Apple’s iPad, one of the most sought-after educational tools of the twenty-first century, is changing the way teachers teach and students learn. No longer “receivers” of information, now students can enjoy a dynamic relationship with teachers—and the curriculum—as knowledge passes back and forth, facilitated by the iPad, a technology not much larger than a standard workbook. Last fall, The Y.A.L.E. School piloted a 1:1 student iPad program in several classrooms—and the devices quickly became indispensable.
Students at Y.A.L.E.’s Cherry Hill, Medford and Mansfield Township campuses are taking advantage of the multimedia capabilities of their iPads, using software apps, or applications, to complete projects. Teachers give students the academic requirements for each assignment, and then allow them the freedom to choose the app they would like to complete their project. Because apps are inexpensive and easy to use, students can find one that appeals to their own unique learning style and start using it with very little training. Students are highly motivated and stay on task—two major challenges our students face both in and out of school.
Teens and young adults in Y.A.L.E.’s Standard 9 Transition concentration at the Cherry Hill campus use iPads for all of their school work. In a life skills class, they were recently asked to outline the steps involved in setting a dining table for a meal. Some students used a traditional software tool like Keynote (similar to PowerPoint) to create slides with text, pictures and animation; others created a comic book, using Strip Designer, taking a more graphical approach to the assignment; and still others used ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard, a presentation app that allows students to create an animated video where they can insert text and graphics while narrating instructions to the viewer.
This month, as Standard 9 students prepared for the nationwide Read Across America program, they created an audio podcast of Dr. Seuss books that they will share with Y.A.L.E. Cherry Hill’s younger Lower School students. Using the GarageBand app to record multi-track audio, with looping background music and sound effects, students brought to life this beloved author’s stories and characters.
This new technology gave middle-school students at the Medford campus the chance to create a video highlighting a recent trip to a local hunger relief organization. Using the built-in video camera and the iMovie app for the iPad, they shot and edited footage to make a video diary of their community work.
And, at the Mansfield Township campus, middle-school teachers embarked on what many in the field of educational technology consider the pinnacle of twenty-first-century learning: custom-created textbooks. With the free iBooks Author software for Mac computers, teachers are working on their own interactive textbooks, which can be viewed by students and shared on the iBooks e-reader app. These textbooks incorporate text, video, graphics and interactive widgets (even easier to use applications), such as quizzes, photo galleries, slide presentations, and three-dimensional models. When the textbook is complete and transferred to an iPad, a student can read the text, manipulate images and movies, and create study notes and flash cards.
In the two short years since The Y.A.L.E. School introduced iPad learning in the classroom, it has fast become one of the most versatile and transformative tools in education. Students, who once had been passengers in the classroom, are now embarking on an educational journey as the drivers.