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After my brilliant day with Simon Pridham and Sarah Reece, who hosted a Digital Learning course yesterday, I was struck by one thing over anything else.

iPad was and pretty much still is an individual device. Meaning I have my iPad, share my files with my computer, my notes sync with my iPhone, my reminders pop up on all three of my devices and so on.

Us teachers have thrown a spanner in the works, and due to often budget limitations, we’ve gone and bought 1 between 2 or 1 between more. This then throws up issues, as an inherently personal device now has to become a shared device. Therefore we’re asking it to do things that it doesn’t feel comfortable with. This is where those people who just go out and buy iPad because they’re cool, get a shock when they realise that it’s not as simple as buy 10, hand them to the teacher and say ‘use these please to raise standards’

More posts will be added in time on great ways around the whole sharing of iPads. However, this post is just to say, you need a plan. With any purchase in school you need a plan on how that purchase is going to be best used. However, if you’re buying reading books for example, it’s pretty obvious what they’re going to be used for. (I hope)

However, iPad does so many things, you can’t just buy them, without planning. How many are you going to get? Who are they for? Are the staff going to use them as a teaching tool? Are they for a group of disengaged children? What area of the curriculum are they going to be used to enhance? Does anybody in school know how to use them? The list of questions goes on.

I say to people when I’m leading an iPad demo, that I’m showing them what’s possible, and it’s not a training session. So if you see someone demo iPad, and think hang on I missed all that or where do I start, ask them to come back and help you make a plan. If you buy iPad and think, we’re going to rule the world by using a million apps, you’ll quite quickly get overwhelmed and it’ll fail. If you start small and build up skills, with staff and pupils, the iPad project will thrive.

Casllwchwr had thrived because they had a plan, and all the people in school supported the plan. The debate over whether iPad’s are good for teaching and learning in my opinion shouldn’t exist anymore, as they are amazing. However, if you still like spend your spare time mulling over whether iPad is just a craze or a real quality teaching tool, I think yesterdays course would have made you realise: the iPad is both absolutely useless and amazingly wonderful. It’s the people who use the iPad that ultimately decide it’s effectiveness. Used by someone without a plan or the understanding that this tool could impact the children’s lives more than any other tool they possess, then yes, iPads are rubbish, oversized calculators. Used by someone(s) who has delved into the curriculum and found ways to enhance the range of subjects with a clear and step by step plan, then the iPad will change how you do things forever. I guarantee it. You need to have everyone in school with you, otherwise for that one individual who has spotted the potential of iPad, it can be a lonely road.

Rant over…

And a last word to Simon, Sarah and everyone at Casllwchwr school, you’ve shown us the power of a people led plan and should be proud that you presented your vision and ideas in such a humble way that showed your  focus on improving educational experiences for the children.

Mike (@ikeontoast)

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