Category Archives: Mr. Schaefer
Students and Parents – We Would Like Your Input
The exact date has yet to be decided, but we are getting closer to switching students who have the iPads and Laptops. Before this happens, we want to gather feedback on what worked, what did not work, what impacts to learning were observed, what impact having 24/7 access provided, and what uses were most beneficial.
Parents are welcome to complete this survey either with their student or on their own using their students log in credentials but noting whether you are a student or parent. In addition, anyone not connected to Durham Academy will not be able to complete the survey as our Google Apps is a closed system.
This is a link to the Pre -Use Questionnaire.
One thing we have learned is that students need to have the ability to manage the devices provided them so we are not asking any questions related to this need. This was an obstacle that was needed for the project, but would not be a part of an actual device, if we were to do a device.
Using Google Docs on iOS Device – Eureka!
Cross posted at http://528tech.edublogs.org/
Those of you who have been reading this blog since the iPad was announced have read my posts about the issues with using Google Apps for Education on an iOS device. Sure you could sort of use them if you were willing to do equal parts troubleshooting and lowered expectations. I have tried various apps that purport to be the best with being able to connect to our Google Apps for Education accounts to create, edit, share and use without limitations or at least few limitations. Most of the apps come close but when any number of students report having lost work, I believe the system is not a true system. Granted in baseball, .400 is a good average, but if you only have 40% of the work you did, you would agree it is not a system.
Because of this issue, I have been concerned about what we would loose from our normal educational routine if our school adopted iPads for students over laptops since there is virtually no issues with Google Apps for Education from a non-mobile computer. While I am still not sure what is the best device, I have been able to solve the main issue with creating, editing, and sharing Google Apps on an iOS device. I used the new Google Search app and clicked on Applications to select Documents. Once I did this, I could do in iOS what I can also do on a non-iOS device. The only caveat yet to overcome is that when the document is shared with another user they can not see who has shared it with them. Until that is resolved, yes I am talking to you Google, students or teachers may need to add their first name to the title of the document.
If you have yet to update to the new Google Search App, [iTunes Link] do so now as it is really slick with other features as well.
Raising Cyber-Smart Kids – Middle School Presentation
By popular demand, Michele will present her earlier presentation for parents of Middle School students. As we continue with the digital device project, parent information like this is critical to the success and safety of all members of our community. Students, tell your parents.
Middle School Device Reflections Week 4
‘The Calatrava Eye’ http://www.flickr.com/photos/22746515@N02/5354806024
We started the Middle School Digital Device Project on October 17th when Ms. Donnelly’s class were given MacBooks for use. The iPads were handed out to Ms. Williams’ class on October 24th. After the first week students were able to take them home if we had the signed form back. I have been pleasantly surprised with how the students have responded and are helping us determine if we should adopt a MacBook or an iPad, or nothing. While the process is still very young, I thought I would share some thoughts.
iPad and Laptop
We are testing this software and service as the iPad presents a challenge to easily transfer files. Teachers have set up Shared Folders where they can add notes for the students which appear when the account is synced. Each class has setup their school sponsored Evernote account. We did run into a few bumps with the iPad group not being able to sign up using the iPads as it appeared to not like the URL for our sponsored account. A quick trip to the computer lab allowed us to use a Desktop to setup the account as well as sync to the iPad app. Ms. Donnelly assigned an Evernote assignment for the students to teach their parents about Evernote through the use of a recorded audio note. Once the note was created/recorded, students shared the note with Ms. Donnelly where she could listen and assess the assignment if necessary. While I am not sure if this software is critical since we have Moodle and Google Apps for Education, the ease of use and automatic syncing along with the ability to move notes between almost any device does have benefits. I will be very excited once Skitch is integrated so students can draw on PDFs or other notes in Evernote. I sent out invites to the entire 6th grade team today so they could also test the software.
