Saturday, September 29, 2012

iPads, YouTube, and Swiss Railway Clocks

What the iPad Has Done to Education
While opinions on the iPad are not unanimous (little in education is), its ability to bridge the gap between the classroom and home, hardware and software, and learner and content is considerable.

YouTube brings interactive quizzes to videos with Questions Editor beta
Feel like something's missing from your YouTube viewing experience -- like some good 'ol multiple-choice questions? The chronic learners among us will be happy to hear that the site is testing an interactive -- and potentially educational -- feature that lets users add quizzes to their clips.

Content Curation Primer
People and organizations are now making and sharing media and content all over the social web.   For example, onFacebook the average user creates 90 pieces of content each month.  If you multiply that by the 800 million Facebook users,  it isn’t surprising that  data or content on the Internet is  measured in exabytes, or billions of gigabytes.      Simply put, we are living an era of content abundance.     A content curator offers high value to anyone looking for quality content because finding that information (and making sense of it) requires more and more time, attention, and focus.

Why Kids Need Schools to Change
The current structure of the school day is obsolete, most would agree. Created during the Industrial Age, the assembly line system we have in place now has little relevance to what we know kids actually need to thrive.
Most of us know this, and yet making room for the huge shift in the system that’s necessary has been difficult, if not impossible because of fear of the unknown, says educator Madeline Levine,author of Teach Your Children Well.

Swiss Rail Claims Apple Copied Its Iconic Clocks. 
Switzerland's national rail company accused Apple Inc. on Friday of stealing the iconic look of its station clocks for the iOS 6 operating system used by iPhone and iPad mobile devices.

12 Most Judicious Ways to Learn Online
Do you consider yourself a life long learner? Well, I think we all are — even if we don’t identify it that way. As we grow older and mature, we learn new skills associated with work and hobbies. We become better communicators and deepen our social bonds. Studies have shown that self motivated learning is a key factor in overall well being.
If you have ever wanted to tackle a new field, there are plenty of online resources for you to check out

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The iPad --- Becoming Embedded in School Life

Last week at school, over two school days, I walked into or observed a series of iPad moments.  At the moment they happened most did not seem remarkable.  Reflecting back on them in total, they make me realize how quickly (and positively) the new iPad has become a pervasive part of our school.
Photo by Jennifer Schuck

* In the faculty work room, a colleague stopped me to enthuse about the Asana application her son had showed her.  She thought I would really benefit in my project work, particularly since it operates so well across platforms: iPhone, iPad, OS, PC.

* While I was making my rounds an English teacher stopped me to show me that she had started to use Creative Book Builder with her students.

* I glanced in the faculty lounge and saw the principal and another staff member reading their iPads over lunch.

* As I was about to start teaching my class, a chemistry teacher stopped by my room to show me how she had worked out a kink with her ebook so that both students with laptops and iPads could access resources.

* I went to the volleyball match in the evening.  I noticed that one of our players on the bench was tracking missed serves and recording hitting percentages with an iPad.

* As the volleyball match pushed toward late evening, I saw seated near me sneaking in some homework on her iPad.

* I hosted an M-Hub meeting before school and I noticed that one of our juniors had an iPad (only the ninth graders were required to purchase).  I asked her how she like it.  She said, "look at this", spun her iPad and showed me her broken screen (Oh, well).

* At the morning Curriculum Council I explained how we would do the accounting though the business office for the purchase of apps teachers apps on the fly.

* A student stopped me in the hall to show me that a silly picture we had recently posed for was now the wallpaper for her iPad.

* I stopped into the art department and chatted with the chairperson about the wonderful Design Foundations course that she has authored.  The course detail and resources are so impressive.

* As I left the chairperson's company, I cut through an adjacent art studio space where Design Foundations was being taught.  First one student, then a second, and also a third stopped me to show the animations that they had created with Animation Creator.

