Ipad as a tool for students?

Of course I’m going to get myself an ipad sometime in the forseeable future and enjoyed StephenFry’s piece on this new tool in TIME last month. Maybe for me it will be the second generation version, when the bugs like wireless dropping out have been fixed, but I must admit I wasn’t really seeing the ipad as a tool for students in the classroom.

As a long time proponent of the 1-1 computer version of learning, I couldn’t see the point in giving kids a relatively under-powered device that lacked the content creation facilities of a decent notebook computer. Our students get the full version of Office, large chunks of the Adobe Master Collection including Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat Pro along with a suite of other software like Inspiration, Photo Story and some tablet-specific things like Ink Art. We’re looking at flash drive based machines running Windows 7 that start up quickly and can multi-task with ease, as the students can too!

But I was talking to an educator yesterday who was pretty enthusiastic about the Ipad as a learning device, particularly for younger students. And that was something I hadn’t thought about, concentrating as I was on students like my senior Literature class who have been using OneNote as their note-taking tool and collaborating on multiple wikis.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to this post by Will Richardson, which has a video conversation with NY TImes columnist Warren Buckleiter, who talks enthusiastically about the potential of the ipad for younger students: the power of its tactile nature and the growing range of possible apps. The conversation is here:

C.A.T Curriculum

I didn’t think I’d find it online, but after reading Waleed Ali’s piece on the National Curriculum in the latest issue of The Monthly, (more on that piece later if I can actually figure out what he is arguing) I went looking for Julia Guillard explaining the return to basics (basics +) emphasis on our new future looking curriculum. Anyway, I went looking and found it.  This is the vision for a new National Curriculum. Be afraid.

Did she really say ‘Children will be learnt to read …’?

PLNs; why connect?

One of my goals this year is to promote the concept of PLNs (professional or personal learning networks) as a core component of future teacher learning in the connected world. These two videos take up some of the concepts around ‘why connect?’ in very different ways.

The first is from a blog I just discovered from Shelley Terrell with the great name, Teacher Reboot Camp. She’s a promoter of PLNs and now in my Google Reader feed list!  It’s a short, emotional, compelling video about the value of connection.

The second is from a blog called The Lives of Teachers by Darren Elliot. It’s a longer, more reflective piece, with audio, and sourced in some detail and talks through some of the thinking about connectivity and learning in a modern world. I recommend you watch and listen to them both!

Learning Score

I’ve been thinking a bit recently about curriculum documentation and planning, particularly the templates and structures we give to teachers to help organise, and collate, compare and evaluate, curriculum. It’s something I’m coming back to after a couple of years focusing on the ‘delivered’ curriculum through pedagogy.

So, I was interested when a colleague excitedly told me about Learning Score, a kind of musical metaphor for lesson planning, which I intend exploring. An introductory video is below:

The Education Revolution

Video promoting the NSW component of the ‘Digital Revolution’, the 1-1 notebook (or netbook) program. NSW, which originally seemed unenthusiastic about the Federal Government’s plans to give each student a computer (where’s the infrastructure) seems committed now. Scott McLeod calls it a great idea in his recent blog post, and it’s hard to argue with putting powerful tools in the hands of our students.

Flip Video


Got my hands on very interesting little gadget this week; the FLIP video camera. Not available in Australia yet (thanks Teresa for organising a USA pick-up) except on e-bay (which I’m never going to use again after their recent paypal fervour) this little gadget is about the size of pack of cigarettes (remember them?), runs on A4 batteries, takes an hour of pretty good quality video, costs about $150US and is ridiculously easy to use. No more brackets I promise!

When I say ‘pretty good’ I wouldn’t want to put it on a wide-screen HD TV but it’s more than acceptable for web use or viewing on your computer. And no cords or cables!; the USB thing just ‘flips’ out and it plugs into your USB port, with software built into the camera.

I can see heaps of opportunities for classroom use of this tool. Group work, oral presentations and no big and bulky video camera sitting in the corner dominating the room. You could shoot short plays or ‘news’ for students and of course students could use it themselves to make video presentations for each other or the class, all of which are editable in programs like Movie Maker of Studio.

There’s plenty of examples of the video that comes out of this camera on the web. There’s a CNET review HERE and below is a 10 minute YouTube review of the FLIP from GeekGirlTV: