Learning in the Palm of Their Hands
A secondary school reimagines education with iPad.
Coláiste Iósaef, a secondary school in Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, wanted to prepare students for future study and modern life. Using iPad to engage both students’ attention and ownership of their own learning experiences, the introduction of Apple technology has seen students grow to become more active, creative, autonomous and confident individuals. Compu b’s dedication to ongoing support was instrumental in helping the school to reach its goals.
Coláiste Iósaef is an institution at the forefront of education innovation. Representing a merging of secondary and vocational learning, the school is focused on the future of its students with an emphasis on the development of real-world skills. This core value is what drove the school’s ‘Power Up!’ iPad Initiative. “We had to look to the future and think, ‘What will students need beyond their time at school?’ By the time they graduate, they will likely be required to use technology at college or in the workplace, so there’s a huge advantage to familiarising them beforehand,” says Principal Seán Twomey. In place since 2013, the iPad Initiative saw teachers and students receive an iPad mini or iPad 2, as well as school Apple TVs, and teachers, parents and students attend information and training events. Deployment, training and support services were all provided by Compu b.
“The role of the teacher is changing thanks to digital technology,” says History teacher Eoin Shinners. “Students have moved from being passive consumers of information to being actively engaged in it, with teachers becoming facilitators as opposed to dispensers of knowledge. iPad is an integral tool for bridging the gap.” Coláiste Iósaef has collated an extensive program of content to meet 21st century students’ needs, creating an interactive learning environment to engage and inspire. Students use Dictation in language subjects like Irish to record and playback speech, iMovie in History and English to produce green screen role-plays, GarageBand in Music to write and record original songs, and Keynote presentations in various subjects to AirPlay in class over Apple TV. These new ‘fun’ lessons have had a huge impact on student motivation and participation, bringing modern learning to life with Apple technology.
From old school to new school
Coláiste Iósaef prides itself on promoting innovation and embracing technology to facilitate effective, memorable school experiences. “The key is to promote student opportunities. If you give them opportunities to succeed, and you encourage them, support them and recognise their achievements, it provides them with a sense of self-efficacy and engages them in their own learning process,” Seán states. “We’ve introduced a number of different initiatives: awards nights, inter-school competitions, a creativity week with art and creative writing contests – we even have student TED-style talks, to give them a chance to speak about things they’re passionate about.” The school’s keen interest in promoting an environment where students can flourish is the reason they sought out Apple technology from Compu b.
A dissatisfaction with laptops led Coláiste Iósaef to iPad. “I don’t think a laptop is of any great assistance to a student. iPad has apps that can be downloaded and used in a much more assistive, collaborative way,” Seán says. The school uses apps like Edmodo, a social learning platform and secure class forum, TeacherKit, with cards for teachers to record student seating, attendance, grades and behaviour, and Quizlet, a study toolkit with flashcards, tests and study games for students. Edmodo has been particularly successful, with students readily logging on after class. “They’re actually actively thinking about what they’re learning at school, and it’s extending beyond the classroom and into their home time,” Eoin says. Providing a teacher-moderated forum also lets educators guide students on how to behave and interact online, enabling them to actively promote respectful, appropriate dialogue between peers.
Before iPad, Coláiste Iósaef employed traditional teaching methods, but lecture-style techniques no longer resonate with students. “It’s much, much harder now for students to sit for 40 minutes and listen to a teacher, so it’s vital to have interactive elements in the classroom,” Science teacher David Owens explains. “I was initially sceptical about iPad,” admits Irish teacher Síle Barry, “But I’m learning every day about new and exciting ways to teach the language – and this is honestly something that is desperately needed with Irish… Now my students’ favourite question is, ‘Can we use iPad today?’” She smiles. “With a resounding chorus of ‘Yes!’ when the answer is yes,” David laughs.
“It’s not a chore to do homework anymore with iPad – you want to do it,” says Stephen, a student at Coláiste Iósaef. Friends Dillon, Aoife and Shane agree. Both students and parents alike have seen a noticeable improvement in grades – not to mention students’ attitudes to school. “I like when you get to make presentations and connect them to Apple TV so everybody in class can see your work,” Dillon states. The new interactive workflows mean students are now much happier and more fulfilled when it comes to their education. “The classes we use iPad in are way more interesting and fun,” Aoife says.
iPad also supports students with different learning styles or difficulties. “I had a little boy with a Polish background in first year, and we set a competition to create an Irish language dictionary using iPad, with as many words and images as students could find,” recalls Síle. “He’d not had as much experience with Irish as the rest of his class, but I’ve never seen anybody take to an assignment before like he did, creating a whole book – that I still have – that won the prize… Learning differentiation is a huge benefit.”
Compu b’s complete solution
Coláiste Iósaef had been researching e-learning, determined to find new ways to connect with students. The school’s previous experiences with technology were what drove them to Compu b. “The reason we looked at Apple was reliability. I have never had a teacher come to me saying their iPad has a problem – never. We used to give laptops to certain classrooms, and problems were always guaranteed; it’s broken down, it’s freezing, it won’t start… Apple’s absolute reliability was a major selling point,” Seán states. “We looked at iPad, with its customisable learning and quality App Store content, including apps, videos, podcasts, books and more. It was so easy to use and encouraged students to create – which tops Bloom’s learning taxonomy to promote higher thinking.”
Compu b’ s Education team and Limerick store provided 60 iPad mini, 80 iPad 2 and 11 Apple TV for Coláiste Iósaef. Compu b conducted teacher induction days, information and training nights for parents, and a full-day staff deployment for the school’s implementation, staying in touch to monitor the need for support. Coláiste Iósaef was delighted with Compu b’s services. “Everything we asked for, we got,” Seán asserts. “Getting iPad into students’ and teachers’ hands, and into the classroom… The deployment went quite smoothly. Compu b came out to the school, were always prompt in their communications… It’s the little things like that that make a difference. Compu b’s service was super.”
The update to a modern, hands-on learning environment has been hugely successful. Coláiste Iósaef estimates the print cost reduction is high, as teachers distribute far less class handouts – and students don’t miss them. The school’s goal, transforming the way students learn to facilitate a deeper engagement and understanding in their educational lives, has been achieved. And Compu b is privileged to have been a part of their story.
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