I work in a well-funded high school library. Our technology department decided to add an I pad cart to our library to support student learning. The cart contains 25 I Pads and is used by a variety of classes. It is not used every day or week. It is mostly used by our Social Studies department, and in particular, one or two teachers within that department. It is also used by teachers who have been advised by me to give some apps a try within their class curriculum. Surprisingly, the foreign language department in our high school uses devices quite frequently and are very savvy about their apps, but do not use the I pads that frequently, preferring instead the laptops cart because of the need for Flash for many of their online apps or programs. That is one weakness I have found with using the I pads in the classroom.
Apps are great and I like them very much. I use them every day on my own personal device. I think that we need to lean towards a policy where we can ask students to find and use apps on their own. It is difficult for an institution to devise policies to govern devices. I have found many obstacles to getting the I pads used to their full potential. The main problem is that many teachers want to use paid apps and there has to be a procedure and policy in place where teachers may a. request paid apps b. have their requests approved and c. get the paid apps on the I pads. This puts a strain on the technology staff, who are sadly understaffed and really don’t have the time to get these requests approved and accomplished. I have requested paid apps and the requests have gone unanswered. I suspect this is because of a time issue where this minor request was low on the priority list in such a huge district.
I think the time has come where we need to find a way to get the students to bring their own devices or procure their own devices and have them load the apps that might be useful in school.
That being said, the free apps that are available are many and are very useful in the school environment. We have made good use of the cart of I pads that we have been given and we use them for everything from astrology labs (Using Go Skywatch) to child development (Using a Pregnancy tracker app called “I’m Expecting” – an I Phone app that works on the I pads). These have been cost effective uses of the technology and have provided invaluable information that has supplemented and enriched the coursework and curriculum of these classes.
There are so many apps out there that it is fun to discover what is out there and bring it to the teaching staff and students, but it can also be frustrating when there are so many apps, so little time for loading along with all of the daily stresses and strains of daily school life.
I work hard to keep up to date on new apps, try to find the great freebies and bring this enrichment to my school. There are just some things to think about when you are using I pads and apps in our classrooms…