Friday, July 26, 2013

Getting to know you.....

I'm all about making kids as comfortable as they can be when school resumes in the fall. Students that are new to the school are probably very nervous because they don't know anyone and are not familiar with the layout of the building. 

During the first week, I am going to introduce students to the iPad app Book Creator and ask them to create a several page book that includes pictures, text and if they'd like, video. The material should tell us something about them: how many siblings they have, if they have pets, where they live, what their favorite fun things to do are, their favorite subject, what their goals are for the year, and so on.

Once they complete their chapter, I will have them share it with me via Google Drive and I'm going to combine all of the chapters into a single volume that is named Our Homeroom 2013-2014. Each student will get a copy and they can become acquainted with their classmates by reading about them. In addition, I will share this with all of their teachers so they too can get to know the kids as well. 

Book Creator is a very simple app to use and is unlimited in its utility. Students can work independently on collaborative projects and chapters can be inserted and moved around very easily at any time. Students can create a book that contains book reviews about all of the books they've read throughout the year. They can create an instruction manual on any topic either for a class assignment or their own reference. If they choose, they can share these instruction manuals with other students.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Dirty Macbooks + Magic Eraser = Nice!

We had some extra white Macbooks lying around so I figured I'd repurpose them by giving some to our library and a few to a couple of other departments for loan. They were in a quite a state though. Being white, they grab onto dirt and grime and refuse to let go.

After trying many methods of cleaning them with not much success, I found that the magic eraser type sponges work wonders! What follows are some before and after pictures of a machine I cleaned up. 



                              The band at the bottom of this picture is because of the lighting in here.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

iOS 7 looks to be great for education, but.....

In case you haven't seen it, Apple has put up a page detailing the new features in iOS 7 that's slated for release this fall. It appears they have taken seriously the fact that many schools are using iPads and have put much effort into providing a better suite of tools and options for managing the devices and purchased apps.

One of the best features is its integration with the VPP program. Institutions will be able to purchase VPP codes for apps and books and assign them to students. This means students will download them using their own Apple ID but the school retains ownership of the app/book. Once those students move on, you can revoke the license and issue it to next year's crop of students.

There are too many awesome features to go into here; you can read all about them here: iOS 7 in Education

Apple certainly didn't put much thought into the fact that releasing such a huge and beneficial update for education months after school resumes puts incredible pressure on school technologists who will have to not only figure out how to implement and use the new features, but get the update onto devices that will have been in use for a few months.

At the very least, Apple should provide some type of deployment guide ahead of time so we can prepare for this. Will devices out in the wild that are Supervised and managed by an MDM have to be collected and altered in any way to take advantage of the new features? What about apps that are purchased through VPP and deployed to student devices before the update drops? Will we be able to revoke those codes as well? 

Come on, Apple. Give us some idea of what we can expect here.