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 WAB team (comprising newbie Jeri Hurd, alumni Ray Gentleman and me) has just got back from the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) Institute in Bali. The Institute welcomed over 230 new ADEs from across the Asia-Pacfic region with representation from afar as New Zealand to Japan, Korea, Indonesia and Greater China (Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing). The application process and the competition was fierce and Team Greater China welcomed our very own WABbie, Jeri Hurd (HS Librarian) into the ADE community. As usual it was an action-packed, high-energy, intense and rewarding experience.
Here’s one of our professional highlights:
There’s a lot of buzz going on about action research in the Apple communities and more so about the iPad. Jeri (Hurd) and I were asked to showcase the action research journey we have embarked on in our high school in order to find out how the iPad transforms learning in the classroom.
In a ten-minute ‘TED’ style talk, we used the WAB mission statement ‘Connect, Inspire, Challenge: Make a Difference’ to ground our story which we segmented as follows:
a simplified version of our action research model;
our first action research project which resulted in the fabulous collaborative multi-touch book written by 27 MYP Grade 10 history students entitled ‘World War Two: Illustrated Histories’
where we are now: working with twelve plus HS faculty to scale the action research project across various curriculum areas
I have been to a number of Apple events and I know the high standards expected. We were hand-picked for one of the twelve showcase spots to get up in front of our peers and inspire; the pressure was certainly on and we spent countless hours and sleepless nights putting it together to ensure that we told the story in a simple way while also doing justice to the work that had been put in by our colleagues and students – after all, it was their work that put us up on the stage.
Of course, no talk would be complete without some technical issue and the recovery the ensues. To our peers, this was the unintentional highlight in that we celebrated every teachers’ nightmare. Note to self: never rely on the network in a live demonstration on an iPad when you are sharing the network with over 1000 devices!
The keynote slide deck (ActionResearchSmall.mov) was amazing thanks to Ray Gentleman (MS Design) who was our support and champion throughout. The impact of great graphics in presentations must never be underestimated and there’s a lot of respect and acknowledgement for Ray’s design expertise in both the ADE and Learning 2.0 communities.
Now the eyes of the ADE community are on us to see what we find out and how our iPad trials pan out. We are documenting our action research journey in the public WAB iTunes U site. Our iPad course is here. Please visit from time to time to follow our story.
We are beginning to organize a number of short trials in our High School here at the Western Academy of Beijing looking at how iPads could/should/may be used as a powerful learning tool. We are a 1:1 (MBP) school so we have many questions that we are looking to explore: do we become a 2:1 high school, what value does an iPad add in addition to a MBP in our high school curriculum (IB MYP and IB DP), will the iPad replace the MBP, should we have a bank of bookable loaner iPads or is the value-add in the ownership and personalization of the iPad? The questions are endless!
Who else is doing trials? Or has the answer(s)? Or who would like answers and would like to collaborate? What data are you gathering? How are you gathering this data? For example, if we do not use a control group for some of our trials, how should we proceed with our research to find out if the iPad does add value or is it just the once-only novelty of using a new technology. In short, we are looking for help and advice.
Apple recently had request from a customer who wanted to visit a school that had been using iPads for more than a year. Of course it was not possible – as the iPad only came out 12 months ago!
Remember Learning 2.010 last September? Schools were beginning to purchasing the odd one or two to explore. We envied our colleagues who bought along their new toy! Fast forward to this September…I wonder how many schools coming to Learning 2.011 have now purchased class sets and can’t live without them? I wonder how many cohorts will look at iPads and mobile devices? I wonder how many workshops will explore iPads and apps? And most important of all, how many participants will turn up with their brand-spanking new iPad2?
So here is our challenge with Learning 2.011. How can we put on a conference that is relevant, flexible, adaptable and responsive to the needs of the participants?
What we think we know is this – that over 400 educators will attend the conference.
What we don’t know as yet is who these 400 participants are and what they want to learn more about.
So here is our game plan for building Learning 2.011:
On sign up we ask participants to select a cohort (in fact we ask participants to choose up to 3) and the grade levels that they are interested in.
On June 1, we hope that most participants will have taken advantage of our early-bird registration fee so that we can work out which cohorts are viable, which are not and which can be divided up into upper, lower and even grade level groupings. Then we look at our pool of cohort leaders and match up the leaders to the cohorts.
