1. Presuming Competence
Over and over - in case studies, articles, webinettes, and discussions - about students who were frustrated at school because they were not able to demonstrate what they were truly capable of because they hadn't yet been matched with the proper technology, be it high or low tech. They acted out these frustrations through absenteeism, learned helplessness, disruptive and off-task behaviours, and a variety of other avoidance behaviours. This presumed incompetence is rarely based in disrespect or negligence, but it is nonetheless harmful and limiting. We must remind ourselves daily that just because a student isn't demonstrating the understanding or communication we want doesn't mean that aren't able, they just aren't able yet, and it's our job to continually research and test new methods of accessing their knowledge.
2. You don't have to be an expert
I think it's extremely important to note that you don't need to be a techie expert to effectively utilize technology in the classroom. It doesn't take advanced training and hours upon hours of research and testing to be able to work the majority of apps that we've played with - all you need is to be given the freedom and opportunity to take an iPad home and play with it for a few evenings in a comfortable and low-stress environment. There is such an incredible variety of apps for any subject that you are almost guaranteed to find something that will fit your needs. Related to this is the importance of support for the use of technology on the part of the administration. In schools where teachers are handed iPads and encouraged to 'play', those teachers quickly become comfortable with the technology and are more able and willing to take risks by using them in their classrooms.
3. Trial and Error
Although it may not be the most efficient method of experimentation, informed trial and error really is the best way to explore apps. A search on just about any topic will yield multiple apps, and the only way to ascertain the best fit for individual students is to take them on a 'test-drive'. There is such a variety of free and lite apps that you can do this for minimal cost and effort, and students get to have a degree of input and control over their learning. I found myself surprised several times during my case study in which apps that I thought would be great turned out to be, well, not great, whereas a few of them that I thought would be beyond the ability of my student turned out to be a pretty good fit. And the beauty of it is that the whole process was free! This was also another great reminder of Lesson 1 - presume competence!