My husband is a computer programmer & lover of all things Apple. We are also dinks (double income, no kids). Therefore every time Apple releases a new product we pretty much become first-day adopters. This is how I find myself posting to my blog for the first time in several months via my brand new iPad mini:
Now, with the exception of accidentally posting prematurely, I have to say is device has me more excited than usual for potential use in education! A few reasons why I think the iPad mini may be a game-changer for teachers & students:
-size: the iPad was a big step in the right direction but the mini is even better: more lightweight, easy to hold in 1 hand, and for some reason easier to type on for me? Also there’s something to it being smaller than an iPad but larger than a phone that maintains its legitimacy as a learning tool- if I am not yet ready to allow my students to have their phones out at all times I can’t very well have mine out, even if it is for an educational reason. The iPad mini solves this problem- it’s clearly not a phone!
-iCloud: everything is everywhere all the time. While I recognize that as an early adopter, I may be further along this curve than most, I think its fair to say that in 5-10 years or so services like iCloud and Dropbox will have more or less eradicated the “I forgot it” excuse from learning environments. I also think that because kids will have the ability to work from almost anywhere we will see a gain in their engagement in learning outside of school & in their overall productivity!
-intuitive & fun to use: iPad mini’s size makes it fun to carry around and easier to slip out & use, particularly for receptive tasks like reading, than other devices. It’s interface is so similar to the iPhone & iPad that kids will have no trouble picking it up & intuiting how to use it from day 1. This may also be a great way to welcome teachers in who have historically been reluctant to use technology to augment their teaching.
-apps! As w high school spanish teacher I’m already thinking of apps I can use in the classroom to facilitate instruction with students and out of the classroom to enhance my professional productivity. A few that come to mind that I’ve used on other iOS devices & look forward to exploring on this new device include:
Dropbox – if you are a teacher & you’re not using this yet please contact me to invite you. Your life will be forever changed for the better- Dropbox allows you to sync your files between different computers & devices so that flash drives are a thing of the past. Imagine starting a document at home, saving it to your Dropbox, and finishing it at home that night. Then you log in to your classroom computer & your finished document is there too, ready for your lesson! Great stuff! Plus when you invite friends you get extra storage for free (they start you with 2 gigs free!)
Simplenote this is my go-to note-taking app for absolutely everything, from grocery lists to documentation of student needs and IEP info, to links to quotes & lesson ideas. It pairs well with Notational Velocity for a desktop app (syncs your notes via the cloud)
PowerTeacher Mobile- this is the grade book application used by my school district. The original iPad app wasn’t great (slow, not so intuitive) so I’m hoping it may have some improvements in place now. I actually find its mobile web app much more useful on a daily basis. You can find it by simply typing the normal URL for your attendance in safari & then saving it as a shortcut that winds up looking like an app on your iPad!
VoiceRecorder – sadly the native iPhone app didn’t get carried over but there are a wide variety of third-party apps available in the AppStore, including this one which appears to let you take notes within the app as well. This has a lot of potential for streamlining my oral assessment process with kids!
Doceri- remote desktop app with potential to be used as a wireless slate with your smartboard, this is another app that I tried a few years ago & was disappointed in but think may now be more fully conceptualized & easier to use. I love the idea of being able to walk around my classroom & write on my iPad mini & have it show up on my interactive whiteboard. Plus, I think this has a lot of potential for student engagement because teachers can simply pass the ipad off to students & have them contribute ideas that way. This year, in particular, I would really benefit from this feature, because my classroom is rather small & crowded & I have rather large classes, so it is just awkard at times for the kids to physically get up & walk to the smart board to write on it.
These are just a few of the ideas I have in mind! What so you think? Will the iPad mini become a part of your life as a teacher? If so, how do you plan on using it? Please share any thoughts or questions!