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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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….

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?

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.

3shotmovie

 

Book Creator Comic Tips

This week I’ve been making some comics with a class in the Book photoCreator app. It’s part of a bigger ‘app-smash’ we’re working on by combining the comic with the Explain Everything app to make an animated video.

Here are some tips to creating a comic with backgrounds, characters, and layered objects to give your comics a super professional look!

background

1. Insert a background into each panel.

The new updated Book Creator has a great comic layout with loads of comic like features. Elements such as stickers, comic looking fonts and text functions and PANELS! These are one of my ‘go-tos’ for students adding photos into a page. When they click the photo or camera icon within a panel the app fits the photo perfectly inside it.

When adding a background image for your comic strip, use this approach to give each panel the right backdrop. You can use the same image and zoom in or out for each panel using the 2 finger pinch and stretch.

 

transparent2. Use the ‘transparent’ option when searching for character images.

Students can search and save the right character images on a Google search by finding and using a ‘long press’ on the image to ‘Save image.’ This will appear in their camera roll for use later.

BUT, if you want to use images that can be layered without a background attached to the actual image (it will look like the character is cut out) then use the ‘Search tools > Color > Transparent’ function to search for PNG files. These will have a grey and white checkered background when opened and these save as PNGs for you to add to your comics.

 

3. Add your characters with the + icon.character

When you’re adding the characters you will need to use the + button at the top right of the screen, rather than the camera and photo function inside the panel. If you use that function then the character will replace the background of the panel. The + button process will let you move the character over top or inside the panel as needed.

 


layering4. Layer the objects using the ‘move forward and back’ section.

The last step is to work on getting your characters, stickers, speech bubbles and other elements to be layered in the right way. The default order is that the last thing added will go to the top…but to change this order simply select the element, click on the ‘I’ (or inspector) and use the ‘Move forward and back’ function. This lets you order the elements how YOU want them.

 

And here’s the finished product of all of these tweeks. It’s incredible what students can create using a few techniques and the greatest thing is seeing the sense of accomplishment and pride at what they’ve achieved – as well as the chance to consolidate and deepen their understanding of new learning.

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Ipad Management and Setup

I’ve been asked to help a few schools setup their Ipads this term and it’s been quite an exercise working the process out! I can see why, in a lot of cases, schools decide to hire this process out to IT companies. The only ‘fish hook’ with that scenario is the cost.

But, with a mind to help make the deployment journey a little less mystic, here’s a poster that explains the steps in a broad over view and in more ‘ipad hands on’ detail. I’ve based a lot of the steps on Justine Driver’s and Nick Rate’s blog posts here, my own experience and what I’ve gleaned from threads on the VLN and a local IT company.

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In Breaking News – Apple is just this term releasing the DEP – Device Enrolment Programme, which will dramatically reduce the steps to setup your Ipads! From the advice I’ve been given by a company down this way, Schools will be able to have the same company that orders the Ipads, complete the DEP process so all we have to do in schools is open the box (the Apple ID and selected profile will be all setup and ready to go) and you will simply enrol the ipad with your MDM, such as Meraki. What a LOT of time that will save!

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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.

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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/

Apps for Teacher Modeling Book

Lots of teachers are using their iPads to airplay onto a TV with their Apple TV. This gives them the ability to have an interactive modelling book that they can prepare before a guided lesson and add to as the lesson progresses.

I was asked about which app I thought was the best for this. My short answer would be that it deepens what functions you want to use. For the simplest, cleanest interface I would use Bamboo but if you want some more features such as adding images, importing templates and documents and more then Explain Everything has it all!

Here’s a graphic I’ve made that highlights the features of three well known apps. Please share the graphic around.

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