Although there is over a month left of my first year in the classroom for a while I though that I’d start writing this as if I leave it till the summer… 1

I am lucky enough to be teaching in a 1–2–1 classroom. 15 pupils spread across primaries five, six and seven.

I’ve probably not done as much with the iPads as I could have this session, stepping back into the classroom after a few years out has been ‘interesting’, teaching a multi-composite has had it challenges too.

The last time I was in school the classrooms had 2 desktop PCs, we shared a lab of desktops and a trolley of laptop. This was a great provision, but 1–2–1 is quite different.

The iPads are original Airs. They have individual ‘school’ iCloud accounts and the pupils use their glow accounts for emails, online storage (O365) etc.

Apps are distributed via a free meraki MDM account. The devices are not in DEP. I ask pupils to request app that they want. And not to install them themselves. Obviously they could if they wanted to. We have a few restrictions, movie age for example, set from meraki but the devices are pretty open.

App notes

Some brief notes on the main apps we have used this session.

  • Drawing, Brushes Redux & Tayasui Sketches
    • learning about layers, illustrating, art. Tracing images of all sorts is very popular with pupils in spare moments. 2
  • Whiteboard Some of the pupils prefer a real one though.
  • Camera
    • recording learning (photo & video)
    • illustrating work (poetry) 3
    • presenting work (markup)
    • photography, casual learning about craft
    • video, casual learning about craft
  • Notes
    • writing, as the year has gone on we have written more in notes and less in other apps.
    • drafting, especially useful for blogging as removes any distractions.
    • collaborative writing, it is easier to airdrop a few notes that setup online document.
  • Safari, having an always to hand reference book, media library etc. Brings a lovely set of problems with it, copyright, fact checking and distraction. Updating the school blog and e-portfolios should be easier when everyone has a browser to hand.
  • O365 through glow. I’d decided to use these office tools this session. At that point I could have used the Apple ones, but would, then, have had to pay for the apps. I could have used Google, but would have had to organise accounts.
    • Microsoft Word, used for writing, especially for presentation and if work needs printing. Now we often start in notes. Early on we tried a lot of handing in of work via sharing in O365. Had a lot of problems with work going missing, documents not fully syncing. Some of this might have been confusion round saving (locally, Onedrive,auto, manual) some due to poor bandwidth. Now I ask pupils to start in notes, moving to word for formatting and adding images.
    • Microsoft OneNote, after early problems with Onedrive & word I decided to use Onenote as a virtual, handout/worksheet/jotters solution. When it works it is great. Unfortunately, for us, it doesn’t work consistently. I have persisted, for months. One of the most frequently used apps, but am probably going to look at other solutions next session.
      • I’ve blogged about the problems and spent a fair amount of time trying out solutions suggested by other glow uses, twitter folk and the Microsoft team.
    • PowerPoint, we have used a little. Most often as a choice for personal projects. I think I’ll try Keynote next session as is now free.
    • Microsoft Sway, we have dipped into sway, I’ve not found the pupils as excited by the app as other glow users have reported. Might be the way I’ve explained it?
  • LEGO® Movie Maker, a nice free stop motion app. we used this for some maths shape work and a whole class Tam O’Shanter movie. 4 I think the app has been discontinued a great shame
  • iMovie, for editing videos, science reports, animations. Some of the pupils are very keen on trailers in any spare moments, golden time and personal projects. 5
  • 5SecondsApp – Animated GIF Create & Search – Animated GIF Create, occasional fun for the blog often in combination with MSQRD. 6
  • Padlet has great potential, but our bandwidth seems to be too poor for this.
  • MyScript Calculator – Handwriting calculator – Handwriting calculator, some of the class like this, others prefer the google one in the browser.

If I was limited to the number of apps I think we could have got by with stock software, Safari, Notes and Photos will get you a long way. I’d add iMovie next.

The app I’d like to find is the simplest audio recorder that would allow pupils to listen to, record and share audio. It is a pity that Apple voice memos is limited to the iPhone. We have used boss jock junior a bit this session, but I think I’ll try the free version of ferrite next, unless I find something simpler.

Workflows

Attempts to distribute, gather and organise.

Over the session I’ve used OneDrive, OneNote and latterly experimented with Apple Classroom. These all have their strengths and weaknesses.

Pupils creating documents in OneDrive and sharing with me was the way we started. The obvious problem is organisation. We tried both sharing documents through OneDrive and emailing back and forward. Emailing proved to be the most successful, we had a lot more failures with sharing, as noted above, it’s hard to tell if these are problems with the syncing, pilot error or due to lack of bandwidth. Emailing brings organisation problems.

