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!

A New Website for Carol – HappyDraws

Untitled design (6)My wife spends most of her spare time in the shed! It’s actually her studio, where she draws and paints and sketches and illustrates to her hearts content. It’s not surprising that she spends her ‘sparse spare time’ in the shed since she home-schools our five kids…not to mention managing the 27 animals…and counting.

When we first met she was a successful free-lance illustrator for children’s books and a ton of educational material. There are probably School Journals in many teachers classrooms in NZ with her work in there as we speak. Life took a couple of bends and she took quite a few years off to focus on the kids. Something we both don’t regret, even if it has cost us that beach house we could… I’ll stop myself there.

IMG_1613But this year she’s decided it’s time to get back into it! It’s her passion, her ‘me time’ and something she’s super talented at. This week we built out her website / portfolio on the Adobe ‘Portfolio’ which comes free with the Creative Cloud package we have for her. It’s a start and we have plans for her to paint on skateboard decks, maybe make some T-shirts and develop her portfolio for books again.

Her website is at happydraws.myportfolio.com. Have a look – if you’re after some work, let her know on the contact page. Especially check out her work on her Instagram account. She’s in the midst of a #100daysofcharacters challenge where she paints a character a day!

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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….

How do you do, To-Do? – App Of the Week.

I had a funny ‘tweet off’ with a friend this week who couldn’t believe I was using a Microsoft app on my iPhone. MS has had a bad rep with a lot of Apple and Google diehards the last few years and it’s fun to show them how much they’ve improved their game – especially with IOS apps. This morning I counted 146 iPad and iPhone apps from the Microsoft Corporation!

IMG_1188Here’s my app of the week, from MS – To-Do. I know what you’re thinking – “Not ANOTHER list app!” But, if you’re juggling as many balls as I do then they are a must to help you from dropping them all.

Things I love about To-Do.

  • Clean simple interface
  • Easy to link, create and organise your tasks
  • Nice link from my ‘To do list” through to what they call “My Day.” This is a nice way to prioritise my daily tasks from my on-going projects.

Have a look and see for your self and tell me what you use to stay organised. I’d love to see what tools you use to control your chaos.

– leave a comment below or reply to any tweets linked to this post. 

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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?

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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What’s your Favourite iPad App?

Do you get asked this at all? Every digital trainer who works with iPads gets this a lot and the answer is usually, “It depends what you want to do.” It’s like asking someone about their favourite device. You couldn’t get by with just one of them. It’s the ‘right tool for the right job’ right?

screenshot-2016-10-21-at-10-27-32-amWell – if you asking me about my favourite iPad app to encourage teachers to do more than CONSUME and move to a CREATIVE use, then you can’t beat Book Creator! It wins hands down for me on multiple levels.

Here’s a post I’ve written for Usingtechnologybetter.com that explains my 5 reasons why it’s my favourite app in the classroom. You can see me explain it’s

  • versatility,
  • simplicity,
  • accessibility
  • development and
  • smashability.

 

I’m also about to experiment with the Playstore version so I can access the app on my new touch screen Chromebook. It could get even better!

 

 

 

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.