Last term, as a temporary Support for Learning Teacher I found my iPhone surprisingly useful in many ways. Being a technophobe, I had not downloaded any additional “apps” but what came with my smart phone was surprisingly easy to use and helpful:
- When going off-site the iPhone could be used when the radios didn’t work. The simplicity of the interface allowed me to phone classroom assistants with other groups of children, the school office and depute head teacher very quickly and easily compared to my old mobile phone. The touch technology is marvellous and so simple. Other phones seem clunky by comparison. Speed can be essential in an emergency and the iPhone rises to the challenge.
- The calculator is big, clear and easy to use. By turning the iPhone horizontally, a scientific calculator appears. Thus this makes the iPhone especially useful for secondary school teachers outside. Trigonometry and trees, here we come!
- The stopwatch and count down were great for sports day practices and activities which involved timing children or events and processes. I have used these functions on watches and mobile phones but the iPhone is a dream by comparison. No more frantic pressing of buttons several times to clear the screen and re-start.
- The digital voice recorder is simple to use and can be used many ways by children and adults alike. It can act as a prompt when observing children, rather than making written notes. Children can record sounds heard outside, poems or descriptions of local places and events. The possibilities here are varied, open-ended and endless.
- Children and adults find the touch screen great to use. The children really like and want to work with an iPhone. It’s a hook or motivator for learning – indoors or out.
- The camera takes surprisingly decent photos and downloading them onto my MacBook is very quick and straightforward. My MacBook immediately allows the photos to be presented in a slideshow with accompanying music. That’s cool!
- The daily weather forecast can be set for my local town – Inverurie. The children enjoyed this facility to work out what to bring for working outside in the week ahead.
Of course there are always minuses as well as pluses. First of all, iPhone’s are expensive. They do not like getting wet so using them outdoors in wet weather or near water is a risk. The Google maps facility is good in that you can locate where you are but Google Earth has to be installed to enjoy the satellite view. I’m still trying to work out how they can be used with a whole class rather than with individual or small groups of children in an outdoor situation. The “gather round and look here” approach is useless given the size of the phone (outdoor plasma screens here we come – for that purpose). Any ideas or suggestions are VERY welcome.