End of Year Thoughts

iPad in Apple case

iPad in Apple case

The end of the year has arrived. The grade 6’s have graduated and now go on to secondary school. They have had to hand back their iPads. I could feel their disappointment although they knew it was going to happen.

Collecting the iPads took some time and I noted which iPads had been upgraded to 4.2 iOs.  Getting back the chargers was harder than the iPads.  Some chargers were left at parent’s homes or grandparent’s homes where the children had had recent visits and stayed over.  Luckily all chargers were returned from the grade sixes leaving.

Theft

The second last weekend of the year we had a break in at school.  4 iPads were stolen and 2 macbooks, cables, connectors and chargers.  It seems like a setup job.  The iPads were taken from 3 different places and it was obvious someone knew where they were.  This was very disappointing for the students and teachers and makes you realise our trust in security needs to be updated and security tightened.  We have been a small school with very familiar community.  This is quickly changing and so we will also have to make changes in our trust of others.

Next year all cables plugs and power sockets will be labelled with the same number as the ipads. This is because this year we had 2 students who misplaced their chargers and borrowed others.  One cable is in a very poor state and responsibility for the damage has not been reported.  No chargers or and parts will be borrowed or lent next year. Students will have to realise if they lend their equipment they are responsible for it if damage or loss occurs.

Damage and Cases

Damage to the iPads during the year has been minimal.  We had three returned due to not recharging (very quick turn around of about 3 days)  Out of 28 iPads 3 had corners dinted and 2 had slight dints in the back casing.  I believe our cases we use are not sufficient to give them protection when dropped.  The students take the iPads out of the cases they are in as they are too bulky to handle when playing games or using on a lap. I believe we should also have skins on them to avoid damage from dropping even onto to table tops.  Some shock absorbtion would be good.  I like the Apple black cases with the angled ledge but wonder if they would give as good protection in the students’ bags as the larger covers we have purchased. We’ll be looking into this before we purchase more and could even trial some of the different cases if we can get cases at a good price.

Surveys

I thought it timely to give a survey before the grade 6’s left.  24 out of 25 students completed the online survey.  I also sent home  a survey for the parents.  Here is the first question and a couple of typical answers by students.

1. a.When I first got the iPad I thought…now I think….

b.Have you changed your opinion about the iPad from when you first got it?

c.If you were only allowed one device a netbook or an ipad which one would you have?

Student 1

A. I thought that it was so cool

B. No I haven’t changed my opinion of this brilliant technology

C. I would have an iPad because it gets on quickly and you can get on anything

Student 2

A.It would be awesome I couldn’t wait untill we got them out
B.no I haven’t they are pretty cool
C.I  probably would rather the iPad because it is a lot more mobile and is quicker to turn on and last longer.

Student 3

a.They are super slim I wonder how many games I can put on it

b. now….I thought they were a big toy but we can actually use them for school
c. iPad

Four students out of 24 said they would get a netbook in preference but declined to say why.

87.5% of students would use the ipad over the netbook to create a presentation with 12 .5% selecting the netbook.

50% of students said they use the iPad all the time for internet browsing, 33% used the iPad more than the netbook

8.3% indicated they use the netbook only for internet browsing and 8.3% used the netbook more than the iPad.

91.7% said the iPad was better because, it starts quicker, was easier to see the screen, easier to use and they indicated that they could create quicker. 8.3% said the netbook was better to use. 70.8% said they used the iPad more than the netbook.

The parent survey did not have as good a return rate (10/25) even though I had a gift voucher as a prize to draw from all who completed the survey.  As surveys were returned a raffle ticket was given and then on the last day drawn for the prize of a gift voucher.

These are just some questions that were on the parents survey

1. Do you think the iPad could enhance your child’s learning? yes 9/10 no 1/10

2.Do you believe using the iPad made your child more interested in learning?  yes 8/10  no 2/10

3. Did your child teach you something about using the iPad?  yes 9/10  no 1/10

4. Did your child like using the iPad?  yes 10/10

5. Do you have a suggestion?  5/10

3 supporting the program-

– a great way to enhance learning and kept him very interested

-if possible the iPad should be a permanent tool for their learning as they enjoy using it and get great benefit out of it

-it is such a wonderful opportunity for the children to be able to use the ipads, especially being able to bring them home.

2 stating concerns-

-time needed to be monitored when on the ipad. If left to his own accord would be on it day and night

-it is not suited to those children who are highly addicted to using it since receiving one to use, I have had behaviour problems when I told them to turn it off.

These concerns will be ones we will be talking about with the parents next year. We did state this year that parents are the boss of the equipment and that iPads and netbooks are only to be used in commonly shared rooms of the household.  However this will be given more attention next year so the parents know they have our support.  I found it interesting that until this survey we had not had any parents reporting they had any problems with the overuse of the iPads.  This feedback is great for our information evening next year.  I will be sending home a further suggestions note to parents for the information evening next year.

