THE WORLD AT YOUR FINGERTIPS OR USING THE IPAD IN A COOPERATIVE LEARNING CONTEXT: IMPLICATIONS IN THE ESL CLASSROOM
The advent of mobile technologies (M-Learning) -iPads in particular- has opened a brand new scenario which exposes non native students of English (NNs) to real communicative situations in informal contexts –leisure time activities. Portability; hybridization; ubiquity; immediacy as well as instant connectivity; and the adaptability of its interface together with the growing and user-friendly wealth of Apps make the iPad a cult among young generations. The above mentioned features have an impact in culture; knowledge and education. As a result, educators are placed in a new teaching arena where traditional academic conceptions should be reconsidered.
The study reported in this presentation analyses the use of the iPad to create short narrative stories in the English as a second language (ESL) classroom within a cooperative learning (CL) approach. We assume the iPad engages the students in a series of meaningful and motivating learning processes, in such a way that they get involved in the creation of narrative texts in the ESL classroom working in CL context, increasing, thus, the quantity and quality of their learning.
Taking this as our starting point we would like:
(a) to explain how using the iPad improves the students’ performance in the ESL classroom when working in CL teams; and
(b) to analyse which functions of the iPad are more significant for students and teachers who work in a CL context.
The teaching approach, which integrates formal and informal learning, explores the possibilities the iPad offers to generate an environment to represent knowledge with more than one system of representation. The integration of images, sound, music and movement to written pieces of text originates new forms of signification. These new modalities convey new ways of meaning (Hull and Nelson, 2005).). We intend the students use the iPad’s full potential for creativity, understood as an act of invention on their behalf, which leads them to think, imagine and put their ideas into practice.
The findings show that the students moved easily from using the iPad for instructional tasks to more open and complex ones, which requires to link creativity and the use of more than one system of representation (Buckingham, 2013). The fact of adding pictures and video is vital. In this respect the iPad has revealed itself as a tool which helps to cater for the students’ diversity with their different ways of communicating and expressing themselves. On the other hand, CL is highly benefited from the facilities the iPad offers. In our groups of reference, this has been vital for working on a task where social interaction is essential. It is evident that the iPad has a clear engagement and motivational component which facilitates a positive interdependence of tasks, resources, aims and rewards, basic foundations of CL strategies.
Experiences which study the processes of learning generated by iPads in school contexts are still scarce. For this reason, it is important to explore and analyse didactic proposals which incorporate formative tasks in the classroom using them, such as this case.