Best iPad in the Classroom Update Ever!

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 6.33.46 AMWell, this would have to be the best update for a long time at least. A while back Apple released the Classroom app in iTunes for teachers to manage their class of student iPads. It’s in the iTunes store here and has some great features.

  • screen viewing
  • app locking
  • pushing out weblinks and apps… and heaps more.

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BUT – there was a catch. You had to create your ‘classrooms’ using your school’s MDM. Now, if you’re the average teacher then I lost you at the acronym, I know!

NOW THOUGH… Apple have released Classroom V2 which allows any teacher to create their own Classroom manually through their own iPad – it’s so simple and creates a powerful tool for iPad management. One I think teachers will love.

There are some catches, though. You do need the following…

  • All iPads need to be running IOS 10.3 at least – this will require a fairly recent iPad. Sorry, an iPad 2 won’t cut it so it could be time to replace those ‘miracle iPads’ you’ve been hanging onto for so long!

Here’s a support PDF from Apple to help you through the process. I added my road-kit of iPads to my Classroom last night and it went without a hitch, although a little trick I found – to trigger the Classroom feature in Settings it helped to have the ‘Add Students’ feature open on my own iPad. This seemed to work through bluetooth and kick start the settings into gear.

Have fun with it – I’m going to post a more detailed blog on our company website here but thought I’d share about it here first!

Keeping the Family together

Now, I know what you’re thinking – why would we need an app to do this? And we don’t. The family that plays cards and collects pine cones together stays together… I know that doesn’t rhyme but we hope we’re doing ok there.

But, with 2 teenagers already, and with 3 on the way, any help we can get keeping a track of where everyone is is helpful; especially when you have a dad who is traveling around for work as well.

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 6.37.06 AMLast night I saw this app on a Youtube video – Zenly. It promises to help share your real-time location with friends and family without killing your battery life. Techcrunch has a great review here and it’s apparently becoming a real hit with the youngsters. It’s a cross between a messenging app, location sharing and even links with Maps and Uber.

So – we’re going to give it a go and I’ll post a ‘comprehensive review’ (Casey Neistat) in a little while.

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Google Maps and Instagram

One of the huge perks with my job is that I’m able to travel a lot and one of the best ways to see a new place is to go for a run. Running is my way of staying mentally sane. It helps to clear my head and gives me some good thinking time.

Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 6.53.09 AMI’ve started to map the different locations I run in and post little video clips on my Instagram account with the tag, #whereismarkrunning. To help keep  track of these locations I’ve started to locate them on a Google Map in My Maps, a great way to create your own Maps, just like a Google Doc.

Here’s the map so far. Click on the image to see the interactive version on Google My maps. Each location has a screen shot of my video clip and the link underneath will take you to the Instagram version.

*there seems to be a ‘500 error’ if trying to view the map on IOS at the moment. Desktop might be best – online forum threads suggest Google is working on it…

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Book Creator Online!

pic 44The Book Creator app, the one I’ve described as my fav ‘non Apple’ app for teachers and students, has just realised an ability to publish books online! This is HUGE. One of the stumbling blocks teachers have had with the app is how to share the ePub files.

 

Up till now you had to publish to the iTunes store, or email the file or link to a Google Drive upload, or Airdrop the file from iPad to iPad.

Here’s a little example of a book I made as an example of an app ‘smash’ with the @wordFoto app, a cool little word and image mash up app.

Check it out – to get the online publishing feature, just update your app in the App Store to V5.1. Go for it! The whole world is waiting to see what you’re written and created!

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Make sure you click on the sound – one of my kids read it out for me….

3 Ways to get the most out of your Sphero robots in the classroom!

Last week I was helping the Macgear team demonstrate the Sphero SPRK (Schools, Parent, Robots and Kids) robots to educators at the NZ Ulearn Conference in Rotorua. Here’s a short vid I made that shows some of the snippets of what we were up to for the 2 days.

