Blog 20: iThink Therefore iPad 2013

Wow.  I have 20 minutes to get this down, so here goes...

It's been 24 hours since the ITTIP13 Conference at Manchester Central (formerly GMex) and, once again, my head is still spinning from the bombardment of ideas, innovation and enthusiasm on display here.

Now, before you judge me as being one of these 'iPad this, 'Pad that' kind of guys, I must state that I have experimented with a range of tablets and mobile devices in my class room, so I do have a basis for comparison.  I must state, however, I am extremely pro-iPad, with good reason.  Not just because of the effect they've had on my own pupils, but because of the possibilities. iPads don't hold the answers, but they provide an exciting way to find them.  Creativity and adoption are key.

Back to the conference.  I arrived to listen to Charles Leadbeater () deliver an extremely thought provoking speech, in which he compared Apple to Christianity, technology to wine and something (I can't remember) to the Hungarian Football team.

If last year opened my eyes to the possibilities of iPads in school, this year stretched them wide and propped them open with match sticks, mainly thanks to Mike Barnes, Headteacher of Flakefleet Primary School, Blackpool (@flaketweet).

I had the pleasure of visiting this school just prior to it's new build, roughly 9 months ago. At the time I think they had 7 staff iPads. They are now pushing 200 iPads, plus 140 iPod touches. The diversity with which iPads are being used was amazing.  I was struggling to keep up with my note taking, but here's what I got...

  • Registration, tracking, parental contact etc. (ie. SIMS) was stored on an app called Emerge, which requires subscription to GroupCall. This means that all possible information a teacher needs is in one place, in the teacher's hands, removing the need for bulky tracking documents, paper registers, fire registers, parent text services that must be done via the office, etc.
  • Parent Evening appointments booked via roombookingsystem.co.uk: parent's make appointments online and it automatically organises appointments
  • Pupil rewards and sanctions using Class Dojo app
  • Pupil notes kept on 'Numbers' stored on iPads
  • Shared calendars stored on iPad and displayed on staff room monitor
  • Memos and schedules sent electronically
Mike stressed the stresses of managing this quantity of gadgets. Ho do you sync so many? How do you share apps? (Apple Volume Purchasing Programme).

He also showed us other changes at his school, including the scrapping of whiteboards and the introduction of learning walls (Ideas Paint) and Apple TV.

It was an amazing transformation and appears, so far, to be a successful and worthwhile one.

The main app that was being 'bigged up' this year was Book Creator (£1.99)

Used superbly for:
Sharing writing
Annotating and self assessing video performances
Creating work books for pupils to work through and edit
Narrating story maps

Other apps mentioned were:

  • Uber Sense- great for analysing video technique, especially in PE
  • My script calculator- hand write a sum or formula and it works it out for you, including what 'x' may be!
  • Simple Mind Map-pretty self explanatory
  • Showbie- set and collect pupils' assignments
  • Star Tracker HD- track the stars.... in HD
  • I annotate- PDF annotator. Great for electronic marking
  • Numbers- use of forms and spreadsheets for pupil data
  • 2Simple EYFS- build Early Years profiles electronically
  • QR Codes- link on worksheets for extension activities
  • Aurasma- use augmented reality to bring your classroom to life
  • Popplet- mind mapping collaboratively
  • Book People- purchase and sync electronic books
  • Intro Designer- create free movie intros
  • Red Laser QR Scanner
  • Flickr Studio
  • Kids Paint by Fizzios
  • Puppet Pals HD- animation
  • ipadrepairs.co.uk- erm?
  • Grid player- communication
CPD and sharing idea: SPEED DATING
Staff to have a certain amount of time (e.g. 1 term) to get to grips with the iPad and it's apps.  Sit in twos for 3 minutes each and share. Bell rings and swap.  Better still, involve the pupils!  This could be applied tomany things, not just iPad sharing.

Overall it was a fantastic day, giving me plenty of ideas and reassuring me that what I've done so far is worth it.

I'd very strongly recommend it for anyone using, or thinking of using, iPads in class.

Thanks to Mike Barnes (@mcbcestrian), Charles Leadbeater (@LeadbeaterCh), Stephen Heppell (@stephenheppell), M. Bunyan (@mbunyan) and the many more fantastic presenter and young leaders sharing ideas.

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