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My Apple life: Creating learning opportunities for all

Writer(s): 
Jane Harland, Kyushu University

 

I have been an Apple user since 1997 and think that technology can be a great tool, when used appropriately. Many educators comment on teaching multilevel classes; however, there seems to be a huge range of computer literacy skills among educators with a huge gap between those who can and those who would like to learn, but do not know where to start. Initially, I was overwhelmed with ideas and possibilities on how to employ technology in my classroom, but decided I had to start somewhere. A few years ago, when I purchased a new MacBook, I signed up for Apple’s One to One scheme (Apple, 2011) and started studying at Fukuoka’s Tenjin Apple Store so that I could improve my computer skills. I have gained so much from attending their One to One sessions, Workshops, and Personal Project sessions, as I tend to have plenty of ideas, but sometimes need a little expert input to point me in the right direction to put them into practice. Sometimes, I don’t even know what to ask until I actually start to work.

I was studyingin Japanese which was fine for me, but what about my JALT colleagues who were eager to learn, but didn’t have sufficient Japanese language skills? Many English teachers in Fukuoka wanted to learn more about using Apple technology with their students; however, due to busy teaching schedules and a lack of Japanese language skills, their options were limited. I wondered about creating an opportunity for non-Japanese speakers to learn how to use technology more effectively in their classrooms. Several discussions with Apple Store staff led to the introduction of joint Apple/Fukuoka JALT workshops in English in February 2010. Due to the layout of the Apple Store, there was a limit of 16 attendees so, unlike regular meetings, members were asked to sign up in advance. Also, the workshops are free and open to all, as it is a good way to attract potential new members. The first workshop was held on a trial basis, as no one was sure exactly what would happen; however, any doubts soon disappeared, as it was oversubscribed with several people on a waiting list.

I have continued to collaborate with Fukuoka Apple Store and several Apple/JALT joint workshops have been held in English; workshops held so far have focused on Keynote, Garageband, and iWeb. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own Macs, and the Apple Store provides some Macs, so most people end up with their own device. The first half of each event is aimed at those who had never used the software before, while the second half is focused on more experienced users, the idea being that everyone takes away something that they can actually use. The most recent workshop was on the iPad2/iPadand also covered the differences between iOS and Mac OS, and the best educational features of each.Members of Fukuoka JALT have proved that workshops in English are popular and the Fukuoka JALT community has a growing number of Apple users. In case you are wondering how many Apple Stores in Japan run workshops in English, at the moment there is only one – Fukuoka! I advocate JALT members collaborate with their local Apple Stores to run technology-related workshops in English, or alternatively meet with your fellow JALT members to brainstorm and share ideas. I think this kind of cooperation is a win-win situation for all concerned and benefits both educators and their students.

This summer, I was one of a group of 15 Japan-based educators selected to attend the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) Japan Institute of 2011 in Kobe. We spent three amazing, inspiring, thought-provoking days with Apple staff and ADE alumni learning more about our roles as ADEs, watching fantastic presentations, and being introduced to Challenge Based Learning. Being an ADE involves four basic roles: advocate, advisor, author, and ambassador. ADEs are selected for being “passionately committed to the promise of educational technology to improve teaching and learning,” and if  if this sounds like you, why not apply to become an ADE next year? If you are wondering if you are geeky enough, you are not expected to be an expert, but rather be an enthusiastic educator who is committed to using technology as an effective educational tool. I am just beginning my voyage as an ADE and am excited about the future opportunities available to members of a growing global network of innovative educators.

 

Reference

Apple. (2011).Onetoone. Retrieved from <apple.com/retail/onetoone> (in English), <apple.com/jp/retail/onetoone> (in Japanese)

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