This combines two thoughts. First, that any digital task should be very low friction, and that topics are best introduced with some open ended questions. We're going through Conic Sections in all my classes and we are moving on to circles and ellipses. I gave the students a task: find five examples of a circle and five examples of an ellipse. I didn't define what ellipse meant or offer any suggestions other than their examples had to be real objects. Not some math problem they find on a homework help site. In Pre Cal they had an additional task to see if they could locate generic versions of circle and ellipse equations.
Rather than have a scheme of uploading stuff to Dropbox or whatever, they simply saved their photos to the local Camera Roll of the iPad. All my iPads being tied to the same iCloud account, anything saved on one quickly propogates to the others.
I had my iPad open to the Photo Stream on the board and watched the samples drift in:
It was great for them because they could watch for their example to appear, and great for me because any goofy photos were made public immediately (see if you can spot the dog butt).
Rather than attach 15 iPads in sequence, I could run through the collection on mine as we discussed who found "better" examples of ellipses than others and spot items that some considered an ellipse but technically weren't (like the track at a high school). The technology got out of the way.
Cleaning up was easy too. The students were instructed to delete the local camera roll and I deleted everything from the Photo Stream when we were done, clearing the rest of the iPads in the process.
In a future post, I'll discuss what happened next, were we built models in desmos and got into the deeper mathematical aspects.