Scratch Tutorial -
For all of you math teachers out there! Scratch is a great web based video game creation tool that can teach students transformations. English teachers can a…
TELP: A Year End Review (Action Based Research)
Well I won’t lie, between this master’s course and our TELP initiative I feel that this past year has been a tech overload. Ok…I lie, maybe it’s because of my tech addiction. Either way, this has been the first year where I’ve really put some thought behind the tech that I bring into my classroom. Opposed to the normal “this looks sweet, why no try it” approach.
I’ve really gone out of my way to try and test a variety of different pieces of software in my classroom. I immediately apologized to my class for using them as guinea pigs in my trials and tribulations. I went from trying Ubuntu on tablets to using Moodle and a whole myriad of software that was presented in my master’s course. Simply put, I tried a lot of stuff (some of it good, some of it trash.)
So here’s what I’ve learned through my experience with technology in the past two years thanks to my masters course alongside with the TELP initiative. Consider it a year in review.
Don’t try Everything, Rule of 3
When you walk into a school that looks like a scene from the Matrix you have this itch to try everything. You immediately begin to drool as you see 70” flat screens plastered on every wall with an Appletv. You then see every student carrying a device and every teacher with more devices then they know what to do with. It’s difficult to slow down the tech you utilize in your classroom. You’re like a two-year-old Christmas morning opening all of the gifts under the tree.
You need to take a breath. You need to look at one piece of technology at a time. In reality, you’re only going to use about three apps in your classroom. For example, it might take you all year to learn how to properly incorporate airplay in your classroom. At the end of the day, I use about three apps in my classroom. I use Google drive, Explain Everything and the iWorks suite. Don’t go on Twitter or Pinterest and try to use everything you see. You’ll only do your students a disservice with your jumbled/convoluted approach to tech in your classroom. For example, I would see a great lesson using Creative Book Writer in an Art class. I would immediately draw up a lesson plan and use it the next day. That whole week would be useless because I had no clue in how to implement Creative Book Writer in my class. Keep it to three apps at all times.
Think about the lesson first
My first mistake was creating lessons and projects around certain pieces of software. When the Oculus Rift came out I began thinking about what that may look like in the classroom. The same goes for smartwatches, Google Glass etc. I would find a piece of technology I would want to use and then create a lesson surrounding it. In my masters course we would talk about 4 or 5 apps and I would want to immediately try them in my classroom. My rule of thumb is to not try a piece of technology in my classroom until I’ve personally used it for a month. This gives me time to see if I can use it in my lesson and if it will work with my students. Maybe I’ll put it on the back burner until there comes a time where I’ll need it.
How is it Benefitting Students?
I decided to create a twitter hashtag to communicate homework with my students. I called it | #Surettehw and students could use it to see their homework. I had just started using twitter and I was looking at ways to incorporate it into my classroom. A lot of my students didn’t use twitter and I had to teach them how to use it. I then had to get them to create accounts and bypass our network security. I could have easily setup a class mailing list and emailed my students their homework. What was the benefit of using Twitter? I was hoping students would help each other out with their homework using the hashtag. It would provide feedback that all of my students could see, opposed to an email that provided only a 1:1 dialogue. It didn’t work. I had about four students who loved it and that was it. My problem was I wasn’t using it in an authentic way. I wasn’t teaching the students how to give feedback or how to collaborative and work through questions together. I was missing that education piece. I just slapped it up and said here’s the hashtag and this is where you can ask questions about homework. I didn’t teach them how to be a part of an on going learning community.
So I strongly recommend that you put the piece of technology under a magnifying glass and really ask yourself how it’s going to benefit your students. After you’ve done that ask yourself, “How am I going to facilitate the technology to make sure the students are aware of how it’s going to help their learning”
Keep it Open
Using one platform is always ideal. We are an entirely Apple operated school. Therefore, we use iTunesU for classroom management. We use iWorks for productivity. We use Garageband and iMovie for multimedia and we use the iPad with iOS as our platform. Everyone thinks that this is the easiest way to teach students, parents and teachers on how to incorporate tech. The issue is that it creates more issues.