* A reporter from Newsprint (our school paper) interviewed me about our new iMac lab.  I explained how this was done in concert with the iPad deployment and the rest of Mercy 2.0.  Describing this history made me realize how very much has changed at Mercy in one year's time.  We did not even have an iPad int eh building a year ago.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Take Out from the Opinion Drive-thru

Shelly Blake-Plock
 "Luckily, we are living at a time when teachers have more ladders available to them to pursue their work in education than perhaps at anytime in the last hundred+ years -- from collaborative community based art projects to social entrepreneurship to the design of new technologies to the dreaming up of new programs that challenge the traditional barriers of time and geography and that will effect a real future."--Shelly Blake-Plock

"The art of intelligence in the 21st Century will be less concerned with integrating old knowledge and more concerned with using published knowledge as a path to exactly the right source or sources that can create new knowledege tailored to a new situation, in real time." -- Will Richardson

Richard Vedder, an Ohio University economics professor who heads the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, notes that while we may have replaced millions of filing clerks and payroll assistants with computers, it still takes one professor to teach a class. But he also notes that “we’ve been slow to adopt new technology because we don’t want to. We like getting up in front of 25 people. It’s more fun, but it’s also damnably expensive.” (Megan McArdle)

"We must develop the educational system outside the traditional system because the traditional system is designed to support the position of the wealthy and powerful. Everything about it - from the limitation of access, to the employment of financial barriers, to the creation of exclusive institutions and private clubs, to the system of measuring impact and performance according to economic criteria, serves to support that model. Reforming the educational system isn't about opening the doors of Harvard or MIT or Cambridge to everyone - it's about making access to these institutions irrelevant. About making them an anachronism, like a symphony orchestra, or a gentleman's club, or a whites only golf course, and replaced with something we own and build for everyone, like punk music, a skateboard park, or the public park".  -- Stephen Downes

"The truth is, if you want a decent job that will lead to a decent life today you have to work harder, regularly reinvent yourself, obtain at least some form of postsecondary education, make sure that you’re engaged in lifelong learning and play by the rules. That’s not a bumper sticker, but we terribly mislead people by saying otherwise." -- Thomas Friedman

“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.” - - C.S. Lewis

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Biggest QR Code in the World and other Important Matters

From Facebook
World's Largest QR Code
The code . . . got the Kraays into the Guinness Book of World Records for "World's Largest QR Code," which was really what drove this whole project. At approximately 29,000 meters (1.1 square miles), that's quite a bit of carefully crafted [cornfield design]. . . .

Google Drive Versus Evernote
Now iPhone and iPad users can edit Google Docs natively on their devices for the first time. With 5GB of free storage, integration with other Google services, and powerful text and image recognition when searching for files, Google Drive is now a formidable challenger to Evernote on iOS. How do they stack up?

Eight Great Gmail Tips
Over the years, Google has reinforced its unique approach and built bigger and better features into Gmail. The result, however, can be daunting. Which of this email program’s many option do you actually need? Here are eight tips for using the best.

Apple is Already Fighting Amazon in Ebook Price Wars
We’re already seeing that even if Apple would prefer agency pricing, price bands and MFNs for books, it’s willing to compete on price in the absence of those things. And it has a lot more money to do so than other ebook retailers like Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

Will the Internet Replace Traditional Education
The future of education, both online and offline, will be won by those who understand that why, how and where people learn are not one­-size-­fits-­all questions.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What I've Been Reading about Apple TVs, Evernote, Dropbox, and More

Apple TV in the Classroom-- the New Smartboard
The use of the Apple TV in combination with an iPad in the instructor’s hand provides a mobile platform from which classroom activities can be initiated. Through the use of several apps, teachers can provide notes, display steps and processes to problems, initiate the display of media (pausing and resuming as needed from any location in the classroom), and allow students to participate from their own seats in a variety of interactive activities.

What We Learned: A 1:1 iPad Reflection
When you unfold such a large-scale initiative as giving every student an iPad, you tend to overthink everything. We tried to avoid this, but it was inevitable.

Discovery Invests in Digital Textbooks in Hopes of Growth 
Mr. Goodwyn’s 200-employee division introduced the line of digital textbooks last year. Their cloud-based technology works with whatever hardware a district has — iPads, laptops, desktops. Discovery tailors them to the particular curriculum needs of various states (or districts within states).

