This is the second instalment of English Martyrs' School's Science Department Action Research project concerning the use of iPads, apps and personal learning networks. All the background information can be found on this website (www.digilittleacorns.weebly.com) in the Case Studies section.
Summary of our activities so far
Ian and Christine have now made 3 apps using Appshed. Ian has made an app for GCSE Chemistry, which students have used in lessons. The Bonding app can be found at http://apps.appshed.com/155139/.
Christine has made an app for Year 12 Chemistry called Chemistry Exam Essentials, which can be found at: http://apps.appshed.com/155224/ and an app for Year 13 Chemistry’s OCR F324 Revision which can be found at http://apps.appshed.com/223745/. Both of these apps were co-written by students who made puzzles to upload to the apps. These apps can be considered working documents as they can be updated as students move through the course.
Investigation of Existing Apps
- Infection - several Year 8 and one Year 9 class have trialled this app with very positive outcomes. All the results from the questionnaires can be viewed in the previous blog posts. I would use this app once with each class studying disease transmission, vectors and mutations. As it was a free, offline app, it worked well even with our slow wi-fi and cost us nothing to download. A fun, educational game.
- Educreations - One Year 7 class has trialled this app with some success. Seems to be a free version of 'Paint' and turned iPads into mini whiteboards without the mess. Students found them easy to use and when connected to the interactive whiteboard allowed stuents to show the whole group what they had produced. A good, free, offline app. I would use this regularly.
- Serial Bulbs Lite - Unfortunately there were some problems with this app. Several students reported that it would not load. Also, although advertised as a free app, there is very little for students to do before they needed to make an in-app purchase. I would not use this app again.
- Energy Island - Ian used this app with a Year 9 class. Although not necessarily true to life, the app worked well, and like Infection, it was a free, offline app. This definitely seems to be the way forward when the school's wi-fi signal is poor (as ours will be until the new build is finished!). The higher-achieving students were quite critical of the app. It may have some value when investigating energy resources as it promotes discussion.
- Camera - Despite concerns of students taking 'selfies', the students who have used the camera in lessons have largely done so to record their work. Really useful at times to capture a piece of work, experiment set up etc. I'd use this feature regularly in lessons both to demonstrate something and with the students.
- Safari - Although we have not really used the iPads for browsing, it is worth noting that with a good wi-fi signal, researching a topic becomes simple with the iPads and the Safari browser. No more having to book the elusive computer rooms, perhaps! It also allows students to research and complete an experiment in the same room. I would regularly use this feature.
- Padlet - Much improved version of Wallwisher. We have used this with Years 12 and 13 in order to share resources very effectively. The level of control the user has is good, and the list feature means that post-its are not deleted or moved as easily. I would definitely use this again. Would be great with all the students contributing on their own iPad as long as the wi-fi was working!
Digi Little Acorns Network
All the iPads, trolley, charging unit etc. have arrived and are being used on a regular basis - hooray!
Two main connections with other schools have been made during this phase. Firstly, there has been some networking with Rushey Mead school’s science department who are currently investigating whether they could use the iPads which exist in the school (but not specifically in their department) to enhance science lessons. The email from Nisha Kholia can be seen in a blog post below. I hope to continue to share best practice with her in the future.
Secondly an app share has taken place between Uppingham Community College, who have kindly allowed us to use their app: http://apps.appshed.com/158403/ and have been trying out ours in return. Comments from this school will be in the final report in a few weeks.
The last stage of the project is to analyse the data collected in the previous phase and evaluate the project. This will take a few weeks but is on course to be finished before the end of the academic year. Christine is now an avid Twitter fan and encourages anyone viewing this blog to follow her (@digilittleacorn) or using the hashtag #digilittleacorns.