Apps and syncing

I am often asked, “We are getting 10 iPads what is the best way to sync the apps?”  This is a question I have thought about a lot.  If we had the Apple volume licencing it would be a lot cheaper as the apps would be half price. If the apps were purchased by the school and synced students could still purchase their own apps and add to the iPad they would just need to authenticate the school computer for syncing.  It is quicker for the students to sync their own but it takes longer to check they all have the required apps. It seems a waste of time and money to have to download all the apps every year.  Perhaps a basic set could be synced to the iPads each year and then others added on.  The hard part is that apps are being developed everyday and what was good yesterday now is obsolete.  Do we sync or do they?  Syncing 35 iPads could take some time and logistics.  One computer is to0 slow.  I wonder if a user for each iPad could be made across the network so any computer can be used to sync them to the same iTunes library account each time.  These accounts on the network would only be used for syncing iPads/iPods.

Self management of iPads is best for teachers as it allows them flexability to add apps as they like and to sync to their laptops with photos, mail etc. Each teacher could be given a budget for the apps and then use their own iTunes account or a school generic iTunes account for themselves.  class@school iTunes store accounts for teachers so they can be used in coming years to sync other iPads/iPOds.  If students and teachers use their own personal iTunes store accounts the apps are given away and can’t be used again if that person moves schools or class where there are no iPods/ipads in use. This is not in keeping with our schools policy for purchasing where the property remains the schools when staff or students leave. The iTunes store school accounts can be deauthorised from all computers and then reauthorised to another computer when needed. One iTunes library can have apps purchased from many iTunes store accounts. These iTunes store accounts just need to be authorised for the computer and can be authorised for up to 5 computers at one time. The iTunes library stores your apps, music movies etc on your computer the iTunes store account allows you to purchase from iTunes and add to the library. Each iPad or iPod can only sync to one iTunes library.

Next Year 2011

Next year we will have 2 grade 5/6’s so we have to purchase more net books and iPads to continue the research. I wanted to keep the same group with the iPads rather than starting over with a new group. So we have one teacher remaining, a new teacher joining the research project (already has an iPad for holiday learning) and about 22 grade 5 ‘s joining in next year. I was too busy to give out iPads to the new students coming into the project so we have collected all the iPads from the existing grade 5’s also.

Next year we will have another information evening for the parents and students before the iPads are sent home. The original students not new to the program will get their iPad back to save  time to sync them.

The new students will be given half the iTunes credit at a time and just half the apps list to purchase and then later a further installment for iTunes and the rest of the apps list. Most of last years grade 5 students sync their iPads to a computer at school as they had some difficulties at home due to bandwidth or time management issues or no internet at home.

I went through the apps list with the students to try and cut it down but we ended up with almost the same list and a few more to add. There were so many apps the students had used and wanted to have next year.

Reflections and hopes

So in the 15 weeks that we have used the iPads we have made progress from using the ipads for drill and kill apps to using creative apps where we can communicate and share our learning. We have only begun to use the iPads and next year should see greater scope of learning happening on the iPads. The students commented they would like to use them more for literacy in both reading and writing next year. I would like to see more collaborative learning happening and a global perspective being added.  I hope to have the use of dropbox as a standard way of sharing in the 5/6 team.

In 2011 all classes will have either iPods or iPads at Epsom PS.  I am hoping that this will allow for greater sharing of ideas and resources between the teachers rather than just a few having access. Professional development will be given as a whole school opportunity rather than small boutique  groups. I will be putting dates on the calendar from the start of the year and hope to include some Brekkie Bites sessions during the year.  I will be calling on the teachers to take turn at sharing what works at our Brekkie Bites. Also staff from other schools will be invited to join us at some of our professional development meetings. The use of blogs, wikis and twitter will also enhance our personal learning networks next year as they have this year.

Thanks for checking out how we are going this year with our iPad project.  I will continue to add to the blog next year.

Trial Schools Sharing Day

Today we met with all the other iPad trial schools in Melbourne at the Conference and Exhibition Centre. The day kicked off with an App Smackdown where each school gave a quick best 5 apps. Here is a summary of the apps:-
Keynote, Coolfacts, PuppetPals, TED, Nue Draw, Corkulous, Guardian Eyewitness, Popplet, Draw, Wolfram alpha, Math Board, Strip designer, iBooks, Goodreader, Doodle buddy, Reel director, App shopper, SimplemindX, AnimationHD, Pages, Star walk, Dictionary- thesaurus, Melbourne Museum App, Calendar, Epicure, Online Galleries, Homework Plus, Sonic Pics, Atomic Browser/Perfect browser (allows VGA output)

I showed Spoken Motion as another app that allows you to record audio but also records drawing on pictures or text or a blank canvas. I actually created some movies using Spoken motion as tutorials for students wanting to learn cursive script. Each tutorial shows how to write a high frequency word with audio explanation.

