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Credit: “iPad with Dandelion”, image by JaredEarle, via Flickr, 2010.

While reading the NMC Horizon Report: 2012 Higher Education, these three statements leapt off the page:

• There is a new emphasis in the classroom on more challenge-based and active learning. Challenged-based learning and similar methods foster more active learning experiences.
(page 5)
• The active learning approaches are decidedly more student-centered, allowing them to take control of how they engage with a subject … (page 5)
• Digital media literacy continues to rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession. (page 6)

These concepts struck a chord because they made me question my new role in the classroom. Would I be able to create a project that was student-centred and teacher-redundant (more or less)? Would I able to let go and put the learning in the hands of my students? More importantly, what kind of lesson or project could ensure a challenge-based and active learning experience, that is also student-centred of course; yet encourages, to some extent, digital media literacy. Moreover, what tool could be used to achieve this seemingly impossible task?

I must admit that I figured out the tool long before I figured out the rest! I choose the iPad because it is “a feature-rich tool for field and lab work”, which can replace “far more expensive and cumbersome devices and equipment.” (page 7) Having used cumbersome and not so user-friendly equipment in the past, I really wanted to see if the iPad and some of its apps could be put the test. When iPods (the 5th generation nano) came out a few years back my grade 10s wrote a story then filmed themselves (as well as their adopted grade 3 storyteller) retelling their story in the oral tradition. The students were very engaged (both grade levels) but editing and sharing the product were an issue. Since then I have been waiting for something better to come along. (P.S. Don’t even get me started on camcorders and VHS editing systems …)

The combination of the iPad and its apps is literally changing (along with Wi-Fi and cloud applications) how teachers teach and students learn. Nowadays one device is used “for creation and composition”, if not MORE. (page 11) Because of this, I knew the iPad could help my students complete an entire project. Such thinking, lead to the creation and evolution of the “iCare; iRant: Vox Populi” project. Because my goal was to create an active on-line learning environment that is student-centred and challenge-based, the task was not easy. I certainly hope I have achieved what I set out to do! All that’s left now is to test the validity of the chosen tool as well as the project itself.

Bring on the iPads (and the apps), please.

Reference

Johnson, L., Adams, S., & Cummins, M. (2012). The NMC horizon report: 2012 higher ed edition . Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

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