Description of iPads Examples of current application Links to relevant resources Potential classroom applications iPad lesson plan Feedback strategies Tablet Technology

Tablet computers are portable devices that are positioned somewhere between mobile phones and laptops. They sacrifice some of the functionality that more sophisticated devices such as laptops and PC’s have in order to take up less space, run smoothly and have a reasonably big screen (in comparison to a mobile phone).

With the release of the iPhone in 2007 and iPad in 2010, the mobile revolution is well and truly underway and the use of tablet computers has been increasing at an exponential rate. Despite many other brands gaining in popularity, the iPad has remained the tablet of choice for the education community so we will be focusing our presentation on it.

Like it or not, the following video gives us an insight into the world our future students have been born in to:

But despite their ever-increasing popularity, the question remains: are tablet computers genuinely transforming learning or merely just a gimmick? Hopefully our presentation will convince you that tablet computers have the potential to transform learning.

The following table outlines some of the advantages and subsequent disadvantages of using iPads in educational settings:

Portable and lightweight Increased risk of theft or damage
Turn on with the touch of a button, no long wait times and log in with username/password) Many apps rely on wireless network - if network outage, these apps are unable to be used
Camera can upload movies/pictures directly to range of web 2.0 sites/apps Potential privacy and bullying issues
Huge variety of apps that engage students in higher order thinking (creating, evaluating). Check out this site for more info. Many curriculum based apps rely purely on lower order thinking  (remembering)
Revolutionising books: Free or cheap, interactive (e.g. animations, buttons), paperless, easy to self-publish, portability Loss of the ‘book experience’ (e.g. smell, touch, pop-up, etc)
Low cost apps simulate professional equipment (e.g. music controller - Korg iElectribe or graphics tablet - Adobe Ideas)  
Easy to collaborate in the ‘cloud’ with apps like DropBox and Corkulous Potential loss of face-to-face communication, unable to access work if wireless network is unavailable
Lack of peripheral devices (e.g. mouse, keyboard) = less cables, moving parts Screen can get very dirty
Teacher able to easily remote control IWB (enabling them to stand away from IWB) with apps like Splashtop Conversely, no easy way to mirror iPad on IWB (only available for some apps using Apple digital AV adapter)
iPads are cost effective in comparison to laptops (e.g. Macbook pro = $1400 / iPad 2 = $398) Less functionality than laptop (e.g. Flash files are unable to be played on iPad)

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Ipads can aid students in a multitude of ways and for students with disabilities it can support their learning and creativity. At Warringa Park School many apps have been used to engage students in learning and they have found positive results for variety of students. You can read detail case study of the school because they have been part of an iPad trial with more than 300 iPads and a fulltime iPad coach Examples of effective use of iPads for disable students are;

Numbers and Letters

Many educational apps allow students to improve spelling and counting in a fun and colourful way. Most apps such as First Words aid in students letter identification and number ordering. Ascot Vale Special School use iPads to aid in engagement with both number and letter apps. They have found by using the iPads students attention has lengthened on single activities. Students that have poor attention span have been able to spend longer on task with use of the iPad. Using an iPad rather than a concrete resource has aided in number ordering and counting because many students from Warringa Park and Ascot Vale would skip count or repeat when counting objects. With the iPad it doesn't move on until the student has pressed the right object or drawn the right number. This has shown large improvements in students ability to count and group.

Communication support

Many non-verbal students require the visual aids or pod books to communicate their needs. These are cumbersome and restrictive in what you can represent through images. The Proloquo2Go App allows for a similar tool in an engage movable device. Proloquo2Go can use images and voice recordings to represent any words you require. This tool can get students to improve using words and even sentences to describe what is happening or what they want.

Instant info

Rather than a netbook or laptop the iPad is a great tool while students are engaged in research and discovery. This unobtrusive tool can be used during class discussions, presentations and group work to find information at the tip of your figure. If a student’s wants to find out more information on a topic they can simply Google without any of the hassle of lifting screens, plugging in or delays while waiting for computers to load. This allows for an even stronger grasp on topics and the ability for students share what they have discovered rather than feeling unprepared or ignorant about topics. Although this can also allow for students to be distracted while important learning could be happening it can also become a useful tool to keep easily disengaged students on topic as they explore their own ideas about what is being taught. With group work it allows for quick access to information and answers.


Unfortunately iPads currently have its limitations and this seems to be not the iPads fault but more the training and experience of the teachers. I have witnessed iPads being used as babysitting tool for students they struggle to keep engaged. Rather than think of useful applications for the iPad they are using to fill in time or distract the disruptive students. Without proper training and understanding of its uses this will continue to happen. It has also been used as a bribery tool to get students to complete work and although in certain areas this may be effective it is too often leads to rushed work and teachers not pushing students to complete more work.

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The Apple website homes a page that is specifically dedicated for ‘Apple in Education.’ It details how the iPad can be integrated into the classroom, suggested apps, technical support and more.

The Victorian Government
 iPads for Learning website is a website primarily designed for educators to access, allowing them to learn about using iPads in education. Here you will find information about the Victorian school iPads for Learning trial including specially selected apps, classroom ideas and technical tips.

This link directs you to the ‘Education Apps’ suggested by the Victorian Government Education department. A key is provided highlighting the categories apps are broken down into, allowing for quick search options. App icons can be clicked on, which allows you to view further details about the app, such as a description, screen shots or app, publishing details, release date, what you can use it for, student learning as well as classroom teaching applications.

