tech tuesday

Students and Teachers as Makers: Apps to Present and Share Lessons and Learnings (Part 2)

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In Part I of this post, I introduce the web-based application Present.me as a potential tool for you and your students to create video presentations, tutorials, and lessons.

Two additional tools my students and I enjoy are ScreenChomp and Screen-cast-omatic.

ScreenChomp (available in iTunes) is-in essence- a white board that you can record.  Teachers utilize ScreenChomp to record their drawings, diagrams, or text on a whiteboard or customizable background with audio explanation and guidance.  You can pause the video, insert photos and PDFs, change the background, erase, and then publish as a link or save to your account to share with students.  Want to be really efficient with your time?  Connect your iPad to a project with AirPlay mirroring through an Apple TV or a VGA adapter so you can record the demonstration or lesson while you are teaching face-to-face.  Then, post the link of the ScreenChomp for students to review.



Check out the developer Tech Smith’s website for an overview of features.

Ideas for students:

  • Demonstrate a process with a “think-aloud” like solving a math problem or conjugating a certain type of verb in a language class.
  • Respond to a picture or prompt by annotating and talking about their responses.
  • Crate a video lesson for their classmates on a focused topic or skill like mitosis vs. meiosis or allusions in literature. 


Screen-cast-o-matic is a free web-based tool you can use to screen capture your desktop on a PC or Mac.  Click on the screen recorder button on the website and a dotted-line box appears that you can re-size to create a record window on your screen.  This is my go-to tool to create quick tutorials for technology topics ranging from citing sources in databases to creating a Google Doc.  The free version does limit the recording time, but in general tutorials are under five minutes, so I haven’t had a problem there.

Web Page Tour Created with Screen-cast-o-matic

There are numerous screen recording apps available.  A trip over to the Chrome Store in your browser and simple search for “screen recorder” yields many extensions and apps.  

What tools do you find invaluable for you and your students as you make and share new knowledge in your class?





Students and Teachers as Makers: Apps to Present and Share Lessons and Learnings (Part I)

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Thinking about “flipping” your classroom? Looking for tools your students can use to demonstrate their learning? I’ve become a fan of three simple (and free) apps that you and your students can easily use to record and share tutorials, lessons, and demonstrations.

Present.me

For those of you who miss the face-to-face quality of in-class tutorials and instruction, this website might be just what you are looking for to create and share tutorials or presentations with your students while maintaining that human and personal aspect.  Present.me allows you to create presentations with slides and video, slides and audio, or just video.  Upload your existing presentations, PDFs, or pictures and then record a video where you explain or teach in a split screen.  Feeling a little camera shy?  It’s just as easy to record audio alongside the slides as video.

Check out the fractured fairy tale book talk for my example and Present.me’s own list of simple tutorials.

The free version allows you to upload content and record video, audio, or video-only.  You cannot download the video and save as a file with the free account, but you can embed the video in a web page or share through social media sites and the direct link.

A few things I learned while making my own Present.me:

  1. Write your content first if starting from scratch–If you have an existing lesson or PPT, then it should be relatively quick to create your own explanation or to record the lesson you are accustomed to.  If starting from scratch, I definitely recommend writing a script, first.  The better Present.Me videos do have more of an “off-the-cuff” feeling.  I wasn’t quite there with my first attempt, so I split my screen and had a script up that I read from while clicking through the slides.  
  2. Practice your timing before you record–I think I took something like 8 recordings before I got to the final version.  Many of the deleted versions were due to clumsy fingers.  When you record video or audio alongside slides, you have to click to advance the slides while you record…takes a couple of practice rounds to get used to, but then it’s a synch. 
  3. If you video, use a high(er) quality camera–I went with the built-in camera on my iMac, but will try using my webcam next time.  I wasn’t too happy with how pixelated the video came out, and there was a slight delay in motion with the audio.  But, that’s a nit-picky thing.

