Steve Dembo: iThink iNeed iPads in the Classroom

Steve Dembo, Director of Social Media & Online Community

Bright, learning device, technology leverager, iApps savvy. Think I’m describing the new iPad? Rethink–and meet Steve Dembo, Discovery Education‘s Director of Social Media and Online Community, Mr. iPad Mavin and today’s (1 – 2:30 PM Terrace Ballroom B) Featured Distinguished Presenter. Steve began his presentation with a confession: his initial bias against the iPad.

A Father, A Son, & an iPad: Learning Before Bed

But when his first-day purchase slid into his son’s hands (he was a pre-schooler in the day), the heavens opened with sunshine. His aha moment–a quick convert. Although Aiden loves games like any other child, Steve smiles as he tells us his son’s math and reading learning occurs on the iPad before bedtime, their special time–and now a special Discovery presentation. Is the iPad a great early education tool? Absolutely!

Unlimited Potential

Why the i? You cannot discount a battery life of 10 HOURS! Your new backpack (Hall Davidson)! No more computer carts. Is the iPad a computer? Yes, if you use a portable keyboard ($35). What’s the difference between the iPad 2 and 3? Better screen but otherwise it’s the Pepsi Challenge. The camera on the iPad lets app developers design video apps. Steve said the real difference is $100.

Steve’s presentation style: multiple iDevices. Working from his iPad, Steve is also using his Mac–simultaneous transmission. Called mirroring, here’s how it works. Mirroring allows Steve to stream (originally intended for the Apple TV) from his iPad wirelessly to a screen. Reflection tricks his Mac into thinking it’s an Apple TV. So Steve’s program on the Mac is mirrored on his iPad and transmits onto the presentation screen. No cords, no connectors, no converters, no extension cords. LOVE it!  Classroom application: once the app is loaded and running, Reflection’s dashboard options let other students interface with the presentation screen. The downside: not for whiteboards yet.  Check out your #ASCDcuriosity.

An iPad is a social computing platform. Small, sharable, interactive, easy to pass physically from person2person. How often do you reach for your laptop when you want to show someone something? You don’t; you reach for your iPad. The immediacy of the human experience with this technology makes it a successful initiative, but it is hard to quantify. The endgame: is it used? Absolutely. Think about it: do you love your netbook? Nope. Think apps: 1 billion for the iPad/iPhone. Steve LOVES the iFont app and iFont Maker; the latter lets you create a font, upload it to a server for conversion to generate your handwriting as a font on your computer, iPad, iPhone in the cloud.

Font creation at its best!

Classroom application: each student can be a producer in his/her own font(s). Doodle Buddy is a whiteboard app, and all of these apps are great early childhood learning tools. Classroom application: Steve recommends combining tools. Use creation apps and email the end product to a blog via Posterous. Remember Aiden, Steve’s firstborn son? As a five-year old, he has a blog and is building his digital portfolio on his own digital space. Can you imagine teaching Aiden… If you are still weighing in on iPads in the classroom, take a look at a gem: Bill Sweeney’s video..

Bill Sweeney – Using the iPad in his Classroom from Alex Ragone on Vimeo.

Paying it forward

When districts begin the debate about transitioning to an iPad i-initiative, they can leverage their public using shared resources from other educational system who made the transition. Never underestimate the potential power of providing an iPad 1:1 initiative with positive press from the media, but remember your student’s buy-in will generate the best publicity. and they love iPads. From discussion to decision and roll out, Steve suggests documenting your work with mind maps and flow charts, posting your conversations online, paying it forward to make it easy for others to build upon your work.

WHO OWNS THE DEVICE? In a classroom, iPads generate more creativity in a 1:1 environment, but shared iPads make students reluctant to download apps because of the judgmental factor. Classroom application: students won’t try new things if they need to share; if it’s theirs, they use it differently. Without a login for an iPad, ownership buy-in without a 1:1 just does not occur. If your district wants to purchase a Volume App, you need to check each app in the Apple Volume Purchase Program. If the app you want is not there, contact the developer because they are willing to put their app into that market. Promise them publicity–play that game–developers love it.

DiscoveryEd on the iPad -- DENlightful!Classroom Application ~ App Attack: Appolicious is a great place to find apps, but so is a hidden-away apple site: Apps are categorized by subject matter for EVERY discipline, are usually paid apps, but are AWESOME. Discovery designed its own app, found in the iTunes store. Without a doubt, it mimics the laptop with a simplified interface; doesn’t have all the DE assets, but you can go directly to DE because Discovery made its website iPad compliant. DENlightful! Our aha moment. You cannot download videos on an iPad but there is a way around. Roadshow gives you a browser. After you open the app, type in, log in again to your DE account, and now you can download and play DEStreaming videos (other videos too). What happens in the work around in Roadshow: the selected video downloads to the top of your screen. Click and play. Classroom application: if you and your students want to edit the video, you need to send it to your video camera roll. The best way to do this is to email it. Then you can use your other video editing apps to create anything you want: a graphic novel or a comic book using Comic Life. Classroom application (and a reminder): DiscoveryStreaming has over 30,000 images in its vetted library; grab and go with them, select your favorite app and create.

Consumer or creator tool? Steve says begin with consumption and move to creation. Except for YouTube (and he has a work around for YouTube in his presentation), grab and go with videos. Classroom application: use as a work around for Flash for your iPad.

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  1. Pingback: Steve Dembo: iThink iNeed iPads in the Classroom – DEN Blog …

  2. Aaron Cooper said:

    It’s amazing how quickly ipads are now being introduced into the classroom. I think many schools are getting ahead of themselves and just jumping right in, however if done right I think it’s an extremely effective teaching tool. Kids these days are immersed in technology everywhere and it’s how they function for better or worse.

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