My college is buying iPads for faculty to use in the classroom. We aren’t the first college to do this. We won’t be the last. Our goal is to help faculty explore tools and techniques to connect students more powerfully with their own learning. We call this connection engagement.
iPads aren’t magic. They can’t make unprepared or disinterested students learn. They can, however, offer a toolkit for teachers to design learning experiences that are more personalized, tangible, contextual, and collaborative.
We now have tools to dispel the false belief that learning happens only in the classroom. Most learning happens outside the classroom. Nothing new. That’s how learning happens. Great teachers are able to connect what happens during a student’s few hours inside the classroom with what happens to that student in the many more hours spent outside the classroom. Mobile technologies, particularly tablets, appear to be good tools for making abstract concepts more tactile and, thus, more easily incorporated into a student’s experience of everyday life.
We are at the beginning of our Mobile Engage campaign. A lot of faculty are about to receive and use an iPad for the first time. There will be a lot excitement about the device and learning how it works. There will be a lot of interest in apps — finding apps, getting apps, and using apps. There will be a lot of fun conversations and sharing new discoveries.
I hope there is also a great conversation about assessment. Our faculty are going to try a lot of new ideas in their classrooms. Some of these ideas are going to work brilliantly. Some ideas are going to fail. How will we help each other figure out what works and recognize what doesn’t? How will we celebrate our successes while also making ourselves comfortable with sharing our failures? The ability to share failures quickly is going to make everyone stronger faster.
There will be lots of ideas on how to recognize and track the success of our Mobile Engage campaign. Like everything else, our ability to assess will improve with our experience.
I am excited about what’s happening at my college and am glad I can be a part of supporting faculty as they try new things. We are about to issue a lot of new iPads. For me, success won’t be measured by how many new iPads we deliver. For me, success will be counted in how many new conversations I have with faculty that begin “How can I..”or “What would happen if…”