School at the Apple Store?
This afternoon, I took a trip with my wife (the lovely and talented Mrs. B.) to pick up her new iPhone. As she took a look around the store selecting the case, iPhone, and other accessories to make the item perfect for her, I found myself drawn over to see what was happening at two tables marked “Group Training Tables.” Seated around the tables were 12 children, all under the age of 13, with their parents standing behind them, taking in what they were working on. Intrigued, I asked one of the Apple Store employees what this was all about.
I came to discover that Apple Stores run what they call “Apple Camps.” Kids between the age of 8 and 12 can sign up, and over three sessions, they learn how to use software, storyboard, create, and showcase the iMovie they create. Seats fill up quickly, so parents who are interested are well advised to inquire early and plan ahead if their children want to attend. There is no pre-packaged ideas for students to create their iMovies, the work was totally their own, and based on the prompt, what do you want your movie to be about?
As I took in the scene before me, I saw a cross section of students; there were boys and girls, with multiple age groups represented. What appealed to me most was the enthusiasm for the work that all of the learners possessed. It was clear that they had found a project which motivated them. This purposeful work was loud, individualized, and full of energy. It was, simply put, exactly what we hope to see in classrooms.
Was it the technology? The setup of the Apple Store? The positive relationship the students seemed to have with the instructor? I think these were all factors in making this work relevant and fun for the students who participated. However, at the core of what made it so powerful was the project itself. While I cannot know for sure, I’d imagine many of the children enrolled in the program made efforts to work on their storyboard or idea between sessions. The work had purpose, gave room for autonomy, and allowed students to master two Apple programs.
This is the kind of work we need to put in front of our students. When I think about adding a certified and effective teacher to the mix of what I saw this morning, it showed me the true potential of project based learning and technology in our classrooms, and a glimmer of the kind of work we need to show members of our community that are resistant to technology purchases. While this happens in pockets at our school, and at others, this kind of broad integration of technology into learning is what is possible with the tools we have in the 21st century. As leaders, we need to think about how to provide the tools for teachers to use with our learners.