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New technology surrounds us; our lives are now managed by our technology.  We know that they are a part of our future.  So, what role should these new innovations play in our classrooms?  Can tablets such as iPads in the classroom be used to enhance learning, to: engage, motivate and extend pupils?

The enormous potential is undeniable…

Leading the implementation

The successful launch of tablets in a school is vital.  Staff need to be on board and confident; if possible a team of willing and ‘tech savvy’ colleagues should be available to help, guide and support.

Consideration of how the devices can compliment current pedagogy and the whole school development plan is important, for that reason – vision is vital.  Equally important is what this implementation will bring to the current school vision and development.  The opportunity for potential innovation in all areas of the curriculum should be considered.

6 initial ideas

  • Reach Out – talk to teachers from other schools who have worked with the same technology – find out what has worked AND what hasn’t
  • Hands On Testing – Read reviews and download free apps to start with – many apps offer a ‘lite’ version which is free.  This will save wasting money on apps that are fun yet inappropriate in the classroom environment
  • Technology Support – ensure that you have the technical knowledge, back up and support.  The vision can only be realised with the correct technology in place
  • Experiment – explore the full range of functionality that tablets have to offer
  • Phase – decide on your approach – will you focus on a particular age group?
  • Staff Support – assess ability and confidence levels of staff with the technology through an INSET day – this will help to identify potential early ‘Digital Leaders’ and allow you to support those who are less comfortable and who perhaps feel that the students may outshine them

The key is to have both short and long term goals, to be clear about how these link to the desired educational outcomes, communicate these, and then measure and monitor them adjusting the implementation as you go.

Short term

  • Which type of tablets – there are many options in terms of brands, screen sizes, etc…
  • How many tablets? – how will you use them in the learning environment?
  • Which generation of technology? – do you want to be leading edge, fast follower, or mass adopters? and how does this affect the apps that you can use?
  • Which staff will lead the way?
  • Which year groups?
  • Do you have the right IT infrastructure? – Will your WiFi cope in terms of coverage and bandwidth?
  • Which Apps will we use and how will we buy them?
  • Which subjects areas will we target?

These are a few of the obvious ones, but there are many more decisions that you will need to make as you develop your strategy.

Long term

  • How has pupil learning been enhanced?
  • Can the technology help to create an outstanding teaching and learning environment?
  • If the school is outstanding – how can the technology enhance excellence and innovate at the same time?
  • Which subject areas have been enhanced most?
  • Are we missing the potential to target other year groups/ subjects?
  • Monitor ever changing face of technology – what do we need to do to stay ahead?

As I started this article – new technology surrounds us; our lives are now managed by our technology.  We know that they are a part of our future.  These new innovations have a lot to offer our classrooms, teachers and pupils.  Enthusiasm, thoughtful planning and vision will lead us to success and in turn allow us to engage, motivate and extend our bright and digital learners.

Only by taking a thought through, structured, yet adaptive approach to these new devices will we unlock the potential of what can be a significant investment.

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