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!





Google – Where do we start?

Many schools are either thinking about using, using or are expert practitioners at using the Google Apps for Education suite of tools with their learners. Especially when paired with Hapara Dashboard, these apps are such a powerful way to create meaningful and manageable learning programmes with your students, as well as being a great way to create, share and store all of your staff files, also.

One of the places you can begin your Google journey is with the page linked below; this provides an overview and basic tutorial for the most commonly used Google Tools that come with a google account for your school – remember that this is a free service for schools!

Click on the image below or use the page of Google links (that will grow as time goes on) in the page menu. It’s a great place to start!

‘Engage, Empower and Enlighten’ Presentation

This is the presentation for a workshop I’m taking tonight with some Home Educators in Southland. It’s exciting to sharing with a ‘different’ crowd and one outside of my normal environment – people involved in schools. But, it’s also exciting to be sharing at tonight because our own children are taught at home and I’m sharing some links and sites that have been created by my own kids!

Please dig into the presentation and engage with the links. Most of the images are linked to the actual sites and resources that I share. This is a presentation I’m sure I’ll adapt and use a few times more!

Mediamash Workshop Slides

I’m part of an initiative called, ‘Mediamash‘ which is aimed at inspiring schools to dig into the treasure chest of digital media for their learning programmes.

Today we launched our first teacher and student workshops. These are the slideshows from 2 workshops I ran, with a colleague.

I always love talking with other teachers about the systems and methods we’re using in our classes – especially ones with so much passion and enthusiasm for giving our students the best possible learning experiences!

Thank you, Mr McCaw!

This week we’ve been working on developing our speaking skills. The class decided that they’d love to say thanks to Richie McCaw and the ABs for the fantastic win last week in the Rugby World Cup. Below is a voice thread we’ve been making. It’s a great way for the class to hear their own speaking skills and a recorded vehicle for them to self and peer assess each other.

I’ve also forwarded the link to our voice thread to the NZRU in the hope that it gets passed onto Mr McCaw. Wouldn’t it be great if they listened to our thank yous!


I’m a teacher at Myross Bush School, way down in Invercargill. Our class wanted to do something to say thankyou to Richie and the team for last week’s amazing win.

We decided that we’d make this voice thread so we could personally record our thanks. The students wrote their own thankyous and recorded their voice on the photo of their choice.

We’d love it if you could forward this to the Media Liaison or even Richie himself. I think it’s a nice touch to hear some personal insights into where they were in those final moments and we hope the team realises how much their efforts have been appreciated by the little people in the country!

Thanks again, ABs – especially our hero – Mr McCaw!

Mark Herring

Assistant Principal

Myross Bush

A Connected World that’s already here.

I had another glimpse into the power of Twitter tonight – as if I needed another one. I’ve recently started following people outside of the ‘educational’ realm. @lancearmstrong, @coryjane1080 and @trevormallard are just a few and they can be pretty entertaining. It opens a world that you wouldn’t otherwise have any connection with.
So tonight I saw a tweet from @trevormallard about the Labour Party leader, Phil Goff holding #goffchat at 6.30pm. He was keen to answer questions that people tweeted. So, being the risk taker that I am, I offered a question / suggestion that I’ve been wondering for a while. And you can see the result below (overlook the spelling error ‘of’, please).

Was it a life changing interchange? No. Would that little interaction have happened at the last election? No, again. But the world is changing! It’s changing into one where a guy can ask a simple question to a political leader in a blink of an eye, just after he gets home after a run and before he eats his tea.
Is today’s world a clutter of information and a minefield of privacy issues? Yes. But it’s a connected world I’m also really enjoying. And one we should be preparing our students for – cause they’re already there.

eLearning in Schools – Vision and Philosophy

I’ve started collecting some resources that will help schools develop their own vision and philosophy of eLeaning looks at THEIR school. It’s great to see so many putting their spin and flavour on a powerful emerging pedagogy.

