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regular-article-logo Friday, 19 July 2024

Apple continues to work alongside educators to ensure fun, interactive way teaching

Apple Teacher Learning Centre offers interactive skill builders, inspiring stories from teachers around the world among many other teacher-centric resources

Mathures Paul Published 17.08.22, 03:50 AM
With the right tools, technology can connect teachers and students, like at Prometheus School Noida

With the right tools, technology can connect teachers and students, like at Prometheus School Noida

Sadly, the pandemic made the knowledge-and-skill chasm deeper. That teachers will get left behind was something in the realms of nightmare. Up close, I saw more than a handful of teachers — some of them young in terms of experience — leave their jobs after feeling stressed about where they were on the skills ladder, especially technology, making me wish that they had heard about the Apple Teacher programme. If the pandemic made teachers feel overwhelmed by technology, this programme aims to put them at ease and prepare them for future challenges.

From time to time, needless criticism gets poked at the company for forcing users to water a walled garden beyond which other tech “opportunities” lie. But largely it has been waves of joy for Apple users because if a product or service is not easy to use then it’s not worth spending money on; if a product cannot boast plug-and-play then more challenges await; if longevity is not a quality of a tech product then hard-earned cash gets burned. It is the seamless connectivity of Apple devices and the absence of privacy-related headache that has brought the company where it is — strong enough to dodge market slumps.

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Apple has been involved in the educational sector for decades but now it’s going deeper by empowering educators with knowledge of devices and what could be achieved using those machines. New cars keep getting launched but customers don’t upgrade every two years because they know how to get maximum mileage out of their cars. Similar with phones and tablets — with some understanding one will be able to get all (or most) tasks done on a device that’s ageing. We are not talking about ageing gadgets here but what you can do with a gadget.

Students at TRIO World Academy, Bangalore, working on a project

Students at TRIO World Academy, Bangalore, working on a project

Inspiring stories

Apple Teacher is a free online professional learning programme for teachers around the world to offer enough information to make learning fun for children. Thousands of teachers or school leaders have embraced the programme after witnessing the impact it has had on teaching. And the Apple Teacher Learning Centre offers interactive skill builders, inspiring stories from teachers around the world among many other teacher-centric resources.

“I have been keen promoting technology throughout my teaching career. Early on, I only had laptops and desktops. In other words, technology was limited. When I moved to Pathways, we had access to a good number of iPads, so we started exploring. When we have something in our hand, we can go crazy with these devices, it’s especially true for young learners. Once we had access to the devices, we began thinking of ways to engage children. Kids are actually interested and there has been an improvement in their learning skills,” says Kirti Trehan who is the ICT (information and technology) coordinator at Prometheus School Noida. She has been in the field of education for a dozen years, working with all age groups — toddlers to secondary students, teaching across CBSE, IGCSE and PYP curriculum.

The iPad has turned out to be the device of the pandemic. Years ago, it was considered by some a device good enough for light work. No longer. Be it editing a complicated film to getting 3D models ready, from allowing augmented reality projects to accessing a world of educational apps, the iPad is a perfect tool for almost everyone, unless the user has something to do on the lines of workstation management or Steven Spielberg trying to shape his next screen outing.

(Left) Kirti Trehan is the ICT (information and technology) coordinator at Prometheus School Noida and Lakshmi Priya (Right), an Apple Distinguished Educator and an Apple Professional Learning Specialist, who is connected with TRIO World Academy

(Left) Kirti Trehan is the ICT (information and technology) coordinator at Prometheus School Noida and Lakshmi Priya (Right), an Apple Distinguished Educator and an Apple Professional Learning Specialist, who is connected with TRIO World Academy

Swift Playground has made the learning curve easy. When we were 11-12 years old, we didn’t have anything like Swift Playground; we were taught to programme by writing down codes on the board. With Swift, even a six/seven-year-old can learn to understand the basics of coding

Kirti Trehan of Prometheus School Noida

The flexibility of the Apple ecosystem makes everything so easy. I can make a note, add a PDF to it and also videos and pictures… all using one device

Lakshmi Priya of TRIO World Academy

Practical use cases

Teachers are always happy to see children back in classroom and not inside tiny boxes filling up a screen. Return to school hasn’t stopped teachers from embracing the helpful side of technology and making students see a world of possibilities. “No teacher was happy to see children on screen. Further, resources were limited and not everybody had access to all the technology. With the iPad, we have, for example, realised the potential of augmented reality and it gives children an opportunity to get out of the classroom. With the iPad you can be on the field or in the park. Things have certainly improved a lot and children are now happy,” says Kirti.

The Apple Teacher programme ensures teachers themselves have enough knowledge of what the iPad is capable of, so they can teach better.

For Lakshmi Priya, an engineer by degree, and a high-school physics teacher by choice and profession, it has been slow but steady dive into the Apple ecosystem since 2012.

“We started with a pilot class, which expanded to two or three more classes. The entire middle school has become iPad ready, and then grades nine and 10 upgraded to the Apple ecosystem. When it started with middle school, we had the scope of expanding the spectrum over to the higher classes, and also to the primary level. Technology has provided me a great amount of flexibility in my class. And it allows my students to demonstrate their understanding of a subject with a lot more flexibility,” says the Apple Distinguished Educator and an Apple Professional Learning Specialist, who is connected with TRIO World Academy.

Apple’s work with educators have a history of over 40 years and that has helped the company put out technology that has enough practical use cases. For example, augmented reality.

“It provides a tangible experience; I actually feel that I am on the moon conducting experiments. For example, if I’m talking about the functioning of the human heart, the technology allows a realistic view of the four chambers of the heart. Everyone gets a realistic experience,” says Lakshmi.

She is also quick to point out that Apple Teacher Learning Centre has been the go to for teachers and when they use the resources shared, the impact for children learning reaches the next level.

Another area where teachers are putting emphasis on is coding using Swift Playground, which is a great introduction to programming and beyond. “Children need to be taken through the phases. They can start with drawing and then slowly get introduced to augmented and virtual reality. We have already introduced Lego robotics. Swift Playground has made the learning curve easy. When we were 11-12 years old, we didn’t have anything like Swift Playground; we were taught to programme by writing down codes on the board. With Swift, even a six/seven-year-old can learn to understand the basics of coding,” says Kirti.

Beyond the Apple ecosystem there are platforms to bring such projects alive. “I’m not saying other platforms are not offering collaboration. But the flexibility of the Apple ecosystem makes everything so easy. I can make a note, add a PDF to it and also videos and pictures… all using one device. I want to create a book, I can do it on this device, I want to make a spreadsheet, I can do it on this device. Plus, third party apps are there in plenty. Such things bring me closer to the Apple ecosystem. I want to make teaching friendly and that’s exactly what Apple helps me achieve,” says Lakshmi. This is teaching unleashed in a fun, interactive way.

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