Back to Books!

Oh I’ve been flipping too! Following the work I saw with Year 2 at Normanby using the Jamaica iBook (now available for download from this published iTunesu course – with more to come!), I thought that the ability to collate material and give it to children in an interesting way would suit the model of support that I am providing at Badger Hill. The Y4 class have an iPad 1 between 2. It isn’t ideal but I was determined to support the teacher to get the most out of the device, integrating it to the other work that they do. The use of the iBook to access and identify information to then perhaps respond to in their exercise books fits that model (although doesn’t embrace the real learning gains from having 1:1…). I see the class for maybe an hour a week to both show the children how to use the devices and also leave the teacher with lots of transferable techniques. It is a popular model and most schools who buy my time appreciate the little and often approach.

As previous posts show, I am pretty skilled at making iBooks in iBooks Author, it is pretty easy really, but the hard thing is collating the info and getting it put together appropriately. The result of my resource for today can be found here. I wanted to show this, not for the expected adulation and applause but to demonstrate how easy it was to make. The children are studying ‘mysteries’ so I thought a book with info on the Loch Ness Monster and friends would be useful. Now here is the trick. I could have read lots of books and wrote my text for the children. Nope, too long. I went to Wikipedia and looked up Loch Ness Monster. The page is complicated and way above the reading abilities of the children though. No problem, I use the accessibility tool in Safari on my mac and click on ‘Reader’. Instantly the page is reduced to the bare bones that I needed. I copied it then pasted into the iBook. The task then was to edit the text down rather than write it from scratch. I also used the images from the page as I knew that they had creative commons licensing by being on that page. Where other images are required I used Google search settings to specifically look for Creative Commons content. I can’t vouch for it’s accuracy but it is a nod in the right direction if not a full step. The source for my work, although edited, is acknowledged in the book.

The text was still a real challenge for some of the children but that gave me the opportunity to demonstrate to them the ‘speak selection’ option and this was a real winner for many children, they attempted parts of the text that the teacher informs me they wouldn’t have previously.

As a parting shot I also showed the children that they could summarise a text and isolate their thoughts, to be collated automatically, by the notes function. The teacher was really excited by this as she could immediately see how a child could identify key information in a text, justify their choice with a text note and these be automatically collated to be emailed in. Really powerful.

Look no hands….well, wires anyway!

I have written previously on this blog about my shift to using iPads for film making over and above movie cameras. Working from the I2L Centre means that we often do have groups here to use high end cameras and explore film making in some detail. However, a lot of the students who come here for a ‘movie day” have had little previous experience of camera use or film production. I have found the use of iMovie invaluable for this is it scaffolds some of the technical process without getting in the way of camera techniques.

For example, we had a fantastic group of Y8 and 9 students a week or two back who wanted to do a film making day, they had done very little previously. I wanted them to activate the implicit understanding of how a film is shot by making it explicit through choice of shot. By using the trailer option in iMovie they were able to do just that. The scaffold of the shot length (and suggested focus) along with pre-designed titles and audio meant that the students only concern was to ensure that the shots were strung together coherently (basic storyboarding) and shot appropriately (choice of shot). The camera on the iPad minis that they used is plenty good enough to allow the students to explore this. Purists would of course argue that there is little option to zoom, properly tilt and pan etc etc etc but that is not the point at this stage in my opinion. This example is typical of their first attempts:

You can see that it immediately draws of genre pointers in the scaffold but also I asked them to think very carefully about choice of shot, distance to the subject, what is included etc. They are clearly drawing on their own understanding of what the film needed to include.
Once they had successfully made their trailers (and watched them), I took the straightjacket off. The afternoon task was to make a new movie in iMovie (as a project) with a vague title of “The Arrival”. Some groups changed this slightly but stuck to the theme:

We had talked at length when reviewing their trailer work about use of light and lack of vision for the audience and this group took that forward into their final piece. I had also used the opening sequence from Once Upon a Time in the West as a stimulus to the task and you can see the Leone-esque style they have applied to aspect of this.

