For those of us who grew up in the 80’s with friends like the Commodore, the Atari, the NES and the Master System we have seen incredible changes in technology over the past four decades.
With all of the improvements in hardware and programming it’s a wonder that there’s still new ways to explore the tech world. With all of these advancements, there is one truth that has become increasingly apparent: With technology nothing gold can stay.
Our hearts have been broken many times. Maybe your first heartbreak was when the Dreamcast went under and Sega became solely a software developer. For others maybe it was when Microsoft released Vista, and you swore you would never leave the fantasy realm of Windows XP.
For me it was when Nintendo didn’t adopt the optical drive for the Nintendo 64. In my eyes they had missed a golden opportunity to fit more content on a single disc, opposed to an expensive cartridge. So I broke down sobbing as I betrayed my beloved company and bought a Playstation.
Now this might sound like an account of gamer nostalgia, but the point is from that day I realized I could no longer stay loyal to one brand. My best friend would be the one who brought out the best in me. I would choose the hardware company that would best suit my needs no matter what preexisting fidelity I had.
I am writing this because I have been getting a lot of questions concerning the Apple iPad. Many parents, teachers and students are wondering why schools are pushing the Apple iPad and not another competing platform. Many people believe that it’s simply Apple brainwashing us with their marketing, while others believe it’s because we have some sort of backdoor deal with Apple. I am writing to tell you that it’s neither.
I am as anti-Apple as one can be. For proof here’s a picture of my PC
it’s as far away as you can get from an Apple product. It has 3 GPU’s with a 1000 Watt power supply and it can run just about anything at 60 FPS. Now I know that’s gaming jargon but the point is I built it from the ground up and it can be completely customized to fulfill my tech needs. It’s easier to get a date with Naomi Watts then swap a hard drive out of an iPad.
So when it comes to gaming and work I am a windows guy. Now teaching is a different story.
In my years I’ve learned you need to choose the best platform for the task at hand. For teaching in the classroom the iPad is the winner. Now, I am not naive. As I stated earlier, I know that nothing gold can stick and I’ve learned to be very adaptable in my years. However, for now there’s no better tool then the iPad and here’s why.
It pains me to say it being a Microsoft guy but they truly understand the mobile platform.
1. A Closed Ecosystem:
Some of you might hate the fact that Apple has a tight stranglehold on their eShop. They peer review and assess all apps who are trying to get on the appstore. In education this is a good thing. This process ensures that we are getting quality products. If you look on competing eShops you will see a lot of time wasting garbage. The closed ecosystem ensures that everything will work properly and that everything will work with simplicity. As soon as you start opening up the floodgates it becomes increasingly difficult to shift through the waste. This closed system ensures us that iOS and the office suite will always work amazingly well with constant updated support.
It is still difficult to compete with the apps on the app store. If you want open ended apps that place an emphasis on creativity, innovation, media, and collaboration then you can’t beat the app store. Apps like Garage band, iMovie, Pages, and Keynote are still the kings. They are extremely easy to use. They have been completely stripped down to clean polished apps that even kindergarten students can use. While most companies are trying to add complexity to their software it only hinders their interface by making it more convoluted. Apple has the right idea by stripping everything down to a very minimalist aesthetic. Also with the increasing support for Airplay we are beginning to see advantages of the apple tv over Smart Technology and ChromeCast.
If you physically pickup and compare an iPad and let’s say…a Galaxy tablet you can feel the difference. In my opinion, the iPad is built extremely well with a strong emphasis on quality. The internal components are solid and of high quality and the build is exceptional. Everything works well with little issue. The amount of maintenance involved with an iPad is extremely low. With exception to a few glitches and updates, there is very little needs to be done.
Now this isn’t to say that we are putting all of our money in iPads and we aren’t budging. Let’s not be foolish. Maybe Apple will make a huge mistake in the next jump and they will be left behind like RIM. Then once again I will have to jump ship and go with the next guy.
For all of you naysayers I can truly say that I have tried 70% of the platforms out there and Apple still has the superior product. However, in the last year the margins have decreased and that will only continue to happen as trends begin to favour wearable tech. I really do believe that we might be onto something with the Pebble watch. The thing is we don’t know where we will go from here but for the meantime Apple is best serving our needs.
Here’s the link to my iTunesU implementation document for those in my masters course.
Well I am back on the T.E.L.P program again. I was really trying hard to tackle a different issue, but there’s more that needs to be said. Of course, if you know me…there’s always more to be said.
