Before I get into the details of this blog post you may have noticed that the title looks different than my previous entries. Yes? No? Here's a hint - the numbers are different. Not just on the number of the module, but on the iPad as well. I have managed to get my hands on an iPad three, not permanently, unfortunately. I am already addicted to the clearer retina display and the better quality camera. The differences end there for me at the moment (until I have more time to play) unless you also include the longer battery life, but I suspect that has more to do with the age of the two iPads. Another interesting note is that the Chrome browser on the iPad is unable to download the course materials into iBooks.
The iLe@rn App Framework
For the purpose of this post I have been investigating the iLe@rn App Framework and how it can be used to help select and evaluate Apps for learning.
Of course there are many apps out there but not all of them are engaging and / or encourage higher order thinking. One area in particular I know my students could improve on is in their reflective skills. I teach Visual Arts as well as Information and Software technology and Multimedia, all subjects which lend themselves to project based work and require students to reflect on what they and others have done and achieved. I require all students in these subjects to keep blogs or digital journals and this fits in perfectly with the Reflective Skills section of the iLe@rn App Framework.
I have seen an improvement in students' communication skills by moving to using Google Sites to record the progress of their work but they still struggle with writing reflective statements. I am going to trial using the iMovie App, the camera and voice record on the iPad to allow students to respond in a form other than writing.
For my own teaching I love using neu.annotate+ to write on student work to provide formative feedback. I am able to take a photo of a student's art work or project and add typed and hand written notes as well as use shapes and symbols to annotate and provide feedback and suggestions. Where I would like to go to now is have students do the same on their own work and that of others. Many of the boys I teach are forever looking for new ways to use technology so the plan is to engage students with the device and Apps and they will improve their learning despite themselves.
The activity in Module 3 that I spent the most time working through and gained the most from was the section linking apps to the sections of the iLe@arn Apps Framework. I have come to the conclusion that there are some aspects of learning that some students will always rebel against. A major area of contention, especially with boys is reflection and yet it needs to be done to cement learning and improve. Mobile devices and Apps by their nature engage those reluctant learners and while sometimes the apps may not tick all the boxes in the evaluation scaffolds, they at least start the ball rolling.
The video below shows an app that was made by one of my Year 10 IST student a few years ago. It's not world breaking but the aim was for him to learn how to use X-Code and he was very proud of what was achieved. It would have been really handy for Paul to have had access to an App Evaluation scaffold like Kathleen Shrock's CRITICAL EVALUATION OF AN IPAD/IPOD APP to help him build the concept, before even beginning the build.