With a wealth of information at their fingertips, how can students use the iPad to appreciate resources?
Like most of us, instructional technology specialist Daniel Callahan isn’t a big fan of most of the eMail he receives, but on occasion he receives a message in his inbox that makes him smile. “Every once and I while I get an eMail because a second grader wrote something in Google Drive and they shared it with me—and not because they were working on something with me, but because they wrote something and they were proud of it and they wanted to share it with me,” Callahan said.
It’s moments like these that comprise Callahan’s greater argument for using iPads in the classroom. Next year, his Burlington Public School district in Massachusetts will become entirely one-to-one. In the past two, he has helped implement iPads gradually: the first year with fourth and fifth grade, and this year with first grade. On a given day, Callahan can walk the halls and see the effects: first graders researching the solar system by watching videos on their devices, fourth graders using math apps to practice skills, a fifth grade class writing in Google Drive. In all of this, Callahan bears witness to the ways iPads foster curation and connection—both in the digital realm and in the physical world.
“Part of the way [the iPad] has helped build community is that it’s been a really great learning experience for teachers and students, especially in the first year, when we were piloting. They were all in it together,” Callahan said.
Technology, particularly Google Drive, has become a central part of day-to-day communication. Within the Google Drive app, students can create folders, documents, and spreadsheets that can all be shared and worked with collaboratively–in real time directly or asynchronously–from an iPad. Students working in groups have the ability to create not only a Google Document to collaborate on the writing process, but they can also upload PDF files (and other file types) to a collaborative folder. “Google Drive has been an absolutely essential part of keeping everybody connected and working together, or really the whole Google suite,” Callahan said.
Schools like Dan’s realize that Curation, the intentional selection, organizing, and maintaining of works or artifacts, is an increasingly important skill in the digital world. With the wealth of knowledge and information accessible through a network connection and a few taps, students must not only be able to navigate and evaluate what they find, but they must they also be able to curate effectively. With information at the user’s fingertips, and apps that allow for interaction, shelving, tagging, and personalization, the iPad can allow students to create an organized network of learning resources that can seamlessly integrate with resource networks of other students and teachers.
(Next page: How are educators like curators?)