Paul Hamilton is an Apple Distinguished Educator from Australia with an amazing reputation across the educational community. We spoke with Paul about his experiences using the iPad over the last five years, his new iPad Monthly project, his use of iBeacon technology and more.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
15 Years classroom teaching before moving into the Head of Learning Technologies role at Matthew Flinders Anglican College. My primary role is to coach teachers, collaborate on amazing edtech units/projects and ensure that our vision for using technology in the Primary School stays on track.
When did you first start using the iPad in the classroom?
When they first came out. Must admit they didn't blow me away initially. I think not having the camera limited it's ability to become the 'mobile' device it is today. I still believe the camera app is the most powerful educational app on the iPad.
Five years since the launch of the first iPad, have you seen a change in approach from staff when it comes to the use of mobile technology?
Yes. Initially there was a perception it was a substitute for a laptop. In time we have all come to realise it is not. It offers a completely different set of learning experiences for our students. From Augmented Reality to creating full length documentaries.
What would you say to someone who is still hesitant to use technology in their lessons?
We live in a different world to when teachers went to school as students. No longer is the teacher the wealth of information at the head of the classroom (nor have they ever been). Just look at how we as adults learn new things and communicate with others. We need to explain to hesitant teachers that it is not about them, but the students. In saying this I also strongly believe that the role of the teacher has never been more important! We are the architects of great learning experiences for our students. What do they say: "Teachers who believe they can be replaced by computers, probably should be!"
What are you personal favourite apps on a daily basis?
I use the Camera App everyday. Whether it is designing a social media campaign in conjunction with an App like Canva or simply sharing what the different projects I'm working on at home. It makes learning and thinking more visible. In saying that Book Creator and Explain Everything place the focus on the learning and not the technology, which I love! Both Apps listen carefully to teachers and what they need.
What about a 'desert island app' - one you simply couldn't live without?
Twitter, but I guess I couldn't get wifi so I would be stuffed anyway!
Your website is named appsbypaulamilton.com - what apps have you developed yourself?
Formative Feedback for Learning approx 5 years ago, Science Augmented Reality App and Sumo Stacker. All very different and need some serious updates and attention. The Formative Feedback App is a video analysis App with the intention of getting kids talking to each other. I believe strongly that the App shouldn't do the teaching but kids create knowledge and understanding through the effective use of the App. That is where the teachers comes into it! Science AR was created using Aurasma technology. And Sumo Stacker was a fun little game App that I used to understand how to use Game Salad as I was using it with my students at the time.
You were one of the pioneers in the use of iBeacons. What can you tell us about how you use these?
We created one of the the first iBeacon education Apps almost 2 years ago. It was based on the hot/cold game where students would walk around the campus and receive a notification of when they were nearing a 'learning zone'. It was an interesting concept where we wanted the learning to find our students. I am proud it generated a lot of interested in iBeacons in Education. Where is iBeacon going in education? To be honest I am not sure. I think true innovation will come about when the link/connection between the tech itself and the use are strong and solve an existing problem.
You're also a fan of Idea Paint aren't you? Do you think that it's a natural fit for a mobile tech infused classroom?
Oh absolutely! I still believe collaborative brainstorming on walls where everyone can see and add is incredibly powerful. Amazing for prototyping and planning. Kids love it. Take a look at successful companies like Google and you will find the same thing.
You recently launched the digital newsletter iPad Monthly. What inspired you to put this project together?
It came out of necessity! Teachers were telling me they were gaining nothing from the 'tsunami of educational App lists' that were being posted online. They wanted to see learning first, and then the tech used to support/enhance that learning. They wanted to see the software in action and they wanted to follow tutorials that were visual. http://www.ipadmonthly.com was born. It is now subscribed to by teachers in over 15 countries and the feedback has been incredibly.
Yes, it does cost money and I would like to see nothing more than districts and school leaders investing in teachers with these kind on on going Professional Development resources. With the expense of the device and associated Apps, I believe it is a good investment in utilising these powerful devices to their full potential. However I get frustrated when the cost comes out of the teachers pocket. That was not the intention of iPad Monthly. I think that is where many schools fall down when implementing any program that involves tech. An infrastructure that supports ongoing PD. Conferences can be great but the are often expensive and not hands-on.
What can subscribers expect from each issue?
6 Amazing lessons each month, with pedagogical tips, video tutorials and linked curriculum areas for each activity. Subscribers also get access to all the previous editions.
How can people subscribe to iPad Monthly?
Simply go to www.ipadmonthly.com and follow the links. You can watch video previews of the newsletters so you can make an informed decision.
What's next for you Paul?
I want to keep the focus on sharing great ideas and student learning. Currently creating an amazing design/tech unit titled 'Saving Superman'. It involves invention, making and coding. It also acknowledges the important role failure plays in becoming successful. I think this something that is neglected ins schools as a result or ineffective assessment strategies.
I have some other projects on the go involving new tech but will keep that under wraps for now!
Thanks for taking time out for us Paul. We look forward to seeing what other innovative projects you release over the coming months.