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An ‘Apple’ a day at Auckland Park Primary School

| September 22, 2010

US based Fortune Magazine, recently cited computer-related research findings.

The magazine reported that 95% of American college students interviewed this spring owned at least one computer (83% owned a laptop, 24% a desktop, and 15% both).

  • Among the laptop owners, 27% owned Apple Macs
  • Among those who planned to purchase a new computer, 87% planned to buy a laptop. And among those students, 47% planned to buy a Mac

Lower down the education chain, and here in South Africa, the Mac – described by independent analyst Christopher Dawson as “light and durable; a magical combination of cool features, great marketing, brand cache, and slick software” – is also steadily gaining in popularity in independent schools.

Apple Macs travel with the teachers

Leading the way is Auckland Park Primary School (APPS) in Johannesburg. It made the decision, reports teacher Kay Cottrell, to supply teachers with their own Apple Mac laptop. “Each staff member does her own preparation on a Mac, and takes it from classroom to classroom.” Students are also able to check machines out of the storage bank for group work in any lesson.

You would be forgiven for thinking that Cottrell is an IT specialist, but that’s not the case. She’s a Science teacher, and one of a growing tribe of Apple enthusiasts. Her passion is rubbing off on everyone around her, staff and students alike. “Apple Macs are loaded with intuitive software that’s easy for the children to understand. I firmly believe that we must prepare the children for the world out there. We must give them technological skills, and teach them how to apply them and get the most out of them.”

Podcasts popular projects

She continues: “As a result, we are attempting more and more multimedia projects as we move through the curriculum. Gone are the days of students preparing boring speeches or cardboard-based demonstrations. The buzzword at APPS is podcasts.” In Cottrell’s classes, girls master experiments using GarageBand for background music, photos they’ve loaded onto My PhotoAlbum, and research they’ve accessed via the Internet from anywhere on campus. “Each podcast project is the result of a
comprehensive process that begins with girls engaging in fruitful teamwork as they put together their spider diagrams and initial storyboards. It’s tricky learning how to
match music with pictures and narration on computers, and I’m very proud of my students!” comments Cottrell.

Apple Macs make teachers’ lives easier

Once the podcasts are completed, Cottrell has ample material from which to extract assessment results. She believes that– once everybody’s au fait – the Macs will also enable teachers to team teach. “I’m looking for mastery of scientific facts when I assess a podcast made to, say, illustrate parts of the plant,” she explains, “but the English
and Drama teachers could assess presentation skills, and the Music teacher could look at the original music the girls have composed.” Teachers are learning how to create
their own podcasts, says Cottrell, and these can be downloaded to the pupils’ cell phones, and replayed endlessly for revision purposes. “We’re moving away from a paper-based approach. My students know that their homework is to be accessed online. There’s no limit to what we can achieve, and our classes are now so interactive and exciting.”

Last word from the learners

Reports Grade 5 student, Anya Fries: “The first thing we learned how to do on the Apple Macs is how to make a photo book in our Zulu lessons. I learned that you had to get the pictures you wanted off the Internet and then drag them into your photo book. You can change the colour of the page and the number of pictures you want to use.

“Then we learned to make a podcast n dinosaurs and why they died out.  Basically, you had to record your speech by just pressing a button. Then you would just drag the pictures where you wanted them to go. We could change how long they showed, and then we could add any music and sound effects. It was really quite easy. I really enjoy using the Apple Macs – it feels like a privilege.”

Alexia Georgiou in Grade 4 cottoned onto the fact that mistakes are not the end of the world on an Apple Mac. “We had to make a podcast about parts of the plant. It was so funny when we made a mistake in our speech, and could listen to it over and over again!” Reflected Rachel Ince, another Grade 5 learner: “We’re able to go on the Internet just about anywhere, because we can take the Apple Macs outside and even onto the jungle gym!

Before we got them, the only way we could go on the Internet was to go to the computer room. It’s not just one grade but the whole school that uses them, from teachers to pupils. Because of this, the Apple Macs get used nearly every day. They are perhaps the best things that ever came to APPS, and I’m so glad they did.”

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Category: e-Education, Spring 2010 Edition

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