Thursday, June 5, 2014

Gratitude for 1:1 iPad Program

Faculty iPad with Friends Seminary Logo on Cover
 Leaders in different fields make decisions and policies without always being able to predict the exact consequences of those decisions. I suspect the same thing occurred at my school when we instituted a 1:1 iPad program years ago. Even though I personally prefer laptops for science due to their superior graphing options and ability to play Flash-based simulations, I have to admit the 1:1 device initiative set the conditions for programmatic innovation. 

 Our 1:1 iPad program started in a select number of grades a few years ago. I'm thankful my first full year flipping Introductory Biology coincided with 8th graders having their own iPads. At this point, I no longer print materials. Students decide whether they want to complete their work in Google Drive, Notability or print it. They decide whether they want to submit their work via email, Google Drive or show me in class. Since students work at their own pace, they need to have constant access to course materials. At any instant, students need to be able to watch a video, take an online quiz, or do some research. None of this is possible, or at least as seamless, without some sort of 1:1 program. 

It's easy to take the 1:1 iPad program for granted. However, I'm reminded of its importance when a student forgets to charge his or her device, or is waiting for repairs. Without a laptop cart as a backup during those periods, some students would have a difficult time progressing through the learning cycle. 

I'm unsure if the school leadership predicted the rise of blended, flipped or asynchronous courses years ago when we insitituted one of the earliest 1:1 iPad programs. What I do know is the 1:1 iPad program has been crucial to the success of my course. Students have benefitted tremendously, have become more independent and self reliant, in part, due to the ubiquitous devices we've come to take for granted. Thank you to the school leadership for setting the conditions for flipped learning before I even became aware that I wanted to go in that direction.