I went into the museum today to get fingerprinted and submit my paperwork so I can start at the museum next week. And as soon as I did I was hit right away with a great example of exactly the type of exciting opportunities that await me.
I was getting a tour from a colleague when, out of the blue, someone ran up to her and insisted she see what was going on in the next room. It was something unheard of. We just had to go, right away.
So of course we did.
We enter the Hall of Biodiversity and there we see an entire class of students moving about the room, in deep engagement, each holding and working with an iPad. It turned out this is not a common site at the museum. This was a sixth grade class from a Long Island prep school with a 1:1 iPad program – so each youth controlled their own iPad.
The youth were on a scavenger hunt-type activity, following a pdf on their iPad custom made by their teacher. Here is an example:
The teacher had visited the museum the following weekend then created the pdf so the youth could use it to interact with the exhibit. He had already viewed the educational material available online but clearly had decided he could take it further with the iPads.
And from what we saw on and off over the next hour, he had succeeded. The pdf provided both motivation and guidance. The way it mediated between the content in the exhibit and the interactions with the iPad were engaging (they were rarely this quiet, he told us). It looked easy for them to use, they were excited to create (whether by typing, writing words with their fingers, or doing things like circling something of importance within a photo), and took the educational power of the museum’s content to a whole new level.
It was exciting to see not only how the iPad supported the youth’s educational experience but how the teacher had used his ability to create digital material to make his own self-directed interface between the youth and the AMNH’s already remarkable exhibit. It made me wonder how many other teachers are creating their own digitally-enhanced curriculum for their students and how blogs like this can help build community amongst them and share their work.
(I hope to feature an interview with the teacher in an upcoming post. Keep your fingers crossed that he responds to my request…)