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OK, so I'm a luddite.... iPads in the classroom?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by rustybug, Apr 20, 2012.

  1. gogojonny

    gogojonny New commenter

    I have some weak students. They love computer tasks, and when they get it wrong the computer forgets it, and when they get it right (after 6 attempts) they get a shiny gold star.
    Now they do lots of other things as well - book work, worksheets, mental maths books. The computer provides them a boost once a week but I would never use it all the time.
    I have an ipad, have gone down the trying to teach with it route. But to be honest I don't think it will work. What is the point of passing an ipad to a pupil to show me the answer when I have a pen and paper, a whiteboard and marker? There's me standing at the front with a shiny ipad, showing the pupils what I want to show them, and in return they have to write in their exercise book with a pen?
  2. gogojonny

    gogojonny New commenter

    They will break! Imagine a class of 30 - 5 tablets don't work, spend time sorting it out.
    Plus these tablets all come with cameras and access to the internet - how dangerous is that? I'm sorry but I worry about getting cameras out these days.

  3. Tandy

    Tandy New commenter

  4. Tandy

    Tandy New commenter

    As I hinted above, I'm not talking about in a classroom setting - why on earth would anyone use an app when there is a teacher in the room
  5. autismuk

    autismuk New commenter

    Even allowing for the robustness issues, the £50 tablets are slooooow.... this table (for example) shows devices running the "3D Asteroid Benchmark" on Javascript/Canvas. (I do have a reason for this, I'm not completely sad !) - the higher the score the better. The top 4 are running on my good but not spectacular desktop. The 10.2" Android is an Arm 9 device running Android 4.0. The (Android 7") is a 7" WM8650 tablet running Android 2.3. (The new iPhone is much faster)

    <table cellspacing="0">

    <td align="LEFT">IE</td>
    <td align="RIGHT">3146</td>
    <td align="RIGHT">66</td>
    <td align="LEFT">Safari</td>
    <td align="RIGHT">2528</td>
    <td align="RIGHT">23</td>
    <td align="LEFT">Opera</td>
    <td align="RIGHT">2507</td>
    <td align="RIGHT">53</td>
    <td align="LEFT">Chrome</td>
    <td align="RIGHT">2241</td>
    <td align="RIGHT">47</td>
    <td align="LEFT">Firefox</td>
    <td align="RIGHT">1079</td>
    <td align="RIGHT">23</td>
    <td align="LEFT">iPad 3</td>
    <td align="RIGHT">591</td>
    <td align="RIGHT">13</td>
    <td align="LEFT">Android 10.2"</td>
    <td align="RIGHT">72</td>
    <td align="RIGHT">2</td>
    <td align="LEFT">HTC Desire</td>
    <td align="RIGHT">36</td>
    <td align="RIGHT">1</td>
    <td align="LEFT">Android 7"</td>
    <td align="RIGHT">14</td>
    <td align="RIGHT">1</td>
    <td align="LEFT">iPhone 3</td>
    <td align="RIGHT">5</td>
    <td align="RIGHT">1</td>

