The Coventry Public Schools and the Neag School of Education have joined forces to discover new ways to integrate iPad technology into classroom learning, as well as to use their partnership to plan, implement, and assess both the process and the emerging impacts of this new area of technology integration.
Heading the collaboration is Neag Director of Online Programs Jae-Eun Joo, who has been working with Coventry school leaders and teachers since May as part of the Coventry school system’s $50,000 Technology in the Classroom initiative, which included providing iPads to 200 students at the start of this school year.
The possibility of this partnership was realized last Spring, when Coventry school teachers attended Joo’s presentations at the Neag School’s 2nd annual “Teaching and Learning with iPad Conference,” that Professor Del Siegle has started in 2012.
“To be successful after high school, students need to be familiar with new technology and have the skill set needed to express themselves digitally,” said Coventry Schools Superintendent David Petrone, a Neag alumnus. “We’re excited by the many opportunities working with Dr. Joo and the Neag School of Education will bring.”
Equally excited is Joo, who in addition to using her extensive expertise to develop creative ways to “fuse technology and pedagogy” to more effectively engage students, and convey needed content, will use data collected during the partnership as the basis for “a Systemic Inquiry into the Potential of iPad for Teaching and Learning”—a research study designed to evaluate the effectiveness of integrating iPads into traditional classroom curricula. From December, Joo will closely collaborate with a group of seventh and eighth grade social studies teachers to examine and identify content areas for strategic integration of iPad into teaching and learning.
The partnership will also provide learning opportunities for UConn students, including Jake Sippel, a senior student who thanks to the UConn’s IDEA Grant program for undergraduates and has played a key role in the collaboration. Overseen by Joo, Sippel has conducted a series of workshops for Coventry leaders and teachers on the creative classroom use of iPads. He also plans to create a set of iPad e-manuals for K-12 educators and create a short documentary film on this partnership that both other educators and Neag students can learn from.
“The flexibility of the leadership group at Coventry is very cutting edge,” said Joo, reflecting on the collaboration thus far. “The leaders and teachers are willing to get together on their own time, share their learning experiences, get creative on the possibilities of what they can do with the iPad and then try out their ideas in class.”
Joo and Sippel began instructing Coventry teachers this summer, providing professional development workshops that introduced them to already widely used education and productivity apps, such as Educreation, iBooks Author, Evernote, neu.Annotate and Nearpod. One of the main goals of the sessions was to help familiarize teachers with what for some can be intimidating technology.
Joo also used the workshops as an opportunity to better understand the Coventry district’s instructional priorities, which would allow her to best “create a professional learning community that caters to their educational goals.” What she decided on was a “bottom up” approach that will take all involved—teachers, students and family alike—through a process that shows why and how an iPad can help improve learning before it becomes part of the curriculum.
Her correlating research study will evaluate the process’ effectiveness, examining (among other aspects) student engagement, classroom collaboration and teachers’ use of technology before, during and after the iPad use.
“We’ve put a lot of thinking behind our design and every decision we’ve made in the collaboration.” said Joo, who also serves as an associate professor in-residence in the Neag School’s Cognition, Instruction, and Learning Technologies program.
Petrone said he couldn’t be more excited about the partnership: “The collaboration will greatly benefit our district. It puts students at the center of learning by challenging them with real-life situations and problem solving, and then giving them innovative technology to work collaboratively, and communicate effectively, with their peers to find creative solutions.”
“The added benefit, that’s also exciting, is we’ll be helping further research and providing our teachers with leading-edge professional development,” he continued.
Joo hopes that during the course of the collaboration, she’ll be able to involve additional UConn students, expanding and enhancing the learning experience even more.
“Emerging technology can provide creative educational possibilities,” Joo said.