So what about the cohort leaders? We have a small group of cohort leaders mostly from outside the region booked and confirmed – inspirational educators who are in high demand in their home countries. Then, mostly from within our region, we have a wonderful group of highly-respected, extremely-experienced, talented and exceptional leaders, all of whom have been nominated by their peers, who have accepted our invitation on the understanding that we can match them to a cohort.
Workshops and Presentations
But that is not all – the cohort model is only one feature of the conference. In addition we will be running presentations, workshops and mini-keynotes. Again, we have to be flexible and responsive to the needs of the participants. We have surveyed individuals in schools to find out what they want to learn and we have asked participants to share the learning that is happening in their schools by offering workshops and presentations.
And then we have the ‘unconference’ session – an empowering, just-in-time ‘tool’. It allows for us to be curious and spontaneous in our thirst for knowledge. It enables us to seek out others to share and discuss learning.
So what do I ask of you?
Please join us for Learning 2.011 and help us build the best conference by registering by June 1 so that we can create the best experience for you and your colleagues. And why not submit a presentation or workshop idea and engage more deeply in the conference by sharing your experiences?
Once again, please note that Learning 2.011 is organised by educators for educators. The organising committee is a volunteer group of dedicated educators from international schools in Shanghai and Beijing.
If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions that will contribute to the success of the conference, please email me or one of the committee members such as: Chris McAnally – SCIS (chair), myself (vice-chair), Melinda Alford & Mike Boll (Concordia).
Learning 2.011 runs from Thursday evening September 8th until Saturday evening September 10th and will be held at Shanghai Community International School’s Pudong Upper School Campus (SCIS).
I’m on my digital holiday – well, this is what I am calling it. School’s out for summer and half the family are off in far away Oz battling the winter whilst I volunteered to remain behind to ensure that the daughter produces the required 4000 words of her Extended Essay. Beijing may be pretty empty of any social distractions but I have been totally digitally distracted with my head firmly in the cloud doing all those leisurely tasks that I never seem to do during term time such as:
Watching the World Cup on TV with the sound muted and streaming the radio commentary – it’s amazing how synchronised it is – as well as keeping up with the real-time reactions through tweets – if only that goal was allowed for England…
Streaming my favorite TV programmes (but not telling where from) and listening to current affairs podcasts
Downloading easy step-by-step recipes with my daughter – getting her repertoire of cheap student meals ready for when she takes off next year (Thank you, Delia)
Learning Chinese and using GarageBand to record the lessons and then downloading for listening on my iPod whilst I take the ‘foster’ dog for a walk
Making song lists from Spotify and playing very loudly (through my headphones)
Stalking friends on Facebook – I’ve finally made contact with my best friend from school – only 2 degrees of separation and a lapse in FB privacy settings made this possible
Downloading a variety of apps for my new iPad (which arrives from Oz next week)
I’m worried that I have an addiction. Actually I’m not. I am very contented having time-off in my digital world. I’m refreshed, updated, caught-up and ready to face-to-face the world again when we all take off for a month in Europe. Actually, I’m thinking that it’s more about being prepared and able to see the world through the eyes of family and friends..or rather the friends of friends, especially at those dreaded summer dinner parties. It’s a matter of ‘be prepared or prepare to be bored’ because it’s always the same, three polite questions on expat life then the conversation usually swings back to the local fare: and I really must mug up on all things English so I can at least try to keep up.
Nevertheless, I will be leaving my MacBook Pro and iPhone behind. I will disconnect from my digital world and be sociable. I will go retro and listen the 7 o’clock news and talk-back radio, plan our socialising and sightseeing around the TV schedule and take an entire week to get through the paper version of the Sunday Times. Will I risk dropping into the local public library to borrow last year’s best sellers? Or will I just use my new app, Spots, to locate a trendy WiFi hotspot and download more holiday reading trash onto my iPad whilst sipping a chilled glass of wine or a bolt of espresso? Some questions to consider:
Do you bother to keep up with the local news and events from back home? If so, how so?
What would do on your digital holiday? What clouds will you be visiting?
Spotify is a new way to listen to music. “Any track you like, any time you like. Just search for it in Spotify, then play it. Any artist, any album, any genre – all available instantly. With Spotify, there are no limits to the amount of music you could listen to. Just help yourself to whatever you want, whenever you want it.”
Visit Delia Online. Delia is the most tried and trusted of British TV cooks. I have consulted Delia for years and years and always overseas where I often have to be a little creative with the ingredients. What I can say it this: Delia’s recipes always seem to work out!