In recent weeks, more schools in the SSRSB have been joining the 1:1 battle. There have been meetings with the SAC, school administration, board, teachers, parents and all other parties involved. The program is really beginning to gain traction. In reality, I truly believe this is a good thing. As a young teacher it’s nice to see such a strong push for technology in the classroom. I mean we’re not talking about buying things like TI-83 calculators, LCD projectors, whiteboards, smartboards, desktops, computer labs, overhead projectors and you begin to get the picture. We’re talking about something far more large-scale. We’re asking for a 100 percent commitment from parents to cough up 500$ to provide an iPad for their child (sometimes 3). This is a lot of money. I am not a parent but I can imagine I would have high expectations from a device that cost me two months’ worth of groceries. I would expect this device to improve my child’s learning tremendously. More importantly…I would want to see it being used effectively.
These expectations are easy to understand. Tonight in a T.E.L.P meeting held at Bridgewater junior/senior a parent questioned the schools commitment to the program. She was giving a 100% commitment to the T.E.L.P program but felt that the administration and the staff weren’t giving the same commitment. To be honest…they aren’t. In Bridgewater’s defense, you should only be pushing tech onto teachers who are willing to use. Otherwise, it’s going to be a waste of resources. There’s nothing worse than seeing an untouched iPad on a teacher’s desk collecting dust.
Yet, you can’t have half the teachers onboard and the others not. This doesn’t look very good when you’re pushing something this expensive on the parents. You’re going to hear a lot of, “wait a sec…my kid can bring his/her iPad to English but not Social Studies? So I Paid 500$ for an iPad that’s being half used?” Which is why this 1:1 thing is a tricky topic.
It takes a lot of commitment from the staff and it takes a lot of resources. It takes a lot of teachers taking the time to learn this stuff and the proper ways to administer it. They also need to do this constantly because the technology is constantly changing.
So I understood both sides of the argument. You have some teachers who are game for this change and others who aren’t. You don’t want to push technology on teachers who won’t use it, but you want tech to be brought into the school. So what do you do? There’s not one answer to this problem. However there is MY answer…and those schools who are on the fence should pick a side.
You’re either onboard or you’re not. None of this half and half or one class pilot stuff. You need to be 100% committed or you’re not. I am going to highlight ways that you can go from 50% to 100%.
Started from the Bottom
The need has to be there. Don’t toss tech at students and a community who don’t want it. It needs to start from the bottom and work its way up. Just because everyone is jumping on the tech wagon don’t hop on because it’s the “in” thing to do. It might not work at your school because every community and school is different. Use what’s going to work for your school, but don’t put one hand on the wagon…because you’re going to be in for a bumpy ride.
Core group of Techies
You need a staff that’s willing to help others. These people need to be 100% committed to administering this change. They are willing to dedicate hours of PD to help improve the technical competency of the staff. This group is able to setup an infrastructure that will work best for their school. They are willing to go in and troubleshoot for the greater good of the school. Without these kinds of people 1:1 will never work. I am sorry, but 300 iPads don’t manage themselves. Especially in a middle school, these kids don’t have much knowledge passed Snapchat and Minecraft. Forget about your techs from the board, because they are not trained in iPads. These guys are living in a Windows world. The troubleshooting has to come from within.
All of the staff has to be given the device for free. This needs to be done months before implementation. If your staff doesn’t have the gadget, they can’t learn how to use it. If you can’t afford to do this then don’t enter the 1:1 business. Make sure that all the teachers have open and abundant resources at their fingertips that they can bring home.
Finally make sure your school can handle 1000 devices on its wifi. Those kids are going to soak up that bandwidth with their iPhone, iPad, iPod and whatever else is on them trying to connect. Make sure you have learning management systems in place that are compatible with the devices you are using. For example PowerSchool and Moodle are terrible on iOS. You will need to dig and experiment with a variety of different LMS that will best suit your needs.
You will fail at some stuff. Trust me. But you already knew that if you are thinking about 1:1. No one in their right mind is going to tell you that it’s going to work perfectly. You have to be committed to that failure and learn from it. Don’t be scared to go 100%. You will have far less issues going to 100% then 50%.
