There is More to iPads in the Classroom Than Apps

In a previous post, Evaluating Apps with Transformative Use of the iPad in Mind, I describe my ambivalence about teacher asking my for the “perfect” app to teach this or that.

I have teachers ask  me frequently about app recommendations for different subject areas.

  • “What app could I use to teach subtraction?”
  • “What app would you recommend for my students to practice writing?”
  • “I want to use iPads in my Science class. What app is good for that?”

I usually sigh to myself, when I receive questions like that. While I am not against in suggesting apps ( which I love doing), I am not comfortable with the level of disconnect between the teacher (who knows her/his students best) and the curriculum related skills and objectives and pedagogical relationship that needs to be in place for an app to be a match to use in a classroom or with an individual learner.

In a recent article, titled ” How the iPad Can Transform Classrooms” by Ben Johnson on Edutopia, raises awareness of the difference between using the iPad as a way to teach students versus the iPad as a tool to learn for students.

The lesson planning questions I hope my teachers will learn to ask will change from “How can I teach this content?” to, “How can I get students to learn this content?” I hope they will answer this question with open-ended learning activities rather than saying, “I have an app for that.”

He calls for the paradigm shift in seeing the iPad as a TOOL TO THINK WITH:

Sure there may be some useful apps that help the student gain the skills, knowledge or insight into the subject, and a teacher might want the class to do it together, but focusing solely on the apps, or student control, limits the true potential of the iPad — “a tool to think with.”

images used with permission from Andrea Hernandez @edtechworkshop


In an effort to NOT see only apps and to turn the focus on pedagogy and the iPad as a LEARNING and THINKING tool, I am continuing to try to bring attention to apps THROUGH THE LENS of Bloom’s Taxonomy, Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences and 21st Century Skills and Literacies.

You can download all four images as a pdf.



iPad apps and Bloom’s Taxonomy

iPad apps and The Digital Learning Farm