Monday, April 30, 2012

#6 still on the road

We need to consider whether our schools are prepared to take the step into the world of mobile devices. We should ensure they make a difference for children’s learning. There are a number of studies about “one to one” laptop programmes. I have been lucky enough to see “one to one” ipad and ipod schools and districts. All have shown progress against standardized tests but the exact interrelationship is not concrete evidence. In fact the American schools system lends itself well to systematic apps that drill children, I saw lots of use of maths and spelling apps. However there are a number of well led schools with great teachers who have diversified into creative learning opportunities using iPads as a tool ( and not the only tool). As we know New Zealand schools dont want to spend good money on new ways to drill students in reading and writing. We know what works - encouraging reflective thought and action, facilitating shared learning, creating a supportive learning environment, enhancing the relevance of new learning, making connections to prior learning and experience, teaching as inquiry, eLearning and pedagogy.
What I've seen and transferring it to a new zealand setting is exciting. We have the creative curriculum, if you are that creative teacher then take a pugh and jump right in.
On another note.
I would love the doubters of the iPads, to challenge what an iPad can't do as compared to a laptop and we will see if they stack up. Its not a fight i'm looking for its just time to justify what you are really doing on the lappie.

Lastly for you mac haters out there, before you duck off to buy south koreas latest hardware and combine it with our friend Mr google you may need to read this blog on why school deployment of android is a little fickle at the moment. Add to that apps written for the commonwealth bank in australia for android, none of them are actually linked to the bank, just some russian in cyberspace ;)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

#5 on tour - Portland

Ive now departed from the 13 others and am on my own, my god silence is unbearable, i'm talking to myself! Its outta control.
Ive had some time to think and am confident my ADE buddies will hook me up as i cross america in search of knowledge, beer, golf and a laugh.
The two day briefing at apple was awesome. I love it when people present and they just "get it". The guys there just know their chocolates, any question no matter how complicated is answered with a reason and and any suggestion you just know they have already thought of it and either implemented it or they had ten reasons why it wouldn't work. So I had a few discoveries I will share what i can remember but don't moan if you already knew it.
So image capture was a biggie- you open it on your mac and plug in any iPad iPod iPhone and the camera roll opens up, u can drag and drop to your desktop or to anything, great if you are assembling photos or moves for a call story etc..
Photo booth does a lot of great things including movie in movie- great for news reports scene playing behind (silent) and person in foreground talking etc.. cheap nasty and fast, all good I say.
iBooks Author is very impressive, its easy as and the interactive books are a no brainer, you have to look into this as it is so powerful, if you are a classroom teacher you can use image capture to get everyones info get their photobooths as well and then drop them in and export as an ibook, this can go on you iPad/pod image if you wanna go school wide or just have forever in your school library.
iPhone Configuration Utility - download this little puppy and it will help you configure your basic image for your school owned devices, its easy to use and give u a start point. Most NZ schools are breaking licensing laws and syncing from 1 iTunes account, at this point in time the bulk licensing agreement is coming very soon which will please rubberchicken.
On the iPad
Notability seems miles ahead of the rest in note taking, doodling etc. great for NZ schools because it syncs to dropbox, which means free. It has a nice folder structure, allows students to draw, take a photo from inside the app, type, export, sync, etc.
iMovie on the iPad is pretty good, in fact its great, what we have to remember that these devices are mobile movie cameras, mobile animation studios, mobile recording devices, cameras. One amazing comment from a kid in a 1to1 iPad school, "there is more of me in my work than ever before" she was referring to her voice, her face, her ownership.

I am now sick of typing
More later

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

#4 on tour #finally

Being a fan of the springfield family today i recalled a Simpsons clip when Homer went to India, Apu wanted Homer to look up his brother. Cut to a scene in india, at least 15000 people in the scene, all with beards and black hair and in the same clothes. Homer got the description of black hair and a beard. So he asks any guy "are you Apu's brother?" "no". Then he asks the next guy "are you Apu's brother?" and miraculously he says "yes", Homer then says "finally".

My finally took 10 schools and a whole development of my thinking.

My initial thinking was along the lines of no way 1to1 ever. Device, laptop, anything.
My doubts were along collaboration and or lack of it.
My doubts too were about laptops being a better device than iPods and iPads, if you ever considered 1 to 1.
I was most concerned about drill and skill apps, the letter games and maths questions. Those junior teachers who justify iPads by using maths and spelling apps as "what is best for kids". 700 bucks to do spelling games - not on my watch.
Also i was not keen on devices for engagement only! that would make interactive whiteboards valuable, they are engaging, but we all know what the research says about the whiteboards (insert sales pitch here and pass it off as IWB research)
By the way there is 1to1 research (all positive), i will leave that to Mr Rusty and the academics to read.

