Thursday, June 25, 2015

It's not about the iPad

I have been a bit of an anxious wreck since March 13th, riding a roller coaster of emotions from excitement to dread, due to an email that began with

We are pleased to inform you that the committee has selected you as a Trailblazer to receive the Next Gen Library and participate in the pilot project!"

Yes, I applied for Next Gen, but I didn't really think I'd be chosen. And then I was. And then I had to wait to find out what device I was getting in the library. And then I found out it was iPads, a device I was completely unfamiliar with (we're mostly an Android/ PC family, have PCs at work). And then I started to sweat. One thousand students, fifty classes a week, one set of iPads....eeeeek!

So when the district offered to send us iPad folks to the three day iPadpalooza event here in Austin, the learner side of me silently shouted "YES! THANK YOU!" and signed up immediately. And then the introverted librarian in me whispered "What? Another conference? In the summer? Dealing with traffic? What are you thinking?".

But I'm not one to back out (especially once the entry's been paid for, yikes!), so I have spent the last two days at iPadpalooza 2015. I have been exposed to non-stop iPad enthusiasm from teachers and speakers and tech folks for eight hours each day, and will be doing so for another eight hours today.

I have learned a lot. Mostly about apps. There are a LOT of them, and they now fill four screens on my district-issued iPad (I will definitely have to learn how to organize those). The ones we've used are FUN, and it will be mind-exploding when I have time to sort through them and plan projects with them. The handiest thing I've learned is how to take a screen shot. Where do folks learn how to do that? Is all this iPad learning word-of-mouth?

But.....the most important lesson I have learned, because I've heard it over, and over, and over, is this: It's not about the iPad. It's about what can be done with the iPad.

Facilitating the four C's--communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. (I also like to refer to the American Association of School Librarians' Standards for the 21st-Century Learner ). Technology is meant as a solution to a problem, and sometimes--gasp--digital technology is not the appropriate solution.

Rabbi Michael Cohen, The Tech Rabbi, summed it up in five words: "We don't do iPad projects." If someone walks into your classroom and asks students what they're doing, those five words should not be the answer. It should be something like "We're learning about giraffes" or "Working on a movie" or "Talking to an expert".  

And if they're sitting at their desks using a pencil and paper, that's okay, too. Pencils are technology--a solution to a problem, a tool that helps accomplish those four C's.

So now I'm not sweating so much. The iPads aren't going to change what I'm teaching...they're going to change how I teach. And I'm okay with that.

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