IPads are an incredibly powerful tool for teaching and learning, but as with any tool how it is used and deployed is what really proves its worth. In this blog we’re going to give you 5 quick tips on how to make your iPad work harder for you and your students.
There are hundreds of apps out there to support teaching and learning, but less can often be more. Really think about what your day-to-day tasks are and what your students actually need, then find apps which meet those needs. If you have too many apps you spend half your life trying to locate the one you need or trying to direct students to the right place. It also means you are less likely to get to grips and thoroughly use all the features of all these apps. Keeping things simple means less tech stress for everyone.
1x Core Teaching Platform app eg Sparkjar to support topic creation, the setting and marking of class and homework, and student assessment.
1x Core Business app eg Microsoft for colleague to colleague communication
1x Core MIS app eg BromCom so you can take registers etc from your iPad
(Max) 5x subject specific apps eg Garage Band to engage and enthuse students
This may grow over time, but the above is a good, manageable starting point for students and staff.
Technology should reduce cognitive load, not pile it on. Often tech can become stressful due to disorganisation – not being able to find where I saved something is a particular bug bear! Take the time to think through how you work and set up your software accordingly, eg the file system in a shared Microsoft workspace. Or better still, opt for a software which will automatically keep things neat and tidy. Sparkjar allows you to create topics for teaching and then under the topic store resources for students, set classwork, and homework. Once complete your student’s work is stored automatically in the right place, easy for them and for you.
One of the brilliant things about technology is how it has opened new ways to support and collaborate with one another. If you create a great teaching resource there are bound to be other teachers in your school or MAT who would like to use it. Make sure you set up an easy way to centrally store tried and tested resources, even if it’s just within your department to start off with. Another cool way to use iPads to collaborate, is to utilise a secure video platform to invite expert guests virtually into the classroom. It could be an external acting coach from the local theatre, or a maths specialist from another school, either way doing it via secure video gives flexibility and reduces cost and time burdens, whilst still delivering an innovative and engaging experience for students.
The beauty of having mobile devices as a part of your school offering is they provide a great way to communicate. From teacher moderated chat sessions so groups can work on homework, to screen casting a live whiteboard as you annotate it, to recording in-depth verbal feedback, there are lots of ways to boost communication both in and out of the classroom. We have particularly noticed that those students who are often reluctant to ask for help, will use their 1-2-1 chat function in Sparkjar to ask their teacher for support. Just make sure that the platform you are using is designed for the school environment and needs.
Schools have a unique set of needs, so make sure your technology is appropriate and secure. By choosing iPads, your school has already created a layer of built-in security, but as a teacher you need to consider how secure the apps are which you add to your device, especially the ones which you will be using to teach and which your students will have access to. Make sure that any apps you use have been designed from the ground up to be used in a school setting.
Some questions you could ask yourself are:
Is this designed specifically for schoolteachers?
Are there any dark corners where students could behave inappropriately?
Do I need to fiddle with a lot of settings to make sure that only appropriate people can access our account?
We’ve come full circle, because if you choose technology which is designed for the school environment and keep things simple, your iPad will revolutionise the way you teach and how your students learn.
If you would like a visual overview of all the Sparkjar features for iPad schools, request your copy here.
Or get in touch with any questions and to see how Sparkjar can supercharge your teaching and learning.