Taking the idea of “gore looks rubbish on a budget” even further the following group went for a less is more approach. There are one or two dodgy sound effects in here but the choice of shot and grammar of the piece hangs together pretty well for the genre:

And finally we see the most abstract offering from one group. I was incredibly impressed that instead of following the crowd and the obvious story for the title, they took a completely different approach:

The shots were simply framed and really their film from that point of view has little to focus analysis on but the concept here is everything and I liked the fact that they went so bold on what they decided to do.

So what can I draw from the experience? The lack of scrabbling around for the correct lead to put the captured images onto a “proper computer” is a massive help and the quality of the images is absolutely fine for the tasks that they were doing. Comments from the students tended to follow this one “this is the best day at school ever”. I don’t think it is simply because they were having fun (but they were as it happens). There were moments during the day when the pressure was on o get their video finished and shots were not working as they had intended. They had to problem solve where shots needed to “look and feel” a particular way and they could not simply work alone, everything was based around team work. They have now had an excellent grounding in getting a film made, encountering some of the common problems that crop up in the filming stage. They are now ready to go back to the process and start to storyboard more closely, look at film genres to explore using stylistic techniques in their own work and improve their awareness of how a script contributes to the piece. They can do most of that on an iPad or maybe explore actual use of “proper” cameras but the experience that they have had so far has given them a flying start and I would argue is plenty good enough quality to be of use across any subject, not just Media:

Reflective and proud

Screen Shot 2012-12-07 at 13.17.07Just spent the morning with the ever wonderful children at Green Gates Primary. I suggested last week to the Year 6 children that the device would be an ideal way of keeping a record of their work in one place, a portfolio of achievement as it were. They took me at their word. The link below takes you to a folder full of images, pdfs and the like that they currently have on their pods. As they achieve something or finish a piece of work it is now common practice for them to add it to their portfolio. This is a brilliant example of the data hoover and second brain dichotomy at work. More than that it requires the children to re-engage with a piece of work and often add a comment themselves, something that is often missed in a traditional “work in books” classroom setup.

Sample of reflective journals

They are only a sample but it is clear that there are already different levels of recording going on, something that the teacher will pursue with the learners over time – what works best for them. Their portfolios are stored on their devices as work in progress but also as finished PDFs which sit on their bookshelf in iBooks. This will obviously be updated as the projects are continued.

Reflective Learners

I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading of late around the idea of reflective practice. Love it or hate the idea there is definitely some consensus around the fact that if you revisit something and think about it again, you often gain a deeper understanding about it. I have always tried to put this idea into practice in the classroom. I remember becoming really frustrated when I attempted to mark significant pieces of writing alongside the children, individually. I simply didn’t have enough time in the school day yet I could see that revisiting the work with them (albeit with me guiding the discussion) made the comments and edits far more meaningful to the children.

With all of that in mind I suggested an idea today to one class where reflecting on their work could become an integral part of their day to day learning. It came form looking at the awesome app that is Storyrobe. It doesn’t do much but what it does it does brilliantly (it is discussed with some examples in the Apps section). I was getting across the point today with the Y6 class that you should rarely narrate over pictures or videos without planning, redrafting, editing and having checked your “script” first. The BBC never would so aim high. Whilst searching for examples of when you cold do it off the cuff, I suggested that children could take a photo of a piece of work that they have done then narrate over it. I suppose it is like those DVD extras you get where the director talks over the film, explaining aspects of why the film is the way it is at each point. The children could do a quick review of what they think they have done successfully in that piece, and what they feel they need more work on. That short video can then simply be added to the child’s skydrive folder where it is shared with the teacher. Done regularly this would ensure that children reflect on work they have done, often with a criteria to talk to. The teacher liked the idea and suggested it might help her marking sometimes to hear the child’s view on the work while she is looking at it, usually outside of the classroom. I haven’t suggested that the mark could come back as a narrative yet…let’s see how this works first.

30 Top Apps I Really Can Live Without

Sorry, couldn’t resist!

I actually appreciate the constant tweets that declare the opposite of my title but I must admit I now tend to ignore a lot of them. That isn’t because I feel I have mastered every app I will ever need on the devices, or indeed know the full range of possibilities. The reason is simple, as a teacher I use tools and ideas as need arises. The need might be a new and extra way of practising Times Tables, or it may be a way of children being able to store information they have gathered….but those decisions are rooted in the needs of the learner and how the curriculum that they are expected to engage with.