Evernote: A 0-to-60 MPH Guide
Evernote is many things to many people because it’s so powerful. But for the same reason, Evernote’s purpose is vague enough that it can be hard to get started with it. First, you have to figure out what it can do for you. Here’s a guide to how to think about Evernote, so you can get better at using it.

Dropbox Storage Upgrades Take A Swing At iCloud And Google Drive 
The upgrades look like Dropbox is starting to fire off a competitive salvo at Google Drive and iCloud. For comparison, iCloud offers 55GB of storage space for $100 per year, whereas a Dropbox customer can get 102GB for around $120 per year. However, it still looks like Google Drive customers are getting the best deal as they can secure 100GB of storage space (+25GB GMail storage) for $4.99 per month or around $60 per year.

The story behind how Apple’s iCloud data center got built — Cleantech News and Analysis
Apple’s new $1 billion data center — one of the highest-profile new data centers in the world — has put the town of Maiden, North Carolina (population: just over 3,000) on the tech map. But it almost didn’t get built.
The Public Thinks Laptops Shouldn
by SodaHead.Browse more data visualization.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Design Foundations

All Mercy 9th graders will be required to take a unique and marvelous course designed by our talented Art Department Chairwoman, Susan Smith. The students will get a rich exposure to technology within the context of artistic design:

The course will expose students to  both traditional fine art and computer art techniques. Students will learn the basic elements of art (color, texture, form, value, line, shape, space) and the principles of design (balance, contrast, emphasis, unity, pattern, rhythm and movement).

The students will gain their digital experiences in our brand new iMac lab using professional grade Apple and Adobe software. Their digital experiences will include . . . .

* Photo editing (the importance of resolution and image size, using adjustment layers to
improve lighting and color as opposed to using auto adjustments, filters, various saving
formats, montage and layer options).

* Recording video

* Recording audio

* Storyboarding for multimedia projects
* Properly transferring digital files and organizing them for use in multi-media projects. Explain differences in storage options (cloud storage such as Dropbox, memory cards, external hard drive, shared network drive)
* Drawing and painting with various electronic devices using applications such as Brushes on an iPod and Art Rage on a tablet
*Video Editing (proper import of files, using a source window to split, trim and re-size clips, using a timeline, adding effects and transitions, exporting video in various formats

Not only will students acquire skills they will find useful in high school and beyond, but the course allows for all sorts of opportunities to build an exceptional design and multimedia curriculum. Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Some "Spot On" Thoughts about iPad 1:1 Learning

In July, one of our techie superstars, Alison Kline-Kator, held a Mercy 2.0 Boot Camp for our new teachers and staff. This included three mornings of immersion in ways that technology currently does and soon will integrate with our curriculum.

As an opening exercise, Alison divided her minions into small groups and rotated them around the room to brainstorm answers to general questions about technology and education and write then on big sheets of post up paper.

I was particular taken by the responses to What excites you about working in a 1:1 environment?

*All students can be involved and engaged.

*Students are active learners

*Quick communications among all.

*Helps [with organization]-- teachers and students

*Portability of device [iPad] . . . .

*Availability and extent of resources.

*Learning new ways/shortcuts to do things

*Part of technology, learning life cycle.

*Collaboration, two-way learning opportunities

*Accessibility to multimedia

*Learning from students.

*Always changes and evolves-- constant learning

*Creativity that students can bring to learning with technology tools

*Types of products and assignments accessibility allows

These struck me as "spot on" and assured me that we had some great new folks joining our ranks.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cloud Addict

ToDo for iPad
Internet technology changes so fast.  Just two years ago, I led a succession of workshops on Challenge Based Learning.  I remember in one of the introductory sessions I explained the concept of "cloud" computing.  That already seems quaint, considering almost all of those same persons are now using Google Apps or accessing files through their Dropbox accounts.

Nearly all of my computing takes place in the cloud where I have located some pretty sizable storage in Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, and Amazon Cloud Drive.  So I have decided to let this blog post serve as a milestone for taking stock of my workhorse cloud apps.  As I mentioned in My iPad Workflow, I will expound a bit on the first two.
The ToDo apps for OS and iOs have become even more essential for organizing my work and personal time than my calendars. Here, I can store all manner of lists and short notes. The "tasks" can be set up for sublists as projects or checklists. For instance, I am working on a project slowly cataloging some of my music. I can set up a music catalog project and nest all the little tasks and self-imposed deadlines inside. Of course I can do the same thing with a major work project, like building an electrical substation.  