The main app I’ve used this session for distributing and collecting information has been OneNote. Apart from a few dislikes of the way the software works, no grouping in particular, the concept of how OneNote should work is great. Unfortunately We’ve lost data, had slow syncing and a lot of errors thrown. Even when working with a small group of 10 pupils, getting work to review back from all of them in a timely fashion has been a struggle. We have quite often lost work completely.

The possibilities of the class notebook are wonderful. Pupils record and assess their own reading on the one page. I can use the classnote book tools to click through them all listing and adding my 2 pence worth easily. I can had out maths ‘worksheets’ with a video of myself working through the problem embedded. The pupils work can organised and accessed easily. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work for us.

Recently I took the iPads out of meraki management to allow us to test the Apple Classroom app. The best practise for doing this is to have the iPads in DEP, The Device Enrollment Program, and supervised in an MDM (e.g. meraki). Unfortunately our iPads are not in DEP and they would have to be wiped to do that. I am not doing that at this stage in the session.

Instead I got the pupils to remove the MDM management and join a manually created classroom. Compared to the onenote workflows described above the classroom is quite limited. There is no organisation of media, text etc. The killer feature, for me, is that sharing is done locally, via Airdrop, without needing to get data out to the internet. So far I’ve just used it to distribute and collect files, notes and media files of all sorts. This is lightning quick, and so far I’ve had no problems. Longer term I need to figure out how pupils work could be organised, both on their iPads and mine. Notes has a simple folder system, but it could get pretty messy over time. I wonder if iOS 11 out this autumn will help, either with improvements to the Notes app or the new Files app that integrates with OneDrive?

Next Session

There is a lot to think about. I avoided the Microsoft classroom this session, it felt a bit too complex for me and seemed to still be evolving. Quite glad as MS classroom is going to be replaced by Teams. I am wondering it if will be any more successful than OneNote in my situation.

Next session Glow will also give use access to the Google suite, I’ll be interested in seeing how that plays out. My personal use of google apps has lead me to feel that they are lighter weight and faster to sync than O365 but I’ve not used them in the classroom.

I am also, now they are all free, thinking that switching to the Apple ‘office’ apps would be a good idea. I certainly find pages and keynote easier to use on iOS than Word or PowerPoint. 7

I am tempted too by Apple classroom, the quick local transfer seems like a good idea.
From the distribution to pupils, just using the notes app with the classroom Airdrop, where you can send to the whole class or a group is a great improvement over OneNote. On iOS or mac the OneNote classroom lacks the ability to send to groups which Apple Classroom has. The success and speed of Airdrop beats O365 via the web hands down (not surprising). Tables I’ve missed a little and it would be nice to be able to record audio straight into notes. It is simple enough to record in another app and insert into notes.

Ideally I’d love the simplicity and speed of Notes and Airdrop to be extended to add some of the organisational features on OneNote classroom.

I am a bit disappointed that I’ll start next session still unsure about the best way forward. Google will not arrive in Glow until September. MS teams is not yet ready for use.

I am looking forward to trying all of this out, but mindful that swapping out workflows is not as easy for our digital natives 8 as it is for me.

  1. Yup, this post has taken at least 3 weeks to mature. It is a bit of a grab bag but has helped me think things through. Only Two and a half days left now! 
  2. Art Gallery – Banton Biggies a lot of this is made in Brushes.
  3. Kennings, we know about animals – Banton Biggies
  4. Scenes From Tam O’Shanter – Banton Biggies
  5. Video – Banton Biggies
  6. RedNoseDay Animated Gifs – Banton Biggies
  7. Personally I am not a frequent user of office apps. I would never open word, pages or google docs just to enter text. Drafts would be my iOS productivity tool of choice.
  8. I found the pupils are really quick in learning some digital things, but I don’t think that includes organisation.

This is pretty basic stuff but I’ve found it useful in class.

I’ve often combined writing poetry with digital tools in the classroom. There are a lot of short forms that mean even the slowest typist can produce something good in limited time. From a pupil blogging perspective pupils of varying ability often get great results they can be proud of publishing.

When I started using iPads in teachers training and with pupils, I started using simple poetry forms as a way to produce something quickly that could develop from text be combined with images, video and audio.

Good, IMO, forms are kennings, lunes, haiku and six word stories.

Back then we used skitch and comic life to added text to pictures. More recently I moved on to the free version of pic collage 1.

When I arrived back in the classroom with a pile of iPads I’ve been using the technique quite a bit.

More recently 2 I’ve cut out third party apps to use the newish built in markup in the Photos app. Recently I demoed the process at an interview and saw Jenni Robertson show it at an Apple event in Glasgow. On both occasions I was surprised to find that it was a new concept to most of the audience. I though it might be worth a post here. There is a video embedded at the bottom of this post, but here are some written instructions.