What has become VERY clear across the vast range of settings and age ranges that I have had the privilege to support and work in over the past few years is that there are several killer ways of working that are fundamental to effective learning with the devices. Raising attainment, motivating learners and developing personalised ways of working – these are all a result of a few simple aspects of using the devices….a huge range of apps is irrelevant. I spent some time with leading teachers from both Riverdale and Normanby Primary schools last week where we discussed effective classroom practice. Apps took a bit of a back seat for much of the discussion, ways of working were far more important. I made the comment at one point that I would still push for the devices in my classroom if they only had wireless, the mail app and the ability to take notes. Again, the reason is simple, at a very basic level these few elements mean that children can collaborate, access information and repurpose it. Fit that in with Vygotsky and Bruner and how humans actually learn, and you are on to a winner. Of course, before you start quoting research at me, it is not QUITE as simple as that, but it isn’t far off. Think about the last time you learned something and think how well it would have happened without collaboration or access to information or the ability to manipulate that idea into your own way of thinking. Did you use all three? Two of the three? Yes I know collaboration and access to information could equally apply to someone like a teacher telling you something but that maybe highlights how intertwined these ideas are.

The devices support these three elements massively. Let us compare a “traditional” lesson with a device enabled lesson.

In the traditional lesson the teacher stands at the front and tells the children what they will learn about and then most likely will demonstrate some examples on a board. They did this because it is an efficient way to quickly set the learning focus for all of the children and demonstrate the skills or describe the knowledge that the children will learn. I have no problem with this as a way of working. That is a very unfashionable thing to say nowadays but I stand by it. Walk into a Y3 class, give them some self study materials about how to do decomposition, then support small groups as needs arise and see how effectively that class learns how to do it compared to the class next door where the teacher supports the children through demonstration followed by small groups support where appropriate. Anyway, I’ll plough on as you have no doubt stopped reading now or are preparing your vitriolic responses to this paragraph and want more ammo…

So the learners in the traditional classroom have now got some idea of what the teacher wants them to learn and then will be asked to do some activities that allow them to practice what they have learned, or demonstrate new knowledge (or a combination – but mainly for assessment purposes). The work is done maybe on whiteboards or jotters as playing with ideas or directly into an exercise book. The teacher and other adults will probably work with a focus group to support this activity. The work will be handed in but some maybe be used for a plenary (via a visualiser, or child demonstrating an example) or the teacher may recap the main points with contributions by the children. The books will be marked at some point to lead on to the following lesson. That a reasonably typical description?

Let’s put a mobile device into the hands of each child in the room and replay the lesson. The teacher starts the lesson, possibly from the front again (easy tiger…put it in the critical comments) to set the agenda for the lesson. Just a note, in this or the traditional lesson this doesn’t have to be “Our learning objectives today are…” I simply mean the teacher explains what the lesson will be focussing on, either from an outcome point of view or an activity introduction. Either way, the children are all made aware of what they will be doing. Now this is where the devices help. At any point children can take notes on a device that will follow them around…so is accessible when they might need it. That is helpful, I would take notes if I was sat there knowing I was expected to do something about what the teacher said once they stopped talking. If the teacher has a resource to show the children, such as a text or a film clip they have the option to show it via the front screen but far more powerfully they can simply email it to the children (or drop it in Dropbox or the Skydrive or whatever you use – oops two apps to consider, but Mail will work just as well). I would argue that in any classroom a text should always be introduced “at the desk” rather than expecting a mixed ability group of readers to access it from several feet away. Some children need to follow with their fingers! They do! I never expect children to read a text for the first time on a whiteboard – it has too many variable barriers to all children reading it at the pace and level of understanding that the teacher wants and they need.

