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!

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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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.

STEM ELEMENTS planning (1).png

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.

 

Coding Resources Hyperdoc

There will be a load of teachers in Australia and New Zealand starting to think about planning for the year ahead with a new class and a new group of students. One of the things we are always hoping to do is to inspire and motivate them in those first few weeks.

What better way to do this than to launch them into the world of coding! If you’re after a resource to help you get started, here’s a poster with some clickable links to take you straight to the app or website you’ll need.

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There are resources for anyone just starting out, through to more advanced users who are looking to develop their understanding of syntax coding. I’ve also written about this in more depth here, on our website at Using Technology Better. Click the links below to see the online versions and download your own copy if needed using the links at the top of the PDF.

Google Drive – Coding Resources Download

Microsoft OneDrive  – Coding Resources Download

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!

 

 

 

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!

Mastering Ipad Apps

There are lots of similarities between ipad apps – the way they save, share and work with files is often the same. Another similarity is the common use of ipad icons. Once you have mastered one app then it’s much easier to learn another because you are starting to become app literate; you now understand a little more about how they work.

designing-new-literacies-tolisano

Image by @langwitches

I often talk about the Doctor Suess looking cog – most apps will use that to link to an app’s settings. And there are a LOT more icons that you can learn.

This graphic below is my effort to teach people the visual icons of the app. It’s like a language that, when understood, will help anyone master any app they come across. When you know that trash can icon means delete then you can apply that knowledge across every app you open – ipads start to loose their ‘fear factor’ and you begin your journey to becoming ‘An Ipad App Guru!’  Click here for the downloadable version.

ipadappguruposter

I would suggest taking students through this slideshow as a class and see how many of them you already know. You could maybe have a treasure hunt and find examples of the icons on the apps you have.

It’s all about building digital efficacy, which, in itself is a modern literacy. The image below illustrates this really well!

Literacy is image

Above image from http://www.fightilliteracy.org/