Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Create and share beautiful interactive books using Book Creator and other Apps

Book Creator is a powerful app to use with students. They can easily create interactive books which include images, video, text, handwriting and sound. These books can then be exported as a PDF file, ePUB (interactive book) or as a playable movie.

Book Creator can also be combined with other apps which students have access to to make their books even more powerful:

  • Students can use Pic Collage to create beautiful graphics which can be saved to the camera roll and imported into Book Creator. 
  • They can create beautiful presentations in Keynote or Pages which include tables, charts and graphs, etc and then save the book to the camera roll to add to Book Creator. 
  • Students can create explainer videos using apps like Tellagami or Explain Everything and save it as a video file to the Camera Roll to add into a book in Book Creator. 
  • Students could create mind maps using Popplet and save this to the Camera Roll to add to Book Creator. 
  • Students could create polished movies in iMovie which can include images, narration, music, sound effects, different speed, etc and then share this to Book Creator. 
  • Use a Stop Motion app like Lego Movie Maker to create stop motion videos for your book. 
There are may ideas of how you could combine other apps with Book Creator to add beautiful content to your books. This site has some videos and other information with some great ideas as well. Also, take a look at the Book Creator Channel on Youtube to get more ideas of using Book Creator in the Classroom

The real power of using Book creator is the ability for you to share books so that students can read each other's books. If students are on the same account, simply open books in iBooks and create a Collection with all the books organized together. If students are using different accounts, have students upload their books to a Shared folder in Google Drive. They can tap on each book and choose to Open in iBooks on their iPad. They can create a collection to keep the books organized. This is a great way for students to build audience and to learn from each other. You could share with other classes or even across campuses to get great collections of students created projects and stories. 

Have your students created some their own unique books using Book Creator? Please share some examples of their work. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Creating a new Pedagogical Model for technology integration

Over the past several months, my team and I have been busy planning for the implementation of a One to World (often called 1:1) iPad program in grade 4. We have been successfully using iPads since 2011 at our school and have been piloting a One to World programme in three grade 4 classes throughout this year. The program has been enormously successful, largely because we focused primarily on learning outcomes rather than the device itself. 

Pedagogy plays an important role in the successful implementation of any new programme. It helps to guide teachers in effective implementation and sets the foundation of what effective implementation actually looks like in the classroom. In developing our own model for the One to World Programme in grade 4 and choosing apps for teachers and students to use, we turned to research as well as to pedagogical models for learning and technology integration.
The key models that we looked at were Bloom's Taxonomy (using Bloom's 21), the Learning Pyramid, SAMR model for technology integration and the ISTE Standards. In addition, we are guided by the school's Mission (Engage, Enlighten, Empower), the IB framework and the Visible Thinking initiative. These models, as well as other popular models, all point to the same fundamental belief that students learn best when they are engaged in meaningful learning activities where they are given the opportunity to learn from each other and share their ideas and thinking with others. Inquiry Based Learning, Project Based Learning, Constructionism, Constructivism, and so forth, all advocate for student-driven learning.
This model was created as a Keynote presentation and recorded to explain it in more detail. A link to this presentation can also be found in iCloud. I would appreciate feedback from others on this model and how it could be improved.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

iPads to Drive Learning

The iPad has proven to be an amazing tool for capturing student learning and for providing students with the opportunity to be creative and innovative learners. Sharing content off the iPad, however can be quite a chore.

For schools that use Google Apps, Google Drive can prove to be a great solution to sharing content created on the iPads and even as a possible solution for creating Digital Portfolios. Drive provides a great place for storage and sharing and the app continues to improve in its ability for students to create content and to collaborate with one another.

In addition to Drive, some schools have turned to Blogger as a way to share content from iPads for student portfolios. The app, though limited on mobile devices, enables students and teachers to upload content. It is also possible to set up blogs so that posts can be sent directly through email.

I created the interactive image below using Thinglink, to illustrate some great apps that integrate well with both Drive and Blogger. These apps promote student creativity and provide teachers with a number of useful tools to capture student learning.