Checklists are handy for the grocery store since all of these lists synch across all five of my Apple devices, thanks to iCloud. I usually use my iPhone for these. However, the iPad interface with ToDo is splendid.
I have made a major commitment to Evernote as a place to keep all of my files. A year ago, I inherited two file cabinets full of folders related to my job. Since assuming my position managing school "operations", I have only contributed to one drawer. The majority of the the quotes, contracts, and diagrams that I receive, come to me in digital form. And at first I simply printed them out and filed them because I was afraid of losing track of them. In the mean time, I tried two different solutions for project management, before landing on Evernote.

I now store all such files in Evernote for four very good reasons
1) I can access them anywhere. Evernote interfaces well across platforms and can be accessed through apps or online.
2) It is simple to get files to Evernote. Much of the time I simply forward email notes and snapshots directly to my inbox.
3) Notes can be collected in notebooks and notebooks can be collected in stacks. These notes can be cross-tabluated with tags
4) The deal-breaker is the fabulous search capability of Evernote. It can even search text within pdfs and images.  
All of my work files are stored in Dropbox so that I can access them anywhere. This has become an essential workflow app with the iPad for everyone at Mercy.

I have just started using Chrome as my default browser. Besides being fast, I have had much better luck with extensions than with Firefox and Safari. It synchs across my computers better than the other browsers as well.

As a school we've gone to the cloud for our email solution. Count me as one user who has no regrets.
Google Drive
Because they work so well with Moodle I have been along time fan of Google Docs for sharing documents. I continue to use them more than any other word processing software.
iCal/Google Calendar
Where would I be without cloud calendars? Surely at the wrong place at the wrong time

Address Book
It probably goes without saying that many of us now expect our contacts to be at our finger tips wherever we go. Already MobileMe is a long ago painful memory. iCloud has assisted me greatly in terms of synching calendars and contacts.odo app.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

My iPad Workflow

For the first week of school I managed most of my work through my iPad.  Here were my go-to apps


ToDo* - I have become completely dependent on this app for organizing my life.  I am a compulsive list maker and this app allows me to synch with all my devices.

Evernote* - I have taken on some major projects.  I have tried a couple of project management applications, but I have decided that with Evernote's phenomenal search capacity I will will put all my digital materials into Evernote (and the paper documents get digitized).  I have already benefited at meetings by producing contracts and spreadsheets in moments while others are fumbling around with their stacks of paper.

Camera*  I love taking pictures as I go about the building.  Sometimes this is for fun, but I also have posted shots to my blog or the school web site such as the ones I took a couple of weeks ago of our new courtyard and the 9th graders who visited my office during their orientation.

DocuSign Ink
Wow!  With my operational duties I frequently sign quotes or contracts that are emailed to me as pdfs.  With this app I can import the files, "sign" them, and instantly email them back.  Nice time saver.


Both of my textbooks for AP Government are Kindle books so this one is self-explanatory.

Keynote  I became adept at making slide presentations in Keynote in 2009.  Now I use slides instead of "lecture" notes and share all of them with my students.  However, in the past I have always had to convert them to PowerPoint.  Now I can import them as I created them into my iPad and share them wirelessly through my Apple TV.

PowerTeacher  Pearson has made an excellent app for our student gradebook/attendance/database.

Administration and Teaching

Dropbox  All of my work files are either in Google Drive or Dropbox so that I can access them anywhere. Unfortunately many of the Google apps don't "play well" with the iPad.

Mail  I actually prefer reading email on the iPad.  Almost all of my personal and work mail  comes into this app.

Calendar Ditto with the calendar app.  It is an elegant app and it includes all of my work and personal calendars.

Pdf Expert  If I give any kind of presentation I convert my file into a pdf and place it into this app.  I like the interface and I can make last second notes if I notice a change needed.

*In my next post, I will detail the usefulness of these two apps.

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