Making iPad Kids think big

I teach a unit to Years 7s and 8s on digital citizenship that centres on the theme of respecting yourself and others when online and using mobile devices. The opening lesson of this focusses on respecting themselves as people who can make a difference, especially with devices like the iPad and the new services online. I run through a series of examples where teenagers have made themselves successful primarily by having an “I can” approach to life.

I don’t like to focus on money making but it certainly grabs their attention.
Here’s a summary of the sort of things I discuss: (The icons are links)


All a kid needs to take over the world is an email! This is a simple idea but when you explain that blogging (WordPress or Blogger)on their favourite topic (Even if it’s Clash of Clans!), dividing up the topic into areas, such as tools, skills, strategies, training. Then writing for 1/2 an hour, twice a week on a new idea or lesson for your readers can make you a world name in your chosen area. I even use myself as an example!

You can spark their interest by explaining that A) Millions of kids around the world will be looking for a Kid’s perspective on the topic and B) Once they have readers, Google Adsense will bring home the money!


Making videos on the iPad is easy and uploading them to Youtube is a single button click! Again best on a single topic, kids can video their own information or lessons and build a following. Children always prefer watching their peers more than adults and learning is more effective and fun. This gives any student a potential audience of subscribers for their chosen topic. One girl in my class started a child’s channel on horse riding! Popular channels will be approached by Youtube to add adverts and the money might start rolling in!
Example (50,000 views a video!):


Free publishing is the new thing and opens new opportunities to young people to make money from their writing and imagination. Amazon are now publishing free plus many others like I find kids are happy to write on the iPad and should not be encouraged to think that their works wouldn’t be published or enjoyed by a large audience. Here’s 2 case studies: 1. Teenage Author 2. Young Author. If you make an informative non-fiction iBook then Apple will publish it but you’ll need to make it on a Mac computer with iBooks Author.


In a previous post I covered the idea that students should learn the 3 or 4 basic film production techniques including multiple angled camera work and foley sound production. With a little film making knowledge, the iPad really is the only thing you need and there are more and more film festivals mentioning the use of iPhone and iPad film makers, including famous directors. Obviously the films can be uploaded to Youtube or even better Vimeo (The thinking person’s Youtube) for more exposure.


I have singers, rappers, guitarists, pianists and drummers throughout my classes and they hold their iPads often without seriously considering that recording with Garageband could lead to big things. There are now crowd-funding sites and Justin Bieber was discovered singing into a Youtube camera.


Another issue I cover in this lesson and in general is appreciating the number of people on the internet. I like to point out that if 0.0001% of the internet buy your product for $1, that’s $5 Million! International promotion used to cost millions and was certainly only available through agencies. Now, social media makes promoting your products easy and even finding your target audience is easy.  I recommend new accounts for communicating with the world as a professional separate to their personal accounts.


It really is just a mindset I feel I must instil in my students to appreciate that the age barriers that once existed no longer do. The iPad is all they need to conquer the world and why not start today!

Kid thinking big Example 3: (Programmer)


True learning is creative! … iPad, please!

The iPad empowers students to create products within any subject context, physical space and even on the move. This is why the iPad is so important in transforming education into a genuine learning experience, not a knowledge absorption space. This well known Ken Robinson video has, for a while, indicated the importance of creative process in learning. Creating is important because during the process of creating something new, a student is:

  1. the owner of that process
  2. fully immersed in the experience
  3. genuinely engaged
  4. driven by and personally connected to the learning objectives

Under these four circumstances, you create truly life-long learners, who are intrinsically motivated by their own demands and ideas.

 (picture via @gcouros)

Common misconception 1:
“My subject’s not creative”

Many teachers do not see creative process as part of their subject. The factory based education system used throughout the 20th century, isolated subjects as disconnected silos of information and creativity was removed from most of these study areas and confined specifically to the arts subjects only. This is not how the real world operates and creative thoughts and processes are demanded in most, if not all industries. All subject areas within schools (while those areas still exist), must harness both the students’ genuine will to create and the iPads power to enable this in so many forms and under so many circumstances.

Common misconception 2:
“I can’t grade & compare different creative output styles”

What exactly does grading do for a student? It gives them a record of how they compare with their classmates or even national year-group. What does this positioning mean? … nothing! The minute you leave school you will be working and competing with different groups of people of various ages and your grade comparison becomes meaningless immediately. Yes, you looked amazing in your school when up against your fellow students  performing standardised tests, but now you’re suddenly struggling against people from different backgrounds and may even look quiet incompetent.

Students also become distracted from their learning when focusing purely on their grade comparison with their friends. This removes any interest in learning for the sake of bettering oneself and even engagement with the objective of the tasks. Students take shortcuts and do anything that would increase the grade regardless of the impact it might have on truly understanding concepts or not. Students also find it very difficult, if they can do it at all, to articulate what an A or a B means. The grades themselves are arbitrary and mean nothing in terms of personal achievement and only make the lower grade achievers give up on learning anything.

This UK BBC documentary, The Classroom Experiment, covered many common traditional teaching habits that actually do harm rather than good in education, including grades:

A shifting agenda

An increasing number of educators are agreeing that:

  1. Personal creative processes should replace fixed content delivery and
  2. meaningful comments from both peers and teachers should replace meaningless grades

The iPad is both a personal creative device and a great tool for collaboration and documenting discussion. This is the basis on why and roughly how schools should push forward with 1-to-1 iPad integration.

Science needs Art – Kids need iPads


What does this mean for iPads in Schools?

In this second video, Ruben Puentedura explains his research into why particular technologies are successful (even over 200,000 years). In it, he shows that any technology will be successful long term, if it allows:

A) Socialising
B) Mobility
C) Visualising ideas
D) Story Telling and
E) Gaming!

Are you thinking, what I’m thinking? Yes, that’s exactly what the iPad brings to learning and why it will be successful in schools. The last 3 of those 5 are all about visualising ideas and immersing oneself in a concept using multiple senses. This is not only where extra engagement comes from but also true understanding (never forgetting).

Where to start?

It’s important that students visualise their understandings, both for their own development but to also aide their peers and gain a sense that what they are doing is for the better of others. It is this that develops real drive to learn, it does not just add ‘play’ to the learning environment.

Many Apps to choose from but here’s two:


ANIMATION CREATOR HD ($4) : This app offers a great new way for students to prove understanding in an entertaining way that other students will in-turn learn from. Easy frame by frame animation that some student really like to beaver away at at the back of a classroom. I’ve see some stunning examples!




iMotionHD Stop-Frame animation Filming with “Auto-wait” shoot setting.
This is the most instant fun I’ve had with my iPad in 2 years! It’s a free app and really simple to use. You set the number of seconds gap between photos and then make slight movements of the objects in front of the iPad’s camera to create instant animations. It also has a manual mode for taking the frame shots one-at-a-time. It is simply brilliant! It could be used to comically or otherwise cover any topic and show you understand the process (great for Science) or story so you should be able to use this in any subject!


Here is an excellent example from the TED Ed site, where a normal teacher’s lesson is given to a professional Animator. The result is stunning. This professional connection might change education but your own classroom versions will be of equal importance.

P.S Why does the title mention Scientists?

I feel a major part of the Scientific process is the final depiction of the process / concept / new understanding and this requires an understanding of how people think visually. The use of colour & shape, the position of key objects within a frame at any one moment, the direction of cameras & direction of film sequence determine whether a scientific idea is ever understood and passed around the world. This makes learning the visual arts as important for science students as for any. It is a commonly neglected part of the scientific industry and certainly in Science Education. iPads in the classroom can start to readdress this imbalance.