OR.... “The Right Tool for the Job.”
Here are two great tools. You can accomplish a variety of tasks with either tool. However, for some jobs, neither the hammer nor the pliers is the right tool. You can’t paint a wall with either one – that requires a different tool.
- Sometimes iPads will be the right tool for everyone
Think about the Substitution level of the SAMR model created by Ruben Putendura.
Everyone in your class might be on iPads to do research, to write papers, etc. This shouldn’t be the most common scenario however. It brings to mind images of students lined up in desks, plugged into computers, consuming rather than creating or collaborating.
- Sometimes iPads will be the right tool for some
This is where differentiation stands out and really helps your students with varied learning styles. Consider your students when designing projects and offer options for the finished product. It’s really the learning that happens during the process that counts after all. Allow students to make a movie, create a cartoon strip, record an original song, make a book, etc., to demonstrate understanding.
- Sometimes iPads will be the right tool for part of a project
We love to combine paper/pencil, iPad, manipulatives to investigate an idea or deepen our thinking. This might be a project that involves creating a book about a math concept. Students might use a math app or watch a math video (think Flipped Classroom) to get some background content. They might then use math manipulatives to practice/demonstrate understanding and to find complexity. The next step could be to choose how they articulate their thinking centered around this project – some might choose an iPad path, others might choose paper/pencil.
- Sometimes iPads might not be the right tool for anyone or any part of a project
In the end, as with any learning goal you have, it is really all about your classroom culture. What makes sense for your teaching style? For a given group of students? For the subject matter? For any particular project? Consider the types of thinking/learning you wish to have your students do: consider different viewpoints, find complexity, deepen understanding, make connections, create, imagine, question, observe, or investigate. Consider how the iPad can add a dimension to your students experiences that they would not get any other way. (redefinition, SAMR) And then, give yourself permission to let your students find their own individuality and their own unique way of articulating their thinking/learning.