Why iPads?

AMDSB is in the early stages of what has been termed “NGL”, or Next Generation Learning. Every AMDSB student from grades 7 to 9 has a board-issued iPad to enhance their education, and the program extends to grade 10 students in Mitchell and Clinton. Some may wonder why this program was initiated and Rick Saunders, a teacher with the NGL team, penned this very clear response to this question. Here it is:

 

There are a wide variety of teaching strategies that support student success. Each of these strategies is designed to help students achieve and build essential learning skills. Some examples include: purposeful feedback, promoting self-regulation, making learning collaborative, offering inquiry-based tasks and explicitly teaching thinking strategies. These approaches are proven to help students make real progress over the course of their education.

So, with all these robust strategies, why bring iPads into the mix? The answer to this question is that mobile technology amplifies each one of these teaching strategies, making them even more powerful.

For example, mobile technology makes providing feedback more dynamic. Text and audio feedback can be provided outside the regular school hours. Online tools allow feedback to be interactive and sharable.

Technology helps to promote self-regulation by providing students with organizational tools like digital calendars, reminders, alarms and online notifications. Using these tools, students can learn to better manage themselves, and the rhythm of projects, assignments, testing and deadlines.

Digital technology provides students with virtual collaborative spaces. Blogs, shared documents and online meetings offer forums to practice and build collaborative skills.

Technology can also support inquiry-based approaches to learning. With access to the internet, students have the collected knowledge of human history at their finger tips. When engaged by rich questions and guided by their teacher, this combination provides a powerful learning opportunity.

With regard to thinking strategies, technology doesn’t teach students how to think. It does, however, provide tools through which students can make their own thinking more visible. Multimedia platforms allow teachers and students to differentiate their presentations and reach a wider audience.

iPads, by themselves, are simply devices. But when linked to good teaching strategies, this technology can amplify the reach and impact of teachers. As such, iPads become a great way to support and magnify student achievement.