One iPad… to start with

It's still very early days and our iPad's use is obviously limited by its uniqueness, as we only have the one tablet. However it is already showing great promise, not only being used in lessons, but also in allowing us to explore and develop different and innovative ways to provide our students with relevant content

Many of us look at schools in which there is 1:1 iPad or Netbook implementation and drool with envy. “If only our schools were as innovative” or, let’s face it, “as rich, as these other schools” we think to ourselves.

However, the other side of the coin is that many teachers also see iPads as nothing more than overrated books that glow. Is there no middle ground?

I think there is. Our department is currently assessing the potential impact of iPads in the classroom and, in order to do that, we have bought one. Just the one. For now. See how it goes.

You see, we feel that iPads are a great idea but we think that we need to develop pedagogically sound strategies and good practice before we consider buying any  more. Our only iPad is currently used as part of teacher-centred activities (boring, I know, but there’s more: read on) and as part of a carousel of activities in which students work in groups through a number of activities, one of which includes the use of our iPad.

The comic above, for example, was created in one of these activities using Comic Life, a fantastic and very reasonably priced iPad app.

It’s still very early days and our iPad’s use is obviously limited by its uniqueness, as we only have the one tablet. However it is already showing great promise, not only being used in lessons, but also in allowing us to explore and develop different and innovative ways to provide our students with relevant content.

The screenshots below were taken from a e-book (i-book?) we are working on that contains bespoke material to help our students learn about Transition to Democracy in Spain. The material was written using Pages (Apple’s answer to Word), which, in turn, allows document export in ePub format – the format you need to read it on an e-book reader.

If the e-book reader happens to be an iPad, then the export process also allows you to embed sound and video clips as well as pictures and text, bringing the subject to life in front of our very eyes.


Front Cover


Video with transcript and added note

So, the iPad certainly glows. And it is a book of sorts. However, it is also much more than a book that glows. I cannot wait to continue exploring its possibilities in my classroom.

What do you think? Do you or do you not iPad?

Cover photo by Leondel

José Picardo

José is Assistant Principal at Surbiton High School and a Fellow of the RSA and Naace. He is interested in improving education and the way technology can be used to enhance and transform teaching and learning. José has been curating Box of Tricks since 2007 and holds a MA in ICT and Education.

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  • Luann

    I have HP’s answer to the I-pad but the school I work for is not ready to invest in anything so “cutting edge”.  I am interested in what you have to say and I see real potential, but again it must be pedagogically sound.  I would very much be interested in following your school as it goes through the experimental process.

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  • Anonymous

    I am also trying to evaluate the iPad at school but our bursar wants to know full scale pricing for a rollout before she will agree to start assessing pedagogical usage. My solution was to buy my own one and start doing my own assessing.

    It’s a very good device but by no means perfect yet. A long way to go before it’s ready for school usage.

  • S Oleary

    We are introducing iPads at Year 9 (thirteen year olds) next year in spanish and we have been developing inquiry learning courses with a focus on both independent, individual exploration of the language and collaborative strategies.  This is driven by our new national curriculum’s emphasis on an altered pedagogical focus, more student and process driven than our current assessment focused teaching.  This paradigm shift has been demanding to implement, especially at a beginner level. However, the iPad has risen to the challenge, and we are implementing a range of apps, many free, which will enable greater access to a range of Spanish pronunciations in vocabulary acquisition. Podcasts are proving very useful also, especially Bueno espanol, but also others.  Many internet programs such as eduGlogster, the online poster publishers, are still getting apps together, as the rapid uptake by schools has caught everyone by surprise. I will keep watching your blog and try and link to mine.
    Sorrel Oleary
    TIC Spanish
    Orewa College
    New Zealand

    • Lhill

      Dear Sorrel,
      Would you be so kind to mention what are the apps that you are now implementing? We are a school for the arts in southern California, USA and I am interested in tying out all these new technology!
      Saludos afectuosos,
      Lidia Samayoa-Hill

      • S Oleary

        Hello Lidia,
        Not sure where to begin, but as an opening for beginners we are using the range of apps that offer alphabetization, then moving on to Qbooks such as Sally el ozo perezoso to give contextualized practice with hearing and producing letters. Other apps for use with beginners include Play to Learn series and ML series. Many of these are generic and available for other languages also.  Just enter Spanish into categories in the app store and you will have thousands to select from, depending on your course, level and content.

  • Ehill

    I too am carrying out the same research with a single android tablet in my science classes with very encouraging results.  I am doing this because a few of my students brought their own tablets to class and wanted to know how they could be useful.  I am finding out the answers!  Teachers need to be up with the play as technology advances.

    • Cgrant

      Hi! Could you tell me any really useful Science apps you have found, please?
      Many thanks

  • CA

    Thanks for sharing your expertise and insights.  We are continually learning from you.

  • Wik79

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s very interesting to read, as this is the beginning of such an exciting time for interactive books. A quick technical question, when you produced your book and saved it as an e-pub file, could you just add it to your own iBooks library on your computer or did you have to submit it through the Bookstore and get it from there?

  • Gayle Brownlow

    Your post gives some good suggestions for an innovative start to using IPads in the classroom.  I will further explore your blog to find other ways you’ve used this tool in your classes.  Thank you for your creative approach.

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  • Naida Mastin

    Informative suggestions , Coincidentally , if your company requires to combine PDF or PNG files , my boss encountered post here

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