Ideas for students:

  • “Me-Presentation”–this platform lends itself well to a little bio about yourself or even an alternative to the paper resume.  
  • Explanatory/ Process–Students could create a presentation aimed at explaining a process or concept that utilizes examples or diagrams. 
  • Digital Storytelling–What if students narrated their own stories alongside a visual storytelling technique?  We’ve been using MovieMaker, iMovie, and Animoto for digital storytelling, but those tools eliminate a lot of the power of students’ own voices when telling the story.  Why not allow them to tell the story alongside the story for a dynamic narrative experience?
*Anytime students record themselves and publish to the web it’s important to be mindful of privacy laws and policies for your district.  In general, never post a video of a student to the web without written parent consent, and do not include any identifying information such as name and location.  A safe alternative could be to have students email you links to the video or publishing to a closed group like in Edmodo or a similar online classroom platform that is protected.  

Tech Tuesday RETURNS: Writing the Web One Image at a Time

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As we continue to make the evolution from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0, I am astounded by the number of excellent creativity tools available for learners.  Web 2.0, which ushered the era of content-creation, social media, and production (Google, YouTube, etc.) , following the dot-com crash in 2001, brought with it tremendous tools for learning.  Now we’re beginning to see the impact Web 3.0, which empowers users to re-create, mix, transform, and produce new forms of information (Mozilla, Tagxedo, etc.).

Students now have the ability not to just be consumers of the web, but to be producers.  There are numerous sites and applications that invite students to collect web parts, information, graphics, and media and mix them together to create a new interpretation of that topic or idea (Glogster, Videolicious, etc.)

Today I’d like to share a site that is rather new to me but that is simple to use and grasp for students and teachers:  Thinglink.com

A Thinglink is a visual representation of a topic that embeds pictures, graphics, sound, text, and links.  A creator chooses an image as the background and then can link in web content, providing a digitally engaging and unique experience. 

It’s quick and easy to register and create an account with the opportunity to link your Facebook or Twitter account for set up.  Then, you begin by importing a picture from your hardrive, choosing from your Facebook albums, browsing Flickr’s public photo gallery, or providing a web address for photo.

You are able to share your creation through Google+, Edmodo, Facebook, Twitter, and many other social platforms or by the link, like here (Thinglink for the book Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein).

Thinglink is also available as a gadget for blog services.  Check out the gadget on my blog on the upper-left hand corner!

Infographics: Going Digital with Data

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Tech Tuesday:  Students as Information Consumers and Creators

Inviting students into the research process is sticky, I know.  Most of the time we shy away from research, dreading that inevitable paper to grade.  But, what if we approached research with our students from a different stance?  What if– instead of the monster once-a-year Research Project–we considered an embedded approach?

When we invite students to adopt an inquiry stance in our classroom, research becomes a part of our daily dialogue.  Asking questions, searching for information, browsing, collecting, evaluating, publishing–these are all processes in the inquiry classroom that work on varying scales.  

Our students are bombarded with information 24/7/365.  They forget (never learned) how to be curious and critical consumers.  An inquiry stance to learning taps into our natural curiosities, building upon content area knowledge in relevant and authentic ways.   A simple infographic (informational graphic) might make more of a lasting impression upon a student and his learning experience than a five page research paper or report. 

How is it done?  Invite students to collect and categorize data for authentic purposes.  In science, what if a lab experiment resulted in a graphic representation of the reactions, observations, and data students collected?  In English, invite students to identify a problem in their community, create a survey, and then publish their findings through a dynamic, visual platform.  Math lends itself particularly well to integrating infographics through embedded bar graphs, line graphs, pie charts, and percentages.  Pose a problem for students to consider, asking them to transfer their findings into a digital display, or invite them to be problem-posers.


Created at http://www.piktochart.com to publish the library’s statistics for January

Free Infographic tools such as Piktochart provide templates and tools for students to synthesize information and publish it digitally.  Not only are they collecting and consuming information, but they must synthesize what it means in order to create a visually dynamic representation. 

American Association of School Librarians (AASL) NETS-S


3.1.1 Conclude an inquiry-based research process by sharing new understandings and reflecting on the learning
3.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view, use, and assess

The "True" Wave of Digital Natives

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Today in a session with Project Tomorrow’s CEO, Julie Evans, we were treated with a sneak peak at some of the data trends from the last Speak Up survey administered this past December (2012).

