How can iPads revolutionise the teaching experience?

With the news announced recently that students will be using iPads on the International Business Diploma programme at INTO University of East Anglia, London, Tim Powell Jones, a teacher on the course gives his opinion on why this approach is the way forward.

This September, as all students on the International Business Diploma programme at INTO UEA London head into their new classes equipped with iPads, our teaching staff will be using the devices to develop new ways of helping them understand the content in their subject classes and engage with English language and culture.

This in no way will replace traditional teaching methods, but instead we hope it will add extra layers of learning and participation to ensure students reach their full potential.

Access for staff and students

One key aim of our iPad programme is to give students improved access to their core materials. Understanding (and indeed carrying around!) complex textbooks has always been one of the biggest problems that our international students have faced, and by providing these as e-textbooks we hope to address this issue.

Textbooks will be available on the iPad so that they can read and annotate them while travelling on the Underground, on the way to school, during lessons and seminars, or even check things while sat waiting for friends in a cafe.

As they will always have the textbooks with them, students can be explore them further in English classes, and social highlighting functions allow subject teachers to easily share relevant sections with both the students and their English as a Second Language colleagues.

We hope to record video content that will also be available on their iPads. While I’m not convinced yet that recording an hour long lecture is particularly useful for students, certainly shorter videos explaining key points are something that could be worth exploring, as is the idea of the ‘flipped lecture’ which is outlined here on the TED website.

student with ipad Studying outside of class
We can use iPads to develop study skills and digital literacies, because well-organised students are the ones who tend to succeed in higher education. By using programmes such as Evernote, students can record and categorise every note that they take in class, so when it comes to revision they know exactly where they are. Students will also be connected to the school via their email and their calendar so they are aware of all major course events.

iPads can also change the way students interact virtual learning environments such as Moodle, which can be transformed from passive repositories of PowerPoint slides into something where students can contribute, learn and interact.

The freedom to be creative

The iPad is an incredibly powerful creative tool, which means students can engage with the content of their classes in a more direct way. This could mean something as simple as creating professional looking presentations or going out into the local community, interviewing people and using the footage in class.

However, we also want to harness the students’ creativity and ideas on how to use the devices. In order to do this we will ensure that a dialogue is set up between school and students, that student representatives have the opportunity to participate in CPD sessions, and that the programme can evolve to best meet their needs.

In the end, we don’t want to be telling them what to do, but rather letting them have control of their own technology and their own learning.

Tim Powell-Jones

Author: Tim Powell-Jones

Tim Powell Jones is the English Coordinator for the Business Diploma Programme at INTO London

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