iPads: Fixed or Flexible Timetables?

I’m going to use a really dodgy analogy to express my point of view today.  I’m a big believer in flexible timetables over fixed timetables in schools with regard to technology.  And here’s my reasoning, outlined in two corresponding stories:

Our school purchased a class set of iPads during the Christmas break.  They were good ones – pretty expensive, and whizz-bang compared to what we had in our classrooms already.

The first thing we had to do was work out how to use the things – they had plenty of apps and “extra features”, so we planned a couple of lessons around the devices.  Our iMovie editing of Halloween pumpkin carving, our Explain Everything multimedia presentations of the benefits of sheep dips and farming practices, and the Book Creator social stories about strawberry allergies were great ways to learn how to use the iPads!

Once we were comfortable with their use, and could see their potential in future learning journeys, we finished our experimentation and went back to planning our lessons based around our students’ needs and wants.  Last week, we studied the process of farming broccoli, and the students created an interactive flowchart using the iPads.  Just yesterday, we watched a video on live cattle transportation, and students practiced their note taking skills.  We didn’t use the iPads.

What we didn’t do was say, “every Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, we have to use the iPads.”

We used the iPads when they were the best tool for the job.

 

My wife and I bought a new blender during the Christmas break. It was a good one – pretty expensive, and whizz-bang compared to what we had in our kitchen already.

The first thing we had to do was work out how to use the thing – it had lots of buttons and “extra features”, so we planned a couple of meals around the appliance.  Our pumpkin soup, our cashew and parmesan dip and the strawberry smoothies were delicious!

Once we were comfortable with its use, and could see its potential in future meal creations, we finished our experimentation and went back to planning our meals based around our needs and wants.  Last week, we needed to use up the broccoli from the fridge, felt like broccoli soup, so we used the blender.  Just yesterday, we bought some great rib-eye steak, so we used the barbecue to create our culinary feast.  We did not use the blender.

What we didn’t do was say, “every Tuesday and Thursday night, we have to use the blender.”

We used the blender when it was the best tool for the job.