Now, data and I have had a rocky, tumultuous relationship.  In my early teaching years, data and I weren’t too familiar with one another–passing ships in the night.  As a graduate student, I started to flirt with data a little bit once I caught a glimpse of what he could do for me and some of the practices I was researching in my classroom. But, we hit a major roadblock in our relationship the year that data was wielded like a thick, leather belt, snapping and cracking down the hallway, forcing data-driven instruction down our throats, angrily pushing us towards practices that  did not align with our beliefs and better intuition.  Data and I broke up that year, and I admit I talked trash about data behind his back.

There was no magic moment when data came back into my life and the past was erased.  It took a lot of coaching and mentoring from leaders, friends, and mentors who had healthy, constructive relationships with data.  Today, we’re cohabitants of the same house, focused on the improvement of learning for everyone on our campus; we relate easily, flexibly, and without judgment.

So, today when Julie announced she was giving us a preview of the yet-to-be released data, my nerdy heart skipped a beat.  Our campus participated in the Speak Up survey–a difficult task in a campus of 2200 students.  Individual campus and district results will be made available tomorrow, 2/6.  I appreciate having the national trends to compare our local results to and anticipate that we’ll fall in line with those trends.

Three Key Trends for Educational Technology
1) Students want devices that allow them to personalize the educational process, the same way that they personalize their social media and web presence.  They want devices that help them be more productive and allow them to CREATE and ADAPT.

2)  We’re at a BYOD/BYOT tipping point.  The stage is set for integrating personal devices into learning.  Administration has turned a corner with its willingness to allow personal devices, teachers are curious, and students are willing and able.  How can we take advantage of the growing momentum and be thoughtful, reflective and strategic in our visions and action plans?

3)  The “true” digital natives haven’t even arrived yet on our high school campuses.  According to the findings of Speak Up’s yearly survey assessing the rolling of technology in learning, a shift has occurred in the readiness, access, and skills our 9-12th graders bring to the digital table and their middle school counterparts.  They are coming to us very soon; how will we prepare for tomorrow’s learners?

Wow!  I’m excited.  I’m ready.  I’m curious.

Now what?
by

Student Collaboration with Google Drive

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This past week a handful of my colleagues and I utilized Google Drive to brainstorm, draft, revise, and finalize a proposal for the National Council of Teachers of English Convention in Boston next November.  If you’ve ever prepared a proposal to present at a conference before, you know how harried and nerve-wracking it can be.  Trying to organize six people to do one together, with 24 hours until the submission deadline is…well…it’s crazy!  It’s almost as crazy as trying to get a group of students to write a paper or create a presentation together.  In both scenarios–whether it’s a group of adults or students– here are some collaboration pitfalls:

1)  One person does all the work.  The high-achiever of the group grins and bears it as they carry the weight of the project.
2)  No one does the work.  If the dynamics of the group fail to include the driven personality, then chances are, nothing gets done.
3)  Too many chiefs…you’ve seen it happen, or perhaps you’ve been in a group where everyone is trying to lead and direct.  This is almost as bad as having no direction.  The final project lacks cohesiveness and rather than a unified, solid presentation

The night before our deadline, our go-getter sent a call out through Twitter and text to get our attention that basically said, “hey, this thing is due tomorrow!  Get your butts on Google Drive before 10:00 am or it’s not happening!”  And so we took our brains, individually, to the document created by our group leader and started to draft, revise, and comment, which was cool by itself.  The magic, however, occurred when we were all in the document, working at the same time, our multi-colored cursors moving around the document, communicating through the chat feature about what we were doing and should we do this or that, adding comments and resolving comments until finally, with two minute to spare, we had a proposal submitted to NCTE.

From the other side of our various devices and locations strewn across the metroplex, we all shared a collective sigh and appreciation for the power of collaborative writing and tools such as Google Drive that breathe life and spirit in to the writing process.

So here’s the skinny on Google Drive:

1)  It’s free.  Doesn’t get any better than that.
2)  Google Drive operates through cloud computing, which means that you can create, store, and share your documents through the web.  No more wondering where you left that flash drive or stressing out over loosing a document on your laptop after an unexpected re-imaging.  For our students, this means that they can work on documents anywhere they have web-access.
3)  Google Drive hosts a miniature Office Suite line-up of products including Documents (Word), Spreadsheet (Excel), Presentation (PowerPoint) plus a whole host of apps available through Google Chrome web store that can be downloaded and added to your Drive.
4)  When you create a document in Google Drive you can choose to share it with collaborators, allowing them access to edit, view, or share the document.  You can make your document private, public (open to the web), or public through the link.