Whenever a new type of technology enters the classroom there seems to be an uproar from all parties involved. A general concern is the belief that our dependence on gadgets will be our own demise when the “real” Y2K happens. The great blackout will leave us all in the dark ages unable to use the necessary skills of survival in a hunter/gatherer society. We will shout collectively, “OH! Technology, why have you forsaken us!” as we run from hungry predators.
This belief stems from progress’s greatest opponent: fear. Fear gets in the way of progress because it creates disbelief. The unknown is our greatest fear and we fear what is unfamiliar. The more we neglect this fear, the greater the problem becomes.
I was unable to attend the T.E.L.P meeting last night, so this is my response to why I “believe” in mobile technology in the classroom:
The days of the teacher standing in front of a group of students is over. Students can use technology in the classroom to collaborate with each other and with the teacher. The one-way street of instruction is over. With the use of the “cloud” and other web-based storage sites, students can do their work on the bus, in school, at home, or even on their way to soccer practice.
They can access and share their ideas outside of the classroom. I have students post notes and comments as late as 11:00pm on a Saturday night. Students will take advantage of these opportunities if they are provided. While posting their comments to Twitter, Youtube, and other social media sites they are collaborating with people all over the world, not just in Liverpool, N.S. The reality of current day globalization has never been more in effect. With today’s technology in the classroom, we can collaborate with valuable resources all over the world. Look at Google hangouts, Skype, Vine, Ustream, Facetime and Twitch Tv.
With digital media growing more popular we are also reducing the amount of paper waste in schools. With electronic submission students can no longer say, “The dog ate my homework.” Also, no more “I don’t have the notes”, or “I wasn’t there in class” because notes are accessible all of the time.
Our students were born in the 2000’s, not in 1935. So why do we still teach like it is 1935? Education is the only institution that doesn’t seem to adapt to the changing times. If education were a business, it would have filed for bankruptcy right after the Second World War. There are over 1 million apps designed specifically for education on the apple store. Every app caters to a specific demographic. Every app can help a student succeed where they have failed in the past. Every app can spark interest where a student had only found boredom.
The content is out there. When I was in grade seven our teacher introduced us to a new search engine that was still in beta called “google.” We no longer need to give pages of content. We as educators need to teach students 21st century skills. We don’t have time to waste on hours and hours of note taking. Students have access to free videos, blogs, journals, and news articles from some of the most accomplished writers in the world. We live in the information era and we need to teach students how to use this abundance of information to make the appropriate changes in this world. Students can view Ted Talks from all across the world from people who are much smarter then the teachers found in most classrooms.
For students with high needs the mobile device is finally a way for them to voice their opinion. It gives them a way to show their abilities to the world. With all the accessibility options on the iPad, students with high needs have never had such a great learning tool. Their voice can now be heard where it was once lost. Many doors that were once closed are now open for these students.
With the “cloud” and individual devices, each student can be doing a different assignment. The beauty being, they don’t even realize it. No more “I don’t want students to know that I am doing different work” because no one will know. Every student can go at their own speed and get the amount of work that they need as they progress as a learner. They can keep all of their files and documents organized all on their iPad. The days of the fifty pound book bag stuffed with lose pages with no particular order are over. They can keep everything on their device at a convenient 1.6 pound weight.
A 12 year old student made 3.4 million dollars for his app designed for the iPod. A 14 year old girl’s screenplay she submitted to an independent website is now being purchased by a major publishing house for millions of dollars. Many youth who post their ideas, skills, artistic ability, and creativity on YouTube have been rewarded. Our students have the opportunity to show what they are capable of to the world with these resources. They can share their thoughts and ideas with millions.
In the past, to have the means to produce similar products would have cost thousands of dollars. Now at the push of a button for .99 cents they can have access. iMovie cost only 4.99$ and it has the ability to create, publish, and promote a film that has more technological ability then a 30 million dollar film made by Warner Brothers in the 90’s.
We shouldn’t be closing students off from the world…we need to be opening them up to it. We need to give them the best education possible that enhances 21st century skills. If you look at the top jobs in the world, over 60% require a strong technological background. We would be doing a disservice to our students by cutting them off from these amazing opportunities. I have had students make a positive change in the world through a module I created last year. They stated they learned more in that module then in any other course. It would have never been possible without the help of technology.
If you still don’t believe in this, give this video a watch.
A story about a creative boy, a good guy, and social media.
Here is a prezi to help you create a more positive digital environment in your classroom.
