Tablet only teaching?

How much of the Bradford Computing Scheme of work can be delivered on iPads?

When it come to tablets to use in school the choice has to be the iPad. Although some Android tablets are technically every bit as good as iPads there just isn’t the range of educational apps for teachers to use. Windows tablets hardly have much fewer apps  in comparison to Android tablets. They offer and handful of useful apps as well as Word, Excel, Powerpoint and a browser.

Although you can deliver 90% of all the content on iPads we recommend using them as part of a mixed solution in schools. Alongside Chromebooks or laptops or both you will be able to cover the whole of the curriculum.

There are so many apps available for iPads that the choice can be overbearing. We recommend using a core of apps to get teachers and pupils used to the devices and then building up from there.

Strengths include: Instant switch on, intuitive interface, small, light, easy to use outside and around school, a huge range of educational apps, superb built in cameras and microphone.
Drawbacks: As they are not on a network some people struggle with transferring content. With Dropbox, File Browser, Google Drive or Skydrive there are lots of ways to do this and this isn’t really a problem. The device isn’t as easy to use for typing long passages of text as a laptop or Chromebook. Flash programs will not run on iPads. This is less of a problem than it used to be as sites such as Education City, J2e DB Primary and some of Purple Mash all work on iPads.

If we look at every strand in the Bradford Computing Scheme of work we can see where the strengths and weaknesses of iPads lie.

Multimedia Strand.
Creating documents such as posters, leaflets, tickets etc can be done using J2e, Pages or even Microsoft Word. You can also create, share and publish documents in DB Primary or J2e. Pic Collage can be used to add text to images and can also create posters. Books can be created with Book Creator- this includes adding narration and video. To create presentations Keynote,  Google Slides, or Prezi are choices that can be used.
Programming Strand
J2e has j2code which can be used for a range of programming tasks. DB Primary has a range of computing tasks built in as does Espresso Coding and Purple Mash through 2Code. All of these work on iPads. The Hour of Code works on iPads so will be fine to use. Scratch online cannot be used as it is Flash based but you can use Snap! which is a web site almost identical to Scratch that works through the browser on iPads and other tablets. I have to say Snap is not as easy to use on an iPad as Scratch is on a laptop or Chromebook. The Scratch Junior app can be used in key stage one. Other useful apps are A.L.E.X, Kodeables, Lego Fix the Factory, Beebot and Light Bot. Microsoft’s excellent Touch Develop coding resource runs on any platform including iPads. The Touch Develop resources can be found here.
Information Literacy Strand
As the bulk of this strand involves online research iPads are a fast and effective way to deliver this using Safari or Chrome. Teachers can use QR codes which pupils can scan with a free app such as inigma to quickly get to a page.
Data Handling Strand
Pictograms, graphs, charts databases can be created with Purplemash or the J2e.app.
There is no app for branching databases but this is also a problem with PC software unless you have Textease Branch. Numbers is the iPad version of Excel which allows children to create charts and graphs. You can also create tables and graphs in Apple’s excellent Pages app.  Creating databases on the iPad is also a problem as 2Investigate in Purple Mash doesn’t run on iPads.

Modelling Strand
Most simulations recommended for the Modelling strand are online and run off Flash so they don’t work very well. There are lots of simulation apps available to build theme parks, roller coaster fly planes and so on.. From year four the modelling strand focuses on spreadsheets. These can be taught using Apple’s Numbers or the Google Sheets app.

Sound and Music Strand

Garageband is the main app for recording voices and creating music. There has been an The app needs in app purchases to use all the instruments and currently schools cannot do this through the Volume Purchase Program which limits the use of the app. Book Creator allows children to record their voices and add it to their books. Custom Soundboard allows you to record. J2e allows children to record themselves and add it to their work. Apps like Beatwave and Mugician can also be used to create music. Buy some headphones though!

Visual Media Strand.
Creating paintings can be done with the brushes app or Doodlecast. Book Creator also has a drawing facility. You can make simple changes to images such as rotating and resizing in J2E and Pages and Book Creator. For more complex edits involving changing colours and selecting parts of a picture or adding text there are a huge number of apps out there. You can try the Befunky app or even Apple’s own iPhoto. Stop motion animation can be done using iStopmotion, Zu3d or Lego Movie creator.

Video editing is one of the iPad’s strongest points. iMovie is a fast, simple way to create simple or complex videos and stunning movie trailers. The app MultiCam allows you to use 2 iPads to create a studio with multiple cameras and the facility to cut between each camera. As the name suggests Doink’s green screen app allows a quick way to create green screen recordings.

I’m sure you’ll appreciate this is a quick overview of our scheme of work . Although iPads can cover almost all of the scheme I feel that given an unlimited budget I would prefer a mixed solution with access to desktop computers or Chromebooks. Speaking of Chromebooks I’ll write a separate post detailing how much of the Bradford scheme can be taught using them.

Tim Bleazard

Tim has over 20 years experience as a primary school teacher, twelve of them as an ICT co-ordinator. In 2009 he was seconded to Challenge City Learning Centre and used the opportunity to assist schools in their understanding and use of a range of new and emerging technologies. He joined the team as a Curriculum Innovation Consultant in 2012. Tim is a qualified E-Safety Mark Assessor, CEOP Ambassador, Apple Professional Development Authorised Trainer and a Google Certified Teacher. Tim’s role includes evaluating a range of mobile devices (Apple, Android and Microsoft) and advising on their appropriate use in schools. Tim is passionate about blogging, programming and using creative digital technology such as video, animation, photography and audio to raise attainment across the curriculum. He leads the very successful ‘Media Literacy Leaders’ project in partnership with Bradford UNESCO City of Film, the British Film Institute and Cape UK.

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