I have read so many times that iPods and iPads are such powerful tools for teaching and learning because of the multitude of apps that are available. Authors of articles mention astronomy, chemistry or maths apps as great reasons for utilising iDevices in schools.

But is it these kind of apps that make them valuable?

For ever, people have been able to come up with successful ways of delivering content. If this weren't the case, then nobody would have ever learnt anything, at least, not from someone who was teaching them!

I'm not certain that an iPod app is especially better at delivering content than, say, a book, or direct instruction from a teacher (which, according to John Hattie's meta-analysis of educational research has a far higher level of effect than simulations or games. Read here for a brief summary of this, or the attached pdf of slides from one of Hattie's presentations).

What do others think?

Clearly, there's benefit in finding a balance between these two things, but do you sway towards being a 'content' app junkie who loves using the iPod to provide students with curriculum content and subject matter, or a 'productivity' app-lover (like myself), who sees the power of the iPod touch in saving time, increasing organisational skills and providing kids with more readily accessible pathways towards being a ubiquitous learner?

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Yes I agree totally with you Deon. At my last conference presentation (HEV2010) I concentrated on communication, collaboration, creativity and sharing as outcomes from using the iPads. I am now collecting my apps and putting them in folders for these outcomes. As you mentioned speed is a killer on the iPads and until teachers see how much quicker they are to use they won't understand. Logging onto the internet with a class can be a 20 minute start up where as on the iPads it's instant on.

All of this said if I find an app that allows the students to be creative I'm going to share it. Mirropaint is one of these apps I have recently found. It's logo programming based and when combined with sonic pics or spoken motion it could even lead to further articulation of learning by students. Combining the use of many apps (piggy backing) allows the student to be even more creative in articulating learning. As well the use of student voice is so easy on the iPads for reflections on learning and articulation of learning.

I use both kinds of apps extensively. I'm no junkie, but the engagement level from my non-readers or kids who are totally stressed by their failure to read in school in more traditional ways (and in fact often hate it) is huge, and the students are far more engaged and "into" learning on the devices. That is all I need to get them on the path to reading success, in many cases. Others of course are more complex, but here in the United States, many times kids are over-diagnosed, when in reality it was simply that they missed an important cog in the reading machine, fell behind, and never could catch up. 


They've had umpteen gajillion books, and many teachers. The apps help them grow beyond their past failures in a fresh new way. Hope this is helpful. :)

I tend to lean towards your view, Deon. The point you make is very interesting and I expect to leave S2L with a clearer idea of where the balance actually lies.

For my personal learning, I think the real power of these devices is their instant accessibility to information.  By this I mean...the short power up time, the many apps that provide (or organise) information, and the collaborative apps that support PLNs.  

For my young Prep students I find creative apps appealing.  But, I would love to see more authentic educational apps, or even apps that mirror those traits mentioned for my learning needs, but at a child appropriate level.  Why not make a Zite app for children?  


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