It is no surprise that technology has moved from the dimly lit basements of nerds to the forefront of popular culture. The old eggshell plastic encasing your old pentium 486 just doesn’t seem to have the same “Wow” factor your new Samsung Galaxy SIII or IPhone 5 has. There are a lot of people to praise or to blame for this phenomenon. When did a piece of technology become a fashion statement? When did technology bridge the generation gap? Why is it okay to play games other then solitaire and minesweeper pass the age of 40? There is one simple answer: timing.
All the advancements that have been made in recent history have all been culminating to one single event. Each time a processor decreased in size, each time a piece of software was reworked to be more intuitive, and every battery bolstering a new lifespan we saw something on the horizon. We saw all the pieces of the puzzle fitting perfectly together. There just needed to be a visionary to “carpe diem” the tech industry…and…did they ever.
Unfortunately, SMART made believe to the realm of education that “THEY” were the company capitalizing at the right time. Millions of dollars were spent to wire classrooms across the country with SMART technology. Only to now be used as extremely expensive pull down screens for LCD projectors.
The education sector bet money on the wrong horse. They missed the little guy in the background slowly building developers, software and gaining the attention of our youth. They missed all those little steps in technology that were building towards the iphone. The all in one sleek mobile device. The guy that would sell more copies of Angry Birds in three years then it would take Nintendo to sell copies of Mario in 30.
Now, the school boards are not to blame. Tablets and mobile platforms were “vanilla” back in 2004-2010. The iPhone wasn’t worth 500+ a share. They were limited, slow, unintuitive, and dependent on their big brother and big sister, “the PC”. No one had the crystal ball to predict where exactly the mobile platform was going. Airplay, the cloud, and “apps” were non existent.
The SMARTboard was a massive touch screen device that acted as a medium with our desktop computer. I remember the first time using a smart board I was blown away. The fact that I could manipulate the screen was an eye opening experience. Students were increasingly becoming engaged with content that was being communicated by the smart board. Looking back however, I do remember saying that it acted like a giant iPod. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize how important that statement would become until one presentation.
SMART was doing a presentation at our school to defend its place in the classroom. They introduced a four way split screen that would engage four students simultaneously. They discussed new apps that were designed to enhance the smart tools experience. Finally, they talked about the price point. All of the advancements smart was discussing came at a cost. The middle of the road model was 3000$. Which is approximately 8 iPad mini’s with 16gb of storage. The reason this comparison is significant is due to student engagement. A buzz word, but nonetheless important in our classrooms. An engaged student is a good student.So for 3000$ we can engage four students at a time with SMART, or for 3000$ we can engage eight with Apple. Why spend 3000$ on a massive screen that acts as a crippled iPad in the front of the class? Which only four students can use? When we can place a fully loaded iPad in the hands of eight students? Just doesn’t make sense. Sorry SMART you missed the boat.
How does Apple replace the smartboard?
So here’s how this works in your classroom. You need an Appletv, a LCD projector and an Apple airplay enabled device. The Appletv will mirror the screen of your mobile device to the projector. This is significant because now the mobile device acts as the “smart board”. Instead of it being fixed on the wall it can travel with you wherever you go in the classroom. You can be helping a student with a question at their desk while manipulating your screen on the wall in front of the classroom. It is an amazing classroom management tool to possess. Your presentation literally walks around with you in the classroom.
Another benefit is that airplay allows all the students n your classroom with airplay enabled devices to also hook up wirelessly to your projector. Why would you want that? Simple. The time, problems, and frustrations that arise from hooking up each iPad during class presentations can be devastating. Now, students can wireless sync their device to your projector and present their keynote immediately.
I have been currently conducting all of my lessons with an iPad mini, Appletv, and a lcd projector for the past three months and I can honestly say the smart board has gained three inches of dust. This cost approximately half the price of a smart board and gives you so much more functionality.
The apps: Opening the classroom to innovation and collaboration.
The apps that you can use with this kind of setup is astounding. I am currently using Nearpod which is a free app on the appstore. It allows you to create and share digital presentations with all the mobiles devices in your classroom. It displays which students are currently online and their progress on each question. It gives instant feedback to your students on the online quizzes you create with Nearpod and emails you their results in a nice spreadsheet. The assessment value of this program is enough of a benefit to have an airplay enabled classroom.
I am still currently working on a list of other apps that work well with airplay and I hope to dig a little deeper in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.