Digital Media and Acceptable Use
This does not surprise me but we have had a couple of issues with students making poor choices even after we discussed the use of the many tools available to them. We are talking about Middle School students so boundary testing is part of the mix as is making mistakes. Some issues that we have dealt with include IMing during class, leaving an iPad/laptop unattended or at home, taking pictures of other students without permission, bypassing the filter to view YouTube, and a couple low battery after being at home. All are too be expected and have been addressed and students are helping us to write How to articles so we can have some student created solutions. These are all very teachable moments.
I think we would have been better prepared our community if we had used and discussed the Common Sense Media Family Media agreements before the students were given the devices. I am pretty sure it would have helped our families cope with the addition of the device to their homes. This area should be a focus if the school were to adopt a device or frankly even if we do not adopt a device.
Syncing and Books
While the cases are nice, they must be removed to be charged and synced in the Bretford PowerSync tray. While not horrible, it does mean students must take them out and take off the passcode so we can update the iPads. This is probably not the way we would manage a 1 to 1 iPad environment since students would probably be required to sync over the air or via a different system where they had full rights to the iPads. Since we have them locked to a school ID, students cannot add or delete apps. We struggled with the best way to handle this and decided for the purpose of this test, we would use the Apple Volume License approach where we purchase the apps and install the software apps. Students are using a shared Google Doc to record app suggestions as well as Books they would like to read in iBooks. We will then purchase and sync to the iPads. I am not a big fan of the iBook app as I prefer the Kindle app since I can read the same book on almost any device. Again, for the purpose of this project, we are testing the use of iBooks.
Even with Office2 HD, the use is not the great on an iPad. I read an open letter from Scott Meech where he hoped Apple and Google could make it work better together. Given the competition between these two rivals, I will not hold my breath, but it is a real deterrent on the iPad since the mobile browser does not allow for a rich editing experience.
This app has proven to be a true winner for blogging. While I struggled understanding exactly how to use it, after a few minutes we had a group who knew how to use it and were able to help all of us learn. This is key since the device must allow for writing and we are trying to get our students to write for an authentic audience.
i-nigma QR Code Reader
I love this simple app that allows us to create a QR code and add it to the Moodle course so students just point the iPad at it and they are taken to it. We have used it for the Blog and Discovery Education Mobile site. To learn more about QR Codes in Education read the ISTE article.
- Kernel panics were new to the students and seems to afflict a few each day. Not sure if it is due to 4 year old laptops or the system but we are attempting to solve this issue.
- Cords and power adapters across the floor is an accident waiting to happen. We must have a more elegant solution.
- Storage before, during and after school is in need of fine tuning as many students do not have room in their lockers since it is still full of binders.
- Using a Google Doc where students could ask questions and I could provide answers makes it easy to support and instruct as often the document would show up in my list of documents as bold alerting me to a question. In short time, I could provide an answer, image or link to a solution. Other times, I just walked to the room to assist.
- Transitions are always an issue and having one more thing to stow before students leave the classroom is not ideal.
Things to consider in the future
- Boot camp for students, teachers and parents where we learn how to do manage the devices both from the care perspective but also with respect to digital citizenship and balance.
- Develop activities that students, teachers and parents can do to practice these digital citizenship practices.
- Create opportunities for the exchange of information between all members of our community so we are mostly rowing in the same direction as I believe all members of our community desire what is best even if we have different opinions on how to fast to be rowing.
I am looking forward to the next few weeks as the data we are getting back is providing very valuable.
Middle School Digital Device Project Has Begun – It is Anything But Typical
Last week we began the iPad phase of the Middle School Digital Device Project. (MSDDP) The week before we started the MacBook project. I am including some thoughts and reflections on the first couple weeks of the project.
Parents had received a letter written by the team of educators at DA that are helping to coordinate this “discovery” project. Below is some text from that letter. The project is only being done with 2 classes of 19 students each so it is not the entire grade level.
