Thursday, March 15, 2012

Paperless Research Paper X iPads

Now that the iPad Cart in my building is up and running ( a process that was frustrating, confusing, annoying and ultimately rewarding ), it is time to start using the iPads in classrooms.  Along with a colleague of mine, @katrinakennett, we are going to embark on a completely paperless research process with a 10th grade English class.  The process will take place over a three week period and along with this initial blog post, I will be chronicling, blogging and reflecting on the process along the way.

UPDATE: Ms. Kennett will be blogging the process as well on her new iPad Research Blog.

Before we start the process, we had a conversation about the goals of this research process and why iPads would be a good fit.  I think it is critical to have this conversation when not only integrating iPads, but using any type of technology in the classroom.  The two critical questions we considered were:

1. What are the goals and objectives of the paperless research process?

2. How can iPads enhance the process and allow for opportunities that would not be possible without these devices?

Keeping these two questions in mind, we outlined both the goals for the paperless research paper and how the iPads would fit into the process.

1. Students will crowd-source their research to a collective research group.
2. Students will incorporate varied media types into their research: web based text, traditional text, audio and video.
3. Students will work collaboratively with their teacher and classmates on their research and writing process.
4. Students will become proficient researching and writing in a digital environment.
5. Students will become proficient in an iOS environment.
6. Students will incorporate web based content in their final research paper.

Why iPads?
1. Web based research & social bookmarking.
2. Access to digital content (text, audio, video)
3. PDF Annotation and note taking capability. 
4. Sharing their research process to create an open research environment between the teacher and student
5. Ability to post research content to cloud storage accounts directly from the iPad.
6. Ability to publish content online directly from the iPad.

Now that the goals and justification are established, it is time to outline and begin the technical setup to make sure the research process can be completed on the iPad.

Technical Setup:

1. Install the required apps on the iPad.
  • Pages (9.99) - Word processing app to write the rough and final draft. 
  • Dropbox (free) - Cloud storage for sharing research and writing.
  • Notability (.99) - Allows students to annotate PDF documents, type notes and annotate paper based research text research.
  • iTunesU (free)

2. Teacher creates a Diigo group

3. Students create Diigo accounts and students are invited to the class Diigo group.

4. Students create Dropbox accounts.

5. Students create a "Research Folder" and share the folder with the teacher.

6. Teacher creates a "Research Documents Folder" and shares it with the students.  This folder will contain PDF documents, guidelines and templates that the students will need access to throughout the process.  PDF documents are ideal for this folder because they can be opened in Notability, annotated directly on the iPad and then exported back to the student "Research Folder"

7. Install the Joliprint web to PDF converter on the iPad.  This allows web based content to be converted directly to a PDF document on the iPad.  The PDF can then be opened on Notability for annotation.

8. Install the Dotepub web to ePub converter on the iPad.  This allows web based content to be converted to an eBook directly on the iPad.  The eBook can then be opened in iBooks for annotation.

9. Install the Diigo Safari Highlighter.  This allows students to socially highlight and bookmark their research to the class Diigo Group or to their own Diigo page.

10. Teacher sets up a collaborative blog through Posterous that will allow every student to post their final research paper online.  Students will use Pages to write their paper and will export the paper as a PDF and then email the PDF to the collaborative blog.  

With the technical setup in place, we can begin the paperless research process.

Additional Notes:
  • The process will take place over a three week period and we will use at least two days prior to introducing the iPads to have the students create Diigo accounts, Dropbox accounts and go over the particulars of the assignment.
  • We are working in a shared iPad environment which means our students will have to login and logout of their Diigo and Dropbox accounts every days.  In the beginning we anticipate that this will be a minor obstacle to overcome and within a few days it will simply become part of the process.
  • Each day students will export their content to their Dropbox account.  We anticipate that most students will work in Notability to annotate, take notes and organize their work.  Each note set can then be exported as a PDF.
  • When students begin working on their rough and final draft in Pages, we will have them export their work each day to their Dropbox account as well.  This step is to ensure that no work is lost because of the potential for work to be deleted in this shared iPad environment. 
I will be documenting and blogging about the entire process, pitfalls, success and adjustments that we make along the way.  Stay tuned for our updates...


  1. A sound process indeed. I like how you addressed the issue of using individual accounts on shared IPads (Diigo, DropBox, etc.). This is has been a concern of mine when implementing any kind of IPad based activity. One question I have is regarding the apps, etc. being used. Are you spending time instructing students how to use them or are they already familiar with them from previous use in class? Also,I know in our district there has been issues with blog posts and other social networking being inappropriate. How do you track student user names (Diigo, Posterous) should an issue of this nature arise? Finally, I like the selection of apps being used, they will undoubtedly provide all the functionality needed to compete the assignment start to finish. One addition I might add to the list is DocScanHD which allows print resources to be scanned with the IPad camera and converted directly to PDF. If a student needed a non-digital source to be digital, this might be helpful. I look forward to following the process as it unfolds!

  2. As I began reading, I wondered about reading strategies... Diigo is fabulous for this! This is going to be a rich opportunity for your students and your instructional strategies. I look forward to hearing how the project progresses.

  3. It's too bad the Wordle doesn't play on the iPad. It's a great way to identify overused words.

    Looking forward to reading about the process!

  4. I can appreciate that pupils will become used to logging in and out of their accounts but what if you start adding more apps into the mix?

  5. Word it out is wordle for the iPad. Thanks for this great post.

  6. wonderful post.thanks for sharing this post.custom research paper