The text is not only easier to access (videos are texts too!) but can be re-watched and re-examined at the individual level. Give the text with a couple of tasks written in the email and it will allow more able children to do something useful while the other children at least get through a decent pace. I have actually run several lessons purely in this way, the children then get on with the task (different groups may have got a slightly different task to allow some differentiation or simply different approaches to a topic across the class). I find in most primary classes this works once in a while but usually they also benefit from some further input at a class level and/or then group level. At all times the children have easy access to the resources (and the web at a personal level which cannot be done in the traditional classroom) and can still access the teacher as their learning guide. From this point onwards the device continues to improve the learning opportunities. The work is done on a device that will follow them, it won’t get rubbed out as on a whiteboard or sit on a shelf as with a jotter or text book. The teacher collects in the work, usually by email but again other services are available. The child leaves the room with the work in their pocket, all the resources and all the help. If homework is set or they want to do more they can continue whenever and wherever they want, learning is not bounded by the ringing of bells. They continue to have the teacher support as they can email questions in (or to each other which tends to be the first port of call in my experience) or search on the web.

Now that is a simplified comparison. It ignores the fact that the children can repurpose their ideas as a film, or a mind map or a comic book…their work can be focussed on a blog (which raises the stakes for purpose and audience). It ignores the possibility of giving them the texts prior to the lessons, or even the lessons prior to the lessons but you know what? Ten year olds rarely work like that. Teenagers don’t either. If you gave them the year’s worth of lessons in advance how many would actually do them until them until they had to? The devices support the here and now, they hoover information in and allow children that level of repurposing and access.

The possibilities are there but the realities need to be considered, motivation as ever is a key player and that is where a new app that allows children to present work in a different way or a new audience to write for IS a very useful thing, but it isn’t the be all and end all. The basics are far more important day in and day out.

The quick practise, games types apps are great, they make repetitious learning more fun (Squeebles is possibly the favourite amongst most local schools) but focus on how a connected, data hoover device that allows the learner to access their externalised learning (previous work) will create a strong base on which the classroom practitioner can build new ways of learner centric pedagogy.

Ok…shoot me down……

Reality check

Let me begin this post with a simple idea: I LIKE APPLE TV IN THE CLASSROOM.

I regularly use one when working with children from 4 years old to 16. My advice is that if you have a teacher iPad or even a set of iOS devices in the room, then an Apple TV is an excellent thing to have for supporting their use.
You knew that was coming didn’t you?

I am also very concerned with gadgets being used in the classroom just because they are new, seem to be efficient and/or cool. Following a conversation last week I decided to try an experiment today in Riverdale Primary with their Year 6s. The conversation ran like this:

In our newly refurbished classroom I am going to have projectors pointing at walls that can be written on with marker pens. The teachers will control the projector via an Apple TV.

I asked if the Smartboard would then be embedded into the wall too.

No, the Apple TV will do it all

I’m paraphrasing but that was the gist. My argument was that sometimes the ability to manhandle a bit of text, or a shape, or an image is something that I value as a way of really focusing children on a key point or question. The argument back at me was that children would learn just as effectively, if not more so, by watching the image projected of what was happening on the iPad. I wasn’t convinced as I felt the distance between the teacher and the “learning focus” might be an issue.

So, I decided to get some feedback…from the children (and the class teacher who was sat with them).

I prepared a lesson where we would look at key features of a news report by photographing the reports and then annotating them, thereby creating a genre checklist. I had two copies of the story, one from The Mirror and one from the Telegraph (a bloke had nicked an iphone from a toddler in a shop). As usual, before the lesson, I created two emails that would go to all children in the class, each with one of the articles attached. I saved them as drafts for the moment when I wanted the children to look at them. One part would be done via Apple TV and one directly in a Smart Notebook. I explained to the teacher before we started what we would do and why and she thought that we should be open and honest with the children before we started to ensure that we got focussed feedback.

So, I explained the conversation I had had to to the children. It was clear from the beginning that there were strong opinions on this, some were incredulous as to why you would want to take down the board, others said they preferred the “watching the TV” experience of the Apple TV. From discussion, I went off on a tangent (nothing unusual there then). I used the Smart Notebook app on the iPad to try and create as fair an experience as possible across the two interfaces. I quickly drew up a simple addition that involved place value up to hundreds. I “taught” the technique to the children using the iPad and the Apple TV, then repeated the “teaching” stood at the whiteboard in a more traditional way. Please try and stand back from the fact that I was teaching children something that they could all pretty much do without any issue anyway. I asked them to focus on which was a more effective way of getting my point across. There was much discussion and the consensus was that the teacher stood at the front “directing the learning” was the most helpful for the majority. We took into account the fact that the image on the plasma was smaller (albeit crisper than the 8 year old projector) and that depending on where you were sat made it easier or harder to focus in.

