We (Elevate) recently participated in UCS's Learning Resources Development Day. We were set the challenge of trying to effectively use iPads in a classroom teaching situation. The development day was based around a number of short presentations with group work at the end of each session. The challenge was to look at how we might enhance the existing model of small group work based around a flip chart, then holding them up and feeding back.
We thought through some of the draw backs of the current approach. Which tended to be around feeding back as people can't see the flip chart, limited range of material you can incorporate into a flip chart, and they are difficult to collate the outputs. We also identified the advantages being low tech and very inclusive. People feel they have had the chance to contribute and the product is a genuine representation of the group work.
In an attempt to embrace the advantages and overcome the limitations we decided a key need was to be able to present the outcomes of the group work in the simplest means possible. We did not want this to involve file transfers or the likes as it would be more stressful ensuring devices are on wi-fi networks etc., Therefore, we simply told each group to plug their iPad into the data projector, and present back. I must say, this worked very well, presenters didn't encounter any problems, while people in the audience could see all which was being discussed.
At the end of the session, group leaders (the people who had had a little training on the individual apps before the day) emailed the outcomes of the sessions as an attachment, which I collated as a set of images to share with participates.
Overall, I and others thought, the technology enhanced the session as it offered more opportunities for both creating and distributing group work, while it didn't impose or dictate what we might do. For instance, the learning activity was central and the technology simply facilitated people creating and presenting their findings.
So, what apps did we use? Well, we used iBrainstorm to share post it style information, we used the camera (and encouraged use of the video) to record and present back the outcomes (a flip chart), used iThoughts for mind mapping, and comic life to produce a group poster. These are all very simple apps and many of them included within the device. The key was to use the device to enhance the presentation of the material, and this worked very well.
How might we have improved these? Well I think a little more training on navigating around a screen on the iPad. For instance, most people simply displayed the screen, they didn't zoom in and out. We'll hopefully be bringing these technologies into our workshop programmes.