The second part of the day was each school telling their story about the iPad trial. Stories were varied but had the same theme with engagement of learners and teachers being a significant outcome. Two schools have students with both a netbook and the ipads and have both found that students are choosing the iPad as their most preferred tool. Some students were even leaving their netbook at home.

Another common finding was that the less able students were seen to gain a lot from the program so far. For some this meant attending school more regularly, becoming techsperts and points of call for others, having social connections because of the iPad use and having a greater work output than previous to the iPad trial.

Creative uses of the iPads was the third common thread between the school’s uses of the iPad. Students creating presentations, movies, slideshows, posters and more using a range of apps to produce a product. Some students can use up to seven or more apps to produce a final product. Students are given a problem or challenge and then decide which apps they would like to use.
An example was using Whiteboard and Sonic pics to create a how to presentation and an assessment piece on addition of 2 3 digit numbers with regrouping.

There was talk about developers and teachers being able to collaborate on creation of apps and it was noted that most app developers are most willing to accept feedback and work to develop their apps along side teachers. If a developer was emailed it was only a short time until there was an answer.

I have found this myself as lately I have made contact with the developer of Spoken Motion. Spoken motion allows you to add pictures and then draw on them while recording your voice. Then you can share the files with others. I would like to be able to use this app on the iPad to give feedback to students on their work. In particular to be able to annotate their work and the record voice with more feedback. This can be emailed to the students.

It was also evident that many of the schools had purchased further iPads than the ones in the trial to allow other teachers and students to participate in the project. In addition parents had also purchased iPads as a ripple effect was felt from the student’s use of the iPads.

In the afternoon Simon Shaw showed us how you can create ePubs (books for the iPad) by using pages or a template available on the Apple website. I thought the students would like to create some of their learning in this format.
Also in the afternoon we were shown the DEECD Vic Gov Ultranet design space that we have all been invited to use. This will be a great space to communicate together and there will be a front page to the www added later in Dec. I liked that feature so we can include a wider following on the project and get added ideas and feedback from a global perspective.

Finally we shared our take away from the day and any other things we wanted to share with others.  My take away was create, share and create. The best apps allow students to create and share in many ways.

iPad iFootball

DSC08815

Today was the last day of term and we had our Prep12 footy match and footy day. I was amazed to see one of our students use his iPad at the game on the official time keepers table. The app he used was Soccer sound box.
http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/a-soccer-sound-box-free/id373058312?mt=8
He had, on his own downloaded an app that gives you various sounds you might hear at a footy game and set up with the speaker so he could play the siren sound at the appropriate time. Yes there’s an app for that. During the last half he disappeared inside where the wifi was better to download a song he wanted for the winners, We are the Champions. And so at the end after the siren went the music came on and everyone sang along and cheered the winners.
This was a fitting end to the term and an example of how the iPads are now being used for all sorts of uses at school. Oh and yes there was a plan B as we always need plan B, the old school bell but it wasn’t used.

To finish the term off the students made a keynote about our school concert and the used many iPad skills such as screen shots, copying images to the photo gallery, keynote features and page layout and email. Talking Tom featured in some keynotes.

How to get things on the iPads without usb’s has become a great problem solving exercise that’s finding different solutions every day. Email seems to be the quickest way. An example today was a student who wanted the concert program in his keynote. He came to find the scanner to scan the document. I asked, “I wonder if someone has this on a computer? Perhaps they could email it to you and then you would have it to use.” A screen shot and a crop and it’s done. Much quicker than a scanner.

Thinking back on the introduction of the iPads I would change the following next time.

1. I would have a parents only information evening. This would allow for talk about security issues and iTunes accounts.
Also I would demonstrate creating an account and downloading. This wasn’t done as everyone seemed to say we know but actually about 10 students have had problems with this either the downloading or use of the accounts. Assuming the students would know or older siblings could set it up, it wasn’t always a good idea. It would have been good to give out the iTunes cards and everyone redeem them on their accounts at school together.

2. The security on the iPads should be turned on with selections of restrictions and a code from the school set on each iPad. This would make it impossible to add unsuitable apps, music etc. Ratings can be selected. I didn’t know this at the time and now have set it on a couple of iPads where children were downloading unsuitable apps.

3. If the volume licencing is available I would sync them all at school. This would make sure all the apps are on the iPads right from the start. We still have some students struggling to get all the apps. One downside would be if the students wanted to upload an app like today at the footy it wouldn’t be possible if the students didn’t have access to an account.

I don’t know why you need an account for free apps. There needs to be a way as finding the apps to suit various jobs is one of the great things iPads allow students to do, just in time learning.

4. I would use the iPad licence testing as a way to begin the iPad use again. This worked very well and the students liked the idea of a licence.

