iPad for Administrators

by Jean Tower

MESPA (Massachusetts Elementary School Principals’ Association) is offering a workshop, iPad for Administrators.

The description reads:

“Find out first-hand why Apple’s new iPad is a must for all school administrators! Be among the first to discover how the iPad impacts the busy life of an administrator as well as the classroom, whether it’s handling the responsibilities of an administrator or finding time to read the news or the latest educational or entertainment books. Access anytime, anywhere, content development or merge 60 pounds of textbooks or an entire library into a 1.5 pound device. Learn how to take advantage of all that this incredible device has to offer from downloading and managing apps to an exploration of the latest education apps to increase productivity as well as student learning. The iPad is the most talked about device this year. Be the first to use this revolutionary device for your job and introduce your school and students to it. Best of all, leave with a brand new 16GB 3G iPad for your use and to take back to your school and will be loaded with many appropriate apps.”

The price of the workshop includes the iPad, so I assume participants will arrive at the workshop, get their iPad, and then learn how to use it. As a rule, I love workshops where the participant gets the hardware or software they are learning to use as part of the workshop. But even more, I like the strategy of administrators adopting cutting edge technology tools. This practice is important in more than one way. These administrators can lead the way for teachers by taking risks, making their own learning transparent, modeling the adoption of new technology, and creating excitement around the process.

If we want educators who are willing to try new things and take risks, then it is imperative that administrators do the same. Rather than being satisfied with the same old things done in the same old way, risk taking shows a willingness to learn, to try out the new and the cutting edge, and to grow. It means being comfortable with not being completely “in control” and letting go of being too sure of the outcome. There are teachers in my school district trying out Poll Everywhere, twitter, Wikispaces, and blogging. But I know principals reluctant to participate in a closed and private blog because they were afraid to post anything online. The opposite end of that spectrum is the administrator who is ready and willing to experiment with an iPad and struggle with discovering the uses that make the most sense in their own practice.

I think that we, as educators, should be making every effort to make our learning transparent. When we share our learning process we open a conversation about learning as on ongoing (lifelong – you know, that word in all of our mission statements) experience. We can demonstrate, through sharing our experiences as we learn something new, that learning is not just for a test and not just for students, and not something that stops when we graduate. Making our own learning transparent can help us shift from being a culture about teaching to one about learning.

Administrators who take this workshop (or others like it) can use it as an opportunity to model best practices in adopting new technologies. There is no single path for how we explore using a new technology in education, but it often begins with doing something innovative, in a new way. There may be spurts of progress where we find problems that the new technology solves, as well as setbacks when we discover security issues or other downsides. Eventually, the new technology may make it into the mainstream “how we do things” or it may not, but modeling the process is a valuable exercise.

Last, administrators can use their own learning experience to show teachers and students that trying something new can be fun and exciting. They can let their passion for learning show and, perhaps, spark in others some enthusiasm for risk-taking, learning, growing, and adopting new technology.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Lisa Dubernard November 12, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Here is a new app that administrators may really find useful. It is called eBOARD Meetings app and lets administrators have access to meeting agendas (board meetings, staff, etc) via the iPad. Will be available in December. http://bit.ly/9HVOVL

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