Before integrating technology in the classroom, I encourage all teachers to familiarize themselves with the ISTE NETS and with frameworks of technology integration such as the SAMR model. This will help guide them in better understanding what good technology integration looks like and the 21st century learning skills which they should be focusing on. It is important that they understand that the use of technology is not about the technology itself. Rather, they should see it as a tool go assist educators with enhancing student learning. Whenever using the iPad in the classroom, do not use an app as your starting point or the goal. Think about what you want your students to learn and then use the best tool for the job.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Interactive Digital Citizenship image created with Thinglink

Today I came across a great website (and app) called Thinglink which lets you create interactive images. We are creating resources for teachers and students and I am beginning the process of developing a K-12 Scope and Sequence document for Technology Integration. Using the NETS from ISTE and the SAMR model, we aim to develop a curriculum focused on transforming teaching and learning.

A key component to educating students to be responsible users of technology, is a focus on Digital Citizenship. We have adopted the K-12 Scope and Sequence from CommonSense Media as our guide and I have created an interactive image which highlights the key areas of focus along with resources and videos.

Here are two other great resources which I came across for Digital Citizenship which were also created using Thinglink.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Interview with Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder

During the almost thirty minute interview with Steve Wozniak, students at the Techlife conference in Singapore were given the opportunity to ask questions to the co-founder of Apple. He explains how Steve Jobs and him started the company and where they got their inspiration for their early products. He  tells them that they set out to create a social revolution in communication by making it possible for anyone to be creators. Wozniak explains what makes a good software engineer and his favourite Apple products. He predicts the important technologies of the future and where he sees Apple in this future. In closing, he gives advice to students on how they can be successful.

The Skype call with Wozniak started with a few technical glitches and Wozniak getting laughter from the eager audience by pointing out that even he sometimes has problems with technology and how computers can fail.

How Apple got started:

He went on the answer the first question on how Apple got started. Wozniak tells the audience that he had always wanted a computer and was determined to make one himself once he could afford to do so. Computers at the time were largely being made by hobbyists and really could not do anything that was practical or solve problems.

The computer that he created was different in that it was an affordable device which could actually perform functions and drew a lot of attention from local computer enthusiasts. When Steve Jobs came to visit him, he noticed this and suggested that the two of them start a company together. Wozniak was working for Hewlett Packard (HP) at the time and tried to pitch his idea to them first. After being turned down five times, he decided to give it a try without the expectation that they would actually make much money from what they were doing. They got to work on the Apple 1 in their garage, where they packed things together on a bench, tested them and then boxed them up to sell.

Wozniak points out that is was not until they started working on the Apple 2 that Apple really became a company with it being the computer that could help Apple become a big, rich successful company because there was nothing else like it. It was a full functioning computer built from the ground up. With the help of an angel investor, they were able to get the company up and running.

"You need a technology revolution to make the social revolution happen". 
Inspiration for the Apple 1 and Apple 2:

The second question asked how Wozniak got the inspiration for the Apple 1 and Apple 2 computers and and the thought processes he went through considering how advanced this technology was at the time.

Wozniak explains how these computers were created at a time when people could study the inside of computers and how registers (little bits of 1's and 0's) were used to make operation codes to tell the computer what to do. Out of this, he explains, came microprocessors and the ability to create programs. The real inspiration was the power of these computers to to provide a technology revolution to create a social revolution in areas such as communication, education and the workplace.

The Business Plan:

Wozniak explains that they really did not start with a great business plan. They began with the goal to create PC boards to make some money where they could build one for $20 and sell it for $40.
They got a $50,000 order without any money so they bought the parts they needed on a 30 day credit. After ten days of work, they were able to bring the computers to the store to get cash. With the Apple 2, there were able to secure an investment of a few hundred thousand dollars from an angel investor.

Social Revolution in Communication: 

Wozniak went on to tell the students that Steve Jobs and him believed that computers could bring about a communication revolution by giving individuals access to the technologies only afforded to large companies in the past.

The characteristics of a good software engineer: 

When asked about what makes a good software engineer, Wozniak gave a passionate answer, describing such individuals as artists who are on a personal rather than financial endeavour to put the user experience first. They simplify the code and the interface to make this happen. A good engineer, he explains, cares about the size of the program and the user always comes first.