  6. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    The problem I see with this sort of "practice" is that, not least because of the weak ability of the kids using it, the range of potential questions (and therefore answers) is small.
    Take something really trivial like single digit addition facts. Only 17 possible answers which themselves are not equally likely.
    The kids quickly work out that they can get their gold star either by actually doing the maths or, by treating the computer like any other video game and guessing. If they happen to notice that odd+odd = even and odd+even = odd they can improve the accuracy of their guesses without actually getting any better at the main task.
    So, in my experience of "mymaths", I find the better kids get frustrated in that if they actually take their time and work out the correct answer (but make a tiny slip), they just get "wrong" and the less able ones - well the ones who make any effort at all at doing their homework - just guess a few times and if things don't get better, just submit the last effort they could be bothered with and that's that.
    Well, if one day, the kids actually get to keep the ipads (or an improved ipad with a pen), then there's the chance of actual progress.
    But that day is a long way away except, perhaps, at some of the best Independents.
  7. There's a big emphasis on problem solving skills in maths, something which current iPad software can do very little to help improve.
    Agree with Tandy, using a tablet when the teacher is in the room doesn't seem to make much sense.
    Agree with PaulDG, current software doesn nothing to really help when people get things wrong and nor does it caputure anything of what has led a pupil to that answer.
    I'm not in any way against technology in education but I fail to see how using iPads in this manner is any different from using a program on a computer. If we allow pupils to bring their own device than I would think school automatically becomes responsible if the shiny new iPad ends up stolen or in bits on the floor. I can't see mass deployment of iPads happening in UK schools any time soon.
    I do wish you success with your venture Alex but from the responses on here, I'd say you are on an uphill battle.
    How much market research have you done? Maybe ask schools in your LEA to try out the materials? I once did some work for a publisher (admittedly not in education) and they spend an absolute fortune on market research.
  8. Thanks for your empathy and agree about the uphill struggle.
    I don't want to promote use of iPads for the sake of it and with budgets in the state they are I don't expect LA's to invest in an unknown quantity.
    To give an overview of use that I know about: in Aberdeenshire, each primary and secondary was given a class set of iPod touch's a few years ago and they have recalled them and are pursuing a more structured investigation of how best to use the technology.
    There is also another LA in Scotland where they are trialling an iPad for each S1 pupil in one school. They intend trialling some of my apps - I'm not convinced that at the current state of play (i.e. functionality I provide) the use will influence the uptake of iPads in the Maths classroom or not.
    There are a lot more schools (abroad - Ireland, US...) where uptake of "iPads" in the classroom is taking place.
    I'm not totally put off though: at lot of the comments here seem to miss the direction I'm indicating and for the sake of repeating myself I will put that forward for the last time in this topic:
    Where the technology is available in the first instance (i.e. at least a class set of mobile devices - with the software that is installed AND controlled by the school - with no pupil access to internet, cameras, unofficial apps, etc.).
    Apps are then used to provide practice or challenge capability (possibly including homeworks although it can be argued that Jimmy may not have done the task assigned) - and the crux is that through the bluetooth networking capabilities of the devices, use is continuously being monitored by the class teacher (i.e. the teacher knows exactly what each pupil is working on at any moment in time - allowing for guidance, intervention, discipline - normal teacher things).
    With very little imagination, the class teacher's device, as it can monitor activity per pupil, it can also record activity per pupil (like Big Brother). It can also be set up to define what each pupil is to do on their device.
    This is NOT detracting from normal teaching, but a supplement - where pupils do need practice (which is crucial in Maths) - or in other subjects where the absorption of facts is important. I would envisage that this activity would only take up a small amount of time in a week.
  9. gogojonny

    gogojonny New commenter

    I agree - I can't stand MyMaths and my students hate it. I am growing to like Manga High - it is progressive, the questions start easy but get harder, and if they are wrong a general explanation comes up. The questions are more quick mental questions, rather than complex calculations. These complex calculations should always be book work, but there is nothing wrong with quick mental calculations, with the added competition factor of pitting students againt each other scores wise.
    To me this will never happen. They all get ipads, Apple will release another. They will break, get nicked, be forgotten etc.
    What I want to see is some sort of cheaper Kindle - all text books on a Kindle. Interaction should be practical in class with the teacher, not touching screens. Kids need the information and a good set of questions. PLus the ability to create notes on say a Word document and then email to their Kindle / sim device.
  10. gogojonny

    gogojonny New commenter

    My pupils have the exercise book 1.2; a great device where they answer questions in their book and I mark it right or wrong. If it is wrong they do it again until they get it right.
    I can see where you're coming from with practice - but to me that practice can easily be done on a PC (on something like Manga High). Pupils can access from PC, Mac, school PC etc.
    I think we are going a little crazy these days where the only learning that taking place is with ICT. Teachers need to go back to basics and get kids writing again - amazing how much learning takes place when the kids have to write rather than touch.

  11. So, that's 30 x &pound;300 for a small amount of time a week. &pound;9000 buys an awful lot of worksheets or textbooks that do the same thing, and rarely break, need recharging, get bypassed so you can watch **** etc...
    I'll stick to textbooks, thanks.
    cyolba, still wondering what all the fuss is about :)
  12. autismuk

    autismuk New commenter

    Even though I teach ICT/Computing Cyolba's point is a bottom line.
    I remember visiting our local primary. It had an enormous server (for networking) that could probably have run IBM. A pile of (then) new laptops. Expensive whiteboards.
    But the library looked very very poor.
    AFAIK (my children are older now) the server is used but underused, the laptops aren't used much, nor are the whiteboards.
    Education has had a stream of iPadian initiatives over the years which are invariably badly thought out. Software (like Alex's) is usually the issue - not that there's anything wrong with it, it's that people have bought the iPads or whatever it is this week without any real thought as to what they are actually going to do with them.

  13. That's interesting Alex, I hadn't realised there was such interest in iPads, though I might have guessed Scotland since I remember one of their LAs having a 1 to 1 deployment of MacBooks some years back.
    I can see where people are coming from, no, it wouldn't make any sense to spend &pound;9k just for a few minuntes each day but if the electronic textbook takes hold then there could ultimately be some very useful savings and gains to education. I'll be interested to see how iBooks textbooks are going in the US and what the UK publishers come up with.
    In that context, Alex's apps could be a very nice supplement.
  14. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Kindles are pretty cheap already.