I also threw in the idea that maybe standing at the front and introducing an idea was maybe not the best way to do it. The children actually found this funny as they were confused that you would want them to “discover” something like how to do column addition when the teacher could simply explain it to you all at once and then give targetted help to the children who might then need it. I also explained that I had often been to conferences where someone would stand in front of an audience using a presentation to teach them all at once how whole class teaching with a whiteboard was no longer of any use…..I love irony. The point often then being focussed on a whiteboard usually being used as a big projector screen. Well I am sorry that their experience of using one (I’m sure they all teach a lot) is so basic but I constantly rely on the fact that I can interact with the stuff on it to make a point, test an idea, further a hypothesis or whatever. I DO NOT use it as an opportunity for children to come up and touch it, that is a complete waste of everybody’s time.
I actually discussed this point with the children. Connor was particularly vocal about it. He agreed that someone coming up to the board top complete a sum or click the right answer was simply time wasting; as was having an iPad passed to him to do the same sort of thing via Apple TV. It was really heartening that I could have such an in depth conversation with the children about what helps them learn most effectively. I know I always used to do that with my own class (many years ago….) constantly asking them what would have made the lesson more useful for them. Try it if you don’t already.
Connor did say though that he thought children coming up to the front to explain to others was a good thing for learning. I totally agree, the children take the role of teacher in my classrooms a lot and the board helps them to give visual aids to what they are saying at the end of their fingertips…same as for the teacher.

In fact, to further investigate the idea I asked Connor to do the same type of calculation in two ways, the first using an iPad and the Apple TV with his voice essentially narrating what was happening on the screen at the other side of the room and the second doing it directly on the Smartboard at the front. This definitely changed the vote…it made it practically unanimous that the Smartboard was the most effective tool…from their point of view.

Now that is one class in one school. They use iPods day in and day out (they take them home) and have done since they started Year 5. They have an Apple TV displaying through a plasma on the side wall and a Smartboard with a dim projector at the front. They discussed this in great detail and we actually had to shut them up at the end as the bell meant they had to go home! I mentioned I would blog about the “lesson” an several immediately bookmarked this site while I wrote it on the board. They did however say that they wanted to have an Apple TV facility as it was great for sharing work (from the camera roll on their ipods) and sometimes for when the teacher wanted to show, or allow someone to show, something useful on the iPad, But given the choice two preferred to use the Apple TV, the other 23(? and the teacher!) were vehement that day in and day out the Smartboard helped them learn more effectively, particularly when an explanation was involved. I would welcome comments from anyone who has a view on this.

Can I just repeat: I LIKE and RECOMMEND Apple TVs in the classroom but want people to really think hard about how they most effectively support learners. A Smartboard (other IWBs are available) offers more effective opportunities for teachers and learners (and when the roles are reversed) when explaining or manipulating ideas. The Apple TV offers excellent sharing possibilities that the Smartboard does not and mirroring of the iPad when that is really useful for the class to see. But please be discerning about how they are used!

Hmmm, think I’ll buy a new tin opener now it has bits of worm on it….

Anchors away

Schools are back and I have a few weeks now of supporting the schools with the loan kits to get under way. Two primaries in two days, an iPod per child, one is a Year3 class, one is Year 4.

For those of you starting off with kit for the first time, I’ll just run through how I approached it in terms of supporting the teachers:

Before I give the children any kit I ask them to focus on why they would want to use an iPod/iPad, how will it help them learn? I think starting from this point of via helps them to focus on class use effectively. I also explain to them how the device acts as a data hoover and then becomes their second brain (see previous posts). This approach seems to strike a chord with the classes I have been working with and several have referred to activities that we did in those terms, during the ensuing sessions.

