So You Have All these Apps – Now What

The proliferation of ipad apps can be equally exciting and overwhelming.  For the second time I’ve had an opportunity to share an “introduction to active ipad experiences” session in schools.  The goal was to provide staff with collaborative fun, hands-on experience with a large number of apps that might support a variety of content curricular areas.  All of this was done using the environment of “Amazing Race” (all Francine’s idea!). Though, I termed it more “Amazing Discoveries” to steer away from the competitive nature of the TV show.

Just imagine receiving envelops with instructions filled with QR Codes that take you to locations throughout a building, exploring specific apps to create,  talking  and learning with team members (actively connecting activities with students in classes)…   All I can say is the energy is electrifying!

Ultimately, one question always arises. “There’s so many apps on the ipad – just how do you expect me to learn it all!!”
Here’s my quick answer:  Don’t!    While it is important to attach deeper understanding to specific apps for specific purposes, sometimes the introduction can be offered within a framework of “discovery learning”.   For those of you who have access to an ipad cart or a group of iPads,  here’s an introductory process for both you and your class:

  1. Introduce ipad and policy for taking care of equipment (eg. how to handle the ipad, organization of taking out of cart and returning….)
  2. Arrange class in groups (collaborative conversation is key to going beyond superficial) with each group receiving an ipad
  3. Using your ipad (with a VGA cable to a projector) model – scroll through the pages of apps on the ipad, show default camera and some basics of screen capture, saving etc.
  4. Each team will select 1-3 apps to explore in depth.  [If you plan on allowing movement outside, set parameters and time limits.]   Keep a record of apps that each team has selected. It is ok that some teams will choose similar app combinations – their results will be quite different.
  5. As “experts”, develop a product or process [may be focused on a curricular area], which will be taught to the class  (eg. a video commercial that tells a sequence and with an embedded how-to). Criteria: Presentation is clear, succinct and leaves audience knowing what to do as well as an example of how it can be used.
  6. Set the last part of the period (or another day) to have student experts teach the class and explain any details.  The students (and you) take notes on apps they believe they can use for certain activities in future.  [eg. 2 columns: App Name; Examples of Use]
  7. RESULT:  You get to learn a large number of apps alongside the students.  And your connections become broader as you see how students view/use the apps.

If you have other activities you’ve tried in this area, please share.  Always looking to learn more.

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