Best Strategies for Engaging Learners with iPads

This document outlines 10 strategies for engaging your learning with the iPad. These strategies are designed around the assumption that students have an iPad or another mobile device that can be utilized effectively. This is not a how-to document; we simply describe some of the types of activities and strategies that may be useful in a course.

What is iPad?

The iPad is a type of tablet computer that can perform such functions as taking pictures, playing music, recording and viewing videos, and browsing the Internet. Features of the iPad can greatly be enhanced by installing third party applications which can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store. These features can be commandeered by faculty members and teachers for instructional purposes. This documents contains third party applications links that will take you to App Store if you are browsing this document on an iPad.

Strategy #1 Have Your Students Explore

Send your students to problem based exploratory field trips. Give them an authentic problem to explore and guide your students to investigate this problem using their iPads. You may require students to document their activities by taking pictures, shooting videos, writing notes and recording their reflections.

Divide your students into small groups to investigate a real life problem. Using iPad students can share their notes and pictures with you and other group members to facilitate working in groups. Note that iPads are location aware devices. This means that you may set up notifications or reminders based on specific location to improve student experiences.

Apps to power this strategy:

Strategy #2 Flip Your Course

Use your iPad to create interactive lectures that your students can watch before the class time so that you can spend more time interacting with your students instead of lecturing.

You may create digital lectures and you may upload these materials to D2L for your students to watch before the class time. These lectures can be embedded with interactive features such as quizzes, illustrations, and popup notes. Have your students review these materials before your class time so that you can reserve your class time for discussions and questions.

Apps to power this strategy:

Strategy #3 Employ Peer Instruction Strategies with Student Response Systems

Peer instruction can be an effective way to engage learners. Combined with iPads and student response systems, it is possible to create highly effective learning environments. Have students review your class materials and submit their questions via a student response system. In class time, based on students responses, pose your students a challenging question. Give your students some time to think then have them discuss their answers in small groups. After discussions, you may use again a student response system to answer the same challenging question to see if any change. Your students and you can use iPads to facilitate discussions and to submit their responses.

You may adjust your teaching based on the responses you received from your students. Students may use an iPad app or our own web-based  student response system to submit their responses.

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Strategy #4 Digital Storytelling Activities

You may have your students convey of events in words, images, and sounds by working collaboratively to create a digital story and share their stories using iPads.

Apps to power this strategy:

Strategy #5 Teach Straight from Your iPad

Use your iPad in the class to teach and engage your students with your content. The iPad is a portable device with wireless Internet connection and this allows you to create more interactive, collaborative and mobile learning environments.

With your iPad, move around the classroom and interact with your students. This means that you are no longer restricted to the podium by using your iPad as a remote computer in the classrooms. This way you can check your documents, share presentation and browse the Internet. You may also share your content with your students.

Apps to power this strategy:

Strategy #6 Documented Problem Solving Activities in Class 

Documented problem solving is an active learning technique that require learners to document the steps they take in solving a problem. This method allows learners more aware of their learning and progress. You may ask students to keep track of the steps they take to complete your assignments to implement this strategy. Students may employ the iPad to document their activities. This documentation can be a note, audio or video describing the steps.

By sharing screens, you may see students progress as they they complete the assignment. This will let you scaffold your students and give effective feedbacks when necessary.

Apps to power this strategy:

Strategy #7 Provide your Students with Multiple Ways to Express Themselves

One of the main purpose of assessments is to determine what a learner knows. To measure student learning can be difficult. An effective lesson planning involves learners to be assessed in multiple ways. Allow learners showcase their creativity. iPad can be a great tool for students to create learning artifacts that can be also used as assessment purposes.

Have your students complete a project in groups. Ask students to demonstrate their understanding in various formats. For instance, some groups may decide to present their ideas by creating movies or musics or  while others may select to design presentations, concept maps or ebooks.

Apps to Power This Strategy:

Strategy #8 Enhance Your Course by Integrating interactive Reference Apps into your Teaching and Learning Activities

Enrich your course by providing your students with interactive audio, video, and interactive educational resources. Not only may these resources teach your students knowledge, they also enable your students to have social, historical, scientific and economic encounters.

These apps can be integrated in your course. Have students explore and investigate various resources and use these interactions to stimulate discussions in any discipline such as English, Geography, Science, Art or Word Languages.

Apps to Power This Strategy:

Strategy #9 Have Your Students Explore Case Based Scenarios

Case based teaching methods are common in higher education settings. Cases are real life problems designed to stimulate discussions and collaboration by bringing real life into student learning.

This strategy may be a part of your flipped course. Create a case that requires your students to reach a judgment or recommendations and have your students read or watch your case and ask them come to the class prepared. Also include in pre-class activities, reports, news articles, original documents or artifacts about your case for students to review. All these activities can be prepared via your iPad. In class time, divide students into groups and guide discussions and invite active participation and innovative solutions to your case. Students in class may also use iPads to facilitate discussions and brainstorming.

Apps to power this strategy

Strategy # 10 Teaching with Simulations and Games

The basics: Educational simulations and games promote active learning. Simulations and games can be great teaching techniques as they spark student interest and curiosity. They may engage learners in critical, evaluative and problem solving thinking. An iPad can help you design games and simulations. Based on your objectives, you may create interactive and engaging simulations and games that can be used as a teaching tool. You may also ask your students to design simulations and games as a learning activity.

Apps to power this strategy:


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