Today was one of those days that made me yearn for the classroom again. It was the second of two Tablet PC Pilot trainings for about 20 teachers where we really started getting into the pedagogy of how we’re going to use these things in the classroom. It was part just exploring the potential of all the cool apps that are coming out for tablets, part evangelizing the changing nature of digital content, and part amazement at watching technology actually work. I love those days when you know people are walking out drained but psyched about the prospects.
For me, the coolest thing was not so much being able to walk around the classroom and have everything I did on the tablet project wirelessly to the screen as I taught. No, the coolest thing was the ability to give up control of the projector to other teachers who wanted to show what they were doing on the tablet. Three clicks and they were on screen. And then someone else would take over and show their work. And then someone else. We got into this cool kinda “And Then You Can Do This” dance with tablet and projector, each of us building upon the other…really wild. I can only imagine what it might be like to have a classroom of students with this technology, being able to seamlessly bring their work up on screen to talk us through it or annotate it.
The lightbulb moment in today’s session really had little to do with the tablets, however. It came when one of the teachers showed a Word document that he’d created that was full of links. Thing was, the links didn’t go to Websites; they went to pictures and audio files, and presentations or other documents. For some reason, this was a huge “a ha” moment for at least half the class, and I tried to develop it in the context of how digital content blows away traditional paper content. When you get that, you finally start to understand how inflexible paper is, and how powerful links are. All of a sudden, they were wanting to know more, and they started understanding what true hyperlinked documents can be. The energy level in the room just shot up.
I’ve got a second group to train next week, and then we’ll start bringing these into our classrooms in September. I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens. But today was definitely too much fun.
Its great to hear others are using the tablets as a part of their classroom. Last year I used my M200 which was hardwired to a projector. This year I too will be wireless to the projector and internet. Last year students loved the tablets brightness, ability to download notes, see and annotate images and the use of animations (flash) to highlight certain concepts. Tablets are the next wave!