Durham Academy has believed that students need access to technology as part of a modern learning environment. We currently have around over 100 computers on campus and, for years, have supported students using their own laptops or other devices on campus. Durham Academy has investigated the idea of a 1 to 1 laptop program in the past and carefully considered how such a program would impact our families and learning community. Much has changed since we began this journey and we feel it is necessary now to go one step further. The school plans to test how consistent access to either an iPad or a MacBook would help our students and teachers fulfil their mission. Karl Schaefer, Julie Williams and Patti Donnelly have committed time to the planning and implementation of a pilot program. The goal of the MSDDP is to determine which device could best meet the needs of the teaching and learning mission of Durham Academy. With that in mind, we would like to inform you of the MSDDP.OverviewBeginning in October, students in Ms. Williams’s and Ms. Donnelly’s classes will have consistent use of either an iPad2 or a 4 four year old MacBook. All other middle school classes will serve as control groups. At any given time in the project, 38 students will have consistent access (on campus and at home) to a school issued device. Other students will continue to use the computer labs, desktops, iTouch cart and laptop carts. Through the use of the MacBooks and iPads, we plan to assess which device more successfully integrates learning and teaching by conducting a pre-use and post-use questionnaire. We plan to use the information gained in the MSDDP to guide the school’s adoption of a student device in the near future.
We will also monitor how the following will impact the learning environment:
- 24/7 access with a 1 to 1 device
- how broadly and frequently apps and input methods are utilized
- increased independence and self-guided learning by students
- extension of learning opportunities beyond the classroom
- development of skills and literacy through interacting with digital media
- level of creativity and collaboration demonstrated by students and teachers
In addition, we plan to collect anecdotal evidence from teachers and students via classroom blogs.
Mr. Hoyt and I worked with the classes when they first got the devices to go over some care and use instructions. We also discussed the school’s Acceptable Use Policy and how the use of the laptop fits within that document. Since then, I have been helping the teachers get going by providing instructional ideas and introducing the different applications. It has been an interesting time as I move from working with the class using iPads as what we do on that device is slightly different then what I do when I work with the laptop group. I thought about this difference last night and can compare it to when I first started integrating technology into my Science classroom in 1994. I had six Macintosh computers that ranged from and LC II to LC 520. Each could do some things but not all could do the same things so my students and I had to work to figure out how to make all the computers do what we needed to do. For instance, the LC II was better for typing and printing while the LC 520 could handle HyperStudio better since it had better graphics and RAM. The iPad and MacBook laptop differences feel very similar. One is not better then the other, but the MacBook is sure more familiar.
We are keeping a series of private Google Docs where we are recording student questions about the laptops. As they ask the questions, I can provide an answer in the Google Doc so all students can see the answer. Since it is a Google Doc, I do not need to be in the room or on campus.
Reflections to date
- Evernote sponsored accounts are a really asset for all no matter the device. Ms. Donnelly even shared an audio recording in a note last night
- Never underestimate the resourcefulness of students to be troubleshooters, helpers, and risk takers. Harnessing their energy makes the process both easier and more exhilarating
- Provide challenges to students as they will seek solutions that make sense to them. For instance, create a Vocabulary Doodle led to students creating drawings, crosswords, Evernote recorded notes, and other methods of learning the words.
- Students can be natural collaborators as helping each other has been a hallmark of both devices. More so with the iPad I think then the MacBook, but students helping each other removes the teacher as expert stress
- Students ask good questions and have high hopes for what they would like to be able to do with the devices. Lower the heft of a backpack is one central one. Will we listen?
- Parents will support projects like these when given a big picture, but more information is always better especially when a device goes from school to the home. Families either have procedures for device use or will be scrambling to come up with ones. We need to help everyone in our community adjust and plan accordingly. Common Sense Media Internet Safety Guide for Parents is a good start.
- Being able to flow is essential as the teachers have willingly allowed me to direct class time
- Rethinking instructional methods is as essential as figuring it out where to put a power strip. Devices should change the instructional norms in a classroom and not just automate it.
- Blogging for students can be harnessed to create standards and guides for future students while also giving a purpose to the writing that they do in class.
Follow Ms. Williams’ class at: http://jwroom211.edublogs.org/ as her class is actively blogging.
Follow Ms Donnelly’s class at: http://pdroom212.edublogs.org/ as the will begin blogging soon. Right now they are working on reflecting in Google Docs and Evernote.
Here is a VoiceThread with images of what is taking place. Check it often as we will keep adding images to it.