Monday, April 27, 2015

6 Reasons To Go to iPad Camp

Kristin Reiber Harris

What's So Special About iPad Camp?

I have had the opportunity to work with many kids and adults in a variety of venues exploring the iPad as a tool for creative expression. My schedule this summer includes two weeks of half-day iPad camps at the Maier Museum at Randolph College the weeks of June 15th and June 22nd. The sessions are 3 hours five days in a row, the first week for kids 8 to 12 and the second week for teens and adults. Stay tuned for more dates and venues.

iPad Camp last summer at Lynchburg College  Photo Credit: Lynchburg College

The iPad is one of the most exciting educational tools I have ever used.The image quality is excellent and seductive. It is sleek and accessible.  A tremendous amount of creative energy has poured into iPad content production.  There are currently over 1.2 million apps available in the App Store. 

Many of us are drawn to technology like a moth to a flame. How can iPad camp help you/your student use the technology in new ways that stimulate skill building and self-confidence? In other words, what's so special about iPad camp?

ONE: Learn to Be A Media Creator, Not Just a Media Consumer

We all know the moth to the flame allure of technology isn't always a good thing. So what makes iPad camp so special in terms of managing our/our kids' addiction to technology? It boils down to one thing for me, help iPad enthusiasts become content creators not just content consumers. Use it as a tool to build skills, confidence and media to share.

Becoming effective visual communicators is a valuable skill for anyone, especially students of all ages. Honing skills to effectively build "a brand" and lobby for what we want can be life changing.

I have helped students create animations, videos, interactive books and games.
This movie is a compilation of work by drawing students at Lynchburg College.


There are many other samples of student work on these posts.

TWO: Non-graded/tested Learning Environment

How often do kids get to learn new skills for the pure sake of learning? How often do students get a chance to frame their own questions and answer them in their own way? When I talk to my K-12 colleagues, they are as frustrated with the teach-to-the-test culture as I am as an observer.

The beauty of the iPad camp is that students can be introduced to a variety of tools for creating media and can then tell their own story using those tools that spark their interest. How many great inventions were made as the result of a specific classroom assignment? I don't expect any great inventions to come out of iPad camp, but encouraging failing and trying again in a supportive space helps. 

THREE: Creative Expression

In past iPad camps I have introduced apps for animation, video production and interactive book design and let students make their own choices about what tools they will use for their own projects. This encourages students to work independently in a supported creative environment. There are no wrong answers.

I am a firm believer in the idea that anyone can draw. I always get my students to do their own artwork. Sometimes this takes some coaxing but it always pays off. One of my favorite tools for the iPad is Procreate. It is a very sophisticated painting and drawing app that is well suited for professional artists. However, it is accessible with a little guidance to students as young a 6 or 7. The user has literally hundreds of choices in terms of mark making tools and a complete color palette. Of course what makes it accessible is that you can find your favorite tools and just work with them. The layers features lets you create images that can be exported for animation. 

We use a number of apps that can be integrated in a variety of ways. Flip Boom Cartoon is one of my favorites. Snippets of animation can be imported into iMovie for editing and adding audio. iMovie is another very powerful tool used by professionals that is accessible to young children as well.

I love helping students develop skills that aid in effective visual communication. Effective communicators are more likely to affect the change they want to see in the world. Below is Fulton's demo reel from iPad Camp last summer.

FOUR: Problem Solving

I appreciate the opportunity to introduce students of all ages to Demibooks  Composer Pro. It's free and especially designed for academic environments. It can be used to create a variety of interactive documents such as books, presentations or games. The beauty is you can focus on the content and the desired outcomes without having to write code. Of course you are programming, that's essential for creating an interactive document. Demibooks designed an interface that uses words and phrases for If Then statements. So the user is developing an understanding of the principles of programming in the process.

I love solving problems with this app. As an app developer I appreciate understanding how the interactivity works so I can use that information as I create my product. Understanding the basic principles helps me not only be a better developer but lets me focus on my content.

Last summer at the Howard University Middle School iPad program, we saw some amazing results in creativity and interactive design using Demibooks Composer Pro. A focus of that programs was storytelling and global awareness.

FIVE: Lots of Time to Focus on One Activity

A traditional school day is divided into short blocks of time to accommodate the demands of the broad range of subjects students need to learn. iPad Camp is an opportunity to spend 5 afternoons in succession focusing on one series of creative endeavors. This is rare for anyone and a special treat for students who can benefit from the support of a knowledgeable teacher and the interest and support of peers involved in the same process. 

SIX: Fun

iPad camps are fun.  It is a relaxed, guided creative environment with peers that actively support exploring and creating.

What have your experiences been at an iPad Camp?


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