So at the end of the term I would say at this stage the iPads have gained a lot of the students full support and have become the tool of choice for most jobs. The netbooks are staying in their cases.

The cables and wall connectors will need to be collected early in Dec along with the iPads so we have them all for next year. Whether returning students will have holiday access and if next years grade will be given them to take home are issues that need some thought. Our grade structure changes next year and we may have the netbooks in another class and the ipads in the other as we will have more grade 5 students than grade 6’s requiring 2 grades with grade 5’s.

I am on leave for a large part of next term and this will be interesting to see how the iPads continue to be used. I will be emailing the students and teacher to keep up with the iPad use and will be inviting the teacher of the class to put some guest blogs here on this blog.

The Apps Police

Picture 5

Yesterday I felt like I was the apps police as I checked all the 25 iPads for the apps we had given on a list for the students to download.

Most students had downloaded the required apps and used all their $100 gift cards. Only a handful still had the required apps not yet downloaded.

It was also interesting to see what other apps they had downloaded. Facebook was on some iPads and will be taken off due to the students being under 13 and of course Facebook is blocked at school. There were many sports apps downloaded, car racing and fashion apps on the iPads. I found some interesting apps that we will have students telling about in the coming weeks as they look like they’ll be useful in the classroom also. I was wondering about the rating of some apps though and I will be investigating further. Should students have free selections of apps or be only able to have the required apps?

My technician solved the problem of not being able to connect to the intranet due to proxies being set. The proxy worked for some sites but blocked us from others.  Four students could get to the intranet and it was found later they had no proxy settings.  So now we have a new setting to put in that lets us look locally and not go onto the internet for the intranet. This will be great as we can put photos onto our school gallery and then students can easily download them on their iPad to use in their writing. The new setting allows us access to other sites on the internet somehow but as I have a limited understanding of proxies I am following my technicians instructions with little understanding.

Allowing the students to download all the apps reminds me of when they used to have to buy all their own books and pencils and then we ended up with a mixture of equipment. Some still have to download so I’ll be checking again next week.

Setting up

We have been setting up our iPads with lots of apps that have been suggested by the trial team.(Suggested Apps for school)  iWork was the first to download and looks very sleek. Pages, keynote and numbers all will be used and are even more simple than on the laptop.

I also  downloaded many apps we also have on the iPods that are creative apps like sonic pics, etcha sketch, fastfinga and more.

We were given some iTunes cards and made an account for each iPad for staff to use. The students will have their own accounts and have to download their apps at home. If they don’t have the Internet at home they can download them at school so we can make multiple iTunes libraries or have the children log into the file server and use their own iTunes library on the server. I’m not sure how quickly the apps would sync across the network though. We wanted to make the staff accounts fairly generic so they are school accounts and not linked to teachers. Although for ease of use we have downloaded the apps onto the teacher’s laptops.
The more I use the iPad the more I like it. Duplicam is a great app as it let’s you take photos with your iPhone (camera module free) and they come instantly onto the iPod.   Also you can access all the photos on the iPhone and find them in the photo gallery on the iPad. If a teacher has an iphone (as most of us do) this would be a great way to instantly have a picture available for a student.  We will also use our intranet photo gallery for sharing photos as these can be accesssed on the iPads.
As we’ve been looking at fractions lately I added Freddy fraction and number line. Sonic pics works well on the iPad and the inbuilt mic is great. Sound paper will be interesting and I’ve  thought about giving it a go at running records. I have a smart pen so it will be interesting to compare them.. I’m hoping the instant on and no uploading will be a bonus.  However there would also be no uploading to the website though like the smart pen.
I am writing this post on the iPad and I’m thinking of how the children will be able to blog onto the web also. Blogpress is terrific on the iPad. (at home) I like the way it lists all your post down the side for easy viewing. I hope it will work on the iPads at school as I haven’t got it to work at school on the iPods.

Edmodo may be useful as well, for tweeting about learning. So watch this space for tweet details if you want to follow the kids’ iPad tweets.
While we have been attempting to download apps we have had a bit of fun and games with iTunes at school. On my laptop it works fine but on my principal’s (Kerry’s)laptop the pictures don’t show in iTunes and it won’t always reach the store.  We have checked all the proxy settings and it seems the same as my laptop but it fails to contact the iTunes store and times out. We have some technicians coming tomorrow and I suspect there will be some firewalls and proxies to blame. Well today my laptop has the same problems.  Some apps show art work and some don’t.

I have now reverted to my laptop as my home bandwidth has been shaped and it was taking ages to load typing to the blog.  Editing was also a problem as the uploading wasn’t happening on the iPad.  I will edit this post when I’m at school tomorrow as I haven’t been able to have multiple windows open to add links to the different websites.  So please revisit for the links.

Yes now all the links have been added and the pdf file of the apps suggested downloads.