Today in Digital Technologies we explored the potential of mobile devices in the classroom and focussed on eBook creation.
There are a variety of mobile devices that could be considered for use in the classroom such as:
Over the years various different devices have been trialled by different schools and it would seem most often it is the iPad that has found its way in to the majority of classrooms. I think, having used an iPad personally for years with my children as they have grown this is most likely attributable to the vast availability of apps on this platform that can be used educationally. The apps are in general easy to navigate and manipulate and the device itself is multi-purpose. By this I mean the iPad is capable of being a camera, a video recorder and player, audio recorder and player, a note taker, with internet access it provides instant access to vast quantities of information and through the various apps well, just about anything you could want it to be. For example, a film making suite through the app iMovie or an interactive book designer through Book Creator. It is easily carried and with the use of appropriate casing, robust, therefore able to support learning in any environment the teacher desires.
In 2012 a pilot scheme was run in a number of schools spread across Scotland to establish what impact personal issue of an iPad to each child would have on their learning. The results of this scheme were documented in the iPad Scotland Final Evaluation Report by Burden, Hopkins, Male et al (2012) members of the Faculty of Education, The University of Hull. I found this document very interesting to read and was particularly drawn to the summary relating to primary school use. The report found “…there is little doubt that the ownership of a personal device, such as the iPad, significantly increases levels of motivation and interest shown by students in their work at school leading to greater engagement and autonomy by students.” (p.52) This is unsurprising to me as it is more reflective of the children’s lives outside the classroom where iPads/tablets/smartphones are an active part of their daily lives. Bringing the same technology in to the classroom will undoubtedly make the learning feel more relevant, interesting and accessible.
The main focus of our class today was on the use of eBooks through the app Book Creator on the iPad. Working in groups, we first discussed what we perceived an eBook to be and created a mind map. Moving on, our task was to create an eBook telling prospective UWS students why they should come to our university. Using the iPad, we went around the campus taking pictures to use for our book/brochure and then returned to the class to create our book purely because it was the quietest available space. We could have easily sat anywhere on the campus had we wanted to, that being the beauty of a mobile device. We decided on the layouts, background colours, text and started adding to the pages. It was easy to edit when we weren’t completely happy with the look and the app was easy to use (I have never used it before either).
Having this opportunity to be in the position of the learner I felt demonstrated to me how vast the opportunities are to be really creative and imaginative with this tool. I could see how in the hands of a younger learner it could encourage and even inspire them to create a text that, had they been given the more traditional tools of pencil and paper and sat at a desk may have stifled. Not only can literacy skill in terms of written word be encouraged but I can see how it allows the child to not only be a consumer of texts but a creator. It provides an insight in to how books are designed and created. This is in agreement with Eagle who states “Digital technologies have opened up new opportunities to learn about how texts are constructed. Whereas in the past, producing printed texts, animations and films required specialist technology and skills, new digital technologies have made it possible for people to produce all kinds of texts from their own homes. Using new technologies it should be possible to encourage children to acquire their own experience of being producers of texts, becoming involved in choosing to assemble resources to generate meanings”. (Eagle, 2008 p.12 cited in Beauchamp 2012). I think this succinctly summarises everything that is good about mobile devices and applications such a Book Creator, the barriers that they break down and the world that they have the ability to bring in to the classroom.
From a teaching perspective, I see that I could use these tools to create an excellent learning environment and numerous cross curricular activities. There are a number of Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes (Scottish Executive 2004) that could be related to this such as:
I regularly select and listen to or watch texts which I enjoy and find interesting, and I can explain why I prefer certain sources. I regularly select subject, purpose, format and resources to create texts of my choice. LIT 1-01a / LIT 2-01a
I enjoy creating texts of my choice and I regularly select subject, purpose, format and resources to suit the needs of my audience. LIT 1-20a / LIT 2-20a
I can present my writing in a way that will make it legible and attractive for my reader, combining words, images and other features. LIT 1-24a
I can explore digital technologies and use what I learn to solve problems and share ideas and thoughts. TCH 0-01a
I can explore and experiment with digital technologies and can use what I learn to support and enhance my learning in different contexts. TCH 1-01a
Beauchamp, G. (2012) ICT in the Primary School From Pedagogy to Practice Pearson: Harlow, England
Burden, Hopkins, Male, Martin, Trala (2012) iPad Scotland Final Evaluation Report University of Hull
Scottish Executive (2004) Curriculum for Excellence. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive