“Do we get to use the iPads today Ms. Kwan?” Lately, this is the frequent question I’m asked by my learners as they come into my classroom. No longer do I hear “What are we doing today?” As part of my inquiry into helping guide my learners with more AFL strategies I realized very quickly that one of my favourite social tools, my iPad2 may be the perfect communicative bridge for student engagement, interactive multi-media learning and meaningful learning. Youth already possess skills to interact on these social devices. Fortuitously, my area District Principal of Learning Technologies, Audrey Van Alstyne has been working closely with me by supporting me with an iPad cart from The iPad Project. I see my role as the project team leader in our school as a two-fold opportunity: to experiment with different technologies in order to make informed recommendations for technology purchases for our new school and to experiment with these devices to see whether this particular technology will promote student learning. I wonder if a classroom with iPads as learning tools would help me with my inquiry. Will iPads, used judiciously and with learners (and not technology) as the focus, help students discover the joys of learning for learning’s sake?
In my school, I have come across several teachers who believe technology is a distraction– which I agree it can be if it is treated as a gimmick where lessons are technology centred and not learner focused. Mayer makes a clear distinction between the two ways technology can be integrated into a classroom. There is the “technology centred” classroom where the focus is onwhat technology can do. The technology becomes a means to access instruction. Online instruction comes to mind when I think of this. The goal is to use the technology for teaching. Then there is “learner-centred” technology where the focus is on how the human mind works. Technology in this classroom is used to assist human learning. The goal in this case is to adapt the technology to promote learning. This learner-centred focus is the type of scenario I envision to occur in my classroom with the iPad project. Mayer says that a valuable feature of technology used appropriately in the classroom whether it is television, projectors, cd players or chalk and chalkboard is the advantage that it “allows for the presentation of multimedia instructional messages” (2001-2009). With iPads or laptops as learning tools, pictures, animation, music and words can be presented in a format that is easily accessible to learners and furthermore allows for greater “interactivity, computational power, graphic rendering and information retrieval that may not otherwise be feasible”.
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