We use these robots in our STEM workshops with teachers and they’re one of my favourite STEM tools to use; I’ll explain why in a later post. Here’s a link to our upcoming events page where you can see the dates and venues of some STEM workshop days coming up. (Let me know if your schools would be interested in hosting!)

Here are 3 ways to make sure you’re getting ‘learning bang’ for your buck with your Sphero.

1.The teacher is ALWAYS key!

Just like every learning situation, the role of the teacher is paramount. And not in a central, dominant way but as a facilitator, driver, connector and coach. The learning that happens is always best done in discover mode, where the learners are working things out, solving their own problems and making their own ‘cognitive links.’ It’s the teacher, however, who has a crucial part to play to;

a) Frame the activity – create the motivating problem or scenario,

b) Help redirect and scaffold the learner towards some learning outcomes,

c) Provide the framework for reflection and to help students make connections with what they’ve learned – and the space to share those with others.

2. Use a great learning app, like The Lightning Lab

This app – The Lightning Lab, is a great app to use with the Sphero SPRK, partly because of the community you can connect with. Students can download other people’s programmes and build on top, or alternatively, create their own programme and become Sphero authors by uploading to the community themselves!

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SPRK Lightning Lab App – IOS Android, Chrome OS.

The community section also has activities and lessons that teachers and students have written and shared within the app – it’s a great way to share learning experiences and get ideas for your next activity. An even better idea is to have students create a learning experience (around a concept such as angles, gravity, friction etc) and share with others through the app!

3. Combine the digital with the material world…like a boss!

I love seeing the digital world interact with the material – afterall, that’s reality! When we scaffold experiences like the one in the video, where we make a craft that will move across the water, and include a coded programme for the Sphero to automate the craft, we are connecting so many areas of the curriculum and AMPLIFYING the learning. Who doesn’t like getting hands on with things!

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Those are my three tips! Do you have any other ideas or things you know work with your Spheros? Leave a comment below or retweet this link in Twitter with an idea to share.

How to make a GIF on a Mac

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-6-59-48-amGIFs are huge right now – a GIF is a ‘graphical interface format’ and a great way to get a quick message across. It’s something I want to start using more in instructional blog posts.
Here’s a cool GIF making app that you can download (in beta mode) that works pretty well on your Mac. It’s called Gifrocket and the UI (user interface – it’s an acronym morning!) is brilliant. Just drag, drop and enjoy. Love it.

Here’s a GIF I’ve made that will be on an upcoming post. Oooo, the suspense.

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Chromebooks on a Macbook?

Most NZ Primary teachers have Macbooks as their main teaching tool under the Ministry’s leasing scheme, but their student have Chromebooks. This isn’t a bog deal as most of what they do with their students is in the cloud on platforms such as Google.

screen_shot_2016-09-15_at_11_05_42_amBut – every now and again it’s helpful to be able to model things using the same OS (operation system) as the students, especially in the early days of setting classrooms and accounts up. So what to do? A teacher ‘could’ just use a Chromebook  in those situation but that would be much too easy and no where near as cool as using Parallels!

screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-11-10-06-amThis software (comes with a free trial for 14 days and costs $79 after that) runs a different OS inside your MacOS in a seperate window. Simply download, install and choose the Chromium OS system download to get going. And then you are away!

You can also run Windows 10, even an Android phone’s OS if you really wanted to…I did and it was totally nerdy fun!

 

 

My Favourite Video Site = Youtube

fav 1.pngThis is the first of a series of ‘My Favourites’ posts. There are loads of different options for things when it comes to tools and resources but sometimes it pays to have a favourite. One tool that you commit to, develop a real depth of understanding about and build up a profile of bookmarks and links within it.

This first ‘Favourite’ is one of my favouritist favourites. Here are 5 reasons why Youtube is the video platform to rule them all!

