One good use of student iPads is to appreciate that all creative output that comes from the device can feed directly from real-world stories, delivered by the various news apps. There should be one of any day’s events, stories or features that connects to a learning objective in any subject area.
The iPad can be used to produce media products or documents that cover how the story connects with the learning objectives in question. Appropriate news apps for your country or even local area can be used by the students to make learning more real and tangible.
Connect the learning to the story. It’s just a matter of asking the right question.
How does the story:
- relate to current immigration issues?
- prove or disprove the wave equation?
- parallel the mindset of Macbeth in act I Scene V?
- show that humans need to change their approach to politics?
- indicate that health problems are linked to religion in more than one country?
These are just some examples (from the top of my head) but given that the news apps divide stories and features into categories, teachers should always be able to find something appropriate and design decent projects from it. It doesn’t have to be that exact day. Anything from the last week will still feature in the apps and offer a range of opportunities. Connecting topics to real-world stories often humanises the context and engages students through an emotive connection. Studying weather patterns is one thing but connecting it to the effects of 8 million people loosing power after hurricane Sandy is quite a lot more powerful, especially if you demand solutions to their problems!
This approach to learning does go hand-in-hand with project-based learning and does not fit well with the more common approach of one-size-fits-all topic by topic approach (fixed curriculum factory schooling – see right). This is precisely why I encourage it. 21st Century learning, if it is to be engaging and successful (long-term) must appear relevant in today’s world. Separate from what school offers, information is delivered to students too easily and quickly for schools not to connect it to bigger learning objectives and discuss it’s meaning and impact.
Technical issue 1: The news apps don’t often allow for the saving of images or the highlighting of text.
Solution: Use the 2-button (Home+off) screenshot to grab content from the screen and crop using the photos app. These can then be entered into any iMovie project / keynote or in fact any app.
Solution 2: Many allow sharing through email. This will give you the website link and you can grab content using Safari with the normal copy-paste.
Remember copyright and kids should attribute their sources when using the material.
Technical issue 2: Which apps?
To save me a lot of time, here’s a good list but I would add 4 things:
- The Guardian Eyewitness app
- The Boston Globe Big Picture app (now US only?)
- Summly app (quick story summarizing – great for kids)
- Look for your local TV news channel, it might have an app that covers more local stories.
Technical / teaching benefit: Safe surfing
Using the News Apps gives you a simple internet filter and is safer for younger students over general internet surfing
Make want to teach relevant to today’s world because it is and always will be. Humans will always be human and so everything you want to teach still has relevance even if it’s to discuss the stark difference between ‘then’ and now. Make the students think and make connections, hopefully while tackling problems that have a real purpose.