July 11th, NEKLS hosted the 2012 School Librarians Workshop. I presented “Exploring iPads in Education” to a great group of school librarians  from all over the northeast region. We explored how one device can have so many different uses in libraries and education. The original handout for the breakout session can be found here. As you can see from the handout we broke down iPad abilities by general curricular apps, apps that address specific subjects matters, and additional hardware that allows even more functionality.

Under the first category are apps that could be used by educators and students for many different types of courses. Apps like Dragon Dictation that can allow thoughts to be turned into text five times faster than punching away at a keyboard. Skype so students can see more of their world from the classroom, or in some cases see their classroom when their bodies don’t allow them to. The powerful Evernote that lets you place notes, webpages, bookmarks, documents, audio clips and other files into shareable journals that are stored safely in the cloud. New econtent and full curriculum sources  that can stand by themselves or immerse your students further with text, audio, and videos.

We spoke how econtent can enrich the language arts. Story apps like The Fantastic Flying Books of  Mr. Morris Lessmore and Toy Story that blend ebooks and audiobooks, sometimes adding activities, animation, soundtracks, and sound effects. Shakespeare in Bytes provides Shakespeare’s most popular works with animations, scene notes, character breakdowns, and archaic English words translated to modern day equivalents.

Math is difficult for many individuals to grasp. For most of us we must attack the problems over and over until the processes are ingrained in our minds. These math based apps help us visualize something that often seems too abstract. My First Weighing Exercises gently teaches the basics of “x is equal to”, Algebra Touch picks up where it leaves off and steps a student through more and more complicated problems. Wolfram Alpha is available to show how the problems are solved and a graphing calculator app can replace expensive limited use equipment.

Virtualization seems to be the key with Science Apps. Students can strap themselves into science based simulators learning how to dissect an organism long before attempting to in real life.  They can explore our world with National Geographic’s app; this is one map that will not become outdated the moment it is released as it is updateable. Reliable data on all the branches of science is at their fingertips with Wolfram Alpha .

Then there are my personal favorites: the art apps. Professional quality apps with the inherit Apple simplicity. Be a musician or movie maker without complexities. Edit and organize photos with ease. Get into a painting with full multitouch control using Brushes or Colors! drawing apps. See the work of the great artists all in one place with the Art History based app simply called Art.

If there is a subject or a task then there truly is “an app for that”, sometimes they make the world more accessible like the Google Search app and sometimes they take the place of tools we always have used like Pen Ultimate. When an app can’t do it all by itself, then sometimes there is hardware that takes the power of iPad even further. A microscope that can multicast to hundreds of devices so no one has to take turns stepping up to the view finder. Apple TV that lets you stream a room full of iPads to the big screen. Every probe you can imagine piping its data to the portable iPad. Professional quality microphones that turn gymnasiums into mobile recording studios. Even a simple stylus that gives the user precision as it mimics real world tools.

So here is the through line: iPads and devices like them, make things accessible and approachable. I guess that’s what happens when our computers get smaller and easier to navigate. The idea is to make getting and filtering data, creating content,  and sharing globally simple and easy so we can be the best students, teachers, learners, and creators we can be.

The new iPads in Education: Apps and Hardware page can be found here. This page will find its permanent home at the eContent & eReader Resources Launchpad under the iPad heading, look under resources. This page starts where my handout began and has already grown to include resources uncovered at our workshop.


Photo Credit: Apple by Flickr user orangeacid used under a Creative Commons License