Supporting innovation in teaching, learning and learner development at Roehampton

Apple in the classroom

I recently attended an event organised by Academia UK titled “Apple in Further and Higher Education” The event was an opportunity to see how Apple products such as Mac’s and iPads were and could be used to enhance and support learning and teaching.

The event was hosted at the Emirates Stadium and yes, we got VIP access to the classy lounge and a free stadium tour was given to participants.

My interest in attending the event stemmed from the fact that iPads and other mobile devices have become quite popular in learning and teaching and I was keen to see how other institutions were using iPads and to hopefully come back with ideas to share with our staff. Currently, several academics have iPads in their possession and are using the Turnitin iPad app for online marking (Disclaimer: as the Turnitin app is relatively new and several issues have been reported by users, we can only provide support for it on a best-effort basis and are not currently promoting its use.)

The day started with a demonstration of four apps that are currently popular and used in education. These included:

NearPod– “allows you to create your own mobile courses, engage your audience through interactive presentations and assess participants performance with simple reporting tools” (

Showbie – “makes it easy to assign, collect and review student work in iPad classrooms” (

Skitch – used to annotate , mark up, snap and send documents/pictures

Explain Everything -“is an easy-to-use design, screencasting, and interactive whiteboard tool that lets you annotate, animate, narrate, import, and export almost anything to and from almost anywhere.” (itunes)

The key thing I took from the demonstration of the apps was that you have to have a good wireless network in place to ensure that your classroom session runs well. The Wi-Fi we had access to failed completely and those of us attending were not able to participate at all in looking at the tools and had to rely on a few screen shots and what was said about the apps. So, if you are looking to use iPads in the classroom, the first thing you should do is see if the Wi-Fi your institution has in place is robust enough to accommodate your needs. Test, test and test again to ensure that it works!

The apps all seemed quite easy and straightforward to use. I am still to fully familiarize myself with them and the potential they have. I will post my findings in future blog posts.

The rest of the day was spent listening to presentations made by individuals who had successfully incorporated the use of Macs and/or iPads into the learning and teaching process.

Shaun Hides and Jonathan Shaw from Coventry University gave a presentation on their 1:1 MacBook project and the Disruptive Media Lab which they describe as ’designed as a cross-university experimental unit that will provide support for new and on-going pedagogic development in new and disruptive technological spaces’. A copy of their presentation can be accessed here: and some additional information about the disruptive lab can be found here:

It was interesting to hear how they decided (based on need) to give students a ‘lab in a bag’ and about the way learning has now transformed – learning has become more personalized while at the same time students are now more connected with each other. They also spoke about the changing role of the lecturer. They don’t use the term Lecturer anymore. They now prefer to use the term Educator. They mentioned the social media engagement pyramid and how students have moved from just watching or listening to sharing and producing content.

Kevin Burden of Hull University also gave a presentation on Flexible pedagogies and mobile learning. The presentation is accessible here: . In his presentation, Kevin highlighted three distinctive pedagogies of mobile devices

  • Personalization – giving students ownership, Customisation of apps
  • Collaboration – Mobile devices allow for the sharing of data through various apps. They also allow for collaborative working with apps such as ibrainstorm and mind master
  • Authenticity -Mobile devices can give students access to tools used by professionals and real live data, thus making tasks real. Examples are the earthquake notifications app and the flight data app.

Included in his presentation are a couple case studies on how mobile devices have been incorporated in learning and teaching. This includes the creation of a documentary by his students and the use the Explain Everything app.

The final presentation of the day was given by Greg Hughes from the De Ferrers Academy. There is so much to learn from this talk. The Academy is not an FE or HE but the lessons learned from their experiences in issuing all their students with an iPad and incorporating their use in the classroom are very useful. For this reason, I will direct you to various links with more information on what they have been doing:

With the popularity of mobile devices and the availability of apps, mobile devices are in a position to transform the way learning takes place. The full potential of this is still to be seen.


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