So far we’re okay. We’ve learned things, made some mistakes and had a near disaster (exaggeration). My goal with this class is to use technology but not to allow that technology to be noisy. What I mean by this is that in Comp. and Lit. increasingly I have found that students have trouble just reading and just writing. They wear headphones; they check their phones; they are used to web reading and are constantly following links or looking at videos,etc. Being still and reading seems to be challenging. Even so, I am not anti-device and I really wanted to do this project to see how it could work in a more traditional classroom, but not be an interference. What’s happened so far?
Dropbox. I experimented a bit with this app last semester and found it successful. In this class I’ve created a shared folder where they can upload their weekly reader responses (non-graded, shared work). Sometimes I have them choose a partner, access that person’s work from the folder and annotate it; sometimes only I read them and briefly annotate them. I then have been projecting this work in class and using it to aid discussion. Work is only ever publicly shared in a complimentary way. I had them email their first essay to me which I then put into a dropbox folder that only I can access. iAnnotate. We are really liking this app (at least I am). Work can be downloaded directly from dropbox and then emailed to a student or sent back to a dropbox folder. The annotation tools are good and I no longer have students asking me to decipher my handwriting (embarrassing b/c sometimes I can’t). These apps in tandem are making my life much tidier and more organized–I like not having piles of papers to keep track of. Notability. This is a nice note taking app. Several students are using it regularly not just in our class, but in all their classes. I’m using it for all 5 of my classes to keep notes and ideas, assignments etc. Pages. This seems to be working well. Many students are doing their assigned work with this app rather than on their laptops. Some are using it for note taking. My favorite use so far was for the in-class essay (aside from probs listed below). Again–such a reduction in paper!
The So So
The Kindle app. Nothing wrong with the app–it works fine. I had envisioned the whole class reading books on their iPad, however several wanted real books (i like this in them), so the problem we’re having is with page numbers. The Kindle version doesn’t quite line up with the print so we waste a bit of time scrambling to sync everybody. I actually like ibooks better but we couldn’t get our current text through it–it has a much more limited selection than Kindle. I also have to admit that i think I prefer a real book aesthetically–and the iPad is not easy on the eyes after a certain amount of time.
The Mini Crisis
One of my visions for the iPad was its use for in class essays. No bluebooks. Everybody gets to type–something they’re always asking to do. Last week the big day arrived. I projected the prompt on the screen and gave the option to use bluebooks or to write on Pages and then email work to me when time was called. Half the class went traditional, half went iPad. But then there was no wifi. Okay. Maybe they just write and it will come back up. The first problem was that several students didn’t have a book–this was a bookstore problem and we couldn’t get the edition I wanted electronically. These students had been finding the poems on google. But on this day they couldn’t get the poems. They solved this problem by using their iPads to photo the actual book pages–although this was slightly inefficient as they had to flip back and forth from pages to the photo. The bigger problem arose when the time was up and they needed to email their work. I told them not to worry; email in an hour or whenever it came back up. It didn’t for hours. I was inundated with emails from students frantically explaining they were in the library! in the basement of Serra! in their car! and nothing was working. i actually wasn’t worried about cheating and it was sort of sweet how concerned they were. Anyway, most left campus and the work was sent.
Students need to be told to put their names on their documents as well as the name of the assignment. Who knew? The first time I had them upload responses to Dropbox, I had 15 Dickinsonresponse.doc or poetry.doc. I think we’re straight now.