Monday 17 October 2011

Oct 21 Pro D @ WSS

Some ideas for interested teachers at WSS: Agenda

8:30 to 10:00 watch the live stream of CUEBC (Computer Users Educators of B.C.) keynote by David Warlick.

Other ideas for the AM & PM:

  • Using Moodle to have a classroom Website (Jenn)
  • Using Collaborative Classroom in their teaching (Jenn)
  • Using and setting up Prezi's for the classroom (Jenn)
  • Interested in seeing how iPads are being used at WSS (Jeremy)
    • Pearson E-Text
    • Internet access at seat
    • iMovie
    • Pages & Keynote
    • Twitter for the classroom & for Pro-D or alternate backchannel: Soapbox
    • Moodle & iPads
  • WSS's Media Wiki Server: our own Wikipedia (Jeremy)
Some student ipad created video's

Movie Trailer

Saturday 15 October 2011

iOS 5: is it for the Classroom?

I was eager to upgrade to iOS5 this week and foolishly tried to download it minutes after it was released on Wednesday. Well it took forever to download and since it was a large file I had overloaded the capacities of my schools WiFi. Although the download problems may be more from too much demand on Apple's servers.  I ended up having to continue the download and install on my iPad at home.

I though the next day at school that I would try to sync all 30 iPads at once in the sync cart. Why not I though, it normally works like that for all other updates. Except I found out that it would only start to do the iOS upgrade one iPad at a time with someone having to keep clicking buttons throughout the install. After waiting over an hour for the first iPad, it all ended with "unknown error occurring" message where the upgrade failed. Then the same thing happend with the second iPad. So at this point I gave up on a mass sync, and plugged in a single iPad and went through the upgrade...close to 1 1/2 hours each...I am still not finished upgrading and will slowly work on them next week. Apple needs to have better and less time consuming ways available for the education market.

I had my hopes up on the iCloud as a way for students to store and possibly hand in their completed work. However during the setup it appears that the iCloud is setup with your iTunes account. This is a problem because we have all the iPads setup with the same iTunes account (or Apple ID). So for the time being, until I research it more myself, I turned iCloud off.

UPDATE: I slowly upgraded each iPad one at a time and it took me about 2 weeks getting about 5 done per day. I hope Apple comes up with a better way to do these major updates in the future because this is really time consuming. What if I had hundreds to do?...

Initially when we got the iPads we bought the Incipio Smart feather for iPad 2, we were planning to eventually buy SmartCovers for them later when we had more money. In the mean time, this past week we noticed that 3-4 cases broke in the top corner and would not stay on the iPads anymore. As I looked at other cases closer, the majority of them had micro-fracture cracks and would eventually break also. I contacted Incipio at the start of the week and today I got an email that they are replacing all of our cases with another model that is softer and more malleable. I think this might be a better option for us since we  decided that we no longer want the Smartcover. Thank you for some great customer service from Incipio, you don't often get that from many companies today.

Monday 10 October 2011

Week 5 of iPads in the Classroom: Video Editing

This week has gone quite smooth overall. The students are adapting well to using the iPads daily in our classroom and I find that I have to spend less and less time on the basics. They are becoming more proficient in moving from app to app and website to website. I think we are learning together to be more efficient.

This week I decided to try out some video authoring on the iPad. So I had some assignment for two of my classes one using the Animoto app, and the second using iMovie.

Prior to having iPads in my classroom I was enjoying using in our computer lab with students to put together some small presentations and for them to showcase their learning. Now with iPads, we decided to try the Animoto App. I should have known not to try it because it is written for an iPhone and projects small on the iPad screen. I had students follow these steps for their short animoto presentations

  1. Get your pictures and save them to the camera roll
  2. Create some images on your camera roll with some text ...they could use any apps they wanted.
  3. Open up Animoto app, login to the account I created. Then start by adding the pictures and putting them in the order you wish.
  4. Choose your music from the selections built into animoto.
  5. Then publish and upload it to animoto.
All of these steps went well except for #5. The Animoto app seems to be really prone to crash and did so numerous times, it really impeded the flow of the project for some. Those who finished and then hit publish found themselves waiting forever (it appeared to be frozen) for the video to upload and render. I think this may be that our WiFi system hit its limit. However, I really don't think it should be so easy for it to freeze up. I managed to create a quick video myself on my iPhone and it uploaded quite fast on 3G. So I am not sure why we couldn't get this working so well. Another WiFi infrastructure issue maybe?
I ended up having many students switch over to iMovie where we had no problems...I just had to give them a quick tutorial on how to insert images and sound.

