iPads for learning: Connections, diversity and coherence

ipads for learningIt was great to see the most recent publication of Computers in New Zealand Schools: Learning, Teaching,Technology, 25(1-3) come out recently. It took the use of iPads in schools as its theme, one that is certainly topical, whether one prefers this as tool for learning or not. As the editorial by Cowie and Williams (p. 1-2) points out, regardless of the device in question:

“One of the roles of teachers now is to help students end up on the right side of the digital divide which will not only involve them in changing pedagogies but also modifying notions of what it means to be knowledgeable and literate and how future citizens will fully partake of their culture” (p. 1-2)

Three colleagues from CORE and I worked on an article that pulled together three stories of practice within a framework based on the Bolstad and Gilbert (2012) future-focused paper: Connections, diversity, coherence: Three vignettes exploring learning with iPads in primary schools (Melhuish Spencer, Coutts, Fagan & King).

While this NZCER paper explored six key themes, we drew on the three over-arching ideas – diversity, connectedness and coherence – with a view to considering how current practices in schools might begin to reflect a broader view: “The challenge now is for schools to consider how their vision for education and learning is evolving to take into account the changing world, and, at the same time, to ensure that learning design gives effect to that vision” (p. 42).

The vignettes explored the use of iPads in the context of  maths, the teaching of letter formation and social sciences. We concluded that:

“The three concepts – diversity, connectedness and coherence – have offered a useful lens through which to view the ways in which iPads are currently being used in New Zealand classrooms. They have helped highlight the way in which this technology, and potentially others like it, can support active, personalised learning and forge learning related connections across whānau, learners and across time. The importance of a coherent design for learning at class, school and system level has been emphasised by the way in which teachers’ use of digital technologies in the vignettes occurs in the wider context of whole school curriculum and strategic direction.” (p. 51)

There are several other articles that also offer interesting reflections on the use of iPad – and other – technology for learning. Check it out:)

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2 thoughts on “iPads for learning: Connections, diversity and coherence

  1. Hi Karen, great article and I enjoyed the paper you wrote with Allanah and Tania – well done. I am unsure of (and still reflecting on) your definition of ‘connectedness’ and loved the vignettes. The thing I really like about the paper is how you’ve managed to bridge the gap between theory and practices – there’s lots of good stuff in there for classroom practitioners!

    Thanks for sharing it – Rob 😉


    1. Thanks for the feedback, Rob. The concept of ‘connectivity’ is an interesting one, if we use the definition that was put forward by Bolstad & Gilbert (2012):

      “This idea puts together (i) the “connectivity” that has become possible via the technical developments of the digital age with (ii) the 21st century’s emphasis on “third spaces”—working across and between current categories (people, groups, ideas, knowledge systems and so on), rather than focusing on the categories as “things in themselves”. The point of this connectedness is not to “get”—and assimilate—what the other (person/group/set of ideas) has to offer, but to work with them (in the third space) to together co-produce something new. Thus, connectedness is linked with education for diversity—working productively and happily with “diverse” others requires competence in working in “third spaces”.” (p. 65).

      So it goes beyond the technology of linking people together to think about how we can, for example, de-silo learning areas, groups etc that are often separate.For example, how might technology enable cross-curricular learning to occur in ways that encourage transfer of thinking and activity across disciplines? Lots to mull over there:)


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