4 Keys for Successful School Sites

It’s great to see so many schools wanting to connect with their staff, parents, students and wider community in an online environment. I think many are now seeing the potential for the web to form genuine connections in a fast paced, digital world. But, how do we make sure that our digital strategy will be really effective?
Here are four keys to successful sites for schools that I think are an important element for online sites for your school or classroom.
1. Keep it local and in-house.
When schools first started tapping into the online world the internet was built on complicated and time consuming webpage programmes. Most schools hired an outside agency to design and build their website and relied on them to upload any changes. It’s only natural, however, that as time has developed and the online world easier to navigate, so too have the ways that we can publish online become simpler and uncomplicated.
With a basic online understanding we can create web pages using tools like WordPress, Blogger, Google Sites and others that are easy to use, free! All you need is someone of your staff to have some time and patience to persevere and ask for help when they need it. Having a third party handle your site can slow the process down and make us less likely to keep things current. I think it’s much better if we can develop these skills within our own staff.
I wrote a post about the benefits of having a school site with up to the minute information
2. Keep it current and fresh!
Things online can become stale and boring if not updated regularly. Having the last change to a site with a date of 6 months ago also reduces the credibility of your site. If we can see that things are up to date then we will be more likely to return to it! It’s also time for schools to realise that they can upgrade their school website from what is essentially an online brochure. They can be engaging, interactive and fresh!
3. If it’s important to you – give it some resources.
One of the keys to success with anything online, whether it’s a class blog or a school website, is having the discipline and structure in place to maintain it. The cost of this will most certainly be in terms of time and sometimes this can be expensive. Can we allocate some release time each week, for example, for a staff member to spend up-keeping a site or can you diary in some time every couple of days to post on your class blog? As a wise eLearning sage once said (@nickrate, yes, you are a sage), ‘If it’s really valuable to you then you should spend the time on it.’ Great advice. I also ask teachers, when they ask how I find the time to do all of this digital stuff… ‘How much time do we spend watching T.V?’
4. Use the right tool for the right job – and then link them.
One of the mistakes I see all the time is when people use an online tool to do things it was never designed to do. They all have their uses – from wikis, to blogs, to websites, to social media sites etc. The trap can be easy to fall into when we have several purposes for a digital site and try to use only one tool.
We might, for example, want a school site for
sharing photos of special events, posting

Its newsletters, encouraging feedback from parents and sharing files between staff. Instead of using a blog for all of this we can easily link a wiki, a blog, a google calendar and a flickr account page using url links and embedding tools. Each tool will appear as a page that can be part of one central site – like this site for Salford School that uses the flash based Wix site.
Is there anything you’d add? Do you have some examples of sites or schools that cover all four keys?
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Digital Native my …….!!#@%

If you want to get some ‘tech minded’ teachers stirred up… all you have to do is talk about today’s students being digital natives!

The term, ‘Digital Native’ was invented in 2001, (wikipedia) and was used to describe a generation of people who have grown up with technology and are comfortable in that environment.  In educational circles it’s often used at conferences by speakers trying to convince an audience to use elearning and web 2.0 tools in the way they teach.

Last night I had another great chat about the idea with some teachers on Twitter.  Here’s the argument:

 – Today’s students aren’t really digital natives cause most who don’t know about html and rss.  If you challenge them with something that’s digital and time consuming they run a mile. 

I replied with the possibility that this could be a developmental problem, not a generational one – they’re just being teenagers and naturally averse to any form of hard work.  I don’t think the phrase ever tried to describe D.N.s as experts with technology, just familiar with it but is there any truth in it – sure.  How many teenagers and children have to show their parents and grandparents how to set the DVD recorder?  How ever you roll, I think a lot of educators are realising that generations can’t be put completely into boxes.  There will always be exceptions but the basic tenant can’t be ignored.

The phrase I heard at this year’s ulearn10 conference was ‘Digital Learners’.  I like this concept because it puts the learner at the center and the focus of the idea back onto the pedagogy – how will we teach this generation differently to the last?  Here’s my brief and not exhaustive list of implications of D.Ls in our schools;

1.  Students immersed in a digital world shouldn’t have to leave it behind when they enter our classrooms (described as, ‘powering down’)

2.  Digital tools can lead to motivated and engaged learners who otherwise would be unfocused and disruptive.

3.  Technology allows student to develop their creativity and collaborative skills for a digital world that demands these dispositions.

Don’t you think we are morally bound and professionally inept if we don’t provide opportunities for these digital learners?

(Photo by Creative Commons – posted by  mharrsch – flickr.com)

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