Introducing a new way of working to an organisation is always complex and staff will always move at different speeds in adopting new methods and practices. Introducing mobile technology to the classroom is no exception to this. Our approach (although right for us as a school) has exacerbated this. We have full 1:1 deployment of iPads in Year 7 – this means that those teachers who teach Year 7 have had two terms of teaching and developing their practice in a 1:1 environment. The rest of the staff have had access to bookable devices but this is a completely different dynamic in many ways. Consequently, the inset day was about increasing staff confidence from whichever starting point they were at. Three diagrams I found useful to show staff that they are all at different stages (and that there is no problem with this providing that they are engaging with mobile technology) are the SAMR model, Mark Anderson’s Mandinach and Cline diagram and Rogers’ diffusion of innovation curve.
Although we have some transformational practice taking place in the classroom using iPads, this hasn’t been (understandably) representative of all staff. Feedback before the inset had raised a number of concerns that I wanted to address with this inset and future CPD. They were summarised into the following:
1. Technical problems
4. Classroom management of devices
Technical problems were mainly connected to the wireless network. We are a split site school and have a very fast reliable service on the lower school site. We have not yet upgraded the upper school site (although this will be done over the next few months). We have also just installed Apple TVs in every classroom on the lower school site. Technical problems are the first hurdle a teacher lacking in confidence may fall at. A lesson ruined by poor internet connection will deter the teacher from using iPads again. This is why we fully upgraded the lowers school site before our 1:1 launch – it is absolutely essential to do this or your scheme will fail.
Time is an issue of prioritisation. Teachers are incredibly busy so when faced with something else to do will naturally be concerned with the impact on their time. The inset day was about showing staff that is is worth them re-prioritising aspects of their work to take advantage of mobile technology.
Confidence comes with CPD and practice. With mobile technology, you can never have enough of either. The inset day was designed to give staff hands on practice and inspire them to continue to practice and plan after the day (much of the best CPD is self-directed outside of the classroom and structured inset).
The outstanding James Hannan from lrnmkr explained a few strategies that staff could use. In particular, the use of Showbie when using bookable devices to deal with the issue of retaining work between lessons when students may not be working on the same iPad. He also explained the guided access features of the iPad for the ‘difficult’ student in the class!
I showed the following diagram about workflow which all teachers will be familiar with. The workshops that we had planned would be based around this workflow with the aim of demonstrating how iPads can support and improve the traditional classroom workflow.
The staff were divided into four groups according to confidence levels and experience with mobile technology. (Differentiated CPD is vital for iPads and technology in general). They were to be ‘students’ in each of the workshops they visited and would experience a full workflow based around Showbie as the conduit for receiving tasks and resources, submitting their work and receiving feedback. Each workshop covered a different topic but I stressed that the content was not important – it was the process in each workshop that was. Each workshop used one or two apps for the ‘creating’ part – we were conscious not to overload staff with too many apps. One important tip is to get all staff to set up a student Showbie account – if they try joining a class using a teacher account they will not get the same view on the iPad. We guided all staff through this at the very start of the day – they also joined a ‘whole-staff’ Showbie class which we then used to distribute materials throughout the day (the day was entirely paperless – a first for an inset!). The workshops went really well and lots of staff felt inspired to take these ideas and processes further into their own teaching.
The final part of the day was about planning. We gave the afternoon to staff to put what they had learned into their planning. For some, it would be with their Year 7s over the coming weeks; others would be looking at next term when the Year 8s will hopefully move to 1:1. I sent out a keynote slide with an action plan pro-forma to be completed before the end of the day (I got this idea from an Apple ‘What’s Next’ conference I attended) and uploaded to Showbie.
The very last thing staff had to do was complete a Google Forms survey evaluating the day I emailed this out at the end of the day and the responses were really positive. The very large amount of planning that had gone into the day had been worth it (it had taken a lot longer to set up that I had anticipated). What will be vital now is sustaining the momentum and following up with further CPD opportunities over the rest of the term.