Sunday, 5 October 2014

iPads and Literacy Activities

iPads and effective literacy activities

Find attached resource with tutorials of some wonderful iPads tutorials for the elementary/Primary classroom.


Saturday, 12 July 2014

The unethical rise of In-App purchases in education

So this is a post I have been meaning to write for sometime.  I have been disturbed and worried about the behaviour of educational app developers over the past 12 months. Not just the small developers, but the big ones, including Apple. As a small developer and Primary school teacher I think I can speak from experience and with some objectivity.

Developers seem to follow a structure these days in the education/entertainment markets with App development. Bring in an amazing FREE App, develop a huge fan base (downloads), and then sneak in In-App purchases over a period of time. Do I have a problem with this? Yes, especially when the App targets students in schools under the age of 13! Especially when the App has been initially targeted for the education market and young students! Yes, especially when young students don't have apple ID's, credit cards or the experience/decision making ability to say yes or no with a calm, reflective mind.

Just because you can do it developers - doesn't make it right!

So when did this all start. For me it was with Apple! As a huge advocate for Apple products and being an Apple Distinguished Educator this may not be a wise move for me personally, but it needs to be said. Garage Band is used through schools worldwide for FREE. An amazing, creative, inspiring App that has been used to create compositions of the highest quality. Not long ago they offered the base instruments for FREE but with In-App purchases for other instruments. This made educators across the world furious. The reason I am disappointed with Apple's decision to offer Garage Band with In-App purchases is because of their commitment to the education sector. It has been significant and I have seen this first hand, in regard to the support and the growing network they have built for teachers and school organisations. They are the leaders, the role models for smaller developers like myself. They should know better.

Next came Tellagami, and then the amazing Hopscotch. The trend continues. After world wide outcry some of these developers are offering EDU versions of their App for a price. Great, thank you. In education we can work with this, and budget for it! But we will not stand for money grabbing tactics that target the most vulnerable, the most enthusiastic - our young students.

It is time developers started to reach out to educators, parents, the guardians and build a model that is ethically and financially sustainable of both developers, young people and care givers. I know that I am here to offer suggestions to developers - just reach out. But I will not be silent in the worrying trend that is developing.

We ask our students to be great digital citizens. I ask that our adults do the same.


Monday, 24 February 2014

Learning Zones and iBeacons in School

Learning Zones and iBeacons in School

I came up with the idea of “learning zones” when I first heard about Apple’s iBeacon technology. I wanted to setup geographical teaching and learning areas around campus that would draw in students and allow them to run through learning experiences with minimum input form the teachers. This would cater for all ability levels and encourage the flipped classroom approach to learning.

Students will receive a notification upon entering each zone, with the students only having to press the notification in order to open the App and then explore the room to find the Learning Zone. This seek and find concept was pivotal in harnessing the natural instincts of students and the q based nature of learning.

Two of these zone include:

Technology learning Zone, where students find and run through a set of introductory coding tutorials. And secondly an Art Learning Zone where students use customised Art tutorials to create art works.

Although only days I have been extremely happy with how this new, iBeacon technology works. It confirms to me that a persons imagination, in regard to use of technology, is where true innovation and magic happens in the classroom.


Beacon Suppliers:

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

iBeacon Technology in Education

New technology providing a beacon for learning

In most schools the students need to find the resources, and access the learning. This is often a complex, frustrating and time consuming process. What would happen if the learning found the students? Welcome to Learning Zones and iBeacons in Education.

Watch Video HERE: 

iBeacon technology in Education

I love new technology and making connections with student learning. When I heard about iBeacon technology I jumped at the opportunity and started making plans. These included purchasing a set of Estimote Beacons and working with the creative Kurt from Vektor Digital in the States to create a prototype that would explore the capabilities of iBeacon technology in an educational context. Having extensively explored the benefits of Augmented Reality in Education for the past two years, I was excited about the possibilities that iBeacon technology would bring to the education sector and schools throughout the world. I wasn't disappointed with the results!

So I started exploring/planning the concept of "learning zones", geographical positions located around school where students could go to learn and explore online learning experiences. I discovered that the iBeacon technology actually found the students (as they walked throughout the campus) through instant notifications and digital prompts. This excited me as this was the first time that the learning found the students instead of the students having to navigate the complexities of elearning portals and confusing Intranets. 

The students receive a notification as they pass by a "learning zone", and the follow up activity on the EduBeacons App, similar to that of the beloved children's game "Hot and Cold", drawing on the students inquiry based natural instincts.

Our 3 Learning Zones include:
  1. The Library Learning Zone where students are instantly given video book reviews.
  2. The Technology Learning Zone where students run through a series of video tutorials to teach them the basics of coding.
  3. The Art Learning Zone where students can create master pieces through video tutorials custom made by our Art Teacher.
There are other possibilities within a school context that will be explored.

Beacons that:
  1. Welcome Parents when they enter the schools gates and prompt them to explore the school calendar and daily events.
  2. Give warning to turn their phone to silent when they enter a performance centre.

This is just the beginning of this technology and I have no doubt others with improve on my work in the educational field quickly and effectively. For now I'm content in the knowledge that true edtech magic happens through a persons imagination, skill (thanks Kurt) and global collaboration! These are the 3 qualities we should be prioritizing in schools throughout the world!

Keep innovating.


Friday, 3 January 2014

3 suggestions for apple education

1. Get iBooks Author online and collaborative
Brilliant software! Never been easier for teachers and students to create amazing multi-touch iBooks and publish them to a global audience. The massive task of creating online software with sharing options would allow teachers to collaborate on books together in real time.

2. Get iTunes course manager mobile
iTunes U course manager can only be accessed currently through laptop and desktop. A mobile App would allow teachers to create on the go.

3. Promote iBook Store more
Some amazing resources being created by amazing teachers but still harder to reach going through the iBook App. Extra step makes it difficult and out of sight. Many teachers using the Apple ecosystem don't even know these valuable resources exist. Shame, as with new widgets being created daily the multi-loutch experience continues to improve.