student teacher

The iPad was introduced in 2010, providing a compact and highly portable, yet accessible, medium through which to reach the internet, as well as a number of other functions. User numbers have grown significantly in recent years, with iPads being employed not only for work and entertainment, but also as an educational tool. This latter application has provoked considerable controversy, with some experts suggesting that screen use is detrimental to academic success, whilst others feel there are significant benefits to e-learning. Take a look at the benefits an iPad can bring to your child’s education, as well as the advantages of ensuring high quality textbooks are readily available as a learning resource.

Fast, portable and convenient

Unfortunately, textbooks can be heavy and cumbersome to transport. Even using a textbook can be time consuming and frustrating, as finding the information you need is frequently a challenge. In comparison, an iPad is light enough for smaller children to carry easily, can be used anywhere and most learners can find the information they need in a few minutes, making it ideal for flexible learning. A single device is all that’s needed to access comprehensive information on a wide range of subjects. Sites such as Skwirk, for example, contain over 16,000 learning resources, covering curriculum material for four to 14 year-olds.

Range of learning mediums

Textbooks contain writing, diagrams and photographs, but little else. This can make learning a dry process and can often deter children from wanting to find out more about a topic. One of the major advantages of e-learning is that in addition to these methods of conveying information, children can also enjoy video clips and animation, adding interest to the learning experience. Different presentations of the same information allow children to find a method which suits them best, enhancing retention and engagement.

Interactive

Textbooks contain plenty of useful facts and figures, but do not present opportunities for interaction. Conversely an iPad can provide numerous tests, quizzes, assessments and puzzles which encourage learners to remain attentive and retain the information they need. For children who have trouble concentrating, an iPad can work wonderfully well as an aid to study.

Appealing

Those of us who remember the pre-digital age will frequently favour textbooks, as they are familiar – a tried and tested method of obtaining high-calibre information when you need it. Whilst this is still the case, it’s important to recognise that premium, interactive content is frequently a more appealing way of learning for young people. The use of iPads doesn’t negate textbook use; rather it offers a route for accessing information which better suits many young people today, complementing more traditional methods.

Textbooks continue to play a major part in many educational experiences, particularly for advanced learners who need to access niche subject matter. For school aged children, an iPad which gives them access to high quality educational material can be of real benefit in enriching their learning experience in a wide range of subjects.

Long gone are the dreary days of ‘chalk and talk’. We now know that the limited teaching strategies of old simply don’t work for all students. To instil a life-long love of learning in students, we need to introduce subject matter in a way that’s vibrant, interesting, inspiring and interactive. What’s more, each student’s particular needs and learning style must be taken into consideration – whether they’re learning the English curriculum or the science curriculum.

Teaching to inspire

That said, it’s one thing to acknowledge that modern students need exciting learning experiences; it’s quite another to make it happen. So how does a teacher make sure that students are not only learning, but also enjoying it?

Well, for a start, it’s crucial to find a point of real-life interest. Say, for example, a student is struggling with learning the maths curriculum. For many people, rows of abstract numbers don’t mean much. But put them into a context – whether that be counting money, for those interested in shopping, or counting waves, for those who love the beach, and the entire picture changes.

That’s why, here at Skwirk, we’ve put time and effort into developing online education resources that appeal to students at their points of interest. We’ve created more than 18,000 teaching tools that make sure students are engaged and that learning is a joy – rather than a gruelling task.

Meeting a range of learning needs

There’s been ample research to prove that there’s more than one way of learning. Some students remember facts, ideas and skills best when they’re presented visually. Others learn best by getting active. We know that simply giving kids textbooks and asking them to read, take notes and memorise, doesn’t work for everyone. So, in addition to making sure students are interested, teachers must give them access to a variety of learning strategies.

Again, this is where Skwirk comes in. Name an education tool – such as iPad resources, interactive whiteboard resources and education videos – and you’ll find it on the Skwirk site. What’s more, all teacher resources are produced with the Australian curriculum in mind. Skwirk covers every aspect of the national curriculum, from the history curriculum to the science curriculum.

Skwirk has been a quality tool for me while training to become a teacher. It is helpful for assignments, studying, and mostly for practicum as it demonstrates practical ways to introduce topics that I may not be completely confident with.

I have used it for assignments in all Key Learning Areas (KLAs) and have found it especially useful for covering English theory when developing lesson plans. Also, it allows me integrate ICT into all KLA’s and this will be an important skill especially in my first year as a teacher when I am learning to manage time and ensure I cover the entire curriculum.

I found that by using Skwirk I could engage all the students and it was a great way to ‘break the ice’ with some of the quieter students

When I walked into the classroom for my first practicum placement it was quite a shock to hear the students talking about and using their iPads and Nintendo DS’s. I was amazed at how second nature the use of technology was to ALL the students, not just the more able ones. I decided to try a lesson on the interactive whiteboard and found that by using Skwirk I could engage all the students and it was a great way to ‘break the ice’ with some of the quieter students.

The high level of interaction and ‘hands-on’ ability of Skwirk made the lessons easier to absorb and found that when using interactive methods such as Skwirk, the students were using their higher order thinking skills and the information I was desperately trying to get across was actually sinking in. The students were confident when using the technology and the general classroom climate had lifted (along with my confidence) because the animations and colour made it feel more like play than a lesson. Not only did the students benefit but so did I as my lesson preparation time was decreased because I wasn’t sitting up all night tracing and cutting out resources for every lesson!

The students are so tech-savvy they are really impressed when a teacher can teach them through a medium they love and understand.

I aspire to be a successful teacher who makes learning as fun and accessible for all my students and Skwirk has shown me that this is achievable.

Stephanie is studying a Bachelor of Education at Macqurie University

To get student trial to Skwirk click here. Put your university name in as your school name.