Teacher’s Trial by Tech – Staff Engagement Success?

There’s no doubt about it, the iPad is a desirable product. Now the new staff have one it is clear excitement and enthusiasm abound. Despite initial resistance and concern, staff have already asked for increased support and content.

This is a short post to highlight anything we have learned over the past three months relating to staff engagement.

Recommended approach

  • Allow staff to see iPad’s in use with students over a long period of time
  • Make it a voluntary trial
  • Target students for training and allow staff to catch up as they see fit
  • Offer support as often as possible and again ensure it is voluntary
  • Have an email support dedicated to helping with use (encourages email on iPad)
  • Email ‘how to’ links for desired functionality and apps
  • Build up a bank of resources to help with understanding pedagogy and implications – Evernote really helped here
  • Remember the device is not intuitive if there has been no exposure to touchscreen technology.

Lesson’s Learned

  • Wireless network is first financial consideration
  • Increase budget for Apple support – wireless/proxy-server issues/account set-up and trouble-shooting servers
  • Demonstrate iPad enhancing learning to SLT and governors very early in process
  • Socrative and ExplainEverything are perfect for initial presentation
  • Prepare for any question as new technology is intimidating for some staff
  • Smile and nod towards any sceptics!
  • If in doubt ask your PLN – you know who you are – and thank you

There is a real difference between witnessing students in your own class engaging with technology and explaining this to colleagues. Where possible staff need to observe the technology in use and this is difficult to make time for. Failing this any students need to be comfortable with the learning styles as sceptical staff will inevitably ask their opinion.

There are so many applications that lead teachers/departments must be consistent with use and encourage students to use appropriate language in relation to their learning. The link between the technology and learning is difficult for some and students can be pivotal in changing opinion.

The next two weeks will allow staff to discover new applications and possible uses for the iPad. It will be interesting to see if the term ‘guided discovery’ relates to staff learning.

Next step – two days training with Ian Wilson (iPads in Education) for staff and students involved in the trial.

Teacher’s Trial by Tech – 1:1 Parent Presentation and App selection

What a difference a week makes. Same presentation, different audience and the response couldn’t be more different.

Alongside setting up all teacher iPads and the 30 student iPads, we presented to interested parents to ensure they have had an input to the project.

The obligatory safety concerns and user agreements were discussed around the practical demonstrations. iMovie and Explain Everything were well received but centre stage again belonged to Socrative. Parents very quickly understood implication of assessing students at any point in a lesson and the feedback was extremely positive. In fact, I believe they would have signed up purely so their child could use Socrative in lessons!

In contrast to teachers, parent questions revolved around learning and presentation issues. (Little time was spent discussing safety, which may be a consequence of the very thorough user agreement.) As the application of Evernote, Dropbox and Edmodo became clear, the enthusiasm in the room was tangible on both evenings. Again this led me to wonder about the initial staff reaction but I will reserve judgement until after the Easter break.

Riding this wave of positivity the set-up of student iPads felt like a breeze!!! Selected trial apps include

The thinking behind these apps centres on usage and discovery. We believe ‘ownership’ of the programme will only be achieved if staff and students realise the intuitive nature of the technology will enhance learning. We would love to come back to the summer term with many confident iPad users desperate for more information and app suggestions!!!

Students will not be allowed to download apps at this point but all iPads have been set up to one account for ease of pushing new apps to all devices. Any staff apps that are downloaded will appear on every staff device to encourage discovery and use over the holiday period (there is a contingency fund set up within the account for payment). This leads me to the next blog topic that will include tips for anyone attempting an iPad trial including the need for enough IP addresses!

Please comment if you have any advice on implementing a 1:1 programme or would like to discuss the set-up of this trial.

Teacher’s Trial by Tech 1:1 iPad – Student Competence

After the problems with a 1:1 programme being so quickly pointed out by staff, this week the focus changed to students. It is clear some staff may struggle with implementation of the iPad to enhance learning so I will turn to the children for help.

Alongside internet access the staff are being introduced to Socrative, Explain-Everything and Edmodo for the initial use of iPads. The hope is that the simple start will encourage discovery and a desire to find subject specific apps to enhance learning (I have a list ready and waiting for them if they show willing).

However, I quickly realised this week that the year 7 students (12 year olds) hold the key to use in class. Five of the students were shown Explain-Everything and the ease with which they produced a short presentation highlighted that a teacher need only set up the objective as the children are quick technology learners. If I can ensure the 30 students in the trial are comfortable with iPad use and the chosen apps it should make the teachers’ implementation a little easier.

Luckily, I see the class twice a week and already have a blog/Skype project in the pipeline with a school in America which should promote curiosity and excitement. Therefore, my new objective is to ‘train’ the students quickly so teachers can use phrases like:

  • Using Explain-Everything, you have 20 mins to construct a one slide storyboard about . .
  • Open your Socrative app and answer the question . . .
  • Upload your work to Edmodo now please.

If the students understand how to use the technology this should allow any issues to be quickly rectified at source. It should also mean that teachers will learn alongside the students rather than having to help them with the technology. Learning should be the focus of the teacher so the students need to be comfortable with the tech.

Controversially, I would now recommend conducting a trial where the students receive the iPads first and use them with a couple of trained staff. This would then allow the iPads to support learning in other subjects and teachers wouldn’t need to worry about student use. The students have more time and desire to use the new technology and the process would have been easier to implement if enthusiasm had been driven by the learners.

Hopefully we will be able to train the students to help concerned staff with iPad implementation without them realising it. I understand that this may be threatening to some staff, but I hope the long term benefits will outweigh any initial concern.