    However, they're not very robust and for whatever reason text book publishers seem unwilling to actually let us have standard ebook formatted text books anyway - they appear to delight in only supplying something that sits within their specialised viewer. (I assume this is to control copyright.).

    E-devices also have the problem of having only one screen - their bookmark features are nothing like as good as "putting your finger in a page and flipping back an forth".

    And the screens aren't big enough.
  15. Indeed. Alex's apps are basically practice, but there is nothing wrong in that at all. No-one would pretend that they or similar (MyMaths, MangaHigh, CoolMath and of course CyQuiz :) and similar) are going to save the world (though I did read a submission from MangaHigh to the Government tht sort of suggested that !).
    What they do is provide good reinforcement and practice for those who need it. This is often underrated by trendies who write them off as 'drill and practice' and waffle about wonderful things done with iMovie or whatever without considering whether the children are learning anything much of the time.
    It is better to have nice solid apps to practice on rather than bad ones that pretend to "teach" the subject.
    Teaching, even in Mathematics, needs to be done by live bodies.

  16. I'd disagree a little with PaulDG, I think the interaction of iPad could really bring many things alive, if the publishers can come up with something a bit creative. The iBooks textbooks I've seen in from the US publishers have been sadly underwhelming, sort of like mymaths and mathswatch in one package with a few multiple choice questions tagged on.
    I think some have taken that Alex is proposing buying iPads solely on the back of his apps, which in fairness, I don't think is his intention at all.
    It's a bit chicken and egg with iPads, at the moment there isn't that much to justify buying them but at the same time in order to get people to buy them there has to be some compelling software to run on them.
  17. What do you mean by "something a bit creative" ?
    An iPad is still a computer and it still thinks like a computer. It can't do anything a Desktop can't, it's just more portable (and a lot slower).
    Anything involving comprehension, understanding, composition, interpretation is a non-starter. Even level adjustment beyond the trivial (say easier numbers in sums)
    There's a reason everybody does Mathematics things - mymaths, mangahigh etc. It's possible to mechanise Maths, the more Mathsy side of Science, some Geography, MFL vocabulary and so on. Has really to be solid factual stuff. It's possible to mechanise the production of the product (er...)
    Looking at MangaHigh most of it is the same (identical) runtime running subjects with screens flipping side to side that are functionally identical (with a few Flash games chucked in). Perhaps I've missed something.
    I don't think Alex is anything other than straight about what his apps do ; same for me. That's fine ; he's not pretending they are going to save the world or anything :)
    I actually think that's the way forward. Computers for reference and practice, multiple choice testing and the like. The rest is done by teachers. It is far better than believing in magic beans.
  18. One of the other threads may be of interest. I suggested that the things that would bring significant change in maths were:
    Improved numeracy
    Teachers being facilitated to monitor, record individualised daily progress of class pupils (by technology)
    Pupils taking responsibility for their own learning

    I like to think I'm chipping away at some of these objectives.

    By the way, iPads can store a large amount of useful educational material (c.f. Laptop) and provide means of making the material accessible.

    There are issues with iPads e.g. Access to Flash, held by Apple's monopoly... However, the technology is widely available (if not in school then certainly at home) and I for one would rather it be used productively for education rather than a toy. There are many apps for productivity that sync storage to Dropbox etc. that allow integration of file formats and annotation that make it an efficient learner's tool.

    In a meeting re mobile technology today the manager's eyes lit up hen he was told that one purchase of an app could be synchronised to a whole college set of devices (Apple's policy). It is chicken and egg and I don't know how it will pan (sic) out.

    Written on my iPad...
  19. But the evidence is that it won't be used in the way you envisage. Kids have mobile phones with internet access. Do they use them for looking up useful stuff? No, they arse about on Facespace. Do they use the "filofax" facilities (available on even the most basic mobiles) for noting down coursework dates etc? No, most don't even know how to access these services. iPads are probably lovely, but they are pointless in the classroom.
    cyolba, sounding more like a technophobe every day :)
  20. I'd agree with at least some of this. I would feel deeply uneasy about allowing iPhones in the class, especially with regard to issues such as cyber bullying.

    There have been iPhone revision apps around for the past 3 years or so. I checked with my classes how many people had them and out of three groups there were only two pupils with them. I'd noticed that MathsWatch was now available as an app but most still preferred to buy the CD.

    Regarding the earlier comment about publishers being a bit more creative, I'd say there are certainly a lot of similarities between iOS devices and traditional PCs but also some significant differences, if the tech folk can't spot those then they won't progress very far with what they are doing.

    None of the above is intended in any way to do down what Alex is doing, I do wish him the best of luck. I don't think he is asking much in terms of cash even for the paid apps, not when schools happily pay the £400 MyMaths tax every year without even a thought.

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