Like many things in life, the plan that you start with is never what you end up with… And if you’re really lucky it ends up being more than you could have ever imagined.
Late last summer we launched Idea Flight Enterprise (to get background on this, read this post). We developed this version of Idea Flight for the educational market after hearing directly from teachers that they wanted this tool for their classroom. What is so amazing, is that the education community saw potential and the ability to fill a need that we couldn’t have identified on our own and we knew we needed them to go further.
The Idea Flight team then enlisted the help of four amazing educators all from different parts of the country—Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana and New York—asking them to help us by using Idea Flight with their students in a classroom environment and be brutally honest in their feedback. All we sent them were some loaner devices, a presentation giving a high level background on the app and it’s features…the rest was up to them. After each group concluded their testing period they completed a survey and we Skyped with the teacher alone and then had a separate session with the teacher and students to go more deeply into their feedback. What we never expected was that each teacher would comment on Idea Flight’s ability to surface and effect students with everything from visual impairments (some of which were unknown), to helping focus and engage students that are easily distracted and empower students who normally were self-conscious about presenting to their class.
If that wasn’t enough, we were also blown away by the incredible creativity these classes demonstrated in uncovering a new way to use Idea Flight to make presentations more impactful. A great example of this was Paul Bogush’s 8th Grade Social Studies class at Moran Middle School in Wallingford, CT. I could explain what they did, but he does it better in his blog post about the experience:
“There were many neat ideas. Most groups came up with ways to not just use one iPad as the pilot controlling one presentation, but multiple iPads as pilots The students put four iPads together–each controlled by different students in the audience. Four presos had to get made so that when each slide was changed it fit in flawlessly with the other three.
“Another group took six iPads and put them together on a table and had the audience stand around them.”
We’ve had very smart, talented and creative people using Idea Flight, but this use of the application had never been surfaced to us before and we were blown away, so much so that we gave the iPads to this class for a few more weeks to see what else they could come up with…we may have more updates so stay tuned.
There’s no doubt technology has impacted education (and still continues to) and has transformed the lives of those with special needs, see an amazing example of this here, (be forewarned, you will need tissues). What’s amazing is the profound impact connected tablets–like iPads—have made to become a game changer, like for this boy and his family. Late last year the Vancouver Sun reported on how teachers are using iPads to reach autistic kids and the incredible results a Vancouver teacher is seeing, Technorati wrote about it’s impact on the blind and Education Week wrote about it’s impact on a student with Down Syndrome… But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
We have been humbled by the experience of working with these classes and amazed at their creativity and how diligent they were in providing feedback. We are also inspired by the idea that the app we created may have an impact on students, their teachers and ultimately their families and thank our willing participants who contributed to the future evolution of Idea Flight Enterprise and opened new doors of awareness for us that we never imagined possible. What started out as a fact-finding mission turned into a profoundly different experience and had we tried to plan the end results we certainly would have short-changed ourselves.
If you have a classroom that would like to test drive Idea Flight, contact us here. Below is a listing of the educators who participated in this initial test program and their blogs: