Community Focus Group Update

We hosted our first Community Focus Group of this academic year (but the third of our trial) this morning. Once again, we had a fantastic group of students, parents and teachers working together.

We started our session by reviewing some of the key highlights from the student and parent surveys. This was a great starting point for our main focus of discussion, reflecting on our indicators of success for the trial.

Indicators of Success

Last year, in our first Community Focus Group meeting, we developed 4 key indicators of success for our iPad Trial. We determined that if these 4 criteria were met, we would have had a successful trial:

  1. Developing transferable skills, as we don’t know what future technological developments will be
  2. Learning from each other – parents from children, teachers from students and vice versa.
  3. Learning in different ways that enrich the learning outcomes.
  4. More learning can take place outside the classroom.

Now that we have had more experience in a 2:1 environment, we spent some time thinking about these 4 indicators: Are they still appropriate and relevant for us? If we achieve these, have we demonstrated a successful trial? Is there anything else we are missing. Each indicator was discussed in small groups (parents together, students together, and teachers together) and then shared, revised and confirmed by all stakeholders. Our new success criteria are:

  1. Develop transferrable and timeless skills that can be used for current and new technologies. (These transferrable skills can include interpersonal skills, communication skills, and balance, as well as technological skills).
  2. Teachers, students and parents are learning from each other – children from adults and vice versa.
  3. We are learning in a variety of ways.
  4. Learning takes place in a variety of locations.
  5. iPads are used intentionally to help students continue to develop their skills, experience and knowledge.
  6. We maintain balance in our lives.

Reflecting on the Indicators of Success

Once we had our new list of indicators, we reflected on some successes so far, and some suggestions for the next semester. Here are a few highlights:

Successes so far:

  • Students feel more confident at risk-taking, learning how to be confident to do different things.
  • Students can choose the best way to combine the two devices – Skype with one person on the iPad for HW, type on the laptop at the same time, for example
  • Voice recording has made presenting skills much easier to develop – easy to practice, listen, revise.
  • Students are feeling more organized by using Notability in maths – keeps worksheets altogether, less chance of losing things.
  • Students don’t have to learn too many new things, many apps are the same as on laptop.
  • We are learning from each other  – for example, students easily taught their parents about frequencies and old people going deaf in science using an app.
  • Teachers are open to learning from students.
  • This is not just a replacement for the textbook, but opens up different combinations of ways to show learning, etc.
  • Students can go deeper into projects and find more details, research, etc. than if we just had textbooks – mandela => apartheid => colonialism
  • It’s not that we are learning more, it’s more the way we are learning varies.
  • The iPad can be used instead of a phone – take photos, notes, record ideas wherever I am.
  • I can work on iPad in different environments like a park or a cafe, practicing kanji on the train.

Suggestions for next semester:

  • Managing projects and multitasking is a good skill we could use for other things, we really have to learn how to manage time and switch between different classes and projects better. The skills of switching between different apps & devices could also be helpful for developing skills of switching between tasks as adults.
  • Expand use certain apps that have been useful in another subject eg Notability.
  • Make better use of, or revise, the “Top 10 Apps”.
  • Sharing our work with others, teaching others how to use things, teaching younger students and even parents how to use apps.
  • Student and teacher teaching sessions for different apps perhaps during tutor.
  • More teacher-directed use of apps for development of new skills and application across subjects.
  • For new people, both devices can be tricky to learn and use – identify support sources (tech buddy in each class, access to teachers and tech support).
  • Make sure to continue to focus on balance – there is value in both the new ways and the traditional ways of doing things.

Next Steps

We will continue to reflect on the trial so far, and plan to implement these suggestions in the next semester. There will be additional Community Focus Group meetings during the second semester to continue getting feedback and reflecting on the process. We are looking forward to seeing our trial continue to grow and develop over the next semester as students, parents and teachers become even more comfortable with having, managing and balancing two devices.


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