I couldn’t of said it better myself, so I am re-posting. Great message on how Twitter is the ultimate medium for for ELA
It has come to my attention that I should be focusing my articles on technology that can be incorporated in the classroom. I have been digressing from the original purpose of this website. It is easy to get lost in the daily rant of teaching, and I should refrain from writing any response until 4pm.
Today I would like to highlight “The Google Cultural Institute” initiative. Google is constantly trying to display its value in the education world, and rightfully so. School boards have a vast amount of money to tap into, and schools also deal with Google’s number one demographic…the teenager.
So, it is no surprise they are starting an online database that promotes culture throughout the globe. They are beginning to scan and document thousands of manuscripts, books, articles, primary and secondary documents and posting them to their website. This is an online resource that every Social Studies teacher on the planet should be aware of. The link is http://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/index.html or you can just google cultural institute.
Here you will find videos, articles, photos and an abundance of great credible resources. So I encourage you to check it out! They just did an entire life and times of Nelson Mandala.
The best part of the Google Institute is that it’s free. Schools spend thousands on these kinds of resources, and Google is offering their services for an annual fee of zero dollars! Always keep an eye out for free resources. I assure you for every paid program that you are using there is an equivalent program for free.
Windows —> Ubuntu
Photoshop —>Picasa, Gimp
Microsoft Office —> Open Office
imovie —> Movie Maker Live
Garage Band —> Audacity, Osalt, etc…
Every Text Book —> ItunesU, ibooks author
And the list continues…
As a young educator, I have never been so appalled by the reluctance of teachers to collaborate. I have seen grade 3 students huddled around a lunch table who displayed better qualities then teachers. At some point, we walk through the threshold of our classroom and never look back. It’s a point of no return and our insecurities run high.
Judgement day is always upon us and there is no escaping criticism. With cuts just around the corner, spare time at an all-time low, it is no wonder why collaboration is not a priority.
It’s not that I am already becoming cynical in my young age, I just believe we should practice what we preach. From what I have noticed, there is sure a lot of preaching….
In reality, collaboration should be a priority. I know we are busy, but it’s a vicious cycle. If we collaborated more, it would actually save us time in the long run. We would have more confidence, we would build relationships, and it would enable a network of information and resources. Most importantly, teacher collaboration would reduce stress, conflicts and insecurities. If we were used to collaborating we would be far less protective of our teaching practices. It would almost be like……a team?
So let’s stop bickering and complaining and actually do something constructive? Teachers are excellent at highlighting problems, but terrible at finding solutions. I hope you see the irony in that last sentence. Staffs need to come together and collaborate.
The idea of an open classroom school is terrifying for most teachers. Not because of the noise or the structure, but because people will actually see what they are doing. An open classroom should be a positive thing. It would be nice for teachers to be able to see what I was doing with my students and vice versa.
So, what I would like to see:
1. Time dedicated for teacher collaboration. There is literally no time in the day for this to occur.
2. Actual departments. For any business it is required for members from each department to have regular meetings. This rarely happens in schools, but once again due to time constraints.
3. Teachers to be more open. None of this backstabbing and refusal to face problems and conflicts. If you have an issue please discuss it! It’s not hard, but once again…insecurities…
4. Online portal or Moodle for teachers to share ideas, thoughts and resources. A lot of great ideas that are not being shared. Once again, causes extra work.
5. Teachers to be more accepting. None of this negativity. It’s nice to work with colleagues who actually enjoy their job. If you don’t like teaching, go lobster fishing or something…tons of work for you to do.
Survey: Teachers work 53 hours per week on average -
A new report from Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, called Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on the Teaching Profession, finally quantifies just how hard teachers work: 10 hours and 40 minutes a day on average. That’s a 53-hour work week!
These numbers are indicative of teachers’ dedication to the profession and their willingness to go above and beyond to meet students’ needs. It never was, and certainly isn’t now, a bell-to-bell job.
The 7.5 hours in the classroom are just the starting point. On average, teachers are at school an additional 90 minutes beyond the school day for mentoring, providing after-school help for students, attending staff meetings and collaborating with peers. Teachers then spend another 95 minutes at home grading, preparing classroom activities, and doing other job-related tasks. The workday is even longer for teachers who advise extracurricular clubs and coach sports —11 hours and 20 minutes, on average. As one Kentucky teacher surveyed put it, “Our work is never done. We take grading home, stay late, answer phone calls constantly, and lay awake thinking about how to change things to meet student needs.”
» via Washington Post
I’m bringing up that average…working way more!