Start with an image

This is a good opportunity to talk and demo a wee bit about copyright and attribution. In class we often use the Morguefile or my own FlickrCC Stampr.

write some words

I believe it is best to use the notes app for this, avoiding thinking about how the text looks, where it goes etc.

Copy the text to the clipboard.

Combine the words and pictures

Open photos

Select and view the image.

Click on the adjustment icon

When the photo opens click on the ellipses and then Markup

On the markup screen click the T tool to add a text box and then press on the box to edit it.

 

Paste in your poem.

Adjust the size, colour and placing of the text.

Bonus Tip – drop shadow

Duplicate the text, change the colour of one and move the top one over the bottom leaving a nice ‘old style’ drop shadow. I think this is worth it as a intro to layers in graphics. It can also hep readability on complex backgrounds.

 

 

Although this is a very simple lesson I think it give the opportunity to teach a few different things over and above literacy involved in the writing:

  • Copyright and creative commons
  • Combining apps (safari, notes, photos) in a workflow.
  • Layers

It has the potential for being extended into video & audio editing (groups pictures perhaps) and sharing the results.

Here is a quick screencast.

 

1. Some examples from my class using pic collage Frosty Photos and Poems – Banton Biggies

2. For example Kennings, we know about animals – Banton Biggies

Recently I was being Pedantic about Podcasts. Trying to point out that the important thing about podcasts is the way they are distributed making it is be easy to listen as we wash the dishes or drive to work.

I posted about this before: EDUtalk: How to Listen.

Once you get this set up to be automatic it makes listen to podcasts as easy as listening to the radio.

I started way back, syncing podcasts to an iPod. One I got my first iPhone I used that, trying a few different apps before settling on  Overcast.

A few weeks ago I deleted Overcast as I was running out of space to record a movie, planning to reinstall ASAP.

Last week as I went to do this, on a whim,  I spent £3.99 on Castro 2 instead. It turns out that this app matches my listening habits better than overcast. I’d guess, from memory, it has less settings and options but that is not a bad thing.

I listen to podcasts mostly on my 45 minute commute home. I am interested in more podcasts than would fill that amount of time. Castro lets me subscribe to a bunch of podcasts and queue up (and download) only the episodes I want to hear. It does this in a very simple way.

  • New episodes from the feeds I am subscribed to get listed in my inbox.
  • From there you can quickly add then to your queue, at the end or at the top. At this point they get downloaded.
  • You can set any feed to have its episodes automatically added to the queue.
  • You can archive episodes, you don’t loose them but they get out of the inbox.
  • You can queue episodes from your archive or the discovery tab. That means you can search or paste the url to a podcast into the discovery tab and see the episodes, you can add one to the queue without subscribing.

Once in the queue you can rearrange the episodes and they play in order. Each moves to the archive after it is played. Importantly for me, the next queued episode plays automatically.

Bonus, as you add an episode to the queue there is a nice wee animation as seen in the featured image of this post (my image is a gif, speed and quality are not reflections of the app.)

 

iMovie, Numbers, Keynote, Pages, and GarageBand for both Mac and iOS devices have been updated and are now listed in the App Store for free.

Apple Makes iMovie, GarageBand, and iWork Apps for Mac and iOS Free for All Users – Mac Rumors

Worth noting, although these are free already on new devices. This will help classes like mine whose iOS devices are on their second Apple ID.

Also good for distributing through MDM, which seems to be the idea.

Also Clips

Some thoughts about making choices about the software and systems you use, they may have hidden positives or negatives.

Featured image, iPhone screenshot, edited in snapseed

At the weekend during pedagoo muckle there was a mini TeachMeet. Everyones name was in a bowel and there was a series of random 2 minute talks. I though I was prepared with this tip. In the event I was quite glad I didn’t get picked all the people who got picked had two minutes of great ideas, as opposed to a wee tip.

I did mention it to one or two folk at my conversation and it was well received so I though it would be work posting.

One of the minor hassles I’ve been having with Glow and iPads is multiple logons. Some of the MS apps seem to get themselves in a state of confusion, requiring pupils to log on frequently, and more than once. This is a particular pain if you work in Word, save to Onedrive and then upload that file through the browser. I’d like this to be a thoughtless and painless process for my class but it is not. This is compounded by the fact you need to put a glow email address into an MicroSoft iPad app, this them loads the RM Unify logon where you need to use your glow username and password. Given you can use your glow email in place of your username this make the tip even more useful.

iOS has a text replacement function. You can type a shortcut and the predictive text will offer the expansion to insert.