Applications for learning:
Some of my friends have 200 students this year. We know that powerful writing instruction relies upon students writing, talking about their writing, and receiving feedback.  The teacher, alone, cannot be responsible for continually providing feedback on student’s writing with a 1:200 ratio.  Peer response is a powerful tool for a young writer,  but teachers cannot provide the type of quality feedback and evaluation on 200 essays more than a few times throughout the semester (if even that much).


Can we still have the same learning goals for students and their writing if they are participating in a collaborative essay or project that we would an individual assignment?  YES!  Do we address more learning goals by having them use technology to work collaboratively on a writing task?  YES!

ISTE’s NETs for Students even address this skill as relevant and integral to today’s workforce and post-secondary environments:

2. Communication and Collaboration
Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. Students:
a. interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media.
b. communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.
c. develop cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners of other cultures.
d. contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems.

If we consider the SAMR model as a protocol for planning technology integration, Google Drive falls under Redefinition,  allowing an entirely new experience that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.  

I can attest to the power of collaborative writing experiences.  Google Drive can engage students who are too timid to speak up face-to-face in a group.  It alleviates some of the responsibility for providing timely feedback from the teacher and engages students in the writing community as a class as well as the smaller communities they form in groups.  Group members can collaborate remotely, from their own devices and locations, or side-by-side in a computer lab.

Coming soon!  My Big Campus allows you to integrate Google Drive as an application, much like it does Facebook and Twitter, which means that students can collaborate on Google Docs and more through one portal: MBC! 

What is your personal experience with using Google Drive?  Do you see any advantages for using it with students?  Are there pitfalls or obstacles to integrating Google Drive into your learning activities?



On the Path to Technology Integration…We Need a Map

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Great things are happening here at The Ridge!  I’ve always believed that the leadership, innovation, and vision of individuals on this campus have the potential to make us leaders in education, especially in regards to raising student engagement and closing the achievement gap.

Recently, Fossil Ridge was awarded a KISD Education Foundation Grant.  The project titled, “Closing the Gap” was the collaborative brainchild of a handful of these leaders.  

The goals of the project are:

  1. Close the gap in access to technology that exists in our student population, allowing for equity to digital tools and resources and extending the school day to a 24/7 model.
  2. Investigate the role that technology has on learning.
  3. Inform the long-range vision for technology integration and strategic plan for our campus.

I am pleased that the community and district leaders recognize the efforts and leadership capacity on our campus and am thankful for the present and future support we will receive as we work towards these goals.

As discussions took place regarding deployment of our project, which involves selecting twenty AVID students to receive Dell tablets and Verizon mi-fi cards for use at home and at school, we all agreed that in order to truly understand how technology impacts learning.  We needed to form a leadership team, who would engage in a PLC that explores theory, methods, and tools for educational technology.  It’s not enough to simply provide students with access to technology.  Even the largest 1:1 programs in schools, without a professional development plan for teachers, will not produce the impact on learning that designers anticipate.  

This team will visit schools in the Metroplex who have adopted some kind of technology model (1:1, BYOD, etc.) and observe how their deployment model impacts learning, what type of systems are in place to support student and teacher integration of technology, and measures that can capture the data we need to inform our vision.  In addition to field trips, the team will also meet regularly to share resources, explore models, and create lessons that integrate tools.  But, it all has to come back to the same point:  How does technology impact student engagement and learning?

This past weekend I was explaining our project to another National Writing Project teacher consultant who is an instructional leader in a neighboring district that is exploring these same questions and working to support teachers as they grapple with technology that is integrated into instruction.  She suggested that we start with the SAMR model developed by Dr Rueben Puentedura.  Through this model, Dr. Puentedura demonstrates how our goal when considering a long-range technology adoption cycle on any scale, from district-level down to the classroom, should be to move from enhancement to transformation.