If we allowed students to use whatever technology they wanted it would alleviate a lot of issues. Parents could buy their child a 100$ second gen galaxy tab rather then a 400$ iPad. If they had a pc netbook they could use all open source programs that are free. If they used a laptop that was kicking around in the house they wouldn’t have to worry about buying anything. If they used Pc’s you wouldn’t have to worry about providing so much PD to staff and educators. Now I am not talking BYOD, I mean “literally, use anything you want”. Don’t introduce a project by saying, “we’re going to do a book study presentation using Prezi.” You should be opening up the project to students in a way they can use whatever presentation software they want. Maybe they hate Prezi, Keynote and would rather use Explain Everything to talk about their book study. You need to keep the tech options open, rather then closing doors on certain apps. We want our students to use technology that works best for them, not the other way around.
My Tech Philosophy
Curriculum is currently transitioning to 21st century skill sets. We stress that our students need to be able to think critically and have competent communication skills. These are our true goals as educators. The research that’s coming out is suggesting that an inquiry-based approach is the best for achieving these skills. The inquiry-based approach is then facilitated by several ICT initiatives to help meet these outcomes. So if communication and critical thinking are the aims of our board, why are we focusing on apps like Picollage, Book Creator, Keynote and etc. All of these apps are just fluff marketed towards educators because they know children like shiny objects (not to compare students to a crow).
Let’s be serious…there’s no critical thinking going on when a student saves a few pictures from Google and copies a few words from a wiki. I know I am being a little cynical, but in many classrooms I walk into…this is what I am seeing. It’s the lesson that holds the academic integrity. The technology is just a conduit. The technology is a way to share their answers to the world. We live in a connected world. Technology should only be a way for students to communicate and share ideas with people outside of the classroom. A Word processor, the internet, and a camera is truly all a student needs. Everything else is just eye candy. I am sorry folks, all that fluff is sold to make money. There’s no concept, theory, research, or idea that can’t be represented through a word processor. All that other stuff is just marketed to sell a product that’s already been down a million times, just painted with a new coat of paint.
Don’t be fooled. Keep your tech simple and don’t get overloaded. Focus on your lessons. The tech will come when it needs to. Next year I will be keeping it simple. Sticking to apps that our on the cloud, open, and versatile. Also, I’ll be sticking to my rule of three.
I know I’ve written about open source in the classroom before, however this is from a perspective of being in a TELP school for about a year. As an educator I am caught between two worlds. I am caught between my passion for education and my passion for technology. An obvious goal of mine is to be constantly finding ways to improve the marriage between the two.
Imagine two parents who have different views on raising their child. One believes in control and the other takes a more laissez faire approach. Consequently, the marriage keeps hitting road bumps because of their conflicting values.
The same goes with education and technology. Both have two different values. Education loves having control and doesn’t like any surprises. Education wants that “big brother” sort of control. On the other hand, you have technology which is constantly in flux. Technology because of its open nature never has control. Look at the Oculus rift that just got purchased by Facebook for 2b.
With technology being too open and education being too closed I’ve found it difficult to bring them together in a cohesive way.
Right now we have TELP in my school. TELP is a tech initiative to put iPads in the hands of every student in the classroom. It sounds great right? You’re thinking, “Every student has an iPad in your school?” I know it sounds fantastic. For the most part, it’s working out really well, but here’s where my passions conflict. I am an open source guy through and through. On my PC you’ll find Ubuntu 13.10 using Open Office, Winamp, VLC, Evernote, Drive, Firefox and a whole host of open source software. I won’t lie to you, I have a dual boot with Windows 8.1, but for the most part I get most of my work done with Ubuntu. On the rare occasion I’ll switch to Windows, but it does happen.