You set these up in the Setting App, General-> Keyboard- Text Replacement, the phrase would be your glow email, the shortcut something memorable, not part of a real word. We used gw and initials, so mine is gwjj.

Here is a gif showing how much easier it it to log on with a shortcut.

shortcut-gwjj

As a bonus, some of the pupils in my class added other shortcuts, for example d: for define: which hlps find the meaning of words in google.

Finally ios allows upload of files from more than the photo library. This is just the first mp3 I found in my Dropbox. It is a recording n Buchanian st. In Glasgow.

The more includes OneDrive for glow folk.

image

This opens up lost of possibilities for blogging and podcasting on the move.

I had a bit of a play with Adobe Slate this morning. It is an iOS app for publishing words and pictures.

The Devil's Pulpit
The Devil’s Pulpit

It is quite a very process which allows you to get good looking results quickly. Macworld points out some limitations that struck me immediately.

It’s dead-simple, but also quite limited. You can choose from a handful of themes to change the whole look of the story, but can’t adjust individual fonts or formats, or even add a link within a larger block of text. (You can, however, place links as standalone buttons.) You can change image formats so they appear full screen, inline, or as a scrolling “window,” but you can’t add borders or freely move images around. Video isn’t supported at all.

What we gain

I guess slate is part of the same move to allowing producers to concentrate on the content while the ‘professionals’ provide the design.
Like Medium you cannot argue with the results from a clean readable point of view.
We can publish text and pictures easily on a blog. I am sure we can find a theme or two with typography that is as good, but I suspect it might be hard to find such elegant handling of images.

What we lose

I am not a professional writer or photographer, neither am I a designer or coder (obviously;-)).
I publish ‘stuff’, sometime approaching stories, because it is fun and I want to explore the potential of these activities for learning. I have different degrees of interest in all aspects of the process, I think I can learn from each.
I’ve been thinking about the tension between ease of use and creativity for a while. For learners we will sometimes want them to concentrate on one particular aspect of the work. I can’t be the only teacher who sometimes asked pupils to leave font and style changes till the story was finished. At other times we will want them to get fully involved in messy learning.
We also lose some control of the data when we publish to silo sites. I am pretty sure that Medium and Adobe will be around a lot longer than Posterous, but I still like backups.

Alternatives

Just as I am writing this I remember an earlier experiment A Walk to Loch Oss using Odyssey.js

The odyssey.js library is being developed to help journalists, bloggers, and other people on the web publish stories that combine narratives with maps and map interactions. The library is open source and freely available to use in your projects. It is initially being built to work with most modern browsers

from: odyssey.js README on GitHub. Odyssey.js adds maps to the mix but might be an interesting alternative to Slate that allows you more control and ownership. I am sure there are others out there.

update

After I posted this I kept thinking about the ‘own your own’ argument and decided to have a wee go at replicating the story myself.
A bit of googling for CSS hints and a couple of JavaScript libraries and I have The Devil’s Pulpit 2, handcrafted.

It is nowhere near as slick as the Adobe version(surprise) and so far does not look good on mobile.

It was a lot of fun to play with but I noticed a lack of attention to the actual story in my process.

I guess the best thing about tools like slate is the way they get out of your way and let you focus on content. I just like some of the fussing and futzing that goes with more basic solutions sometimes.

 periscope icon

 Periscope is a new video streaming service that hooks up through your Twitter account. It seems to have stolen a march over its rival Meerkat: Periscope v. Meerkat: Our Initial Re/action | Re/code

I gave periscope a quick test yesterday afternoon. In a break in the rain I headed to The Whangie for a quick walk. When I got to the Whangie itself I had I blob of 3G on my phone so without much hope I fired up periscope.

I was quite surprised that I seemed to connect and started walking and talking. I could not really see the screen due to lack of reading glasses and s rain speckled screen but I think a few people connected.
After nearly four minutes I finished. He app seemed to be trying to upload the video? Given the poor connectivity I was not surprised that it failed. The video was saved to my camera roll though.

Later reviewing the video I see that I made the mistake of assuming periscope would do landscape videos. The video look like a misty day in minecraft, I guess quality is decided by connection?

  

I’ve watched a few other streams and the quality has been a lot better than mine. It is quite strange watching random streams as folk try to figure out what is going on. I did see a broadcast of a ‘sporting’ event from quite nearby as swimmers in wetsuits tackled the Maryhill canal locks.

Educationally, what is this good for? Perhaps live links beamed back into classrooms from field trips or broadcasting egg incubators out to pupils at home after school.
The app is optimised for iOS 7.1 or later and iPhone 5 and up which I guess rules out my old iPhone 4 for experimenting with.
Why use it rather than other streaming apps, ease of use first and perhaps the low bandwidth requirements.