Engaging Preservice Teachers in Professional Development about iPads

Engaging Preservice Teachers in Professional Development about iPads

Katheryn E. Shannon (Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, USA) and Theresa A. Cullen (Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, USA)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/IJMBL.2016040103
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Abstract

The iEducate mini-conference was a professional development approach used in a college of education that has a one to one iPad initiative. Students were strongly encouraged to attend workshops on effective iPad integration strategies for the classroom during a one-week period. A total of 87 students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members participated and two-thirds indicated they would participate in similar events in the future. Participants indicated that opportunities to share their knowledge and collaborate with peers to explore new applications and integration strategies, connect new knowledge and skills to K12 classroom practice, and talk to K12 students about their vision for technology integration were beneficial outcomes of the experience. Discussion of the structure and management of the event, student feedback and plans for future implementations are provided.
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Context

The college of education being studied started a one to one iPad initiative in the Fall of 2012. Faculty received iPads and training from October to December and then undergraduate students received iPads in December and training continued with a joint model where faculty and students were encouraged to learn about iPads together through professional development workshops offered both during work hours and at night. In addition, several large training events were held that incorporated different themes to motivate and encourage students and faculty to extend their use of the iPads. This initial integration support strategy was successful but struggled to get students and faculty to attend workshops. Students receive the iPads for free and are allowed to keep them after graduation upon completion of student teaching. They do not have financial investment or any professional development requirement to participate in the program.

During the first two years of this one to one initiative there have been a variety of programs designed and offered to support faculty and student iPad use. In January 2012, after winter break, a one-day event was held the Sunday before classes with a keynote on iPad integration aligned with English Language Arts Common Core curriculum standards. Other sessions included iMovie instruction, choice sessions on apps and integration, and an iMovie contest with prizes. Throughout the semester, workshops were held at a variety of times during the week in addition to weekend workshops on topics of interest to students. Graduate students who were also practicing teachers offered many sessions. In April, sessions were consolidated into a week of evening iPad workshops that were also open to local teachers. Organizers and facilitators tried a variety of venues, formats, and day/time combinations in order to attract participants, however all sessions during the first two years of the initiative suffered from low attendance by the preservice teachers. However, attendance by in-service teachers continued to rise for evening events.

After two years, the iPad initiative was suffering from a J-Curve phenomenon (Jellison, 2006). A J curve often occurs as rapid initial adoption falls off as motivation and interest in the initiative wanes sharply. In order to re-motivate and re-activate the program, a large event was planned for the Fall of 2014 and was named iEducate to stress the importance of using the iPads for education in the future classrooms of our students. In order to make the event fun, engaging, and collaborative it was “gamified” by creating a series of points for participation in different sessions and allowing students to act as teams. In order to assure attendance, faculty were contacted and asked to give points or offer incentives to attend. For example, in one class students could attend and write a one-page reflection on their learning, or read a book and write a five-page review. Thus students were highly encouraged to attend by their instructors.

Descriptions of the sessions offered over the week-long mini-conference were provided for participants’ information two weeks in advance of the event (see Table 1). Session topics offered were determined based on several factors. First, results from first year surveys showed that students wanted to talk with K-12 students and practicing teachers about how they were using iPads. They also wanted ideas for classrooms that only had one iPad. Others were brainstorms of the planners that supported model uses of iPads in K-12 classrooms. A secondary goal of these workshops was to foster a Community of Practice around iPad integration within the college, so the events encouraged students to form teams and occurred over just a few days. Past surveys of students and faculty in the college regarding the iPad initiative indicated that they did not attend workshops because they knew there would be another one offered later, however they still failed to attend. Throughout the event we integrated tools currently being used in K-12 classrooms to manage the event including Class Dojo, Google docs, Google forms, iTunesU, and SCHED to model for students the integration of technology tools to manage an event.

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