I see the benefit of Open Source and I especially see the benefit in the classroom. As I mentioned earlier, it will never happen because schools want too much control. They want everything tied up in a nice little shiny package. That will never happen with open source…there’s no money in it…look at Moodle? The thing just had a huge overhaul and it still looks like a mIRC UI. So, we all know an open platform would be the most accessible way to bring technology in our classroom. There’s no one here that can deny it. In a perfect world we would all be using open source platforms. Well…not those of you who don’t know what open source means…there might be a learning curve for you guys and gals…and that’s the problem. Open Source programs generally never work the smoothest, they normally have updates all of the time, there’s always some sort of re-jigging you have to do, they crash, they always “appear” a few generations back, and the list continues.
So let’s see if we can find a compromise. I am determined to make my classroom an open classroom (yes…fully aware that I am in an Apple school)
1. Keeping it Simple and Versatile
Now I am a realist. I know schools are not going to all of a sudden start running Ubuntu on all of their computers. It’s far easier to get one machine and use that platform systemically. As educators we need to dip one toe in the water at a time. First you should find an open source brother or sister to the software you’re currently using. Use Open Office instead of Microsoft Office or iWorks. Ideally use Google Drive instead of any of them. Instead of Keynote use Prezi. They say for every piece of software there’s an open source counterpart. You want to use and find apps that are open ended and versatile. This way the software doesn’t give your student any constraints or limitations. We don’t want the software dictating how our students should do the assignment. You want the most barebone/ strip downed apps for your students. Look at Explain Everything for example. It’s the simplest UI I’ve ever seen, yet it’s considered to be one of the most powerful screen casting solutions.
2. Don’t Stray too Far from the Norm
The comparisons I just gave you are pieces of software that are very close. For example, if someone’s switching from Safari to Firefox we can assume the transition would be seamless. We want the software that we are using to enhance the learning of our students. We have to remember that everything we do and try must benefit the needs of our students. If it creates more problems then it solves… then toss it aside. So if you’re using Audacity and it simply isn’t cutting just keep using Garageband.
3. Don’t Use it Just because it’s free
How many times have I wanted to use an app on the App store with my class but couldn’t because it cost 3-4 dollars? There’s more than likely an open source brother/sister out there somewhere….but not on the appstore. Think of all the money the education system would save if dropped the appstore and swtiched to Ubuntu and Open Office? A copy of Microsoft Windows 8 with office 365 is not cheap, especially when you’re servicing 10,000 computers in a school board. So for all of you money conscious educators out there, open source will save you some money. Unfortunately, sometimes the cost saving will cause you more headaches then finding the money to fork out for the paid counterpart. Free is not always better. Especially free to try, where many features are normally disabled until you fork out more money. Sometimes paying for an app is worth it and you need to research and test a variety of apps. The headaches associated with open source are sometimes not worth it.
4. Think About how Technology is Benefitting the Students
Choose apps that are relevant to your students. A teacher who buys a 6$ Canadian Geography app on the Appstore should never be allowed on the app store again. Apples closed ecosystem benefits the company in many ways. It creates a stable iOS, far few glitches, everything is streamlined and tethered together, but there are downsides. Its closed ecosystem and strict regulations omit a lot of creative and forward thinking programs. The hoops a developer has to jump through and the changes he has to make could hurt his creative integrity in the design process. Educators always say that there so many ways for a student to show us what they know through the multimedia apps present on the appstore…but let’s really think about this. Sure you have Book Creator, Garage band, iMovie, Picollage, iBooks and the list goes on. In reality, in terms of workflow the best apps are Google Drive, Evernote, Explain Everything, Dropbox, and IAwriter. Everything else is just fluff and we all know it. So all of the apps that we’re mostly using on the appstore are free multi platforms apps. So why on earth are we blowing 500$ a pop on iPads when all of the apps we’re using can run on a 35$ Raspberry Pi computer? Ok…that’s extreme. I know a Raspberry Pi platform is not at all plausible in an elementary school, but you see where I am going with this. Please make sure your using the software effectively. I hate fluff and so do the students.
Whatever platform you’re using please make sure it’s accessible, open and free. More importantly, is it the best-suited platform to help your students in their education?
Links to a few things:
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