The attached document ‘Getting Started - Classroom ideas for learning with the iPad’ developed the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development of Victoria for the iPads for Learning program, is a fantastic resource booklet for educators. It provides insight in the subject of integrating 1-to-1 devices successfully into the curriculum and in the hands of students in and out of the classroom. It is loaded with information on how to use the iPad in the classroom, tips and links to further resources regarding working safely and responsibly using technologies as well as recommended apps with notes on how they can be implemented into student learning programs.

This document, '21 Steps to 1-to-1 Success' is a handbook developed the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development of Victoria for the iPads for Learning program.
The document outlines four phases for successful implementation:
• planning • preparing • implementing • evaluating.
The 21-step sequence provide guidelines for leadership teams considering implementing a 1-to-1 program. For each step there is an overview, questions to consider, suggestions and links to relevant resources

This document ‘7 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT… iPAD APPS FOR LEARNING’ by EDUCAUSE - Learning Initiative (February 2011 issue), details 7 discussion topics centered on iPads as well as case scenarios.

This link directs you to an article by Jennifer Shettle on ‘Literacy iPad Apps for Teahers’ featured in ISTE's member magazine, issue March/April 2012 of Learning & Leading with Technology. The article details a list of literacy apps specifically targeted at primary through to middle and higher school grades.

Teacher With Apps website details featured educational apps with detailed descriptions and links to the AppStore where the app can be viewed and purchased.

This link directs you to a Google Doc spreadsheet that outlines TCEA-Recommended iPad Apps. The spreadsheet details and categorizes apps specific to learning levels and domains.
* Please note that this is an American resource so some apps may not be available or relevant.

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While the potential for classroom applications is limited only by our imaginations, here are a few examples of how teachers might use them:
  • Complete administrative tasks with ease. Use apps like DropBox to have students submit work on time and in electronic form.

  • Use 'Dragan Dictation' to record meetings with other teachers/students/parents or use it to record yourself teaching for reflection.

  • Track student progress using an app like 'Bento'. This database app allows you to create individual records for students, allowing you to keep track of things such as assessment, attendence, etc.

  • This Google Doc created by Tom Barrett outlines several (75 at last count) 'Interesting Ways to use and iPad in the classroom'

  • The use of the iPad will also become an excellent way to enhance excursions as a student can take notes, photos, research topics at the same time as being involved in the experience this real time exploration of knowledge will allow for a greater depth of understanding and better ways to assess knowledge as they could create blogs, wikis etc. almost seamlessly from the excursion.

  • As students and teachers become more comfortable with tablets it can open the door for far more global interaction as students can upload, publish, comment and edit on their own and other peopls work. This won't be just restricted to a classroom or school group it can become a global affair where students from different countries can share in the same tasks. This can be seen in the case study from Ringwood North Primary School who completed an online project using the iPads and had students from Nottingham England get involved in the same activity.

  • The potential for independant learning through tablets is growing every day. Students no longer have to go to libraries ask teachers or parents but infact can now discover and explore their own interests and ideas at the swipe of a finger. This of course has its negatives as we look at child protection issues and the quality of information on the internet but if this resource continues to influence students culture and it scaffolded effectively students could be come independant learners at a much younger age.

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Lesson Title: "Ultimate Overseas Holiday Destination"

Intended Target Age Group: Grades 5 & 6

Learning Objectives:
  • Develop geospatial skills: "Use maps to accurately describe direction and location of places"
  • Develop geographic knowledge and understanding: "Use geographic language to identify and describe the human and physical characteristics of local and global environments depicted by different kinds of maps, diagrams, photographs and satellite images"
  • ICT for visualising thinking: "Use ICT tools and techniques that support the organisation and analysis of concepts, issues and ideas"
  • ICT for communicating: "They successfully upload their work to a protected public online space. Using recommended search engines, students refine their search strategies to locate information quickly. They evaluate the integrity of the located information based on its accuracy and the reliability of the web host" (VCAA, 2009)

Learning and Teaching Strategies:
  • Students will need to use higher order thinking to analyse information and evaluate whether it is reliable enough to be copied on to their corkboard.
  • Students will work in small groups (pairs or threes) to support each other with learning. Ideally students who are less fluent with ICT should be paired with students who are more able. This will allow students to learn from each other (in keeping with 'Constructivist' learning theories).
  • Teacher will act as facilitator, providing the overview of the task and assistance where required (particularly technical assistance).

Assessment Strategies: A summative assessment will be conducted through the creation of a 'corkboard' image uploaded to 'DropBox'

Lesson Overview (click for PDF version):

external image lesson.jpg


Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA), (2009). Victorian Essential Learning Standards - Level 4. Retrieved 18 March from

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Our group initially toyed with the idea of getting feedback through an app of some description.
After researching the idea, we discovered that while there are plenty of apps that enable you to get instant feedback, all of them required some sort of subscription fee or payment.

In the end, our group decided to get class feedback using 'Survey Monkey'. This is a free web 2.0 tool which enables users to create simple and easily-navigated surveys.

To access our survey and give us feedback about our presentation, please click on the following link:


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But despite their ever-increasing popularity, the question remains: are tablet computers genuinely transforming learning or merely just a gimmick? Hopefully our presentation will convince you that tablet computers have the potential to transform learning.