I then let the children “play” with them for about ten minutes with two rules in place:

1. They find out as many things as possible
2. They whisper their findings to children on their table

I do this to get some of the “fiddling” out of the way and it does sam to work quite well. I also establish that when I am talking, unless I says otherwise, I won’t see an iPod in a hand or turned on. This takes some time to get right but pays off over time. I actually make this “deal” in the terms, “I’ll talk less and let you do more if you be very attentive when I do have to stop you”.

I also try to establish that if you have a question about how to do something on an app, the teacher is the LAST person to ask. This works very well and allows the teacher to focus on teaching.

So with loan kit I show the children Doodle Buddy, give them all a number and they draw that number on the screen, save to camera roll, go to the camera roll and set the number as home and lock screen. Today I used a visualised to demonstrate (which was great because when I said “click here” they could all see my big finger hovering over the button) and yesterday I used a direct feed to the projector form the iPad I was using (Apple TV works just as well). I simply had to go over to the board constantly to point to what I was clicking on the pad.

This activity has two roles.
The first is to make sure that is you pick up a pod in that class and turn it on you can immediately see which number it is (where children own their own I get them to write their name). Stickers are also useful but can make the devices look a bit messy (especially after several loans in different schools).
The second is to get the children used to doing something where you use one app to do something in another app. This is really important further down the line where you want to combine graphics, drawings, notes and suchlike in different ways.

I then introduce an app that will help with the hoovering.

Mental Note (see previous posts) is my weapon of choice as a digital notepad. I refuse to tell children how to use it but set them a task that means they have to figure out how to type info, insert pictures from the camera and use a freehand “pen”. Again, this encourages the children to share expertise on what to press – don’t ask me. Of course I quickly review this at the end of their task to ensure they are all up to speed. Today’s class also sent their notes as pdfs to me via email (though we were hampered with the problems that BT are having getting the broadband to work properly in schools). This really is the next step. Yesterday I didn’t get that far with the children but showed the teacher after the session how that worked and how they could create a contact group to send a resource to all the children at once.

The last task I did in both classes was to introduce Strip Design (as your second brain’s way of presenting your hoovering). I do this by showing them how to make a page, add a photo and a speech bubble – all in one go really fast at the front. I then ask them to do one. They never fail. What immediately becomes apparent is the enthusiasm they all have to write something and the wandering about that they all do to share what they are doing and learn more…sound like how you want your classroom to be?

So that is it, about an hour and a half. I will be back in both classes in a couple of weeks to look at what they want next but between now and then I have simply asked them (and the children) to focus on how the device helps them take in, store/retrieve information and repurpose it.

I’ll keep this as a separate category to continue the story as I support them each time.

Just received this from the teacher I worked with yesterday:
“The kids loved using the iPods today, squeebles is already a big favourite…I’ve never seen them so enthusiastic about doing their times tables!”.

Wow, this might catch on…

Launching in Style

Had a wonderful morning with the parents and children from Year 4 at Normanby. This time of year the children are issued with their new device (iPods again this year as the weapon of choice) and usually the parents come in and sign for it in school. Carl the Headteacher wanted to do something a little more special this year and it was arranged for the process to happen at the Apple store in the Metro Centre. This also helps with creating accounts for each family as you can only do a very small number from one location but the Apple store has the ability to create as many as it likes.
We received a very warm welcome from the team there and it was lovely to see that they weren’t just going to help set up the accounts, they also played some games with the children and gave out various prizes.

The children’s devices were actually given out yesterday with the school image on them and the children today created a family account with a parent to allow them to overlay personal apps, music and so on. Not every parent could make it but they will be given a help guide to show them how to create an ID (particularly with no credit/debit card attached:!846).

There is also support in school to help create the accounts if parents don’t feel confident.

This layered approach to images on the device (se the How To section) is going to be rolled out across the other schools we have working with 1:1 devices as their Y4’s receive their devices. We will monitor this way of working carefully and use the blog to highlight what works well and what comes up as an issue as they arise over the coming years

Pad or Pod?

That is a very good question and one that I get asked at least once a week by a new school wanting my support to develop use of mobile technology in the classroom. The answer is not straightforward and depends on several factors.

