Early Lessons from iDeviceville

The first month of having a (near) class set of iPods and iPads in my English class has been rewarding in so many ways and challenging in many others (mostly logistic). Here are some lessons from my classroom.

What’s Tough

Syncing is a you-know-what

Syncing multiple iDevices sucks. Big time.

Personal is better

This is stating the obvious, I know, but the students in my class who are bringing their personal iPods to my class are establishing a much stronger ‘relationship’ with their devices. It’s like I’ve given the others a scintillating book to read, and have to wrench it from their hands when the bell goes. The ones who own one get to take it home and continue learning.

Not enough Flash

I don’t care what Steve says. Flash is good, or at the very least useful.

They ain’t laptops

See above.

They are the ultimate polarizer

No one bats an eyelid if you suggest students need laptops for learning anymore. Few people have a problem with the almighty interactive whiteboard. But, if you want facial expressions from adults that exemplify shock and horrow, then bring iPods and iPads into the classroom. Many cannot fathom what you could possibly be using them for other than simple entertainment. Even the ones that try appear to be getting a migraine.

It’s expensive

You can buy, let’s see, at least two, perhaps three, netbooks for the price of one iPad? Moreover, remember that the device isn’t enough. You need apps, cases, a place to secure them, and interior design to make it work.

What’s Terrific

It’s Social

The laptop is a solitary device. In my class, the students using netbooks or laptops appear to be in their own world. On the other hand, the iPad in particular was meant to be shared.

It’s, well, more polite.

Because I run a near-paperless class where devices are in students hands even during direct instruction, students are (or at least appear to be) more attentive.

IWB Bye Bye

Anything I show on my projector can now be seen very quickly on an iPad. It makes my moments of whole class instruction far less teacher-centred.

Gaming to Learn

Because of these devices, I feel like it’s the first time I can really use games as learning centres and workstations. I’ve been using many of the available word games for word study. Learning about them has never been so tactile.

The Future Now

Touchscreens and tablets are unquestionably the future. My students are lucky enough to use the most relevant tool available today.

Do my students love learning, and do I love teaching, with iDevices? Yes. Is it for everyone? Not unless your pedagogy is ready for it.

And on another note, I think The Simpsons are making fun of me …



  1. Syncing is a giant PAIN! I’d love to tell you that it gets easier, but it doesn’t. It takes us roughly 2 hours to sync the cart so we try to get the most bang for our buck before syncing.

    To get around the “flash” issue, try the Cloud Browse app. It functions as another internet browser – but allows you to show video with no problem.

    Good luck! I’m in year 2 of an iPod Touch infusion. We started with 1 class last year and now have 5 running. The “What Terrific” outweighs the “What’s Tough” by far! Chris O’Neal is a fabulous resource! You can find him on twitter @onealchris

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