IPad Integration – Khan Academy

I’m beginning the work with Khan Academy this week, and I have run into a “large hill” (ie, not a wall or a mountain). It’s not the iPads…they are working GREAT! Didn’t realize it until today, but KA doesn’t allow students to create accounts if they are under 13. They need parental consent; to do this, parents have to have a login themselves. They have good instructional videos on how parents can get their kids set up, but it’s a step that requires me to depend on parental involvement.
I have written parents and already had some great responses about watching the 2.5 minute video and signing up (it’s pretty easy, but does require a few clicks to get things going…probably about 15-20 minutes of time). As a side note, when we have Google Apps for education, then students will not need parental consent (teachers can sign students up). So that will make things easier.
I’m really looking forward to using the Khan Academy application. I was able to work with a couple of classes of kids this summer, and the success was VERY apparent. So let’s hope for the best!

iPad Integration: End of Week One

We have just completed one full week of classes, and I have begun using the iPads on an almost every-day basis for my 6th graders. They have been using the Schoology app with consistent success, accessing homework and video links and using headphones to watch the videos as they are published. I believe that the overall phones is a positive one, though many of my “high strung” kids gave a breath of fresh air with the announcement that tests will be of a traditional, paper-based delivery. Perhaps more practice using the iPads and the Schoology app is what is needed. I’m going to continue issuing quizzes online, so I hope the next round comes with a little more confidence from these concerned kids.

On a daily basis, the kids have been working on handouts using the iPads (we have been editing pdf files using the UPAD Lite app). It’s been really good for most – they can finish their worksheet and email it to themselves. However, some kids have seen trouble using the UPAD’s delivery method (png files). In watching my costs, I made the decision to drop the UPAD app, whose paid version would cost $2.50 per license with the volume purchase program, and instead purchase Notability for $0.50 each. Notability has the same power as UPAD, it’s more fun to look at, and the price is unbeatable. Further, we can export to email using PDF files, so it’s MUCH more practical.

Another app that the students are about to get into is the Nearpod Student app. It allows my students to watch a slide show that I have pushed to their iPads and one that I control. My teacher version of e app even allows me to see who has clicked off the app (it has a registered vs. active viewer counter). Additionally, the students will receive one or two question quizzes on this app, along with free-write activities that I can use to review what they have learned after watching videos.

I still think it would be wise to get a printer for the iPad cart, especially since the online printing option has been placed on the back burner in the Middle School. I have spoken about this in a conversation with my headmaster, but we will see what is going to happen in the next week…

I have also recently obtained all of the necessary cables to begin using my AppleTV! I’m really excited about doing this…it will be very nice to get my projector up and going. I am a bit concerned with the security of the display; will all my iPads have access to the mirroring feature that I will use? I need to see if I can encode the mirroring option so that a password is necessary to connect to the projector.

Finally, I am very close (a couple of weeks) to begin teaching with Khan Academy. I am going to need the students to sign up for free accounts, so I’ll need to find time for them to work on that. More notes on this in the future.

iPads in the Classroom: Day One

I am writing to document the beginning of my journey into iPad integration in my classroom. While I have only begun to use a few apps and really just scratched the surface on what we can do, I am excited to see the development in communication between students online in a mostly positive manner. 

Upon walking into the classroom, students had that wide-eyed look of amazement on their faces: “Wow, we get to have iPads in our classroom?” was a common response to seeing the device on each desk. Perhaps the best quote of the day comes from one of my more tech-savvy kids when he said (before we even began, mind you), “Are the apps we will be using available for iPhone? (to which I responded "yes”), “Good,” he says, “I’m downloading them TONIGHT." 

Wow, he didn’t even know what we were doing yet!

This students opened the computer and we used a program called Nearpod to communicate through the opening day stuff, like academic expectations, class grading, technology policies, etc. Nearpod uses .pdf versions of slide shows you create in various application to present those shows in a presenter-controlled environment. In other words, when I swipe to the next slide, the application moves all the subordinate iPads through the same screens. Within this program, Nearpod has built Polls, Quizzes, and freewrite slides that I can create to ask questions, do some assessments, and even have the students complete problems.

