Today we put iPads in the hands of the students, and it was pretty fascinating to watch. Immediately, students began following their interests and trying to shape the platform to fit their needs. One student signed up his student email account, got a Google app for Docs, Mail, and Reader all lined up first thing. Another set of kids set up Facetime unsuccessfully, switched to student emails, and threw on Dropbox between hilarity with Photo Booth and video. Another kid read several articles on The New York Times and then grabbed the app once he worked out how to navigate the App Store. Yet another interviewed a fellow classmate for an article he is writing while another peer made videos into films in iMovie. And this was in the first fifteen minutes.
Students kept notes in Google Docs while they worked, noting questions and tracking their decisions as they went. Questions arose about using multiple accounts, sharing apps and media downloaded via their personal accounts, and connectivity (which was surprising and is something I still don’t really understand – they were working on the wireless just fine).
As we reflected after the fact, we broke down several categories of users that emerged instantaneously:
- The utilitarian – give me the apps I need to succeed in class and make my life easier
- The social networker – let me talk, chat, and share with my peers
- The media maven – let me have my music and find the entertainment and information I want
- The creator – smile for my camera, mug for my video camera, and talk to my recording device. I will alter, cut, slice, and splice until my little heart’s content
- The pragmatist – I will use this device for what it gets me of value and want to know how I can use to make something of value
All students veered between these categories at least a little, but some landed pretty solidly into one category. Surprisingly, I didn’t see a single student who fell into the social networker category alone. The kids who sweated over Facetime and Facebook also were first to arrange their student email accounts and set up Dropbox. Something is happening here and it’s exciting. My first impressions are much more complex than I had anticipated and suggest that we have made the right moves in allowing kids a great deal of flexibility, ownership, and a transparent role in the action research component of the pilot. I think they feel honored and excited to be feeding back information and teaching the teachers. More to come soon!