The best Apple product

When asked what he thought the best Apple product was, Apple pointed to the iPhone 4 and the iPhone in general for its ability to put the power of a computer in a mobile device. He went on to say that his favorite device is the Macbook Pro because he likes to multitask when using a computer.

The next big technology

When asked about the next big technology to benefit people, Wozniak pointed out that often the most disruptive technologies are those we can't see coming. He suggested that big breakthroughs may come with flexible displays, wearable technologies and improvements with voice recognition technologies.
When discussing voice recognition, Wozniak hints at the superiority of Google's technology for its ability to better contextualize results through its awareness of the world around you. He believes that the true ability for voice recognition to pick up the subtleties of human speech is still far from perfect and may not be so for another forty years or so.

Will Apple still be a powerhouse in ten years?

The simple answer to this question is yes. He believes that Apple's financial reserves secures it a successful future and that the ups and downs of its stock price are not a good indicator of the company's real value.

The App Store Revolution

Wozniak believes that the great revolution that Apple has brought is the App Store. It made it possible for anyone with technical ability to start a business and be successful. It makes it possible for youth to create something for the world and points to the fact that the big tech companies (Apple, Google, Facebook) were started by young people with a passion.

Advice to students

In offering advice to students, Wozniak reminds them that every step is important to the process of becoming successful and that repetition is important for innovation. In his closing words, he tells them to not merely rely on manuals and textbooks but to "think of how it should be written, and write the book yourself from scratch".

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Wozniak Skypes in to answer student questions at Techlife 2013

Steve Wozniak Skypes in to answer
student questions

I am helping to supervise at a completely student run conference at United World College in Singapore called Techlife. The 24 hour conference involves students who are passionate about technology teaching each other and sharing ideas. 

The highlight of the conference was a Skype call with Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, where students were given the chance to to have a thirty minute Q&A session. Much of what Wozniak offered some great insight into where he saw technology heading and gave students gave advice on how they can succeed with their passions for technology. 

I am going through the video and will continue to add more posts and video clips for the session. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Integrating technology in PE

 I recently had the opportunity to join our PE team at a PD hosted by Jarrod Robinson - also known as the PE Geek - on integrating technology into PE. Jarrod introduced us to a number of great tools and resources to help PE teachers make better use of technology in their lessons. As he pointed out, professional coaches have long been using cutting edge technology to train athletes and mobile devices now make it possible for anyone to access these kinds of tools at a fraction of the cost and with much greater ease. Our PE teachers enjoyed the practical, hands-on focus of the PD and have already started implementing what they have learned into their classes.

With the rise of mobile devices and app based learning, there is now an enormous selection of affordable tools for PE teachers to choose from such as apps for video analysis, replay, tagging, communication, assessment, health tracking and so forth. The ability to have all of these tools in one device that fits in your hand has transformed the ability to use technology on the fly.

According to Jarrod, there has been a thousand fold increase between 2011-2012 on Google searches for apps related to PE. This shows that the demand for technology integration is not limited to the traditional classroom and is expanding to various other subject areas. PE teachers have often been overlooked in the push to use more technology in the classroom and it is great to see that more resources and PD opportunities are opening up to them.

Here is a list of some of the apps that teachers learned during the PD:

Coach's Eye ($4.99)
This is an essential app for any PE teacher or coach who wants to capture what students are doing and guide them to improve. The app enables you to record a video and then do a voiceover together with screen annotations. Video analyses can easily be saved and shared, making them ideal for providing students and parents with feedback on how the child can improve. This app, although designed primarily for coaching, would also prove useful in any classroom.

This is another great app for offering students feedback on specific skills. You can set the app to record what students are doing and set a timed delay so that they can replay what they did to be more aware of what they need to do to improve. The app can be set to record one screen or bring up four different screens, each having separate time delays. 

Sprint Timer ($1.99)
This is a great photo finish app which utilizes the same technologies as professionals to show the winners and their times. The app can be activated by the start gun or whistle and provide either a photo or video finish. 