SAMR stands for substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefintion.Substitution:  At this stage you are using technology as a direct substitution for another tool. Think using a word processor in lieu of a type writer without utilizing functions such as spell check, grammar check, etc.  Dr. Puentedura argues that at this level, productivity actually decreases. 
 Augmentation:  If we continue with our example of the word processor, then at this next level we would use its built-in features such as Spell Checker, word count, copy and paste, etc.  Productivity or work flow might increase at this level, perhaps students can produce a finished draft more quickly using a word processor, but how has the tool transformed their thinking?

Notice the dotted line between the Augmentation and the next level in the model.  This is meant as a target.  When considering tools and tasks that integrate technology with learning, our goal should be to be above this line.

Modification: Again, if we consider the word processor as a tool, how could we modify the tool to allow for greater productivity?  Rather than printing the file and sharing it, what if we integrated another tool such as email or drop boxes to publish and share?  Or, what if we integrated a product or feature of another tool such as a chart from Excel, digital photos of artificats, etc.  At this level, Dr. Puentedura claims, student learning begins to transform.

Redefinition:  Here’s where my mind really starts to bend…In the redefinition level, technology allows us to do things otherwise impossible to create new products in new ways.  Rather than a word processor where one student is authoring a product, what if students utilized Google Docs to collaborate in real time!  This would not have been possible before.  Students couldn’t work from their own houses from their own devices on a task at the same time.  Now, technology allows for this level of collaboration and creation.

http://msdwc.edublogs.org/files/2010/04/itlog_techlifecycle1.png


My colleague explained it to me much more simply…instead of old things in new ways, our goal is to shoot for new things in new ways.  

I did some reflecting over some of the tools I’ve highlighted in the blog that meet this goal. Below you’ll find a list of tools and links to those blog posts that help us reach the Enhancement level of learning through technology.

Google Earth

My Big Campus

GoAnimate and Sock Puppets

Socrative

Glogster

VoiceThread

Prezi



I’m curious to hear your take-away after thinking about this model and how it applies to your decision making and lesson planning process.  Limitations, drawbacks, confusions, applications?  Leave your comment!


Adventures in iPads: Apps for Exploring

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Tapping into the natural curiosities of our students with apps to explore information


The advent of mobile devices like iPads and smart phones have ushered in a new heightened era of information for our 21st Century students.  With a swipe of a fingertip, endless amounts of information become available to us instantaneously as it streams 24/7 through our devices and into our lives .  Access to information at this rate is a double-edged sword:   At times a bombardment of messages, information can clutter our lives, leading to increased habits of multi-tasking, and letting go of a critical stance to information in favor of “more” stuff.  On the other hand, we now have access to perspectives, events, societies, phenomena, and knowledge from around the globe.  Such knowledge adds to our cultural and intellectual wealth when applied in creative ways.

For our students, Google is the main portal to the world of information.  As a self-professed Google-lover, I understand the power of an advanced search engine.  Do my students?  Well…we’re working on that.  Rather than sending students to “Google it,” I’d like to suggest a handful of apps designed for the iPad that foster academic exploration of topics, inquiries, and contexts appropriate for all content area learning.  These apps utilize multiple modes of media to enhance and engage.  Articles, videos, and resources are easily shared through the app feature, allowing for easy adaptation for BYOD projects where students may access the information from personal devices, including laptops, desktops, and mobile devices.  I suggest utilizing these tools when introducing new topics or units to students.  In a Flipped or VESTED classroom, these tools fit well into initial previewing and building background knowledge.

The following iTunes apps allow students the opportunity to explore a myriad of topics and content areas, engaging them through authentic connections to the world around them and utilizing mobile technology to access information in rapid time:

iTunes U

According to Apple, iTunes U is the world’s largest collection of free educational content.  Users can access courses from the world’s leading universities.  In addition to participating in a course through readings downloaded into iBook, videos, assignments, and podcasts, students can also select from over 500,000 free lectures, videos, and podcasts.  Teachers may utilize iTunes U as a tool to introduce a new concept or unit.  For example, students may view a demonstration of a heat engine as an introduction to thermodynamics for an upcoming physics unit.  Professor David Hoxley of La Trobe University has an entire classical physics course in iTunes U complete with video demonstrations and podcasts.  

Other contributors to iTunes U include:

  • Cambridge University
  • Harvard University
  • MIT
  • Library of Congress
  • Oxford University
  • Stanford
  • Yale
Students have free and unlimited access to ivy league courses at their fingertips.


Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a free, online collection of over 3,500 videos covering multiple disciplines including K-12 Math, Science, Humanities, and test prep.  An Economics student may have questions regarding the Fiscall Cliff and America’s economic difficulties.  A quick trip to the Khan Academy app could lead him to this engaging and simple video that utilizes diagrams, graphics, and voice-over to explain complex issues.



Khan Academy’s popularity is largely due to its simple, direct, and concrete illustrations of difficult subjects and complex concepts.  Like iTunes U, students can subscribe to courses to continue their exploration into a specific discipline, topic, or skill.  

TED “Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world.”

Ever wonder what is so fascinating about the dance of the dung beetle?
Intrigued about the controversies and perspectives surrounding the Second Amendment and gun control legislation?
Perplexed by the tumultuous and fragile relationship between Iran and Israel?

TED Talks capture inspiring, hilarious, creative, and informative talks by people who are pushing the envelope with their theories and actions.  Students can browse and search for videos relating to a host of topics related to technology, business, design, entertainment, science, and global issues.  TED Talks have been growing in popularity as thousands of videos are shared through social media sites.

TED-Ed is the site’s education platform with 167 videos that can be shared, edited, or flipped for classroom use. This video was created by an educator and animator to demonstrate the power of effective introductions from famous authors.

On the TED-ed site for this video, students can respond to questions and explore further resources related to powerful introductions.  Educators can even customize or “flip” the video to create a unique lesson for their students.  


Personalized Learning

For a little brain candy about the flipped classroom and blended learning check out Sal Khan’s Ted talk! (He’s much more concrete about it than I have been on the blog :-)) 


These resources are valuable tools to provide students with opportunities to explore content related topics whether in a flipped, blended, or traditional classroom.   Inviting them to explore these resources through their own curiosities supports their natural learning tendencies, allowing for a personalized learning experience.  As online learning platforms continue to expand and evolve, soon, public education will need to consider how best to meet the needs of learners who can feasibly enroll him or herself in a free online course and master the content on their own through their own devices rather than the traditional educational setting.  Public institutions have begun to integrate iTunes U courses into a traditional setting by creating unique courses for students to enroll in for a personalized experience.

But, it’s about baby steps and becoming comfortable with the sheer amount of information available, learning to control and manage the continual stream, and then become producers of solutions and innovations.  iTunes U, Khan, and TED are leading facilitators of information collection and production.


Twitter 101 for Librarians and Teachers

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Why do we as librarians and teachers need to come to terms with Twitter?  View the Prezi above created by myself and Diana Colby, library media specialist at Keller ISD’s Early Learning Center, for a peek at our own Twitter journey and steps to take that Twitter plunge.  

In the beginning, it was helpful for me to think of Twitter in terms of library lingo.  For example, what is this “@” business?  In Twitter, users select a “handle” or ID preceded by the ampersand.  If we think of Twitter as a massive OPAC (online catalogue), then each user has a main entry…that main entry is their “handle.”  For example, Twitter users can search for me with the 100 tag @audreyw222.  Furthermore, the Twitter “catalogue” can also be accessed through hashtags (#thisfunnystringofwordsembeddedintweets).  Hashtags allow searching for a specific topic or subject accessible for users.  The hashtag in the Twittersphere is the subject heading in library land’s OPAC.

Making anymore sense?

Needing more convincing?  Check out this month’s issue of Library Media Connection for the article, “Twitter Tips and Tricks for Your Library and Classroom” by media specialist Melissa Purcell.  In this two-page spread, Purcell dissects, describes, and defines the microblogging social media tool and decodes the mystery behind that little blue bird for classroom teachers and librarians.  The article contains a glossary of twitter terminology, top ten reasons to incorporate Twitter, suggested Twitter handles for libraries and classrooms to follow, popular hashtags, and links to access blogs and documents that explore ways Twitter is coming home to roost in libraries and schools.  

We are in the middle of a communication revolution as people now share intimate details of their lives as fast as they can type.  In this mobile world, everyone can have their voice heard in an instant with few technical skills.  Twitter is used by millions of people every day to discuss their lives and the news of the day.  The dated one-way flow of information from book or website to patron just does not work for patrons anymore; they need to interact with their information, and Twitter provides a platform for that interaction.  Now is the time to embrace the free technology tools that our students are already using and incorporate those tools into our lesson plans for a true educational experience (Purcell, 2012).

