My experience with using the iPad in the classroom with my students has been an eye-opening journey. I received a half a classroom set (12) in a cart around March of 2012 after submitting a grant proposal in August 2011.
Without any formal training in incorporating the iPad, my success and failures have been the results of nothing more than liberal amounts of trial, reflection, and reading, reading, reading. Increasingly, as more educators learn how best to use the iPad in the classroom, more are willing to share their experiences. I have found Twitter and most recently Google+ as great resources.
As the first year is almost up I took a look at one aspect of student use of the iPad in my classroom. The numbers I found this weekend are staggering.
Students are writing at least 2x more than I otherwise could have expected with simple paper and pen.
However, the numbers accounting for how much students have read and commented on the work of their peers has begun to elevate the iPad as a writing tool in my opinion. I can think of no other way I could have replicated the already 14, 625 views of student work by the kids in my classes. Even if I were to assign it, somehow, I do not know how I could best measure that simple task: read the work of your peers.
My expectations are rather simple: write one blog entry per week. For that, students receive a credit for having written. I do not assign topics, nor do I grade them. I encourage peer feedback, and I offer feedback on the posts as well. Additionally, I will post my own slices of life for student consumption and feedback.
The difference with the iPad as opposed to a laptop cart or taking students to the computer lab (difficult to do regularly), or even assigning "write to the student blog tonight" is the there is something in its ease, portability, and accessibility. Something about the iPad does not seem to make writing feel like writing...or taken another way, it removes writing from the yoke of something "one just does for school" and opens it up to writing is a way for me to have a voice because I know my peers are reading my words.