My Journey Down the Rabbit Hole: Transitioning to a 1:1 iPad Classroom

Contributed By

Brent Olyowski

Physics and Chemistry Teacher at Evergreen High School, CO

My Journey Down the Rabbit Hole: Transitioning to a 1:1 iPad Classroom

Posted in Community | September 22, 2016

I have been meaning to blog about my experiences traveling down the EdTech rabbit hole. Let me tell you my story starting with the summer of 2010.

Sir John Tenniel

Down the Rabbit Hole

My school district took a “train the trainers” philosophy for training teachers about using SMART Boards and SMART products. I applied and I was accepted.

I had been using a SMART Board for a few years and had done a number of trainings that year. In the process, I got to know some of the district Ed Tech people. ISTE was coming to Denver that summer and I asked if they would send me. They agreed as long as I would serve on a district-wide forum on technology.

Like that, I was off to the see the giant blue bear.

During ISTE, I was interested in making my classroom completely paperless. I was close by using Blackboard but I wasn’t sure if I could accomplish everything I wanted. I attended many workshops on Moodle, Blackboard, and various 1:1 and mobile computing sessions.

That fall, I started integrating SMART Notebook files so students could draw vector and ray diagrams. I also started integrating video into my class. A colleague had won a grant for a sound system and flip video cameras, so we started using them for video analyses and students directed lab and project videos.

I finally had my class 100% digital, but the one thing I still needed was a visit to the Mad Hatter.

Sir John Tenniel

A Mad Tea-Party: Change Places!

At my district’s tech share fair, Karl Fisch, the Keynote Speaker, discussed flipping the classroom. He talked about how we as teachers need to get students to utilize technology; how we are no longer the smartest person in the room. My mind was blown.

Soon after, I swore off lecturing and committed to the idea that students need to be creating and sharing their work.

Sir John Tenniel

The Queen’s Croquet-Ground

My world flipped again when my district went Queen of Hearts on our LMS in favor of Schoology. It was two weeks before I could pronounce that name correctly.

I created a course and tried it for a week in April. After spending all of 3 minutes explaining how to use Schoology, we haven't looked back yet.

Eventually, I was able to build a virtually paperless, 1:1 set-up using iPads in the classroom. The confluence of iPads and Schoology is awesome, though one thing still seemed to be missing.

That’s when I discovered the app, Notability, grinning like a Cheshire cat. My students and I finally had a way of creating media on our iPad and putting it into Schoology! Now we can pretty much do everything we need to on our iPads, except some PhET simulations.

Sir John Tenniel

Alice’s Evidence: The Realization

Looking back at my journey, it wasn't about the technology or the idea of flipping. It was about giving up control and giving the sage-on-the-stage technique “the hook,” so to speak. It's about students producing work they can't google, doing it easily, and exercising autonomous choice.

It’s weird when you look back and realize that it's not about you; it’s about what your students can do. Schoology simply enhances our ability to do—a quality in Ed Tech that’s all too often overlooked.

Thank you. I hope someone else can learn from my experience.

P.S. Check out my blog and the 30 lessons I learned on my journey below if you plan to use, or already use, iPads in the classroom.

* Illustrations by Sir John Tenniel


Join the Conversation