Since the release of Apple’s new iPad mini, there has been a bit of debate whether these have a place in the classroom. Right now, we are into budgeting time and just happened to be on a year of a cycle of retiring laptops for K-3 students. Currently at our school, we are 1:1 Apple Macbooks from Grades 4-12 and have a shared trolley of laptops for Grades 1-2. However, laptops present their own host of problems for younger students.
Here are some of the issues with laptops:
- Heavy and clunky to carry around for little hands and bodies
- Battery life is not long on older models
- Software is expensive
- Difficult saving/transferring files
- Camera isn’t high quality
There of course many advantages as well but now we have the option of purchasing (roughly) 2 iPads or 2 iPad Minis for the same cost of one laptop (not including software). The question remains, should we purchase double the amount of devices making a true 1:1 digital environment?
I would argue that it is worth it, not only for the iPad but also specifically for the iPad Mini. Just from my experience working with iPads with this age group, they are heavy (can’t believe I just said that) for younger bodies but not only for transporting but for taking photos/videos. The iPad Minis are significantly lighter (50%). Some might argue that the screen size is a lot smaller but I have measured and the iPad screen size is only about 20% smaller but has a better resolution and camera. Finally, there a growing number of apps that allow for true content creation and transformational learning experiences that are not available on computers.
Whether the lightness and thinness actually turn out to be disadvantages, remains to be seen. I am willing to take a gamble and trial it out a year.
We have had great success with ebook creation on an iPad. It is fast and simple to use and suitable for all ages. There were even several MS/HS students who created eBooks using solely the iPad for all content creation. At our school, we’ve had Grade 1 students teach other students how to publish using this app. We’ve recently started a school-wide project called Write Now 1000 to be the first school to publish 1000 ebooks across all divisions and have had quite a few early adopters embrace this goal. So far we’ve published over 100 books (and counting). Another big reason for this project is to begin to collaborate with local indonesian partner schools to begin to empower many disadvantaged youth to be able to be authors as well.
Reasons for using iPad for eBook Creation
- When you are introducing the idea of eBook creating
- When beginning with younger students
- When you are creating picture books with more multimedia
7 Easy steps to Follow to Creating an eBook:
1. Begin by introducing the idea of an ebook to your students. You might want to have them browse some ebooks that have been published by other students so that they have some examples and ideas
2. Have a storyboard or plan for the book with work that has already gone through the writing process. Have students think about key content they would like to share and consider including title page, table of contents, About the Author, glossary, references
3. Introduce the app Book Creator. This is quite simple and easy to figure out. It is important for students to be able to play and explore the app before actually beginning the book. Give them challenges such as seeing if they can figure out how to change the font size, colour, add photos, voice and video.
4. Begin publishing the book. Ensure that the book is proofread by a teacher or peer afterwards. Leave spaces for photos along the way.
5. Begin adding media content to the book. It is helpful to do this after the content is in the book otherwise too much time is spent with the design component. To do this, you will need to get photos on each iPad. This can be done by doing a bulk sync (slow and tedious) or using the PhotoTransfer app (paid version allows multiple photos to be transferred at a time). Voice can also be added at this stage.
6. Students do have the option of creating their own artwork using Doodle Buddy or Zoodle. You will need to save the artwork as images to the photo roll so that they can be inserted into Book Creator.
7. Do a final check and then publish. Using this app, you can either share to iBooks to be enjoyed or saved to Dropbox to be transferred to other devices.