Hard work ALWAYS pays off!

My wife got some great news this week. She’s been digitising her illustration skills for around 6 months now, after a long hiatus after being a full-time mum. It’s been a big learning curve for her but she’s managed to get a certain level of mastery (my words, not hers) on her new iPad Pro with the Procreate app and the Pencil.

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A while ago we started looking for an agent, which is what you do these days, apparently – quite different from her freelance days ‘pre-family.’

This week we heard from one! Success. We’re so proud of her progress and it’s just more proof that when you work towards a goal, no matter how out of reach it seems when you start, you can get there.

It just takes hard work.

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!

Info Pics – great to get a message across

Over the holidays a while back I was inspired by people posting #infopics on Twitter. They’re simply images that share information – a great way to get simple messages across.

One of the most well known creators of these is @tonvincent who creates some stunning infopics. They’re well worth checking out on his site.

These are some infopics I made using a couple of apps and photos I’d taken. I started with PicsArt to create the filter and border I wanted and then added the stickers with Kiwi Camera.

Kiwi_20150928_173909 Kiwi_20150928_194954 Kiwi_20150928_193336

Let them loose – they’ll surprise you.

We help schools develop their STEM learning development with their students and teachers and one of my favourite activities is the ‘Artbot’ design challenge. It’s super low tech with simple circuitry and coloured felts and uses mostly vibration as a mechanism to drive the cup across paper to create some ‘art.’

artbot-operationMost of the time students will create something that resembles this image, especially if you frame this as a research exercise where they can research what an Artbot is.

But, given the time and space to ideate, design and redesign, students will often come up with stunning designs, completely out of the box. These students yesterday created a hand held rotating mechanism. Brilliant. I’d never seen that before.

See what happens when we allow them that time and freedom to imagine, to create, to explore. That’s what people were made to do. We were created to create.

Image above –cdn.sciencebuddies.com

What makes someone ‘techy?’

I hear people described as ‘tech savy’ all the time. That might be you – the person everyone comes to to fix something, get something installed and setup or run some kind of workshop on how to use it.

Usually, the ‘tech savy’ person doesn’t have any inbuilt talent for using technology. You want to know their secret? Here it is. It’s not rocket science.

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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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Will iPad purchases make a comeback against Chromebooks?

Untitled DesignThere’s been a lot written lately about the losing battle for the hearts and minds of schools between Google and Apple (not to mention Microsoft’s resurgence), mostly evidenced by the sales of Chrome Books beating iPads in the last few years. A lot of that chatter comes down to 2 points.

  • Price – Chrome Books are far cheaper and give schools a higher ratio straight off the bat.
  • Management – iPads are just not as simple to setup and share between students.

But this week there are signs that there could be a change to the status quo. Yesterday’s Apple announcement that they are releasing a new iPad was not super surprising news; this happens every year. What WAS a surprise is the price! The new updated version of the iPad Air 2, called simply ‘iPad’ has been listed on the Apple website in NZ at $539. While not AS cheap, it’s still much closer than it has ever been.

In fact, this article from 9to5mac suggests it may show signs of a change to the pricing of Apple’s products across the board. Time will tell about that.

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What I often suggest to schools is that when taking cost into consideration (and I argue that this is probably the last factor to take into account) they should always not look at just the purchase cost but the cost of the device over time. How long will that device last your students? Anecdotal evidence suggests that iPads last at least 30% longer in a school. If the cost difference is now less than that 30%, does that make the iPad price a little more shiny?

STEM Elements

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 7.06.59 AM.pngOne of our most popular regional events is the “STEM and Digital Technologies” workshop we offer. Teachers have a day to explore both the pedagogy of STEM and get hands on with a range of technologies, from Sphero SPRK+, to low tech gear like popsical sticks and ping pong balls! You can see a Twitter moment here which gives you a small window into the action!

This week I’ve been updating some of the material we share on the day and I’ve adjusted this graphic of the ‘STEM Elements’, based on based on the book, “STEM Lesson Essentials, Grades 3-8” by Jo Anne Vasquez, Cary Sneider, Michael Comer. STEM ELEMENTS (1)

 

These elements are a great way to make the important aspects of STEM stand out for teachers and I also encourage them to use these four elements as a planning guide when they’re preparing to engage students in STEM. When we have an empty box it forces us to fill it in! It’s a helpful way to help us engrain this thinking when we are starting out and a good technique to foster new pedagogies into our school culture.

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Here are some images from the workshop ran last Wednesday. If you’d like to host a regional STEM event at your school, or have me work exclusively with your staff, contact me here on Twitter or use the contact widget on this page.

 

Listen to the Learning Chatter

If you’re like me then you love using technology to engage and motivate learning in your classroom. One of the ‘hits’ you often have to take when you do this is being labelled as a ‘teacher into toys.’ It’s frustrating to hear since you know and have seen the difference they can make for your learners.

img_2650One of the ways you can show others the benefits of these ‘toys’ is to record some of the conversations that your students are having during activities. I’ve started to call this;

  • LEARNING CHATTER = the language and conversations of learning in action.

Here’s a video of some sound bites I captured with one group at a recent Sphero SPRK+ demo hour I took at a local Primary School. Listen for the subject based vocab, the design thinking and collaboration here.

 

3 Shot Movie on an iPad

I’m a huge fan of the 3 shot movie to help structure your videos. It’s a simple way to teach students and teachers about frames, clips and the basics of story telling.

I saw this demo’d at a recent GAFE conference by Jim Sill (an ex-producer and now Edtech trainer). The 3 shots basically are;image 1.png

  • the wide shot – gives context
  • the medium – shows more about the characters
  • the close up – gives more detail.

Here’s a quick gif that shows how easy it is combine these shots into your timeline on the iMovie app on an iPad. If you’d like to see more information on this process, including how this process can be done on  Chromebook, check out my full post on our Using Technology Better blog.

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