by Patricia Marcellino
According to Johnston and Dainton’s Learning Connections Inventory (2003), when confronted with a new learning situation, I am a strong willed learner (i.e. 3 high learning pattern scores), which can mean that when working on a team, I will withdraw from the team, and become a 1-person team going off on my own to discover and learn through trial and error. In this regard, I display non-team tendencies, preferring instead to learn on my own rather than with a group of adult individuals, however, highly skilled the group might be. This might be a surprising revelation to some because my doctoral dissertation and many of the papers that I write focus on team-building, building shared relationships, and team learning. My learning pattern is: confluence, precision, sequential, and technical (Johnston & Dainton, 2003), which in effect means that I will approach learning by first jumping right into a new situation (without a plan), and seeking “big picture” information first (i.e. confluence) albeit making plenty of mistakes. Secondly, filling in multiple and minute details (i.e. precision – to support the “big picture”). Thirdly, coming up with a directional plan (i.e. sequential or organizational pattern is finally applied). Lastly, focusing on solving the problem (i.e. technical) – which in this case was learning to navigate a technological tool – the iPad.
Given my learning pattern, I volunteered for the RSASOE iPad project immediately after reading Associate Dean Emilia Zarco’s e-mail announcing the project and asking for faculty participants. My first task was to write a 100-word abstract proposal. My proposal stated that during the fall 2012 semester my educational leadership students would “become familiar with applications (i.e. apps) appropriate for utilization in a school-based setting from an instructional or managerial perspective.” It was my intention that my leadership students would engage in an action-research project, and explore and apply apps aimed at the investigation of an educational problematic area at their school sites, which would include the 4-criteria of action-research, namely, (a) focusing on a problem or topic; (b) data collection; (c) data analysis; and (d) solution generation with the development of an action-plan (Mills, 2011).
Leadership students would apply a current national initiative of Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) to Kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) classrooms by researching administrative practices, empirical articles, websites, media sources, professional associations, and governmental agencies in gathering data for their action-research projects. The stipulation for iPad project participants is that each one of us is to utilize the iPad in a course this year. To comply with the stipulations of the iPad project, I incorporated BYOT into my fall 2012 syllabus for the Research & Evaluation in Schools course (a hybrid technologically blended course). Moreover, I complied with other stipulations, which were to attend the iPad faculty orientation and join a user’s group. But without coaching from anyone, given my lead-first by confluence learning pattern, I also volunteered to become a member of the RSASOE Technology Standing Committee, and offered to write an article for the FCPE newsletter based on my first steps in the first few days of the project (my lead-first by confluence learning pattern should now be fully evident).
In February 2011, I purchased an Apple Smart iPhone, downloaded relevant apps (even paid for some), and became connected with my educational leadership students 24/7 (i.e. note again my lead-first by confluence learning pattern). All my Adelphi e-mail messages are connected to my iPhone, and I check my messages several times a day so my students usually get an answer within a few hours of posting an e-mail message. As a result, I have become adept physically at answering my Adelphi e-mails rather quickly with one finger. Recently, a TIMEMagazine Mobility Poll was conducted in cooperation with Qualcomm, and included 4,700 respondents online and 300 by phone from several countries (i.e. Brazil, China, India, South Korea, United Kingdom, USA). According to Gibbs (2012), who commented on the poll, “we walk, talk and sleep with our phones” (p.32). Moreover, 68% of respondents to the poll stated that they place their mobile device during sleep “next to my bed” (p. 37). Moreover, in regard to schools, Cloud (2012) noted that “instead of banning kids’ phones, some schools are starting to embrace them” (p. 48). For example, school districts in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Texas are developing BYOT policies, and permitting students to take their mobile devices to school, and to access school networks (p. 48). Cloud states, “cell phones are the easiest fit for BYOT. Even for kids from poor neighborhoods, cell phones have become nearly biological appendages” (p. 48).