So what happened was some clarity in thinking and some explanation in how things work from a black shirted man at apple and some discoveries from my slow to act grey matter.

I had a hyperstudio moment. Remember when Hyperstudio needed multiple inputs, you chose lots of different ways of setting up pages and inserted drawings and animations and linked paths and brought in  movies. Well iPads are requiring students to multitask again. There are hundreds of different ways to do things. Opening, inserting, changing, adjusting thinking, personalizing work, adapting, sending, retrieving, re-doing. With no server, no file structure, kids are forced to think creatively about solving how things are done and also looking at different ways of doing things, and kids in the same class have multiple options to do this. Don't get me wrong, problem solving a file structure or lack of it is a narrow field of learning, but the fact that it is forcing teachers and kids to make choices about what they do and how is solid stuff.

Some schools have chosen the network approach and looked for a backbone to send and drop files.
They have used dropbox,, google docs, evernote. For the Kiwis out there the best is a combination of whatever works for you, but free is good. Oh and by the way which ever you choose you can call it your learning management system (insert lol here)

so back to the "Finally"what did i see.
I saw leadership. I saw a relaxed differentiated andragogical approach to PD/learning for teachers.
So whats new in that? Well nothing if you know what you are doing with PD w staff.
But leaders need to get this right.
If you do you will eliminate bad practice, you will see creative use of iPads/apps, you will encourage courage and celebrate mistakes.
You will see the very very important: devices as powerful tools for learning, that is all, Finally.

apologies for the disconnected blog, its a little random tonight. Hope u all had a good anzac day.
More when the brain rolls into 2nd gear.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

#3 on tour - Engagement

There is no doubt that if you throw every child a device they will love it. They will be smiling, they will have something new in their hands, they will be engaged.

I've been in a few schools with 800 odd devices and the very obvious thing is that those students on the fringes of classrooms were engaged. The behavioural kids are into it, I struggled to see a student mucking about doing nothing and this was across a range of schools in different areas.

If engagement is what you are buying when u buy into a technology rich environment with children - is it enough ?

A colleague on the trip came out with this gem :

Comparing engagement to achievement is often talked about - what about comparing disengagement to non achievement ! nice one Helen

The Q is : can we afford not to deliver the technology and risk disengagement ?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

#2 on tour

after two days looking at schools in san deigo i’m now on the freeway, earbuds in, listening to biggie smalls, while crammed in the back of a chevvy suburban, tethering my iphone to my air and blogging. today we went to escondido and went to schools who have one to one ipods throughout the school. The kids were articulate and switched on to learning. these are low decile schools, behavioural incidents exist, however the “switched on classrooms” have made a massive effect on the behavior and learning. These were alive classrooms and children who valued their teachers and peers alike. The principal we met was clear about her vision and could articulate it.

Both schools talked about creativity with the ipods. They had a vision of moving beyond remembering and shifting to creativity.

Like all schools they are in the middle of continuous improvement and these schools know that to get anywhere you need : PD, buy in, a will, success, etc.

Both schools owned nearly 800 ipods each and had a system of sync and upgrade etc. Interestingly they made teachers responsible for their own sync (they each had a huge sync station in their classroom), good work though because you have to make the job manageable as well as giving it longevity and ownership.

Q: How many teachers / principals have thrown away their laptop and gone to the device only?

Ob: I saw school owned devices however lots of kids have an ipod at home as well. Because of security around the internet they cant bring them to school. Interesting.

Monday, April 16, 2012

#1 on tour

It was interesting to see the integration of devices and laptops into the US schools programme.

A few observations and questions. Not definitives in any way

Ob : The device must be owned by the kids otherwise its not personal and or personalised.

Ob : Schools who have previously had laptops can’t give up on them even though they know what ipads/ipods can do. The reasons are: the massive committment to PD over ten years, the money tied up in them and that the ipad/pod cant do all that the laptop does.

Q can a school who never invested in laptops just get ipads/pods and start fresh without the preconceived shortfalls of the device and the have the ability to just “make it happen” ?

Q should laptop schools just grow up and go to the devices now ? 5 years and the laptop is off to join encyclopedia britannica.

Q are we educating children for today or five years in terms of the hardware ? If my son was in year 3 i want him to have the best ever year 3, now - today !