Friday, 25 November 2011

1st thoughts on incorporating iPads in to my teaching

There are many ways that the iPad can be incorporated in to lessons that can aid and improve the teaching and learning experience. The shift from content consumption to content creation using these devices has enabled a whole new generation of applications (apps) that not only allow learners to view various media but to create their own too.
As a music producer, musician and lecturer, I have been enthralled by the unique approach that these applications allow the user to interact with the content. The hands on, kinaesthetic learning style is very popular among my learners and the opportunity to use iPads in the classroom is greatly anticipated.

This is how I envisage their use for Learning:

Music performance & Songwriting
 There are a number of apps that emulate real instruments such as guitars and drums however; Apple’s own Garageband app includes these and a variety of keyboards from organs to synths. I would like to create an iPad band, where a group of students form a virtual band using a number of iPads and create cutting edge music that is credible in today’s market. There are other ways of performing with apps too,  Korg’s iMS20 & iElectribe, can synchronise 2 iPads together allowing two students to ‘jam’ together without going out of time. Singers can utilise VocaLive to control effects applied to their voice as they sing in to an iRig Mic connected to the device. Guitarists have a virtual amplifier that they can plug in to in the form of Amplitube, this allows learners to practice on headphones or connect to an amplifier for rehearsing.
In terms of songwriting, Garageband again steals the show. The so-called ‘smart’ instruments, (guitar, bass guitar & Keyboard), allow learners to create chord structures that form the basis of any song in a matter of minutes. This can then be developed further by recording guitar and vocals through the in-built mic until a useful demo is produced – perfect for bring ideas to a rehearsal session or uploaded to eME for the songwriting Unit.

Video Diaries
 Learners are often put off from using a video diary as a way of gathering evidence for an assignment because of the long process of filming, then transferring to a computer, then editing using Windows Movie Maker (once they have converted the film in to a format that it accepts). I am very interested in the learners using the iPad’s built in cameras to film themselves or eachother, then immediately editing it using the iMovie app ready to submit as evidence of a particular task. For some learners this would be infinitely preferable to writing a diary entry.

Learning Materials
As an alternative to the traditional text book, the iPad has many advantages; not  least its ability to contain 100’s of books in something that weighs less than a magazine! The iBooks app allows access to thousands of texts books that can be downloaded when needed and stored without any need for shelves. iBook can also resize the text, change the font and the background colour to help with accessibility. iTunes U allows learners to search a huge database of exclusive tutorial videos and materials on every topic from Universities and learning institutions around the world. In particular for me, the videos of learning guitar and music software programs have been useful additional for my own learning! These could be accessed in the classroom or learning centre.

This is how I envisage their use for Teaching:

With the iPad2’s new camera, teachers are able to carry out observations using photo, video and written documentation all in one place, in one app. Using an app such as Doc2 HD or Pages, teachers can add text and photos in to a pre-made  template during the assessment, reducing the time spent collating the evidence after the event. They can then email the finished document or upload it to Google docs. Videos can be edited using iMovie and uploaded to You Tube from the device.

It is possible to present any information on the iPad screen on a normal projector or plasma/LCD screen using the VGA adaptor, which will require a wire attached from the iPad to the screen/projector. Keynote is a presentation app that allows you to  create and deliver very professional presentations very easily. It can also open your PowerPoint files as well so you can always work with the files you need.
Apple TV is a useful little box that plugs in to any TV via an HDMI cable and allows you to mirror anything you have on your iPad, wirelessly. This then makes the iPad like an interactive whiteboard that can be passed around the class without any messy wires – perfect for getting everyone involved.

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