Cycle 3: iPad Trials in the WAB High School

We are now in Cycle 3 of our Collaborative Action Research iPad trials in the High School here at WAB. We are exploring how to use the iPad for transformative learning. Our research question is: In which areas is an iPad a better learning tool than the MacBook Pro?

In May 2013 we completed the analysis of Cycle 2 of our Action Research iPad project. We found that:
  • For a school that is already 1:1 MBP, the iPad does not outperform the computers in most areas. As one teacher put it, “MacBooks are the real workhorse,” and the student data reinforces that, with over half of students either unsure or disagreeing that iPads are an effective learning tool.
  • The areas where the iPad outperformed the MBP were in areas where the iPad was used at the redefinition level of the SAMR model. The iPad allowed for the creation of new tasks, which were previously inconceivable, even on the MBP such as using Coaches Eye and NearPod.
  • While we initially believed institutional ownership of the iPads would not be viable, given the iPads individualized nature, if only used for specific, transformative tasks, iPad carts seem a more reasonable way to go, rather than implementing 2:1 policy for 2013-14.
  • By far our biggest surprise lay in the power of the action research process to create a community of empowered learners.  Almost without fail, when surveyed as to the highlight of this project, for them, teachers replied, “Sharing ideas,” “It was interesting to see how different teachers utilized the iPads in their classroom,” and “Teachers from different departments work together, share ideas, and inspire each other. You can think out of box that iPads can be used in different ways in different subjects.”
Thus, we feel the need for another cycle, exploring how to use the iPad for transformative learning. We started in December 2013 and will publish our findings in May 2014. The course is available through iTunes U and is based on the course we developed for Cycle 2 with considerable revision. 

The iTunes U Mac 101 Beijing Project

This article was authored collaboratively using Pirate Pad by the students from BCIS, Dulwich College Beijing, RDFZ XISHAN SCHOOL and Western Academy of Beijing.

iTunesUMac101

The WAB Geek Force iTunes U Project Team

On September 26th, 2012, students from Beijing City International School, Dulwich College Beijing, Ren Da Fu Zhong Xishan, and the Western Academy of Beijing met together at the Apple Executive Briefing Center in Beijing to initiate a new one-of-a-kind project, Mac 101. It’s goal was to teach educators in the worldwide community the basics of using Apple products such as the MacBook or the iPad to effectively utilize them in an educational context. And as a team, we aspired to achieve this target through producing a concise and didactic iBook and planning a full session dedicated to training teachers as well as others who need technological assistance.

In addition to some cool features available to Macs, the students were given a brief insight on what its like to be an educator: somebody with massive demands on their time, with little or no inclination to keep in touch with technology, much less spend time learning about it. In response to this, students learnt ways on how to effectively convey why technology is an important aspect of not only daily life, but also education. A short presentation was given detailing how something that is often overlooked, the Reader tool for Safari, could be of significant use in reducing the stress experienced by teachers through making their jobs easier, as well as enhancing the classroom experience. Furthermore, students were briefed on the advantages of Apple products in an educational context; especially iBooks and iBook Author as an interactive learning tool, and, according to Beijing City International School ADE, William Percy, “Going beyond the print metaphor” with iBooks to make the Apple learning experience fully interactive.

At the event’s opening, Melissa Li, the Apple representative leading the event, regarded the Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) as well as the students present as participants in a “world leading project”, referring to those gathered as the “crème de la crème” of the international school community, meaning that Apple couldn’t have gotten a more knowledgeable or adept group of technologically minded people working together on this project between diverse schools and cultures. The different groups collaborated on formulating innovative solutions and ideas in the form of brainstorming, promoting a “yes, and” mentality in place of the usual “yes, but”; all of this discussion and exchange truly represented what Apple stands for: innovation, creativity and collaboration.

Students were appointed eight groups from mixed schools, and were taught the fundamental aspects of being an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE): Ambassadors, Advisors, Advocates, and Authors. As Apple representatives, the group will have to embody these characteristics.

After several sessions brainstorming, students learned of uses of integrated iBooks which may be included into the BCIS curriculum. The presentation showed the features of iBooks Author, as well as the interactivity that could be utilized in classrooms in Beijing and around the world. Other brainstorms also included ways we could introduce apple product to teachers in a comprehensible and easy to understand.

All in all, it was a great and educational time for everybody, a celebration of teamwork, collaboration, and of diversity.

Looking for a way to electronically mark students’ work?

…Or are you looking for a way to collaborate with colleagues?
Crocodoc - web-based annotation tool

Over the last week, I’ve been using crocodoc.com with my IB examining colleagues in order to discuss samples of students work. I can certainly see many benefits for us in the High School.

Crocodoc is a very easy way to annotate and mark student’s work that is in PDF, word document for or even images. You create an account and upload files which you can then share with students and colleagues. Anyone you share with can add comments, highlight areas and make annotations.

And a note about the upcoming mock exams…

Now that we are coming to the examination season, our Grade 12 IB Diploma students are required to ‘hand-write’ their papers which means that there is one hard copy of the student’s work. That’s fine as you can physically mark and comment on the paper and give feedback to the individual student. However, why not consider scanning, uploading and annotating electronically one or two high-scoring papers to Crocodoc to share with your students to provide and discuss the marking and allow all students the benefit of the feedback as well as providing good model answers? An added benefit is that you have an online record of the annotated work that you may want to share with other students or colleagues for moderation purposes in the future.

To get started and try out Crocodocs, go here.

Example of editing student work

Crocodocs is FREE and currently available here in China….so get started and see how you go!

The ITGS cyber-class is here

I have been teaching the IB diploma Information Technology in a Global Society (ITGS) course for almost ten years now. It is probably one of the most demanding IB diploma courses in terms of lesson preparation and delivery as technology moves so fast giving rise to new ethical issues and social challenges. Each year the range of online resources and tools become more powerful and sophisticated and I rarely delivery the same lesson twice. For example, this year the ethical discussions focus more on the pirating of eBooks, the introduction of the newspaper pay-wall to ensure high-quality news and the controversial airport security weapon – the body scanner. These replace the ‘so-last year’ issues of music piracy, gaming addiction, the wonders of citizen journalism and biometric information embedded in RFID chips in passports. In our ITGS classes, we are constantly connecting to new tools and resources to extend our learning and this year we are taking the next step by connecting with other ITGS students.  I will working alongside my friend and colleague, Julie Lindsay from BISS, as  we team up our two Grade 11 classes. Our intention is to work together to develop and co-deliver the course, have our students communicate and collaborate with each other, encourage participation from ITGS schools around the world, as well as documenting our journey along the way.  Our journey has begun! It is a journey that will explore the challenges of learning in the 21st century.  Our vision is for our students will become ‘connected learners’; students who can seamlessly move between our physical classrooms and our evolving ITGS cyber-school and beyond.

If you would like to learn more about our ITGS cyber-class, please visit:

insideITGS.net – our blog that aims to document our journey
insideITGS.ning – our global network that allows classrooms to connect, communicate and collaborate
insideITGS.wikispaces.com – our wiki of resources that we will build on the way

In her latest post in our blog, Julie writes:

“The Challenge with Connecting is finding the right tools to facilitate efficient connections AND adopting behaviors for connected learning. Participants in online learning communities need to realize that the learning and therefore the connecting does not stop once the face-to-face class has ended.”

Some questions to ponder:

  • Are your students ‘connected learners’?
  • What online learning communities do you participate in?
  • How connected are you for learning?