I recently had the privilege of attending the first iPad Summit hosted by Ed Tech Teacher at Harvard Medical School. The conference brought together over 500 educators and experts from around the globe to consider one digital tool — the Apple iPad. The conference was one of the most innovative and exhilarating experiences I have had as an educator.
This conference was unique: It didn’t focus on pedagogy or broad tools or philosophy. Instead, participants gave all their attention to a single piece of technology and how it might be applied in the realm of education. Speakers came from a broad array of backgrounds and experiences: school administrators, educators from shared platform classrooms, educators from 1:1 programs, technology coordinators, educational consultants, and educational researchers. They shared their experiences, successes and failures, and visions for the future.
The keynote speaker was Tony Wagner, Ph.D., Harvard professor and author of Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change The World. (The photo above is from the book cover.)
Wagner highlighted the themes of the conference: we must change the framework of education to reflect what our students need in the world today. Tools like the iPad allow educators and students to be creative, flexible, and innovative in ways never before seen. The same-old-same-old approach in education has only been driving the failure of the American educational system. If we want different results, we need to do something different.
Editor’s note: Jennifer Carey did live blogging from the conference on her website, IndianaJen.com, where you can read in more detail many of the goings-on at the 2012 summit. Jen’s live blogging was highlighted by conference organizers in their own round-up post of the conference.
I learned many things at the conference and it is impossible to simply highlight them all in a single post. Instead, I will discuss some of the most sticky themes for me.
First and foremost, the iPad is simply a tool – it is not the magical, shiny object that will innovate education. The power of the tool lays in its users and, in education, the teachers. Pedagogy comes first, iPads follow. In fact, Ed Tech teacher has an excellent list of applications that you can use after you have decided what skills you want your students to do (consume, create, or innovate). You can find that list here. Content apps are not “where it’s at,” rather they are the means to the end. The end, is to make our students creative curators of their own learning. Will Richardon best highlighted this problem in his article: “My Kids are illiterate. Most Likely, Yours Are Too.” The conference highlighted that the iPad can be the tool that teachers use to achieve this end if they apply it effectively.
The other key message of the iPad Summit is that any integration of iPads in the classroom must come with professional development. You cannot simply “add iPads and stir.” Administrators must be prepared to fully support the faculty and students before any significant technology initiative is going to be successful. Simply handing out iPads to teachers and students (and going over the security protocols) isn’t going to accelerate learning in your school. Educators need to become skillful at using these tools and then think deeply about how to integrate them into the learning environment in powerful ways.
Even the greatest teachers do not innately know how to adapt technology effectively. They need training and the opportunity to collaborate with other educators.
My final take-away from the conference is that for iPad integration to be effective in any classroom, it must be more than a replacement program. You may be familiar with the SAMR model (substitution, augmentation, modification, redefinition), an educational technology framework developed by Ruben R. Puentendura.
His research recognizes that implementing a “simple substation” (using an iPad as a word processor for example) is just substitution or replacement — the lowest form of integration. Swapping iPads for the old laptops will not, by itself, promote learning or critical thinking.
For technology to be truly innovative and impactful on students, Puentendura says, we must get to the stage of Redefinition, in which we use technology to create and perform tasks that — prior to the existence of the technology — were inconceivable (such as creating sophisticated digital stories on the go, using the iPad’s video camera). Unless we have plans to move up the ladder of the SAMR model, an iPad program is not worth the investment. That’s important information for whoever is paying the bill.
More to come
Overall, the conference was a powerful learning opportunity for educators — what started out as a discussion of the iPad quickly became a consideration of innovative teaching and how we make that happen every day in schools. To quote Justin Reich, one of the conference organizers, “This was not just an iPad conference, it was a conference about meaningful learning.”
To learn more about the November 2012 iPad Summit, visit this conference wrap-up post and this conference agenda page. The Summit was so successful that a second Summit has already been scheduled for April 2013 in Atlanta GA.
