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School Hosts Learning with iPads Conference

Tuesday, 07 July 2015

Bolton School, along with Kelway and Apple, has hosted a “Learning With iPads” conference for local primary and secondary school teachers. Having been welcomed by Sue Hincks, Headmistress of the Girls’ Division, the attendees then enjoyed a presentation from Philip Britton, Headmaster of the Boys’ Division, who recounted the School’s e-learning journey and the lessons that had been learnt along the way. He traced the inception back to Easter 2011, when he sat on a rock in the North Yorkshire Moors and realised the school must embrace e-learning and mobile technology and could afford to do this. The next 18 months were then spent working out how to manage the process. 

Whilst Mr Britton felt the introduction of e-learning had been an enormous success, he did point out that there had been hurdles to overcome, the first of which was to ensure that the School's Wireless system worked properly – this was overcome with the help of Kelway, an IT services and solutions provider. However, many of the concerns that had worried people pre-roll out had proven unfounded, including children playing computer games and never exercising, disruption to households and the “social media beast”.  He insisted that it is the responsibility of adults not to retreat from social media which could leave a “Lord of the Flies” scenario for youngsters but he did admit that it is not easy for parents having to educate children on something that they never experienced! 

It was in December 2012, that the Governing Body at Bolton School signed off the deployment of iPads. By June 2013 all teaching colleagues had been issued with iPads. By the Autumn of the same year, Years 3 – 6 had iPads and from December to May 2014, all but 2 year groups received theirs. By the Autumn, all students had iPads; they are now an integral part of learning for over 2,000 pupils across the campus. 

Mr Britton said that both children and teachers had embraced the new technology with great enthusiasm and he felt that the introduction of iPads has been of immense benefit to pupils. He told the audience that school is about preparing young people for life and for work and technology now plays a huge part in both. He referred to the evolution of technology and described how schools are gradually moving from static computer labs to laptop use to iPad use and pointed towards it now being second nature for young children to use touchscreens and the internet.  He continued by saying that it made sense to embrace the digital revolution not to fight it but at the same time one should not just use devices for the sake of it or to follow the trend. The critical point is to focus on what actually works and profits children in the classroom. 

Whilst technology and apps are merely tools for learning, Mr Britton informed the audience how, in his mind, technology was replacing the physical elements of school – Notability is the new jotter and file, iTunes U is the new textbook and hand-out, Showbie is the new pigeonhole and One Drive is the new locker. He also told how Bolton School makes use of Socrative and Educreations/Explain Everything and that each department also employs subject specific apps. 

Referencing Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience and Koehler and Mishra’s work on Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) he concurred that successful teaching using technology is a mix of pedagogy, technology and content. Bringing the SAMR model (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) to iPads, he also showed how technology gives you the opportunity to not just augment learning but to redefine it by designing tasks that engage students in rich new learning experiences. The focus, he said, should not be on the device itself but what it gives access to. 

During the morning coffee break, Year 5 pupils from Bolton School known as iPad Ambassadors – who assist other pupils who are having issues with the technology - entertained the guests demonstrating the different apps they regularly use, including Chatterpix, Garageband, Pic Collage, TT Rockstars and Showbie. 

In the afternoon attendees were given the chance to see for themselves the potential of the iPad through a number of workshops with the focus being on using them in the classroom and with deploying them in schools.  Kelway and Apple provided Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) who informed the local teachers of the latest iOS solutions transforming the learning environment. Head of ICT at Bolton School, Mr Tony Fox, said: “Kelway has been a critical partner in the deployment of iPads, in no small part, because of their expertise when it comes to Apple technology. Knowing they are a certified Apple Solution Expert for Education has provided great reassurance.  In real terms, their team and ours have worked in absolute harmony, and we know that we can turn to them to help resolve any challenges we face. Kelway has been there to support the full lifecycle from configuration and deployment through to ongoing support and eventually replacement.”

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Headmaster Philip Britton talks the audience through the Bolton School experience of issuing iPads to all 2000+ students across the campus

Headmaster Philip Britton talks the audience through the Bolton School experience of issuing iPads to all 2000+ students across the campus

Bolton School's iPad Ambassadors demonstrated the apps that they regularly use with their iPads

The local educators were welcomed to Bolton School by Sue Hincks, Headmistress of the Girls' Division