There have been many occasions in which the iPad has been the central feature in breaking down learning barriers. Many schools are now introducing the iPad, and installing a number of well designed and successful apps, for children of all ages. Even some children in kindergarten are having their learning improved by the use of this technology. In these cases, the iPad isn’t used for their entire learning; it is only used in short and concentrated cases, around three times a week in what teachers might call higher-order thinking.
What is higher order thinking?
This is the aspect of education that develops a student’s creative, evaluative, and critical thinking skills. It is the type of learning that we might have at one time called problem solving.
Students – and when I speak about students I am still including those still in kindergarten – are required to use certain apps on the iPad to improve the skills spoken of above in a situation that they may not even understand is learning. Especially for the younger children, it might all feel like a game. This causes them to be more motivated than they might have been without an iPad.
As well as helping students on a large scale, such as mentioned above, the iPad is starting to earn a reputation of being the perfect device to help in specific cases. A new study at the University of Cincinnati recently showed how an iPad could be used to help a student with deafness or sever hearing impairments to engage in a lesson during such a time when an interpreter cannot be present.
The two phases of the study:
- A student at college took part in a lecture in a large auditorium to measure the effectiveness of having an interpreter on another iPad in a different location.
- The two communicated via their devices after the interpreter listened to the lecture via a program such as Apple’s Facetime video conversation program, or something similar. The interpreter signed the lecture in real time to the student in the lecture hall.
So many students with hearing impairments will have been let down by their interpreter failing to show, or turning up late. There may be very good reasons for this lateness. Please don’t think I am calling out the unreliability of interpreters. I am just highlighting that there is far more chance of a student being able to get through to an interpreter if the interpreter is communicating from a different location.
In the near future, there might be something similar to a call centre – a sign centre, perhaps – which a student with hearing impairments can call into and request a service. This would ensure that no student is ever let down by not having an interpreter showing up.
It isn’t only the fact that they might not show. In most cases they do. The important thing here is that the service the iPad can help provide to these students is one that empowers them. They don’t have to wait for help. They can sit with everyone else in the classroom and have the lecture signed to them almost without any other student noticing.