How Does the Writing Process Change with iPads?
I am a former elementary school tech director. I had an amazing opportunity to get the first iPad. I must say it was really expensive. Nothing that I had been doing on my computer worked on that device. Eventually, I got the enlightenment: I cannot just take the old process and simply put it on a new device. I understand now that it is always about the learning goals. Today, my learning objective sounds like: Look at the process, and the product will come out of that.
Let's remember how most of us learned to write. We all have gone through several basic steps. Our writing process consisted of the similar set of skills: organize, draft, edit, revise, and turn in. When we presented papers to the professors, they evaluated and returned them. Let's call this process Writing 1.0.
When computers ubiquitously came into use, the writing process became digitized. Now, rather than organize and outline a paper, we incorporate graphic organizer tools. Students and professors now do their drafts digitally using special programs. Due to this, we have a possibility to insert comments or type feedback directly into the document. This improvement added much efficiency to the process and provided an opportunity to publish the completed works on the web. This process can be called Writing 2.0.
Due to this progression, we digitally improved the existing process. With iPads, our goal should be to benefit even more from using the device in the writing process. With Writing 3.0, we will have even more opportunities. We will be able to organize and draft through handwriting, drawing, typing and voice. We will have an opportunity to collaborate and incorporate multimodal feedback. And we will be able to produce a final work, which will provide understanding far beyond the possibilities of a regular paper.
Organizing and Drafting
With an iPad, the writing process becomes even more mobile, not just meaning you can write anywhere, but you can utilize special tools of your device to make the writing process more efficient even when you are on the way.
Let's imagine a student who totally loves handwriting. He or she can write his/her ideas on paper, then take a picture with the device, bring it into a word processing application like Pages, and continue brainstorming through typing. Also, a student can outline by hand with Penultimate, bring the completed picture into Evernote, and finally incorporate Siri to dictate further ideas.
Even brainstorming becomes a much more flexible process as a student draws, types, or speaks into special graphic organizers or incorporates applications like Idea Sketch or Popplet. Undoubtedly, with iPads, we get a multiplicity of options. We can use these capabilities in the writing and brainstorming process that perfectly fits our learning style.
Collaboration and Feedback
The process of writing and getting feedback comes alive if it is paired with tools like Drive and Evernote. Users are allowed to watch and comment on the process in real-time, through shared documents. It is possible on many devices, but it is especially convenient with the tactile nature of iPads and an option to quickly record and publish videos. Imagine a student who receives not only his/her own draft, checked and annotated by the teacher, but also a video of the professor reading it.
Due to screen casting applications like ScreenChomp or Explain Everything, professors can provide feedback in their own voice. It provides students with the opportunity to view, pause, and review those videos from the teachers while revising their works. Also, with these applications, students can create videos for one another during the editing process.
If the goal of learning is producing a well-written thesis statement and organizing supporting details into logical paragraphs, then an essay is the best choice of the paper type. Actually, being able to communicate through writing is still a necessary skill. Nevertheless, we all have to realize that writing does not imply only paragraph-based assignments.
What would you say about creating a book which contains text, pictures, video and audio, and incorporates pages made by students from two different countries? Last year, with the help of Book Creator, students from the Burley School in Chicago collaborated with Arskóli in Saudarkrokur, Iceland and created a book about communities. Additionally to learning about each others' cultures, engaging in inquiry and encouraging global connections, students greatly improved their writing and storytelling skills. With iPads, when we just start to think beyond the confines of a page, everything becomes possible.