My recommendation is to NOT use the Animoto app any longer until they release an iPad only app.

Another group of my students did some great work in iMovie this week. They easily figured out how to add photos, video, text and music to create some very nice group videos. The only issues that surfaced was that there seems to be no way to divide video clips into shorter segments so they can insert pictures. This is easy to work around by not filming longer segments. Again, I had some difficulties when students went to upload to our class Youtube account. It was slow and I basically tried to only have one student at a time upload. This ended up stalling many groups from uploading their finished video, which is why I am still waiting for some. These technology issues are not the best use of my time, but I had no choice.
I will definitely have students use iMovie again and I think their proficiency with it will make it go faster.

This week I also did some experimenting with a backchannel conversion using SoapBox. I heard about this from someone on my PLN: twitter. Anyway all I did was create a free account with Soapbox, then create a new Box for my class. Then soapbox displays an event code that students enter to join the Soapbox. Now I had students logged on to this on their iPad while we watched a video. I posted questions here as the video went along and encouraged students to chat, ask questions, and answer other students questions.

Beside a few off topic posts by students (which I could delete while the event was open) it went really well. I am going to experiment with this some more in the future and encourage more participation. One thing I liked about Soapbox was the fact that the chat was not public like twitter and is really easy to use for participants.

Well it had been a good week and as alway, I expect I will learn lots more next week.

Sunday 2 October 2011

Week 4: The Good, Bad & the iPad

This week has not been all that revolutionary in using the iPads in class. But I have found out some ways of using them and some limitations.

I am finding that I have trouble getting 2-3 iPads to automatically sync when I plug them into the Bretford Powersync 30 iPad cart. I have not figured out why yet, but I just have to plug them in separately, so its not that bad of an inconvenience. I probably should call Bretford up about this.

This week I spent alot of time trying to get the School District mail setup on all the iPads with a generic "no-return" email. However, to date all I have is some frustration, wasted time, and no ability to have students email from their desk.

One of the problems that I am having is getting student created work off of the iPads for me to assess. I have been involved with a great discussion on this over twitter with some tweeps and this has given me some ideas.

So far I have used the following techniques to get student work:

  • students enter their work directly into a Moodle forum, this works well and is easy for me to access and mark. The only problem is everyone in the class can see each others posts...might be okay for some things, but some copying can occur.
  • students create their work in the Pages app and then copy/paste it into a hand-in folder (called: assignments-online text) in Moodle. I used this for the first time this week and it worked great. Students posted a historical letter they wrote, it was private and I could easily mark, assess, and write return comments for them. I plan to continue to use this method.
  • I had students setup Evernote accounts this week for them to enter notes into and be able to access them on the iPads at school and at home on their own computeres. But, the sharing features really only work on the paid version, so this won't work for sharing files. If I want to share some files with students, I can put them up in Moodle in less than a minute. I love Evernote, but for class its only good for student to keep notes organized.
  • I have attempted to get students to put a Pages file into dropbox, but you can't do that... Too bad because this would have been a convenient way to have a "hand-in" shared folder.
  • I have also resorted to walking around and physically viewing and assessing student work right off the iPad. Not very efficient and it interrupts their other work.

Here are the ways that I would like to be able to receive student work on iPads:

  • via email, it should be easy to setup, but no I am having infrastructure issues with IP ports blocking connections. I might resort to setting up a generic hotmail account to test and see if students can just email me content.
  • Google docs....but its relatively incompatible on the iPads. Why can't Apple and Google just get along.
  • I would like to be able to have students be able to print from their iPads. I am not sure how to go about this and what it might cost though. I do know that we can get a WiFi printer or we can setup dedicated print-servers. But again not sure how to go about this?
  • Blog. Waiting for word on the setup of Wordpress accounts for every student at my school. We will be piloting this for the district. I am wanting students to reflect on what they are learning here and comment on other classmates work. We have the Wordpress app on the iPads and will be able to post content easily once setup.
  • Wiki. MediaWiki is already setup and I will shortly begin having students develop our own school-wide wiki. This will be all student created content. I just have to teach them some of the coding before we start. 
  • Video. I am hoping there will be no problem posting to Youtube from iMovie on the iPad at school. I have a project starting with my Grade 11's this week. So my fingers are crossed here also.

I am looking forward to the October 4th Apple event where they should release new products and especially iOS5. I will be upgrading to this new version right away and hoping that some of the difficulties mentioned will evaporate away.