Because of my earlier purchase of the iPhone, I had already collected (Mills, 2011) a number of free apps so I downloaded comparable iPhone apps to the iPad. I visited the App Store often, and searched for apps through specific categories and by searching key words or phrases. The news sources I subscribe to and pay for personally, I transferred easily to the iPad. But I noted that in some cases, iPad apps are more expensive than iPhone apps. Most publications and media sources offer free apps, but usually only the first issue is free. My own stipulation was that apps had to be useful to my educational leadership students, who needed to become knowledgeable of current political, business, educational, and governmental federal, state, and local issues if they are to become competent school district or school building leaders. Therefore, several popular media apps were downloaded (i.e. ABC News; BBC News; CNN News; Fox News; NY Times; Time Magazine; WSJ; and the White House). Also, I arranged to receive short breaking news announcements. Additionally, I downloaded free apps for educators that I consider useful to K-12 students (i.e. Stack the States Lite; Whirly Word; Google Earth; Planets;Ace the SAT; Britannica Encyclopedia; Wikipanion; and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Videos provide useful viewing on the iPad; in this regard, I downloaded some Khan Academy videos and viewed others on I-tunes University. Khan Academy offers tutorial videos in the areas of mathematics and science. Most of the time, I read the reviews for the various apps beforehand, but in my earnestness (i.e. confluence again), I downloaded some apps that were useless (there was one of President Obama and Governor Romney actually sparing in a boxing ring). This app was quickly discarded!
Then, I proceeded to download E-Books (something I hadn’t done on my iPhone because the screen is much smaller). Now I focused on school building levels (i.e. pre-school; elementary; middle; and high-school). This is vital because the school principal is considered a school’s primary Instructional Leader (Green, 2009). Currently, I have 18-E-books including 5 E-books for children downloaded on the iPad. For example, I discovered an interactive E- book conceived and developed by a middle school teacher and her 7th grade advanced life science students from Woodlawn Beach Middle School in Florida entitled, Creature, plants and more!: A kid’s guide to Northwest Florida (Santilli, 2011-2012). Furthermore, as a former political science major, I downloaded free campaign, presidency, and governmental apps (i.e. The Presidency; U.S. Presidents; Campaign 2012; Cong. Record; My Congress; Citizenship ’12; Declaration; Constitution; and US Gov). To save space, I put these media, educational and reference apps in separate folders. So as I analyzed each app (Mills, 2011), and compared them with the iPhone apps, I noted that like publications, free apps are also limited. For example, Stake the States Lite, allows 6 children, to collect only 5 states each, and add them to a map of the United States. If you want to collect all 50 states, then you must pay for the app. My 6 ½ year old granddaughter interacting with me on the iPad collected her allotted 5-states. To continue collecting states, she then inserted the names, “Samantha, Charlotte, Madison, Emily, and Sabrina.” When I told Susan Lambert what she did, she stated, “at 6 ½ years old, she’s already learning to hack the system!”
Throughout the beginning phase of the iPad project, I also conducted preliminary research on several projects I was working on by visiting various websites. On the iPad, I was able to (a) compare educational leadership programs at various colleges and universities to our own; (b) visit the NYSED website for information on various mandates they have issued, including, Response to Intervention (RtI); and (c) visit websites suggested by members of the user group. I also came across a website for educators developed by Apple (i.e.APPitic.com). Along the way I bookmarked and saved several articles. In the course of my research, I developed an action-plan as suggested by Mills (2011), and concluded that I absolutely needed to use all of my technological devices. The iPad can be worthwhile in conducting research and viewing videos and E-books because of the bigger screen, but the iPhone is quicker at getting and retrieving messages 24/7. My action-plan as I write this article, and sit at my personal computer (my 3rd technological device with the iPad and iPhone closely by) is to continue to use all 3 technological devices – sometimes simultaneously. Are these devices becoming addictive? A special “thank you” to V.P. Jack Chen; Dr. Emilia Zarco; Carol Boyle; Susan Lambert; Mitchell Kase, and Dr. Anne Gibbone (who originally conceived the idea for the iPad project) for supporting this addiction.
Cloud, J. (August 27, 2012). Gadgets go to class. TIME magazine: The wireless issue, 180 (9), 48-49.
Gibbs, N. (August 27, 2012). Your life is fully mobile. TIME magazine: The wireless issue, 180 (9), 32-39.
Green, R.L. (2009). Practicing the art of leadership: A problem-based approach to implementing the ISLLC standards. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
Johnston, C.A., & Dainton, G.R. (2003). Learning Connections Inventory. Turnersville, N.J.: Learning Connections Resources.
Mills, G.E. (2011). Action research: A guide for the teacher researcher. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc.
Santilli, A. (2011-2012). Creature, plants and more!: A kid’s guide to Northwest Florida. (http://www.santarosa.k12fl.us/wbm/).