SloPro (free) 

Slow Pro is an app that is great for PE but could also be used in multiple subjects where you want to slow down the movement of an event to analyze it. The app works great in conjunction with Coach's Eye where you could slow down the video and then offer video analysis. 

Easy Tag is a multi purpose app which can be used across a variety of subject areas. You can set criteria that you are looking for and tap the box each time you see evidence of it happening. In PE, this could be looking for evidence of specific skills in a sport. Given than teachers can set the criteria and boxes as they like, this app as a lot of flexibility. 

Coach Note ($1.99)

Coach Note is a must have app for coaches who want to go over plays with players. There are templates for multiple sports and you can also add your own custom ones. With a variety of tools and the ability to record and share your coaching, the app is quite powerful. One suggestion for using this app is to have a portable projector so that you can coach small groups of students during a game or on the go. 

Health Apps: 

Cardiograph ($1.99)

Cardiograph really shows how app creators can use mobile devices in innovative ways that you would not think would be possible. By placing your finger over the device's camera, you can record your heartrate. This can be a useful tool in a PE class and eliminates the need for a separate heart measurement device.

iMuscle ($1.99)

iMuscle is a beautiful app which focuses on muscles to help people exercise more safely. It includes interactive 3D models which help target those muscles for improving overall fitness.

This app provides an interactive view of the heart and how it looks with different heart rates. The heart rate can be adjusted. The app would work in conjunction with cardiograph where you could match the student's heart rate with what it would look like using the Virtual Heart app. 

Digital Portfolios and Assessment:

There are rumours that this service may soon disappear but currently it is an easy way to create a simple website to share photos, videos and comments. 

This app was developed by Jarrod Robinson himself and makes it easy for teachers to assess students using rubrics. They can import class lists as a CSV file through Dropbox or add students and classes manually. This can be a great way to gather evidence of student learning which can be shared with parents during conferences. The key drawback at this point is that the data lives on the device itself and can not be shared via the cloud.

Three Ring  (free)

Three Ring is an app that I have written about previously and has enormous potential for assessment and ePortfolios. It now has the ability to add student and parent accounts and allows educators to share everything in the clous. The major drawback I discovered during the PD is that you can not upload videos from your camera roll but only directly through the camera. This is problematic for teachers who want to record several videos for editing or to add videos created in apps such as Coach's Eye. 

If your school uses Google Apps, Google Drive is a great way to share content with your students and parents. You simply use the Google Drive App to upload photos, videos and screenshots to your Google Account and you can create folders which can easily be shared. 

Evernote (free)

Evernote is one of the most popular apps available and works on virtually every device. You can create notebooks for your various classes or students and upload photos, notes and other content. The largest drawback with Evernote is the inability to upload videos. 

QR Codes and Augmented Reality

QR codes have become a popular way to make displays more interactive. Our teachers have been using it with their display boards as a way to link to videos that have been uploaded to Vimeo. There are lots of free apps to scan these codes, making it easy for visitors to your school to access the media that is linked to the codes. My favorite app for creating and scanning QR codes is Qrafter Pro ($2.99). The Physical Educator Website has some great printable QR Code Posters

Aurasma (free)

In a previous article, I pointed out how easy it is to make displays interactive using the Aurasma Augmented Reality App. Unlike QR Codes, you can embed the media by interacting with the image itself and the content is uploaded to Aurasma's servers. This makes creating Auras much faster than QR codes and eliminates the need to print out separate, somewhat unattractive, QR codes. The app is free to download and is available on multiple devices as well. The drawback is that users will need to specifically download this app and subscribe to your channel. It is somewhat more difficult for them to know how to use Aurasma compared to QR codes which can simply be scanned with any supported app.

