Whilst planning the 1:1 iPad program at Gilroy in year 7 last year, I reflected back to what I thought the key issues with the 1:1 laptop program were. In my mind, staff learning/training was a challenge that was tackled over time, the underlying pedagogy of their use was also developed as time went on BUT the LOGISTICS of passing work from student to teacher and vise-versa was an issue that needed to be addressed FIRST as it is the first obstacle that would occur in the classroom. It is essential for teachers and students to be able to share work digitally in a almost paperless environment, so how could this be done on an ipad?
Firstly I mapped the EXISTING workflow for the laptop, including ALL the ways work and communication was exchanged digitally, aside from communicating on edmodo, we used wikis, blogs, school website, shared drives, USB’s and email. I believed this was too complicated for year 7’s and wanted a simpler approach.
I then RE-DREW the work flow, with limited/simplified and specific ways to distribute classwork, assessments and submission of formal tasks, this is what it looked like:
This workflow specified filetype as well as a simple procedure for distribution of content and submission of work. It used Edmodo to distribute class content and the school website (IRIS system) to make assessment tasks available for students and parents online. SendToDropBox is a third party application that allows student to email work directly from an iPad app to teachers DropBox accounts without affecting their DropBoxes privacy/sharing settings, effectively the sent email becomes their submission receipt.
FROM THIS POINT I was able to look at specific apps that we might need to purchase for staff and students, my number ONE focus at this point was that IF IT DIDN’T FIT WITH OUR WORKFLOW, WE DIDN’T USE THE APP! This greatly simplified the app selection process, and I believed simplified the classroom workflow for students and teachers once the iPads were in classrooms.
Six months on from their roll out, I can honestly say that not all staff work within this process – variations of this process include:
- Emailing assessment tasks directly from teacher/student, this I believe adds extra complexity to marking digital files as attachements need to opened in email, and then opening in another app, whereas if they are opened direct from dropbox they can be marked /viewed easily from this point.
- Staff keeping existing wiki’s instead of distributing content on Edmodo. Yes this works, but they have complicated things? It is another “thin” for students to log-into, it is not dynamic an collaborative like Edmodo, so in most cases they have BOTH a wiki/Edmodo group (confusing in some instances) AND not all wiki pages play nice with iPads.
- Teachers ask students to download apps without pre-testing the workflow, then the day of tasks being due I get questions like: how do students submit or share work with each other from this app?? This is normally more complicated than anything really should be!
- Work sent is LARGE in file size, too large for the sendtodropbox facility. So the techies and I researched an app that could share files over bluetooth and wifi – THIS was the best one that we tested was: WIRESHARE
Before you personally or as a school think about devices in a 1:1 or BYOD environment, I advise that the WORKFLOW between teachers and students is your FIRST priority. If sharing of content cannot happen easily, it really makes classrooms that use technology too difficult, and then the resisting arguments arise that “this is too hard, I might as well just photocopy and hand out a worksheet, it is easier” and yes, if a process is that complicated it would be difficult to argue the appropriateness of technology, as we all know that failures in seamless integration of technology can really get in the way of teaching 😦
I found that by making the workflow FIRST priority other challenges were easily solved as time went on.
Tutorials for STAFF to set up DropBox and SendToDropBox accounts and other relevant tech tutorials are available here: STAFF TECH TUTORIALS