Apple TV lets you control your classroom
display wirelessly from your iPad, from
anywhere in the room.
Instead of being chained to the teacher station, you can move among the students, or sit with them if you want. This changes the power relationship between students and teachers. Since the professor can now mingle with the class, instead of staying at the front of the class, it puts her in the same power level as the students. It privileges students with equality with the professor, and acknowledges their own expertise. Instead of being separated by space and tables, students have a literally closer relationship with faculty — which is why they come to SMC in the first place.
You can give the iPad to a student so that they can lead part of the lesson. Since the student does the activity, both the individual student and all the others pay more attention. This facilitates more meaningful participation in the class. For example, in Michael Alocca’s class on Fibonacci numbers in nature, he had students trace both the right-hand and left hand on a pine cone. One student traced the white lines with a finger, and another did the purple ones. It changes the teaching mode from “Sage on the Stage” to “Guests at the same table”. The students take ownership of the discussion, and the professor guides the discussion, as in Seminar.
When you give an iPad to a student, two things happen. First, that student is very much engaged because she knows all the other students are watching her. Also, the other students know that you might give them the iPad next, so they stay on their toes
You have the option of going around to any student and taking a photo of their work and pushing that up to the board for all to see. This sort of immediate feedback is difficult to replicate in any other way. It has been difficult for student work to generate and indeed be the focus of a lesson until we have already seen it, marked it and photocopied it for the rest of the group. Now, it can become the lesson simply because you’ve seen good learning happening in the moment. This technique was used in one class so that students could share selections of poems with the class, and then discuss the selections.
Just as the ‘flipped classroom’ model allows less time to be spent on going over the mundane or repetitive aspects of learning and allowing instead for the focus to be ‘deeper learning’, Apple TV allows you to concentrate on soft skills such as collaboration and discussion whilst still being focused on specific learning tasks.
A final characteristic of this technology is the multitude of apps – many of them free or with free versions – available. Mobile apps are generally made to do one thing only, but they do it very well. TeacherPal is an easy way to keep grades on your iPad. Sock Puppets allows easy creation of social situations. Popplet is a mind mapper, useful for sentence structure, among other things. Skitch is a simple way to draw a diagram, for when a picture is worth a thousand words. GeoGebra allows you make a graph, add a slider for a variable change, and as you move the slider it changes the graph, making an easy to visualize the effects of changing inputs.
We are just starting to scratch the surface of the ways that this remote control can — and cannot — change the way we teach and learn. Will using educational technology like the iPad make students more marketable? Who knows?