I recently converted to iSessions, and though I had been avoiding it because I’m nervous handling technology, I’m finding that using the iPad allows for more flexibility during sessions. The procedure for iSessions is basically the same as for regular sessions, with a couple variations:
I mark writers’ papers. During sessions, I have control of the iPad, and I use the Notability app to highlight or write on documents as the writer reads out loud or asks questions. This took some getting used to, because we have been trained to let the writer mark their own papers. The purpose of this is not to mark typos or to proofread, but to contribute to the interactive quality of the session and to model how to go about revising a paper. On the screen, a Word document becomes an image, which changes our approach to the document as not just lines on a page, but a whole piece. With the iSessions, it’s easier to see overall organization and structure, the aesthetics that many undergraduate writers neglect. I use the tools in the Notability app to show the writer how I would go about moving things around.
Hint: I still find it useful for the writer to have a print copy to follow along with and mark, so they remain completely engaged. One of our interns, Hannah, is doing research on how to maximize interactivity during iSessions. Given the resources, having two iPads per session may create a more immersive experience for both the consultant and the writer.
Sessions are recorded. One of the capabilities of using Notability is audio recording sessions while marking the documents. At the end of each session, I can email the writer a zip file with the marked document and the recording, so they can review it later. This frees the writer up to engage with the session while not having to worry about taking down everything we address. I’m finding that writers are more open to brainstorming during iSessions, talking about large-order issues and asking questions. I highlight minor issues for them to review later, and I think because they know they can always go back to the recording, they don’t worry as much about the little stuff. This format helps extend the session past the fifty minutes; when writers review recordings, they are learning how to revise for themselves.
Hint: I ask writers if they are comfortable being recorded at the beginning of sessions. Only one has said no so far. I think most undergraduate students are used to this kind of technology and being recorded, but it’s better to check before making a record of the session, especially when the writer is concerned about the sensitivity of material.
I think there are many opportunities for innovation while using iSessions, and I’m looking forward to seeing how my sessions develop with these technologies.