Adventures in iPads: Initial Deployment Woes and the Sites that Saved My Sanity

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The Adventure Begins…

Well, we’ve gone and done it.  Fossil Ridge has taken the iPad plunge.  Last week I had the pleasure (along with my faithful helper, Mme. Morgan) of unwrapping, setting up, and synchronizing thirty iPads for the Ridge.  Now, this process was not nearly as neat and productive as you might first think.  Before we deploy our iPad fleet for classroom use, I wanted to provide some background and explanation for how multiple iPad devices are managed in schools and on our campus.

First of all, when Steve Jobs and Apple first conceptualized this laptop-mobile device, they did not anticipate it would have such a tremendous draw in education. In his 2010 keynote in which he introduces the new tablet device that would revolutionize the mobile device industry and technology in education, Jobs discusses the need in the market for a “third category device” one that blends the portable, compact quality of the iPhone with the speed, productivity, and functionality of a laptop. Jobs does not mention anything about a vision for the devices in institutions, including education.  His presentation continues as he highlights the iPad’s unique features that allow the user to create a highly personalized experience (email, iPhoto, background, etc.).



10 Biggest Questions about iPads in the Classroom



Schools immediately jumped on board the iPad boat, purchasing the hot commodity for teachers and students.  In fact, the very next day journalists and educators were speculating on the impact the iPad will have on education.  Flooding the app market for education specific tools that would engage students at higher levels of thinking, creating, collaborating, and sharing.  Apple, however, was not prepared for the education market, and so when schools ran into issues regarding deployment,  the mobile device company that focused on a personalized experience for its customers needed to do some back-pedaling to consider how to support a  multi-user educational platform.

[Enter site #1 that helped me wrap my brain about iPad deployment in schools]

http://www.scoop.it/t/ipadsineducation 
A collection of deployment guides and resources for schools including a presentation on the role of iPads in schools, Apple’s VPP program, and integrating technology into instruction.



The Scoop It site led me to this fantastic  collection of resources realted to iPads in K12 education curated by Kathy Schrock.  There are lots of lists of suggested apps generated by multiple schools.
Kathy’s site led me to the graphic on the left from an article posted on Edudemic.
Oh, the rabbit trails are endless!
But I digress…back to our deployment.


Initial roadblocks…

1)  iPads are designed to be unique and personalized for their users–the functionality of the iPad (synchronized email, contacts, calendars, apps, iTunes, etc.) does not transfer to school models where iPads are used by multiple students. 

2)  iPads are designed to be managed through a home computer, one at a time–Schools who purchased thirty or more iPads for classroom use struggled to painstakingly sync and manage each device, one at a time–a very lengthy and monotonous process (speaking from personal experience).  Today, we have a MDM (multiple-device-manager) and a nifty little application that allows a school’s device manager (me) to upload content and manage multiple devices at one time–Apple Configurator. 
Not only do we now have an application that cooperates with iTunes so that the devices can be managed all at once, but we have a nifty piece of hardware that stores, charges, and syncs them all, too!
3)  Purchased apps are intended for personal use, with the understanding that they may be shared on a handful of devices in a home or family–In the beginning, educators and schools got away with a lot.  Schools created an iTunes account, purchased a single license app for 2.99 and then loaded it onto thirty or more iPads.  Apple got smart to their ways, however, and implemented volume purchasing for institutions.
http://wafflebytes.blogspot.com/2011/11/ipads-in-classroom-volume-purchase.html
Now you may be asking, “why the heck do we need to understand all of this, Audrey?  Just give us the devices and let’s do it!” 
It’s important to understand the intention behind the iPads and the process we use to manage and distribute them so that you can better implement them in your classes, taking full advantage of their potential. 

So, here’s a little narrative of the process that involved the initial set up and deployment of our iPads, including the top sites and resources that saved our sanity and provided us with a healthy little collection of apps ready for classroom use!

They are here!

