Saturday, October 8, 2011

Highs, Lows, and In-Betweens

I've been meaning to do this for a while: quantify my successes and failures in this iPad experiment. To that end, I've created a google spreadsheet listing: my learning objective, the app or program used, the degree of success of failure and why; and finally, whether the function is iPad-only, or if the same fuction could be achieved on a p.c.

The Highs, Lows and In-Betweens will be a living document, updated as I continue to experiment in my iPad classroom.

Its purpose is to share this info with other edtechies (why recreate the wheel?) and to provide a more objective means (rather than raw elation, devastation & exhaustion) for me to evaluate the efficacy of iPads in a classroom lab setting.

So here are the highs and lows in summary, apple in all its sweet and sour glory, from the appletinis to the rot at the bottom of the bushel barrel:

First, the Appletinis:
  • Engagement: Students are clearly engaged. iPads are quick, intuitive, and sleek. With iPads in hand, students experience less of a disconnect between their worlds and their education. 
  • Apps: Apps are cool. And not just cool, effective. iPad apps are powerful consuming devices, and increasingly powerful creation tools. Again, quick, intuitive, and sleek. Who doesn't want these factors parading across their lives, their work, their "to do" lists?
  • Functionality: iPads have a ten hour battery life and are hand-held. They clearly allow for flexible seating, flexible grouping, and a generally spactious, comfortable space for students, a fact that does not go unnoticed by them.
Now, the rot at the bottom of the bushel barrel:
  • Flexibility: iPads don't don't play well with others, including biggies like Google Apps, FilesAnywhere, Dropbox, and all things Flash. These are major players and significantly limit what students can do.
  • Importing and Exporting: Importing and exporting student work is cumbersome at best; disastrous at worst. We know it's critical to focus on the learning, the writing, the thinking, but with iPads, logistics (import/export/printing) get in the way. 
  • 24/7 Learning: Students can use Apps while in class, but uless they own an iPad with the same App, it's impossible for them to work on it outside of class. Likewise, rarely do Apps allow easy transfer and storage of student work on a website or other format, so what's made on the iPad stays on the iPad.
  • Privacy: Lastly, there's no way to privatize or lock student work. The five students who use a particular iPad 5 different hours all share the same folders. All student work is available real-time for editing, moving, copying, deleting. Students have been respectful, but an occassional inadvertent deletion proves painful.
That's my assessment so far. For a more detailed version, see; the current Highs, Lows and In-Betweens spreadsheet which shall remain on the side-bar of my blog homepage. Feel free to peruse it throughout the year at your professional or voyeuristic will. As always, drop me a line if you'd like to chat about any of this.