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Enhancing inquiry learning using iOS - iPod Touches and iPads

Tags: Effective pedagogy | English | Student inquiry | 1-1 Digital technologies | BYOD | iPads | Primary | Upper primary |

Students at Kaipara Flats School used mobile devices to help develop their information processing and analysis skills.

"Our school regularly reviews the way technology is embedded in effective learning and teaching."
eLPF 2014

Focusing Inquiry

Curriculum design at Kaipara Flats School includes a focus on inquiry learning. Teachers recognised early on that increased access to technology, alongside teaching and learning designed in response to the particular needs and interests of students, could make learning more meaningful.

iPod touches and iPads were used to support students’ inquiry learning.

Why teach with iPods and iPads? These devices offer:

  • opportunities for the students to contribute to and participate in an increasingly connected world
  • relevance to existing learning experiences of the students
  • unique learning opportunities for students, who respond to visual and audio capabilities of the devices
  • ease of use and increased opportunities for diverse learners.

“The vision for our children is to be confident and connected. Access to technologies such as mobile devices to support learning can provide increased opportunities for our children to be actively involved in their learning”

Cameron Lockie

Teaching and Learning

Getting started

Each teacher received an iPod Touch six weeks prior to the devices being made available to students. During this time professional learning and development (PLD) enabled teachers to become familiar with the device’s functions, and explore possible strategies to support student learning. As a result teachers were more confident to plan for classroom implementation.

iPod touch

In the initial stages devices were used to support existing programmes of learning in maths and literacy. This included considering both managing access and planning and designing learning opportunities in response to student interests and needs.

Important considerations when selecting iOS applications for learning also included:

  • opportunities for students to collaborate
  • the use of other relevant digital content and learning experiences.

Making Connections

Comic-Strip product screenshot

Providing opportunities for students to make connections between reading and writing helps them understand and notice how their learning in reading and writing is linked.

In this example students used a comic strip application to write and retell stories. Photos were taken using the device and selected in the comic strip app.

Students added their content using templates and captions. Comic strips could be shared and responded to online through a wiki, student blog, or ePortfolio.

Enhanced Opportunities to Learn

In the early stages of implementation teachers and students quickly responded to having access to a digital camera. Using mobile devices also enhanced opportunities for students to engage in language experience activities that were motivating and led to meaningful writing.

  • In this example students researched All Blacks participating in the Rugby World Cup. The information was used to develop interview questions.
  • Students then filmed a role play interview using their iPod Touch and editing in iMovie .
  • Students have also taken advantage of the increased access and mobility to record digital images both in and beyond the school environment, for example special events, practical activities, objects.
  • When combined with an instructional purpose, digitally recorded experiences are providing increased opportunities for teachers and students to develop a shared language as ideas and thinking are transformed into writing.

A professional learning community

Professional Learning Communitites product screenshot

While the devices were very easy to use, a key focus for teachers was to identify how they would add value to teaching and learning. This was led at a principal level, however, with a small staff there were a lot of opportunities to share, mentor, and collaborate with others. It began with an inquiry approach intended to support teachers and students to be active participants, and included questions such as:

  • "What is happening?"
  • "What might need to change?"
  • "What are the next steps for learning?"

Teacher reflection

Teachers noted that as a result of integrating mobile technologies at Kaipara Flats School students benefitted from:

  • enhanced opportunities to learn
  • increased motivation and engagement in learning
  • increased access to technology and web based resources
  • increased opportunities through mobility to take their learning beyond the classroom, and
  • increased opportunities to become more actively involved in their learning.

“The beauty of iPod Touches is their mobility. Each classroom has between 3-4 desktop computers and 2-3 laptops. Initially each class received between 2-3 iPads and 4-6 iPod Touches. Staff and students can move around the school and share in the staffroom, classroom, playground, wherever there is wireless.”

Cameron Lockie

Participating in opportunities to use the devices at their own pace and experiencing success with their learning has contributed to this.

Students demonstrated greater ownership of the learning process, including varying the selection and use of applications to meet their needs. Increased confidence to lead conversations with their teachers also provided valuable insights for teachers as they inquired into the impact of using mobile technologies.

Teaching as inquiry provided a useful framework for teachers to consider the impact of teaching with mobile devices. Importantly it ensured that key messages about effective use helped to inform decision-making at all stages.

After the initial novelty teachers also noticed that students began to select technology in response to their immediate need. While the devices provided increased access students were also able choose to use laptops or desktops computers in classrooms.

Kaipara Flats School had a robust and dependable infrastructure, a reliable network, and a wireless system. These all helped to ensure that learning needs were supported. 

Online discussions

Join the Virtual Learning Network (VLN)  and participate in these discussions.

BYOD in Schools  – a community group with discussions and a collection of interesting readings from NZ educators.
Managing BYOD at Albany
BYOD: How to use mobile technologies effectively  – featuring Dorothy Burt, Mark Quigley, and Donna Smith sharing their vision, process and progress, benefits and challenges for BYOD in their schools.

Software types

Find out more about the software types used in this snapshot.

BYOD/Mobile technologies