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You’re dead on here. I’m retired but continue to be academically active. Degree is in Lit and credentialed in SPED. I am well versed in the use of tech stuff of all kinds. Thing I notice most about the PC tablet that I acquired about 6 months ago is that I spend a LOT OF TIME just working with the technology that used to be spent READING THE BOOK. Teachers need training in how to bypass some of this stuff and in HOW TO PASS IT ON to their students. The alternative is going to be a LOT of frustration for everybody.
Frustration and misspent money. While these tools are innovative, we can all use direction!
Giant commercial sponsored by Apple. They need to find a dumping ground for old product so are trying to pass this off as innovative learning for tax write-offs.
Apple did not organize the event. No Apple personnel presented. To the best of my knowledge, there was not an Apple representative at the event, not even a sales table. All presenters were educators and administrators. All conference participants paid registration fees, travel, and stay.
This was not a sales pitch. In fact, there were fewer developers at this conference than I have seen at any other Ed Tech conference.
The organizers (who run an educational technology technology professional development firm with paid and free services) overtly stated that they organized this conference as a direct result of the high demand they had been seeing for iPad PD (they estimated 80% of their calls in the last year were for iPads or iPad related PD).
I find it interesting how Apple reps and/or “educational specialists” never show up at major tech conferences such as this one. I attended the ISTE Conference in San Diego this past June and many tech companies had reps there to answer questions and take suggestions… but NOT Apple! No! They don’t feel as though they need to spend the money to send reps to these conferences. Why would they?! There are thousands of teachers/tech specialists out there who are doing all of the marketing for them FOR FREE! I am not a Mac or iPad hater, but I am frustrated with the schemes and scams of the Apple/Mac marketing world. It is all about money and they are getting so many customers to buy the “Apple Juice”! Sad, but true. iPads don’t just cost schools $500 and done. The marketing and spending just keep coming. The apps add up quickly and for what?!… Things that could be found online… if only iOS devices would handle Flash. People cannot get a majority of kid-related websites to run on iPads b/c of the lack of Flash and so they go to the iTunes store to find an app to replace the website. The app might be “Free” but the in-app purchases will run a school budget into the ground. Great marketing once again on Apple’s part! (sarcasm here)
I wish I had been there. That is precisely the way I feel about technology in general. I loved the quote, “you can not just and iPads and stir”. We do need to think outside the box, so that our students might also! So many times teachers want the latest “stuff” , yet have no idea what to really do with it.
It was truly a great conference (there is another one in February I believe). While the focus was on iPads, a lot of the messages and techniques can readily be applied in any realm of PD.
And you’re right, without training, the iPad just becomes a new, shiny object in the realm of Ed Tech – not a powerful instrument.
” If we want different results, we need to do something different” This is what some teachers think the ipad see initiatives like schools, but … can really drag the rest of the community? Thanks for your articles, you continue from Barcelona, â€‹â€‹Sadako School, where we are implementing 1×1 ipad to school.
I would love to see how your school processes it!
Every technology innovation for the past 30 years has been accompanied with the need for PD for teachers in order to be effective. Yet the structure of education does not change. PD based on the effective use of new tools primarily to get higher test scores may not be helpful. Harvard can perhaps help in laying down a new education philosophical foundation that truly educates decision makers and allows the kind of educational development implied with widespread use of iPads and other devices. My experience (30 years) with technology says that when teachers use new tools on a daily basis for their own professional development, the journey to the classroom finally happens.
You’re right David, the iPad is no different in that regard.
I am not sure how the argument was made that iPads should replace laptops (referred to as ‘the old laptops’) at the event, but it’s not made in the article. Why swap the power of such flexible devices (laptops or notebooks) for a locked-down, highly controlled learning environment(iPads)? The pedagogical aims and PD entreaties in the article are no different to those that pertain to any technology innovation.
I’m yet to be convinced that the iPad is superior for learning to more felxible devices that we had already – or is that the point? That, instead of working with the more open-ended potential of devices such as laptops or notebooks, teachers (and students) feel safer and don’t have to be such risk-takers in the iPad world?
