Today my mind is changed. A while back I attended a workshop on using iPads in classrooms and I was not too impressed. Here’s an excerpt of my reflection back then:
“As far as the iPads go, I am slightly disappointed. As a technology enthusiast, I am not blown away by the ability and offerings of iPaduse in the classroom currently. It is neat and there are lots of cool apps that enhances student learning. But most of these things, as far as I can see, can be done with computers. I personally don’t see the benefits enough to justify the hefty price tag just yet. I see how the educational landscape is shifting. Apple recently announced plans to enter the textbook market with its app and iPads. In the very near future, text books will have sounds, video clips, and all sorts of interactive activities built in. When that becomes mature and mainstream, iPads (or a similar device) will reach its full educational potential and offer various benefits.”
Today, my class had the opportunity to use an app called Toontastic on iPads. It allows users to choose stock images and character clip art and manipulate them to tell a story. Unlike Storybird (browser based tool), Toonastic is not text based and uses the built-in microphone on iPads to record dialogues. The end product is a very engaging process where the user manipulates the character clip arts (using two fingers to zoom in/out, move) as the user uses his/her own voice narrating. The app follows a simple progression of plot – setup, conflict, challenge, climax, and resolution.
It was an amazing and delightful experience. My students are fully engaged and asking me questions such as “what is a climax?’ or eagerly wishes to show their story to me. I can’t help but feel excited over the possibilities of other “amazing apps” to come. Sure, presumably a similar tool is offered on the web, and one can create stories and use a connected microphone to record sounds. BUT -> I just don’t think the experience is the same. Seeing the children so intuitively manipulate the cartoon figures with their fingers and speaking casually as the iPad records their voices -> such simplicity is rarely found with keyboard/mouse.