You are not doing an iPad project

ImageYou are not doing an iPad project.

You are using iPads in your classroom, but that by itself is not a project. If the project is more specific, then name it so. If you want to find the 10 best apps to use with for literacy in Year 7, with a particular focus on boys, then call it that. The iPad is something shiny which may or may not enable you to achieve your aims. Nothing about the iPad is remarkable in pedagogical terms, there is no magic learning dust. If the devices allow you to achieve something different, interesting and exciting in your classroom, then focus on the full range of interventions you made to enable this to happen.  Then ask yourself if the iPad did the pedagogy, or you the teacher did.  If the iPad did the pedagogy, then Steve Jobs (rest his soul), was even more of a genius than we ever gave him credit for, but if you did it. then examine how you did it and see how you can push that kind of innovation right across your practice, either with or without a shiny flat digital thing in the hands of the students.

You are not doing an iPad project.

Because even if the shorthand you use to refer to your project when talking to other people is ‘the iPad project’, then you’ve put the technological cart before the pedagogical horse once again.  The very act of naming the project after the technology inverts the order in which you should be doing things, which is looking for innovative pedagogy first, through the medium of new technology.  And if you’re finding is that ‘students were motivated to learn when using the iPad’, then that is piss piss poor. Of course they are motivated, they are human like you and I and given a shiny device to use, we all get a bit excited.  Try and tease out a little more about what important was going on when the devices were being used, and then remember that it’s not a iPad project, but a project to achieve something new in your classroom.

You are not doing an iPad project.

Because as remarkable as it seems, one day in the not so distant future, the iPad will no longer be the shiny, must have, fetish object du jour. Its lustre will have faded and something else more shiny, or thinner, or sleeker, or cooler, or ‘whateverer’ will have come along and people will be buying into that vision with gusto. And if you think that’s a ridiculous thing to say, you show me teachers today going weak at the knees at the sight of their interactive whiteboard. Once upon a time they did, but now they don’t anymore.  So one day, the iPads will languish in the cupboard, oversize coasters missing their final vocation, or the kids will have taken them home and overloaded them with apps they’ll only even open once. So make your project about teaching and learning, and think about the technology not as something essential or fundamental which underpins your goals, but simply as a convenient way of getting from A to B.

You are not doing an iPad project . .  . you are doing a teaching and learning project


Image is creative commons (so I’ve not robbed it), by Wolf Gang. Available from Flickr here

Author: mjp6034

Education consultant specialising in educational technology and change management.

11 thoughts on “You are not doing an iPad project”

  1. Your comments are relevant in many areas. A project in my MFL department was something done because the management told us we must get away from the text book (no logical rationale for getting away the text book, other than OFSTED thought it might look like innovation). The project was invariably non-project, just a simple activity.
    Also you post reminds me of the amount of times teachers have told me how they are about ‘teaching how, not what’ and ‘critical thinking’. In reality they are teaching ‘what’ they want the kids to know about a particular issue that they feel is a bit edgy. Sorry for being negative about colleagues, but I’m all for evidence based statements and innovations – ie backing it up with proper reasoning.

    1. Thanks for commenting.. as a profession we need to work far harder on evaluating what works and providing compelling evidence for what we do. If we don’t, then policy makers and managers without experience of teaching will conclude that they know better and simply mandate how to teach. Clearly the blog post above was aimed at the straw man of a non reflective teacher which probably doesn’t exist, but we need more rigour in what we do, of that I am certain…

  2. Many thanks for posting this Blog
    I am a Student at Oxford Brookes University in my second year of BA education Studies and am undertaking an action research project. And thought of a project of implementing Ipads into the classroom.
    Thanks to your Blog my research project now is Can Mobile technology enhace teaching and learning
    Many thanks

    1. formulating the project title as a question seems a very wise idea to me. I think the iPads offer a great deal of scope for doing new things in the classroom, but we need to make sure we focus on learning and the students rather than just the technology.

  3. Totally right. In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed an increase in twitter requests for”evidence to support buying ipads for schools” which is EXACTLY where shiny overtakes learning intention.

  4. Agree entirely with the blog. Having read the Longfields and recent Scottish studies, I couldn’t find any iPad activity which was substituting what we already do on PCs. There are opportunities to use iPads in new ways, but if the best most Schools can do is note taking, searches and video editing…

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