No there was not an argument made that laptops should be replaced with iPads. In fact, when that question was asked at various talks, they generally highlighted the iPad as a completely different tool and that it should not be looked at as a laptop replacement.
One thing to keep in mind, and I said this in the comments not the article itself, but the conference was in response to high interest in iPads in an educational environment. It was about how they can be used, how they have been used, effective & ineffective integration, etc.
I appreciate your thoughts on the implementation of iPads to the learning environment. My perspective is directly related to the K-12 classroom setting in the US. The SAMR hierarchy of Puentedura is of critical concern to me. Without redefining what the outcomes of education are based on what the technology will allow the teacher to do, all other efforts will be “putting lipstick on a pig” to borrow a metaphor.
I have a fear, one that is backed with some experience, but I refuse to let this fear limit my hope. The experience I refer to is that of calculator use in schools. Even today you will find schools that refuse students the use of this ubiquitous and unbelievably cheap (relative to an iPad) technology. Part of the reason for this refusal is because too few have sought to truly redefine the outcomes of Mathematics instruction given the technology of the calculator. I graduated from the K-12 program in the late 70’s and at that time calculators were just getting into the hands of regular folk. I have been involved in mathematics teaching in one form or another as a profession since 1986. Throughout my whole career there has been an on-going battle over their inclusion in schools. (I wish you could see the incredibly frustrated look on my face regarding this and how my reaction to this elicits an inappropriate set of language for this genteel space. >| )
My hope for the use of iPads is that those who are willing to innovate get out in front of the Redefinition curve now. Learn the lesson of the calculator advocates, they started too small, change the teaching practice. What must take place is a more systemic re-thinking of what learning now means, what its outcomes can now look like, what we can do to put opportunities in front of children so that they can take the innovative technology afforded them by being born in the 21st century and use it to its fullest advantage.
The calculator, a wonderful tool should have done this to the mathematics curriculum, there truly are amazing learning opportunities at every grade level that are enhanced by its adept use by a teacher who knows what s/he is doing with it and has defined her/his outcomes to match. But since too little work was done to Redefine those outcomes on a grand scale we still have whole districts that refuse the use of these learning tool until such time that you make it into an AP class that has been written in such a way as to require the use of this tool.
Thanks again for your thoughts on this, and your diligent delivery of your experiences at the summit. I am going to try to go in April now because of this blog.
Wow. This is incredibly powerful and really exemplifies (in my opinion) why it is so important to adopt new tools when it is possible. Thank you for your thoughts!
While the iPad is a very slick and entertaining tool for end users, it is in many ways a nightmare for administrators. Keith’s very pointed and well-informed concerns above have still not been addressed by those who are flocking to the flash of the device but overlooking some of its massive shortcomings.
How can a platform which by design is closed and partitioned serve a data-driven community which needs to be more and more focused on the data feedback provided by an LMS? If the apps don’t talk to each other and the teacher relative to providing apples-to-apples (no pun intented) progress tracking on the students using them, how can this be the logical platform for disruptive innovation in education?
The iPad interface which encourages hundreds of disembodied, chaotic apps scattered on multiple screens is also nightmarish for educators to maintain and meaningfully present to their students.
The iPad was designed for consumers, not administrators. As an educational tool, it’s much more useful to mom and dad than Mrs. Jones.
Thank you Barker for your comments. I have to say that I think it is a misconception that the iPad is solely a consumer product or that it cannot communicate with other machines. I have had the opposite experience as an educator – I use it as a collaborative tool and as a creation platform. The fact that it is new does mean that it has a learning curve and many educators and administrators must learn how to use it in a new way. It is not a laptop replacement, it is a wholly different type of tool.
Again, I would recommend looking at Ed Tech Teacher’s “iPad as…” it provides various applications for different teaching objectives. The question is, “What do you want your students to do?”
At the same time, iPads should *not* be adopted purely because they’re new and (perceived as) revolutionary. If your student and educators’ needs are better suited by a different tool (a laptop or even a piece of paper), then the ipad isn’t for your institution.
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