At the end of last year, we did some monitoring about how Showbie was being used in our school. One of the insights from that was all of the work that was done in Computing could be done quicker and easier on iPad rather than using an iMac. In our school, children have a timetabled ‘Computing’ slot when they get to go and use the iMac suite. The children do enjoy it, but in this increasingly mobile age, children are just not as familiar with using a mouse and keyboard, let alone using an arguably more complex desktop operating system that is OSX. Perhaps they just need the practice, but actually the iPad allows children to achieve remarkably complex things (visual programming, video creation and editing etc.) with relative ease. If we add in the simple but powerful e-portfolio workflow that Showbie offers for iOS, iPad increasingly comes up tops when compared to Mac.
So, what apps do we use for Computing on Mac and how can iPad replace/improve them? Is it possible to go ‘iPad Only’ with Computing?
We use LGfL’s London Mail to provide safe and restricted access to email for students during certain Computing units. It’s hosted by Microsoft and is accessed via a web browser. It works fine on Mac as well as iPad, but on iPad it’s super easy to screenshot learning and add it into Showbie.
We already use Hopscotch, Kodable, A.L.E.X. and Daisy the Dinosaur on iPad to teach coding using pre-programmed blocks. On the Mac, we use Scratch, a great coding environment created by MIT. There is a (literally) junior version of it called Scratch Jnr, which is suitable for younger children but unfortunately they haven’t released a full iPad version yet. However, there are other alternatives out there, such as Tynker.
When we developed our Computing curriculum a few years ago, we included a strand which focused on getting children to type in computer code, starting with learning to type, then moving onto languages such as LOGO and Python. You can get typing apps for iPad, and even ones for LOGO and Python. Fun as it has been to introduce these to children, I think that they might be just a bit too tricky for Primary aged kids, so instead we’re going to introduce some more fun iPad coding apps. Like Floors (which allows you to design your own platform games…)!
Pages, Numbers and Keynote are as fully-featured on iOS as a Primary school kid would need, so no contest there. And are arguably easier to use.
iMovie on OSX is powerful, but it does add so many steps to the movie-making process: capture video on another camera, then import into Mac, then edit. iMovie for iPad is so simple and easy to use to use, with the advantage of being able to do everything on one device.
The only sticking point was LEGO WeDo, a simple programmable LEGO kit. WeDo 1.0 runs of a wired USB hub to connect the motor/tilt sensor/motion sensor. However, LEGO have recently announced WeDo 2.0, which connects via Bluetooth to an iPad…yay! I recently had a play with it at BETT and it was really great.
So, I think that going all-in on iPad for Computing can work!