After presenting this material, I had the students log into Schoology, a web-based classroom management program that allows for communication via facebook-like posts and updates, assignments, gradebooks, etc. This took a little time, since the students can only enter my class using a pre-determined login code. Students had to work through the user name and password screens on the actual website; however, once they were registered, we could log in using the iPad application, which is quite robust. Students will click on links to watch videos, they will open worksheets and files as needed to work through homework (the goal is to print out essential papers only) and even work on the worksheets using UPAD Lite, a program that allows the user to write on a .pdf and save work for later use (students will email their work to themselves).

There are some hiccups in this process so far, namely the time it takes to get through the lesson and teach students how to use the applications. Most are pretty amenable to the bumps in the road. I am quite mystified by the kids who have no clue on how to use the devices. I would have thought there were maybe one or two, but I’d say there are about 10 students (out of 50) who really need help walking through the device. In fact, there is one particular student who has an obvious aversion and lack of understanding of technology as a whole. I believe they will all be quite happy using the iPads soon enough; most are simply still in that "deer in the headlights” mode at the beginning of the school year.

Tomorrow is the first quiz. We will take the quiz on the iPads. I am really looking forward to seeing how they deal with it. There is one problem that will require a sheet of paper to show work, but otherwise, I think this quiz is pretty straightforward. I am sure I will have a post coming to talk about this quiz later this weekend.

iPad integration – notes on the process

iPad integration notes:

While this blog will not center on the technology of 21st century learning specifically, most of my work will incorporate the technology I have or will have and how it can affect pedagogy. My focus will remain on working with technology in the classroom to improve and increase engagement of all students throughout the learning and thinking process in addition to procuring new methods of individualized learning that can be achieved at a classroom level.

This entry, however, will focus on the process just completed which effectively configured 20 iPads to use in my classroom. The devices will function out of a cart that powers and syncs up to 30 devices. In that I do not have more than 18 students in my class at a time, the cart will sufficiently facilitate the learning process for a typical class in addition to allowing the occasional visitor first-hand access to the day’s lesson (of course, the extra iPads will come in handy should the probable “wear-and-tear” occur, making one of the other devices inoperable. 
Here is a the general procedure we used for installing a load out on the iPads in the cart:

1. Unpack and organize materials 
     -iPads, cases, screen covers, stylus pens, Mac Mini (control device we chose to purchase for the cart)
2. Apply school coding system to the devices (stickers, registering serial numbers, and establish device names that will identify devices in the configuration software)
3. Install screen covers and place devices in cases
4. Turn on Mac Mini and register iTunes (along with the computer itself)
5. Download the Apple Configurator software from the Mac app store
6. Purchase free apps in iTunes, and redeem codes for paid apps after purchased using volume purchase program
7. Plug in one iPad to the Mini and build an image with backups of that image, first with free apps only, then with paid apps
8. Plug cart into Mini and then attach each iPad to the cart sequentially
9. Configure all iPads based on the backup created from the first image (done just after iPads are prepared by Configurator, completed automatically upon first sync

At any time you may adjust an iPad and rebuild the profile of that iPad based on any changes to its restrictions or look and feel of the home screen layout. All other iPads can then be refreshed with this new profile version. The Configurator software is a real life saver; it makes managing a large number of devices a snap. There may be some bugs still left behind (why you should ever have to leave the program to purchase apps is beyond me…Apple still treats iTunes and the Configurator as two different processes that achieve the same thing), but all in all this 3rd version of the Configurator is pretty good.

So now I have a completed cart with a recorded and executed process to build more. While I didn’t like the fact that we had to “figue out” how everything worked, as in a standard has yet to be established, our method will function and is repeatable on future carts. We have a more step-by-step process documented which has all of the details down to the button click, but this blog isn’t purposes for that kind of technical report. If you want that documentation, email me.
So this is officially the end of stage two: acquisition and setup. Stage three will
discuss the apps that I have downloaded for the iPads.