The best administrators and educators know that the key to any new district initiative is comprehensive preparation, goal-setting, and training for their staff. If you’re considering blended learning for your district or are restructuring your current method of using iPads in the classroom, what steps will you take to set up your staff and students for success? According to an article by Derrick Wlodarz, "If teachers have a common understanding of where the technology is taking their instruction, the student body will only then be capable of being led by the next generation of instructors."
Before taking the plunge and purchasing more devices, take the time to build a solid action plan. By helping school districts adopt personalized blended learning across the country, we’ve identified a few best practices that will help your district set up an exemplary iPad program and avoid common pitfalls associated with launching technology in the classroom.
5 Steps to Using iPads in the Classroom
Step 1: Analyze your current technology initiatives.
By taking the time to review the current state of technology in your classrooms, you can create a plan based on the strengths and opportunities in your specific district. iPad learning isn’t one-size-fits-all; your future program should strategically target your students’ educational needs.
Step 2: Identify your instructional purpose and set goals.
When considering an investment in blended learning, it’s important to identify the instructional change you want the program to enable. While incorporating iPads into classrooms could be innovative and engaging, introducing a new technology tool alone won’t achieve your vision. Teachers will need clear direction on how to use iPads effectively and to what purpose. An instructional purpose should think beyond the administrative decision to purchase iPads and consider how you envision the program will impact teachers and students. Creating SMART goals for your initiative will help communicate expectations to staff and teachers and provide clarity into what’s working (or not) in your program.
Step 3: Select target populations and instructional models.
A variety of student populations can benefit from tablet-based education in unique ways. When determining your target population, consider which grade levels will be using iPads in the classrooms. Will you launch a district-wide iPad initiative? Should you start with iPads in kindergarten and steadily add grade levels? You may be able to use different funding sources depending on which students will be involved in your initiative.
Step 4: Develop a schedule for comprehensively training your staff.
Once you’ve identified your instructional purpose, SMART goals, and implementation model, you need to consider how you will support your staff in adopting new technology and changing their instructional practices. A solid training plan is vital to any new learning initiative. Teachers need adequate training and ongoing support to learn how to use instructional technology to its full potential. Thorough training at the kick-off of your program will enable teachers to support students and establish clear expectations as they introduce iPads into their classroom environment.
Step 5: Budget for all components vital to program success.
After developing a plan for your iPad learning program, it’s time to identify sources of funding for your initiative. Identifying the goals of your proposed program helped to outline all the potential benefits. Splitting the costs of the initiative between multiple budget lines can help make the overall investment much more manageable.