Earlier today I attended my first general assembly as a student teacher in an elementary school in l’Ancienne Lorette, Québec. The meeting seemed to go by quite well until the principal came up with an issue that seemed to bring about couples of diverging responses on the part of the teachers. What the principal proposed was to use the extra money they had for the school to buy Ipads. No matter how interesting and innovative the proposition appeared to me, I realized that it is not easy for teachers who have a solid established curriculum to live with the constant technological evolution of the educational world. Especially for these teachers who have more than twenty years of teaching experience on their hands. Indeed, the only teachers that demonstrated any enthusiasm to the idea were the youngest ones, which should not be any surprising to me. As the older teacher went on expressing their frustration toward the darn computers and the projectors and then this need to constantly adjust to new teaching tools, one teacher, the physical education teacher, stood up and told them how they did not realize how beneficial the Ipads could be to their teaching approach. It ended up, indeed, that they had no idea how integrating this new tool to their class could make a significant difference.
I left the meeting with hundreds of questions in my head. How could Ipads make teaching any better? How can I integrate it in my ESL lessons and how does it improve traditional teaching methods? Can Ipads be introduced to students as young as those at the primary level? How can the limited number of Ipads per class be handled?
I made a research myself and I could conclude that the use of Ipads in the classroom really has no limit. No matter the educational level of the student, what appears to come across every article I read about Ipad’s use in educational environments is that it allows an instant shift from a teacher-centered classroom to a child-centered classroom. In other words, classroom are no longer proceeded as a teacher standing in front of the class delivering material to be taught. It becomes the teacher giving broad directives and the children become actively engaged in their learning.
There are more and more educational applications available on Ipads, which can be used in the classroom. I looked for ones that could promote the teaching of ESL.
Ipads can also be used to improve the beneficial effect of other teaching tools I mentioned in previous posts by placing them directly in the hands of the students. Indeed, there are apps for Prezi, Voicethread, and IMindmap. For instance, students would have their own electronic version of a Prezi presentation while the teacher is presenting it with a projector or on the IWB.
The Ipad can be used to carry over activities that involve cooperative learning. With apps such as note taking and chalkboard ones, it is easy to have the students write down notes and have them save it on the Ipad. They can reach to it the next class. No excuses. Forgetting the sheet at home is no longer a valuable excuse.
There is an app that is called IBook to which it is possible to download electronic books, which is a lot cheaper than buying paper books. There are even schools in which the textbooks are all digital, hence there is no need for carrying all the heavy textbooks in the schoolbags. Everything is found on the IPad.
Ipads are the future in education. I am sure one day every student from the elementary level and above will own his Ipad. I believe it will constitute the center of all educational activities in any class, be it in the Math classroom or in the ESL classroom.