1. Shear volume of content – Youtube hasvideo a remarkable 500 hours of video upload every minute! That’s a LOT of watching, but the upside is that you are just about guaranteed to find what you are looking for. As a teacher (or if you want to learn about or fix anything) this is a gold mine of a resource.

2. Removal of visual distractions – one of the problems with video platforms are the distracting ‘suggested videos’ that they display and Youtube is no different. When you use a Chrome Browser, however, you can download extensions (like the DF Youtube extension) that will only show the video you want to show!

Screen_Shot_2016-09-06_at_6_22_39_AM3. Subscriptions and Playlists – when you have a Google account and have signed into Youtube, you can subscribe to a channel and receive notifications whenever they have new content or uploads. This is a great way of keeping up with developments from apps and tools you already use. As well as following your favourite up-loaders – here are some of my favourite channels.

4. Filtering Options – If you’re a GAFE school you now have the option of restricting videos to those approved by Google for Education, or even only those approved by teachers at your school. These settings can be found in the Admin Console and clicking on ‘Other Google Apps.’

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5. HIGH Definition – Youtube has different settings for your device to get the best stream rate for your screen or wifi connection. You can leave the settings on automatic and it will set the stream rate to be best for your connection. Otherwise, choose the higher settings such as 1080 or 4K(if you have a screen that rates that high) and watch the video the way nature intended!

Screen_Shot_2016-09-06_at_6_29_25_AM6. Baked in Video Editing! – I’m not sure of any other video streaming platform that has an editing suite built into it. The Youtube Video Editor lets you upload video, add audio, captions, photos and transitions. It even has some free licensed music to add as soundtracks which has a huge range of tunes to choose from. Just go to My Channel > Manage Subscriptions > Create.

 

I’m such a Youtube Fan that I’ve subscribed to Youtube Red. This gives you no ads, save videos off-line and play videos in the background – perfect for screening to a Chrome Cast. It’s totally my fav!

The Power of Video

Screen Shot 2014-08-09 at 3.13.34 pmThis week I facilitated 2 sessions at the Mediamash Workshop day in Winton. This was a teacher/student day for everyone to learn alongside each other – a powerful theme for the day in itself!

My sessions were looking at the potential for videos as a powerful tool in the learning process. In our class we recognise 3 things:

1. Today’s learners are incredible visual in the way they like to learn.
2. Outside the school environment, we often use video to learn things – from gaming walk throughs, to instructional videos for building and fixing things. So why not at school?
3. Videos can be used at lots of different stages in the learning process.

In the slides below you’ll see some examples for how we use videos before, during and after which are just ways to describe the steps our students take in our learning pathways.

The before part of the process is where flipped learning emerges. Many times this year we have had students come to a learning workshop having watched a video we provided in the pathway with a much deeper understanding of the concept or skill we are looking at. This allows us to practise, or fill in the gaps they have.
During in this sense indicates the workshops that happen with a teacher and after is where the student goes away to consolidate, clarify or create their own videos.

Make sure you click on the images and links to access the movies and sites.

**Above image sourced from http://www.visual-learners.com/image-files/models.gif

 

Rewind’ed’ and Mash’ed’

Yesterday our class created some artwork using a simple checkerboard pattern and a 3D effect. To walk them through the process I used the paperfiftythree app – great to screen share with the appleTV and create your own digital whiteboard.

It was when I used the rewind feature (2 fingers moved in a circular motion) to show them the process from start to finish that I realised the whole process could be captured in a screenshare movie. And with a little ‘mashing’, here’s what it looked like.
So – here’s the process from ‘woah to go’ (why is it in that order? Nonsensical).
1. Create the drawing in Paperfiftythree
2. Screenshare to laptop using Reflector app
3. Capture video using Quicktime Pro
4. Import and create video on iMovie
5. Create soundtrack clip on Iambeatbox app
6. Share to Soundcloud and download
7. Add to video project in iMovie
8. Upload to Youtube
Phew. It’s always amazing how apps, programmes and sites share to each other. That’s what you could call ‘Mashed’.