iPads in the Library

An Exploration Project

Inquiry into Use of iPads in the Library Learning Commons


This inquiry was initiated by a need to explore the potential of incorporating iPads as tools to support student learning within the context of the school library learning commons. The planning and facilitation team consisted of the library coordinator, an instructional technology resource teacher and a team of school library support/ library automation technicians. Selection criteria required that participating teacher librarians have a comfort level with technology and also that they were in school libraries with access to Wi-Fi. The team chose two teacher librarians from Peel secondary, middle and elementary (primary/junior) schools – six teacher- librarians in all. Each teacher-librarian was given 4 iPads on loan to use in their school libraries for the duration of the project. The project consisted of two rounds of learning. For the second round, a teacher-librarian from The Woodlands Secondary School participated as an extra. Her experience was different from the rest of the group as she had access to 10 iPads that the principal had just purchased for the school library.

To access the full report including teacher librarian learning journeys, click here.

For the remaining learning journeys please see the full report or click on their stories below.



  • Four iPads were loaned out to each school

  • iPads were set up with generic Peel email accounts and password logins by LTSS

  • A common set of security questions with corresponding answers were set up for each iPad

  • iPads were preloaded with both free and purchased Apps
  • Apps were organized in alphabetical order and administrative apps were set apart in a separate folder.

Logistics Issues:

  • As this project was initiated prior to the Volume Purchase Program and the Apple Configurator System , the loading of Apps was cumbersome, as set up process had to be done for each iPad individually –the new programs offer a solution to this problem

  • Apps were copied from one password login in order to speed up the process, but this resulted in problems when Apps needed to be updated since the password from the original iPad could not be verified

Key Findings

Teacher-librarians were very eager to participate in exploring iPad use in the school library learning commons. Participants were open to discussion of successes and challenges and willing to take risks as they explored questions that arose throughout the course of the inquiry. Details of both successes and challenges are delineated in the participant Learning Journeys that appear below.

The blog was an effective forum for staying connected and sharing ideas. Even for those teacher-librarians who were less experienced with the use of Kidblog as a sharing tool, the platform became an effective place to generate ideas for their own practice.

In Round One iPad use was perceived as a more “natural fit” for cross curricular use in elementary versus secondary schools –students in one secondary school questioned the purpose of having iPads over Netbooks or laptops in the school library. When asked to elaborate they suggested that their needs are better met by equipment that facilitates typing assignments, creating PowerPoint presentations or conducting research for projects, tasks they felt were not effectively supported by iPads. Interestingly, this sentiment did not surface with the Round Two secondary students. It may be that by focusing the work on a theory of action related more specifically to critical literacy or the inquiry process, teachers created learning environments where students’ minds were more open to new ways of using iPads as learning tools. This was particularly evident in the vocational school where students participated enthusiastically in their iPad projects. Future exploration might include creative use of iPads in the secondary school library learning commons. For example, teacher-librarians might encourage the use of Apps such as Popplet in the exploration phase of Inquiry and Haiku Deck or iMovie in the Creating Phase.

Without exception, teacher librarians noted the challenge of taking the iPad from the functionality of a personal device to that of a collaborative teaching tool. In most cases, teacher librarians saw the iPad’s greatest potential when it was being shared in partners, triads or groups of four students as they discussed the task at hand, extended each other’s ideas and came up with creative solutions to problems through experimentation and consensus.

My Slideshow

Staying Connected

To encourage dialogue between our first day of release and the final day of release to share, participants were encouraged to share their success, challenges and questions using the kidblog platform. It was encouraging to see how the blog became a way to trouble shoot, inspire and share through out the inquiry as well as a way to connect the first group of participants with the second group.

What's Next?

Teacher-librarian participants felt that one of the most valuable aspects of this pilot was having the opportunity to explore a new technology within a supportive environment. As a key resource at the centre of the school learning commons, the teacher-librarian is in a position to work and learn collaboratively with teachers and students. It is therefore important to, as one teacher-librarian stated in her feedback, “introduce the iPads to more and more teacher-librarians through further iPad Pilot Programs.” It is only through this kind of focused learning and exposure that teachers can further their knowledge and understanding of teaching effectively with technology.

One strategy to provide ongoing support will be to encourage the teacher-librarian project participants to continue using the Kidblog to share their challenges and successes and perhaps even add other interested teacher-librarians to the blog. In addition, their learning journeys will be posted on the Teaching and Learning Website so that teacher-librarian colleagues can glean information about challenges and opportunities they can expect to encounter as they embark on their own iPad learning journeys. Library Support will also offer facilitated learning sessions that include hands-on experiences with educational Apps. In fact, an iPad learning session scheduled specifically for teacher-librarians was full within a few days of posting! Peel teacher-librarians are certainly keen to move forward in the area of teaching with technology. It is this enthusiasm, coupled with opportunities for focused, job embedded professional learning that will drive our learning in this area.

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Jeanne Conte

Instructional Coordinator/Educational Librarian