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Advice for Using iPads in School

June 21, 2013
by Kate Davey
In recent years, the iPad has become an integral tool in the classroom. From interactive books to helping students with autism communicate better, iPads allow teachers to engage with their students at a different level than traditional means.

Ways To Use iPads In the Classroom

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Slate’s Lisa Guernsey visited the Zurich International School (ZIS), a private school in Switzerland that has given an iPad to each of its 600 students from kindergarten through eighth grade. She found that teachers were using the iPads as a way to record what students experienced in the classroom, rather than use if for apps. In this way, students show how much they have learned as they go along in the year.

As second grade teacher Sam Ross told Guernsey, the benefits are seeing children being able to show their progress in a visible and oral way. “Children are being able to show what’s in their minds by adding the oral explanation,” he said. “That’s off-the-charts amazing.”

In Edutopia, high school principal Ben Johnson looks at what websites and apps he would use if he had 30 iPads in his classroom. He highlights the app Field Notes LT, which allows students to attach videos and voice recordings as observations for any field or science project. Johnson considers the iPad a great tool for teachers and students alike to interact on projects, assignments and even tutoring.

Edutopia’s Andrew Marcinek covers six examples of iPad integration in the 1:1 classroom. One teacher tweeted to Marcinek that she had students select a scene from their favorite chapter in L'Affaire Québécoise to make a video and upload it their YouTube account. 

As Discovery’s Nina Holmberg explains, iPads allow for teachers to create a paperless classroom where students use iPads rather than paper for their coursework. Teachers are able to get immediate test results as students are taking their tests rather than taking the paper tests home.

Studies Supporting iPad Use In Classrooms

High school teacher and education blogger Richard Byrne offers a great overview of studies that support the use of the iPads in the classroom. One of the studies Byrne highlights is “iPads for Learning—In Their Hands,” a field trial by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development in Victoria, Australia. The study shows that there was more success using iPads in primary (elementary) and special schools than in secondary schools (high schools). The study also stresses that quality teaching and support are also necessary to achieve successful use of iPads in the classroom.

Further, a study by Apple and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt found that students did better in math when using tablets. Specifically, they found “20 percent more students (78 percent compared to 59 percent) scored ‘Proficient’ or ‘Advanced’ in subject comprehension when using tablets rather than paper textbook counterparts.”
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