Boston iPad Summit Pre-conference: iPads in the middle school / high school workshop #ettipad
Posted on November 14th, 2013
It's the coldest day in Boston since March this year, hovering just about the all time record low for November. It makes Aberdeen feel balmy by comparison and I'm very glad I brought my scarf and gloves!
The iPad summit is being held at the Hynes Convention Center, so I'm glad to find out I can travel most of the distance through a maze of walkways and shopping malls. The pre-conference is busy and focused on three areas: iPad leadership, iPads in the middle/high school and for teachers who are looking to move to an advanced level with their iPad use in school. I wanted to see how class teachers were using the iPad in schools where 1:1 programmes have been running for a number of years and I wanted to hear about their implementation issues - behavioural or strategic.
My table included educators from Canada, Hawaii and the local Boston area so I quickly established that my journey to get here was nothing out of the ordinary. It was also interesting to note that the majority of class teachers I spoke to were from independent middle schools, however there were also a number of Directors of eLearning in our workshop.
The workshop was intense but, at the same time, so much fun. Session leaders Don Orth and Shushan ran the workshop really well, keeping the momentum going but also adjusting their presentation to allow time for attendees to learn more deeply about an unfamiliar app. Each part of the workshop was about pedagogy, not the app itself, but to get to the point where you understood how it could be used in your school. I loved the fact that there was something for attendees to do from the moment they walked into the room - something that could easily be replicated with students in a 1:1 school yet have instant impact on the learning time in a lesson.
The workshop made use of Geddit for frequent self-evaluation by attendees on their comfort levels with each app. You could indicate on the screen whether you were comfortable with the current focus of the workshop and while this rating was instantly shown to Don and Shushan, it was also retained during the entire workshop so that - at the end - attendees could gather a line graph of their understanding and quickly highlight areas that they needed to revise. Don and Shushan also had a "class" overview of this so particular difficulties could be highlighted at the end of the session. Again the impact of this self-evaluation by students on class learning and efficient use of teaching time should be obvious. It is something that can be done by teachers manually e.g. without the use of educational technology and Don regularly mixed the use of Geddit with "fist to five" spot checks where attendees rated their current comfort using the fingers of one hand. Geddit is exactly the same idea, but with added tracking for teachers and feedback to students.