This week I had the great experience of taking part in a live streamed panel interview along with the Principal of my college and 3 other members of staff, including a Head of Department, a Lecturer and another manager,
The college ran an iPad buying scheme for staff 2 years ago, and the interview was conducted to ascertain progress since then with the use of iPads within the college.
It was a great opportunity to have a round table discussion involving the Principal and it allowed us to explore the ways technology is supporting college life. We have an app for visitors to sign in, a set of iPads in the Employment Hub for job searches, iPads in Hospitality and Catering for table bookings in the restaurant and food orders and all SMT members have iPads. One of our Automotive lecturers uses his iPad in every taught lesson, by using Keynote to create presentations, Airplay to share them to the class PC and then Bluetooth to connect his iPad and iPhone. His students can use the iPad to hotspot or pinpoint the presentation and he uses the phone to control the pace of the presentation. This is now his standard in the classroom and he is adamant that by not using the technology, his students’ learning experience would be impaired. It is great to witness this teaching, and the added use of other apps means students remain engaged and challenged – with only 1 iPad in the classroom.
The are also sets of iPads across various departments, most noticeably in Hair and Beauty. However, use of iPads is still very much at the stage of PC alternative or paper replacement. Staff are not using their or college iPads to enhance their administration or make full use of the many apps that integrate with each other and streamline processes. The reason for this, like anything involving tech and FE is simply a lack of time. Many staff just don’t seem to have the time to attend training or develop their own curiosity with their devices. They also don’t know what is possible.
The answer to this problem is for time to be made available for staff to attend training and try apps out with their students. The Hair and Beauty team at my college have a fantastic manager who has carved out time in their busy schedule to demonstrate effective iPad use which she models in all of her meetings and teaching. She too is new to iPads but is keen to engage with her staff in a journey of discovery. Training with me was arranged and a subsequent iPad skills analysis completed by staff to ensure training can be targeted and therefore effective. Staff are now developing in their confidence and competence with devices and actively seek out ways to incorporate them in their teaching. No longer are these devices being used solely for internet browsing within the classroom, but for active learning, collaborative opportunities and peer assessment.
What came out of the panel discussion and is evidenced in the departmental use of iPads, is that running schemes or choosing technology to implement cannot be done in isolation. There needs to be a sustained and well planned programme of CPD and support available. Staff need to be given the time to develop their skills, their confidence and also to be able to call for support as and when required. Without this, the ability to fully embed technology within a pedagogical framework and use it to move towards outstanding provision is not possible. Let us make time for staff, let us not just expect them to work it out for themselves. By identifying a small number of apps and working with staff to support their mastery of these, and sharing good practice amongst teams, it is possible for a shift towards successfully embedded technology to occur.
Guidance on the apps chosen can be found here: http://twitdoc.com/2X9C