Same skills (in fact, more skills) but done on the iPad.

Next time:

2. They won’t stop playing games…