Confession–the iPads have actually been on our campus, sitting in boxes in my secret storage space for longer than a week or two.  But before you clench your fists and wave them at me understand that the process of unwrapping, setting up, and syncing the iPads is nothing like the process a personal user undergoes.  This was not a project I could spend five or ten minutes at a time between my other duties and roles.  I needed a solid day, with my office and the library closed, to immerse myself in the tools and processes I mentioned above.  (Yay, for STAAR retesting!) 
With the library closed and my faithful helper, we went about the task of unboxing, unwrapping, labeling, and plugging in all thirty iPads into the Bretford PowerSync Cart.  This took us a little over an hour.

Ummm…everything is plugged in, why aren’t the dang things charging?

PowerSync Cart
And here was obstacle #1 in the great 2012 iPad deployment.  We unplugged and replugged any chord and outlet we could find, flipped the switch on and off, unplugged the cart, and repeated about five times.  I called my fellow librarians who I thought had the same cart…they didn’t.  I got on the website for Bretford and found their support form…I was not about to sit and waste my time waiting for an automated response from an electronic form…a little more digging and we came across an actual phone number. 

The solution?  Easy-peasy.  Remove the bottom dividers, reach back, and jiggle the power cord to the cart, plug in the wall, flip the switch…and voila!  We had power.  This took about another hour of our time.

Two hours into our deployment day and we hadn’t even started the iTunes process.

It’s helpful when you have a working iTunes account.

Obstacle #2–no access to iTunes.  It seems that our campus iTunes account (which had never been used) had been tampered with, and we needed a new account.  Well, this involves setting up a new Outlook email account, which involves calling 1200, which involves waiting for 1200 to decide who the job should go to, which ends up being the “mail” team, otherwise known as the “male” team (no offense guys)–who is notorious for dragging their heals and taking their time.

How the heck do we get all of these tools to play nice?

While waiting to hear back about iTunes, we read and re-read, and read again the directions on using Apple Configurator and the Bretford PowerSync cart. [Enter website #1 that saved my sanity].

Our iTunes delay did allow us to think about the profile we wanted to create for the devices.  Apple Configurator not only allows you to upload and manage the content on the iPads, but it also allows you to enable and disable its features to create profiles.  For example, the student profile we pushed out to all 30 iPads allows for use of Safari, the built in camera, and it is automatically connected to the Student wifi.  Students cannot, however, change the wifi settings, delete or purchase apps, or access iCloud or photo stream.  Nice!

With a few minor interruptions involving COW carts, students sneaking into the library, and lunch we were still waiting on that Apple ID so we could register the devices and download content!

While we are waiting…what ARE we going to put on these things?

Thank goodness for Mme. Morgan’s type A personality.  The two of us split up and scoured blogs, Pinterest board, websites, and Twitter for lists of recommended apps for education. 

[Enter in several more sites that helped us further explore iTunes and the world of apps]

http://appsineducation.blogspot.com/p/maths-ipad-apps.html
apps organized by content area

http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2012/06/blooms-taxonomy-for-ipad.html
apps organized by Bloom’s taxonomy

http://pinterest.com/gcisdtech/ipads/
Pinterest board for iPads in the classroom maintained by GCISD

Apple’s own iPads in education page.
Ning for iPad educators.  Includes deployment plans, blogs, apps, tutorials, and more!
the MEGA collection of all things iPad for teachers, students, and schools.  Click on the tabs and subtabs across the top.  LiveBinder is a virtual three-ring binder.  Cool tool.
  
Another MEGA collection of 50 resources (links and apps) for iPads
Here’s the final result (also posted on the Fossil Ridge collaboration site): our beautiful spreadsheet.
But…still waiting on iTunes.

Finally, let’s load these babies!

With the assistance of Lisa Ham, Aron Rister, and Tomi Deevers, our new and improved iTunes account arrived at the end of our deployment day.  It took less than an hour to download all of the-preselected apps.  It took another hour (the next day) to do the initial set up and registration for all thirty devices and then sync and load the apps from iTunes.

Final touches…

Our final step in preparing the devices for initial use involves manually organizing the apps by functionality and content onto screens so that they are classroom ready.  This step must be done one-by-one…thank goodness for savvy student aides!

And the final product:






Home Screen

Read and Explore

 

Social Studies



Foreign Languages



Science



Math

Language Arts

Stay tuned for more adventures in iPads!