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!

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Hidden feature on Google Maps

Did you know you can explore other people’s 360 photos on the standard Google Maps site and apps? Last night we went for a run (in the dark… not intentionally) along the Wanaka Lake walk way and ran past this stunning set of trees. This image was taken with my iPhone 7 Plus which has brilliant low light capability for a phone camera.

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If you want to take a closer look at what the lake front is like by using the street view mode in Maps – just drag the little yellow man, in the bottom right corner, and the roads will appear blue since the Google Street Car has taken images down those streets. But what about other locations?

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Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 6.25.57 AMAfter activating the little man you will see little blue dots appear where people have uploaded their own 360 photos. I’ve found the Street View app to be the easiest way to create these. Have a go on any Google Maps location!

 

iPhone Panoramas

 

If you’ve got an iPhone, chances are you’ve taken a panorama. I know Android phone have that feature on their cameras but in my experience, and I’ve owned both kinds of phones, nothing beats the iPhone for simplicity when it comes to camera features.

The Apple Youtube Channel now has some brilliant short videos that teach you how to get more out of the iPhone’s camera – from close up shots, to using the flash and of course, how to take great panoramas. In this clip below, the clip demonstrates how to use the pano in a vertical fashion to take images. Why didn’t I think of that!

Here are some recent panoramas from some of my trips this year. The trick is to move slow, keep the arrow on the line and hold your phone steady.

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Rugby match, Rugby Park – Invercargill, 2017

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San Francisco street, CA, 2017

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Sphero workshop, TTP, Melbourne, 2017

 

Why would I get certified?

Did you know you can now be certified in whatever platform of digital tools you use in your classroom or school? Whether it’s Microsoft, Apple or Google, there are online modules, videos, lessons and exams you can do to get qualified and earn some recognition of a certain level of competence.

Yesterday I completed another Google Certified Level 1 Bootcamp where we take teachers and Principals through a 2 day course that helps them prepare for and sit the 3 hour exam. It’s a really rewarding exercise for those who come along.

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Here are 4 reasons why you’d want to go for some of these qualifications, whether independently online or at a face to face course with a company like ours.

  1. You get a badge!
  2. You learn SO much in the process.
  3. You become an asset to your school.
  4. You add another ‘string to your bow’ when applying for further positions.

If you’re interested in finding out more, click these links to find out more about these certifications.

 

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.

 

Being ‘Tech Multi-Lingual’

For the last 2 years I’ve been a full time digital learning specialist. That’s a long winded way of saying I’m a technology coach in schools. It’s the culmination of having a growing interest in technology while I was a teacher, that expanded from being the school IT lead teacher, to facilitating a cluster of schools, then being full time in an itinerant role in my local city and finally, now, working full time for Using Technology Better, an international training company.

teh-1For most of this journey, especially while working in schools, you are usually locked into one technology ecosystem. Schools either adopt one platform or another and mostly since teachers (on the whole) struggle to keep up with technology as it is and the last thing we need is people on different devices confusing things. It’s also easier for the IT department or person to manage. (Let’s be honest…that’s usually the reason.)

tech pic.jpgSo I’ve spent most of my time in the Apple world, using Google and later on, Chrome Books. I dabled with Samsung phones (I loved my first S4 and the camera it had at the time) but have mostly used iPhones and Macbooks for the last 8 years. But if you saw my desk at moment – it’s a range of Apple, Microsoft and Chrome Books. And I would use most of this gear on a daily basis!

I remember a conversation with a colleague of mine, about 3 years ago. She was starting to work as a digital learning consultant and I asked which platform she used. Her reply took me back. She said they had to be ‘device agnostic.’ It just sounded plain weird! In those days you were either a PC or a Mac person. And you still hear comments like that now. I know people who won’t go near a kind of device cause it’s not from ‘their tribe’ regardless of whether it might have merit or value for what they’re trying to do.

So now, my role is to help schools learn to get the most out of whatever platform they are using. I’m currently preparing to train teachers in the Office 365 environment with Onenote and Microsoft Classroom – and these tools are amazing! I’m super impressed with the way that OneNote structures their notebooks and tabs, and connects with digital ink (the stylus and the drawing function) in a way that is so familiar to every teacher, for marking and editing student work for example.snip_20170107114317

I think, my main point here is that schools and teachers would benefit so much if the people making the decisions about what tech they use had an open mind to the range of options out there! And maybe, in the next few years we will see schools being open to having ‘the right tool for the right job’ with a range of different devices being used across the school. The days of, ‘We’re a Mac school’ or ‘We’re a Google school’ could be a thing of the past as we become ‘Tech Multi-Lingual.’

BUT –  I think I know the reasons why schools go in one direction or the other. BYOD programmes that let students bring any kind of device into classrooms with teachers who aren’t prepared for the range of tech is a recipe for disaster. What I’m advocating and talking about is a shifting world where we increasingly live and work in a shared tech space. Not most but many of us are realising the benefits of it and I think schools will shortly follow suit.

Are you seeing this in your schools?