Friday, March 7, 2014

Real World X iPads...and Tangible Play

I'm a firm believer that we learn by creating and doing.  In my time as a high school history teacher I was perpetually in search of approaches that my students could take to create content to demonstrate their understanding of concepts that we were exploring in our classroom.

The technology was slim and the process was tedious.  The resources that were available at the time in my classroom were a handful of Flip video cameras and one MacBook.  While the creation process was doable, even with 4 or 5 cameras, the editing and publishing process was challenging at best.

With the limited technology available, I found myself doing a great deal of the final editing and publishing of student work.  Here are a few examples:

While I valued the creation process my students were going through to create their work, the limited access we had to finish off the process (1 MacBook) made the process take longer than necessary and limited the amount of content they could create...

I often write about iPads and creative ways to use iPads in the classroom and a recent trip to San Diego to present at the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit brought me in contact with an inspiring approach to using iPads.  Keep reading, more to come on that meeting.

The interaction with this thoughtful team made me immediately think about my time as a history teacher when my students would create in the real world by using paper, pens and their voice.  The role that technology played in this process was to capture their real world creation, edit the raw content and share it with the world.  

While it may be enticing to transition to completely digital creation when iPads are introduced into our classrooms, I think there is immense value in continuing to have students create in the real world.  The iPad can now play the role of editing, remixing, improving and publishing.  The tedious process of uploading video from a flip camera into iMovie on a MacBook to then edit the contents no longer has to take place.  The entire process of creation, editing, tweaking, adjusting, re-shooting, re-editing and publishing can now take place on one device.  

To add another element to this concept, students can now create collaboratively.  The graphic below outlines a simple process by which students can upload video content to a shared Google Drive folder. Once uploaded, the content can be downloaded to one iPad for editing and publishing.

Back to the purpose of the post: Use iPads to capture and share the process of creating in the real world. 

A few examples of student created content that captured real world creation and action that was edited and shared via iPads.

Dan Welty is a physics teacher in Massachusetts that has his students capture the process and experiments in their physics labs.  They then use Explain Everything to turn their short video clips into video lab reports:

Shawn McCusker is a history teacher in Illinois and also a member of the EdTechTeacher team.  One of his students recently created a short video in the style of RSA animate videos comparing the philosophy of Karl Marx and Adam Smith.  All of the content was created in the real world with paper, pens and markers.  Once the raw video was complete, it was edited on an iPad with TiltShift Video and iMovie.

Now for the inspiration for this post.  I was able to meet the fantastic team from Tangible Play in San Diego.  I was immediately drawn to their vendor table because I saw stacks of wood pieces, pens and paper.  Tangible Play allows students to manipulate real world content that then manipulates their iPad interface.  Solving tangrams, making small machines to manipulate falling balls and solving word problem games by moving small letter tiles are a few of the apps that are currently being beta tested with Tangible Play.

Me attempting to solve a Tangram puzzle with Tangible Play

I hope that the future of iPad use in classrooms continues down the path that Tangible Play is trailblazing.  In the meantime, lets continue to have students create in the real world with pens, Play-do, Legos and paper and use our iPads to capture and share the process.

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