Close to 75 people attended a full-day session here at our Model Schools offices on the use of iPads in education and how the devices can be used in classrooms to improve student engagement and achievement.
Here in our local region, the Scarsdale School District is leading the way. In a presentation titled “Five Apps for the Connected Classroom,” Director of Technology Jerry Crisci and instructor Ken Holvig gave an informative presentation on the many apps that can be used on this versatile device.
“This has taken off in so many different directions,” said Mr. Crisci, who suggested that collaborating with each other is how most educators will discover what is happening in school districts across the region.
To show how this lightweight tablet (the new iPad2 has a 10-hour plus battery life) can be used in education, the presenters gave a brief demo on their top five picks for the connected classroom.
Among them were Flipboard, an app that reformats content into a digital, interactive magazine format; Wikipanion, which is basically Wikipedia for the iPad; Google Earth, with its thousands of aerial and satellite photos, city names, country borders, photos, road maps, and so much more; Dragon Dictate, a voice recognition application that allows users to speak and then see the recording in a typewritten format; and Google Translate, a free translation tool.
The amount of resources that students and teachers have access to is growing, they noted. Take for instance, KhanAcademy.org, which allows students to watch, practice and literally learn anything online for free. iTunes University is one of their favorite apps. “In my opinion, it’s one of the best kept secrets out there,” said Mr. Holvig. There’s no denying this powerful resource. Right now, users have access to more than 350,000 free lectures, videos, films, and other resources, and it’s all free. Check it out at http://www.apple.com/education/itunes-u/.
Dr. Dan Brenner, superintendent of the Roslyn School District, rounded out the day’s session with a dynamic talk about his district’s experience in rolling out an iPad pilot at Roslyn High School. Last summer, the district gave tablets to a select group of teachers and then had them trained on the use of the device. In December, the iPads were given to about 50 students. In a recent article in Scholastic.com, Dr. Brenner said, “We gave it (the iPad) out because it was a device to serve our needs. What’s generated interested was the fact that it’s a cool toy. What got us moving is it serves our needs."
The district’s intention is to create a paperless classroom, with students having access to novels, class notes, documents, folder systems, and other textbooks online, avoiding the need to carry heavy books into class. Students also have access to district email accounts from their iPads, which they use to communicate with.
For more information on Roslyn’s exciting pilot project, visit http://wordpress.roslynschools.org/wordpress/.