One of the first things that will have become apparent to anyone who has read the overview section of this blog is that in my opinion the device has to fit the user, not the other way around. I take myself as an example. I use an iPad most days of the week, mainly at work, in meetings or maybe sat on the settee at home (working obviously!) but I don’t carry it about with me as a rule like I do with my iPod. I have to make a conscious decision whether or not I take it somewhere with me as it obviously needs to be carried, stored and looked after. My iPod simply sits in my pocket until I need to use it. It does everything the iPad does and it fits my life much better. I tend to carry my iPod everywhere with me, work and home as it is no effort to do so, that is why it has the majority of my notes, photos and idea sketches on it. So when schools ask me whether they should go for iPads or iPods I ask them to look at the children they are working with, which option will fit their lives better? In the schools where the children are using a personal device, not shared and they can take it home it tends to be the iPod which comes out on top for the reasons outlined above. I would also say that the more durable battery life that the iPod has over the iPad is a key consideration here. In fact the last two points, portability and battery life were two of the non-negotiables that appear on the device requirement list when we have looked at new devices each year.

So bearing in mind what I have said above, is there any situation when the iPad is the better choice? Well, yes, probably. The Pad is  obviously larger and is therefore better for when you want a larger format. If you look through some of the recent posts I have made describing the Early Years projects there definitely seems to be an advantage for younger learners who are developing motor control. Tracing letters for example or “colouring in” are better suited to the larger form. Reading is also easier on a larger device. Given a choice I use my iPad for reading on but in reality I read as much on my iPod because it is more convenient to carry about. We have also seen that when devices are bought as shared class devices a larger device is sometimes easier to work with in pairs or more. I have also been working with sixth form students recently and I can see that in a situation where students are used to carrying a work netbook or laptop about, the iPad may fit their lives quite easily.

A point to bear in mind that needs to be considered is where students are asked to share a device. The “i” in iPod s there for a reason. iOS devices are NOT designed to be shared, they are personal devices. You don’t set them up like a networked laptop so that you log in and get your work. There is a strength in this in that most of the schools that I work with use very little technical support to successfully use the devices (except in terms of the wireless infrastructure that makes the best classrooms work seemlessly). The techie bits are very little and the devices are easy to set up and are then managed the vast majority of the time by the children. However, I fully understand where schools want to buy a class set of devices (or a set of 6 maybe) to try them out before committing to a complete 1:1 roll out. In most cases I believe that the school recognise that the real learning gains are when 1:1 deployment is used but just want to get their feet wet first. That is one of the reasons we have built up a stock of loan devices (iPods and iPads) so that schools can do this at no expense. So by all means schools should seek to experiment with small or shared sets at first but the whole point of using these devices is that they will become personalised, be a “second brain” for the child that can be carried around with them in most situations. The ability to take them home, live with them, play with the apps out of the classroom makes a HUGE difference to simply using them in some lessons in the classroom.

By spiketown Posted in How to

The joy of giving…

Just been working at one of our primaries on the roll out of iPod touches for Year 4’s after the half term. We have been working very hard to ensure that we buy apps legally and deploy them effectively. We know that this process is not straightforward at this moment in time and have been very helpful in supporting workarounds to ensure that we keep honest!

So we have created a school image today of apps that the school has bought for the children. This image is created on a brand new iPod. That iPod is then backed up to the Mac running the imaging. Now the rest of the iPods can be plugged into that Mac and built from its image. The problem has always been that it was impossible to buy an app more than once. Apple have helped us to get round that by suggesting using multiple gifting as a way of buying as many copies as you need of the app. It worked well in practice today.

Once the devices have the school bought image on them they will be given to the children and parents (after signing the appropriate acceptable agreement forms) and will be shown how to create a family account that will sit on the device as well. This will allow personalisation, bought books, music etc to be downloaded at the parents’ discretion. This will of course still sit under the AUP about appropriate content etc. I’m sure there will be occasional incidents over the year of devices with stuff on them that the school would not approve of but the systems are in place to deal with that effectively.

The school are hoping to launch the devices with this year’s parents at the nearest Apple store since they have been used as a showcase school by Apple such a lot.