In short, they specialize in learning! A classroom teacher may know a lot about classroom management and the content pertaining to the specific grade she teaches, but a learning specialist has in-depth knowledge about multiple grade levels and instructional tactics to bring the learnin’ out of all types of learners. Learning specialists work in small groups or even one-on-one with students. This allows them to personalize each child’s learning experience, and guess what? Learning specialists are beginning to use the iPad in all sorts of ways to help their students even more.
Why is now a good time for technology and individualized instruction? The concept of the personal computer, one intended for individual use, began in the 1970s, as opposed to the earlier mainframe computer which was one large processor shared by many individuals. Much like our “One Size Fits All” education system, the Main Frame computer, was not interactive and mostly an output system designed to give information to large amounts of people.
Fast forward to today when the iPad has taken the classroom by storm. In the technology world, one does not get a more personal experience than with an iPad. In the education world, students do not get a more personal experience, than with their learning specialist. Can learning be anymore personalized with a learning specialist and an iPad where the only thing between knowledge and your mind is the tip of your finger?
Recently, I spoke with Head Learning Specialist at Brearley, Linda Boldt. She talked about her concerns regarding computers in the younger grades. She was an early adopter of apple computers at her school and always forward thinking; however, she is first and foremost an educator and didn’t feel computers in the lower grades would be the kind of interactive experience conducive to learning. However, she is thinking differently now about the iPad and its potential in grades K-2.
Why? Because it can individualize the learning of her small group instruction.
Using iBooks or Kindle on the iPad allows her students to upload any book, increase text size, read the word aloud, look up a definition even search for images and content on Google. Looking for practice in a specific skill for one student or a small group? With some research, I found some apps that fit even her most specific requests. As they say, there’s an app for that!