Untangling the World of Books, Technology, and Instruction

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Is Your iPad a Microwave?

I remember the first microwave my family had.  It was a Christmas present for my mom, and cost like $9000.  I also remember I was the first person to blow up a bowl of eggs in the new microwave.  But that's a whole other blog post. I also remember the first iPad I ever had.  My husband bought it for me to use with my students and I started to cry at the check out at Nebraska Furniture Mart.  I was so grateful and excited to have an iPad - that was 2012.

Three years and nine gazillion apps later, I hope we sometimes consider the power of the gadget we hold in our hands.  It's handy for email, Twitter, Instagram, web browsing.  But is that all it's used for?  Better yet, is that all our students use it for? Checking email, grades, skills practice, web surfing?  At some point, it's time to move past consuming information and start creating knowledge.  You don't use the microwave just to warm up leftovers?

Microwaves are pretty great gadgets.  They make popcorn in little bags, brown hamburger, defrost stuff, melt butter. All pretty handy tasks, but generally done independently of each other - one at a time. Let's consider the gadget found below the microwave.... the stove. Now a stove will cook soup, roasts, casseroles, cookies, cakes, as well as all the things a microwave can do (kind of).  A stove helps us to create amazing feats of culinary skill multiplied by the number of burners and a possible double oven.

iPads have the potential to be ovens.  They can do all the communication and social media stuff, but they can also be the vehicle to creating some pretty amazing artifacts such as movies, photos, artwork. In fact through the process of app smashing, we are only limited by the amount of memory on the iPad and the iTunes budget. We can drop a string of videos into iMovie, add enhanced images, voice overs, and transitions and come of with a pretty spiffy movie about just about anything.....and so could our students.  Using a digital poster app, students can link to researched resources, embed videos and images, as well as text to demonstrate knowledge of any concept or better yet, create a study resource for next year's students.

I spend a good deal of time twisting arms, begging, and promising my first born to teachers in order to get them to try new resources through technology integration.  My next bout of arm twisting is about to begin. We are ready to move past using iPads as devices to practice skills and surf the web. We are ready to move toward the concept of supporting students in creating artifacts from a foundation of core content. We are ready to leave the safety of the microwave and leftovers for the wonders of six burners and convection cooking. Grab your spoons!

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