GETTING TO KNOW YOUR IPAD: INTUITIVE, HANDS-ON, PLAYFUL TINKERING, SOCIAL & PERSONALIZED LEARNING
On that magical day when you got home from the iStore, peeled away the plastic shrink-wrap and opened up that white box to reveal the gadget that would change your life, you very likely experienced a moment of anger or confusion over the absence of a manual to tell you what to do. As you know by now, this was no accident. Here’s why:
- Apple made the iPad so intuitive and easy to use that almost anyone could pick one up and start using it right away.
- Because the iPad is touch-based, you are encouraged to get hands-on from the start. You learn by doing – literally – engaging different parts of your brain as you go. You have to let go of the mentality of reading the book before you go out and try. There is no book, so all that is left is to tinker.
- It is very difficult to make an irreparable blunder, thus you are encouraged to play and experiment in order to try and work out what the iPad can do. You can start almost anywhere, doing anything, and you’ll eventually work out what you need to in order to use your iPad effectively.
- An iPad has next to no functionality without an Internet connection, which is why this is always the first thing you have to set up. Once you’re connected, you discover a myriad of ways to connect with other people around the world. You are sure to come across other people who have figured out a few tips and tricks about the iPad which you can then try out for yourself. From the best apps to suit your needs and interests to jail-breaking, you learn more and more about your iPad as a direct result of being connected.
- Different users figure out how to do different things at different times. Depending on your level of experience and confidence. You can either slowly discover the magical things your iPad can do, or else you can fly through the basics and start to become a power user.
- An iPad isn’t ‘for’ anything. It is up to you to use it how you wish. In some ways, it is a mirror of your particular blend of interests and abilities… And a way for you to amplify these.
Giving you a manual would very likely diminish the personal enjoyment of learning about the iPad. Imagine how much more sterile and ineffective it would be to have to study the documentation before using your iPad.
IPEDAGOGY: TURNING THE ‘A’ INTO AN ‘E’ (HOW LEARNING SUBJECTS SHOULD BE LIKE LEARNING HOW TO USE AN IPAD)
This post was inspired by the #ipadagogy hashtag I came across recently on Twitter. This basically involves learning about the iPad. But I would like to suggest an alternative to this: ipedagogy. It seems rather a small change of just one letter, but it does change the focus rather fundamentally. I would like to suggest that we should try to foster the kind of environment in our classes, where students would learn everything in the same way as you learned how to use an iPad.
- We need to hide the ‘manual’. Learning becomes so much more meaningful to young people when they feel they have discovered facts and solutions for themselves. Serving it all up for them takes much of the magic out of learning, just as you lose out by not figuring out how to use an iPad on your own. One of the ways of doing this might be if we replaced textbooks by teacher-moderated, student-created, constantly evolving wikis. Surely this is not such a far-fetched idea? We could even issue them with the textbook or study guide… But only after they’ve discovered most of it for themselves.
- Finland’s success in education has taught us that learning should be social and collaborative, not isolated and competitive. Each student has their own blend of ideas and background knowledge they can bring to the learning experience and share with the class to enrich lessons immeasurably. Combine this with the increasing ability to connect with other students around the world and you truly start to understand the importance of encouraging learning by connecting with others.
- Just like an iPad encourages you to learn at your own pace, focusing on the things you’re interested in, classrooms have to become more individualized if they are truly going to make the leap into being student-centered learning spaces. Using computers to set, assess and suggest learning opportunities is one way to do it, and giving students access to the syllabus, allowing them to ‘jailbreak’ it and customize it for themselves is another. I have a dream that one day soon, students will be customizing their own syllabi in a blended environment drawing on free education portals from around the world. If they want to study Game Design or the Economic History of China, why not let them? These become like apps they download, and each student would have their own unique collection of knowledge they could then share with the class (and the world). Education should not consist of uploading and downloading pre-defined, identical apps. Each student should have the freedom to download, play with and explore their own deeply personalized content.
- Kids need to be able to experiment and tinker without worrying about failing. Classrooms should become as much a ‘fail safely’ experience as the iPad is. Truly, this is the only way we can get them to become the innovative, creative thinkers we want them to be. They need to have the freedom to go out on a limb and saw off the branch, without worrying about hitting the ground. We need to trust the process and know that they will eventually discover the ‘rigor’ the present system holds so dear. It is important that students learn to formalize knowledge, but not before they’ve wrung it dry of any potential new ideas that may have been hiding inside it. You do this when you learn how to use an iPad app (especially when you pay good money for it) why can’t kids do the same when they learn?
LEARNING THE IPAD WAY
Yes, you do get those who have an ‘anger reaction’ to the iPad and set it aside as an elaborate device they only use to check email, surf the net and play Angry Birds with. Similarly, you will get students (and perhaps parents) who have the same reaction once you introduce ipedagogy into your lessons. But these are by far the minority, and they should be brought gently into the fold. They should not, however, be allowed to coerce teachers into providing the manual up-front. No matter how tempting it may be to teach the facts and then let them play, it simply makes more sense pedagogically to use ipedagogy.
Switch it on, play, customize, tinker, collaborate, personalize and learn!
Don’t forget to look me up on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/SeanHCole