Some Suggestions: 

  • Our PE team has been testing out devices over the past few months and were given an iPad, iPod Touch and iPad Mini. They determined that the iPad Mini is the best device for a PE teacher since it is large enough to do some editing and small enough to hold in one hand. 
  • Be sure to get a good case for any devices used in PE. We decided on the the Griffin Survivor Case which provides great shock and water protection. 
  • Consider wireless solutions for projecting to screens in a gym or other space. Our school is currently testing out the Apple TV as a way to wirelessly project any Apple device. This works great but can be tricky for your IT department to set up since it is designed for a home network and not an enterprise one. It requires turning on multicasting and may involve licensing fees through companies like Cisco. Other options include apps like Reflector which allow you to connect your computer to the projector and project your iPad through the computer. This works pretty much the same as the Apple TV but requires the addition of a computer. 
  • Consider the purchase of a pico projector, tripod or iPad stand and and a portable screen. This would make it possible for PE teachers to project anywhere, which could be very useful when playing outside or when there is a bit of time before a game to allow for some last minute coaching. In fact, we are thinking about putting together a PE teacher kit which could fit into a gym bag that PE teachers could carry with them which would include an iPad Mini, mini projector and screen, tripod and possibly a device called a Swivl

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sweet Search is a curated search engine for students


When students need information, it is easy to tell them to just Google it, but there is no guarantee that popular search engines are going to provide students with safe, reliable results.


Sweet Search is a search engine dedicated to education and includes sources which have been approved by educational experts. Teachers can be more confident that students will find more relevant information without stumbling on inappropriate websites.

Students and teachers can either search the website directly or embed the widget into another website such as a class blog or school website.



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

4 Things Apple Needs To Do To Be Cool Again

I have updated my post this week to add two more things that I think Apple needs to do to be seen as cool again and to maintain its edge over competitors.

It appears that Apple is starting to lose its mojo with teens as they start to see Apple products as no longer being cool. Instead, teens are gravitating towards new devices such as the Surface and Samsung Galaxy. This is great news for Microsoft and Samsung, but could spell disaster for Apple. With its stock losing nearly 20% in the past three months, Apple is clearly showing signs of losing its edge.

Apple was able to rest on its laurels for a while when the iPhone and iPad were new innovative products which had little real competition. Such is less so the case now as other companies are starting to give them a real run for their money. Without innovation, the company may continue to lose momentum in the marketplace.

In education, many schools have completely bought in to the Apple marketing machine and decided to brand themselves as Apple schools using the iPad and Macbooks. In fact, the iPad has actually proven a great success for the most part in aiding teaching and learning despite the numerous headaches of managing these devices. I have no doubts that tablets are the way of the future of computing once they prove that they can do everything our computers can do. The iPad is currently my 80% device but I still need to rely on my computer for some of the things I do, including posting to my blog effortlessly.

It is more difficult to justify having students purchase expensive Macbooks to do things which can mostly be done on the iPad or  even cheaper alternatives such as Google's Chromebook.  Schools continue to move towards cloud computing and apps. In our school, for example, much of what students do is done using Google Apps for education. While they continue to use their Macbooks for things like iMovie and Garageband, most of their publishing is done in the cloud.

Although the iPad is proving an amazing tool in education, it lacks the power to be the all purpose computer. The touchscreen is great and there is an app for just about everything. However, teachers and students still need the power to do more and the ability to type with ease.  Apple is not there yet but other companies, such as Microsoft, are starting to prove that a touchscreen tablet can also be your computer. The Surface RT did not succeed well in proving this but the Surface Pro may very well become the new computer of choice if Apple does not innovate quickly.
Admittedly, the new Windows 8 tablets have been slow to catch on, but if the shifting attitudes of teens are an indicator, they may quickly gain momentum and be the new cool alternative to the iPad.

To be cool again, Apple needs a new innovative product which combines the best of the iPad with the Macbook. It needs to be like the Surface in many ways but better and cooler and enable users to use it with the vast selection of apps already available in the App Store (for both the iPad and Macbook).  It is Apple's app ecosystem that gives it the real edge over companies like Microsoft. However, Android is gaining popularity and will likely beat Apple to the race to have one million apps.

The first thing Apple needs to do: 

I suggest that Apple get rid of the Macbook Air as we know it and replace it with the iPad Air which would be a thin touch surface screen and a foldable (or attachable), thin keyboard. It would be much like the Surface in many ways or Lenova's Yoga laptop, but come with Apple's attention to design and, more importantly, its ecosystem of Apps and cloud syncing between devices. The new tabtop computer, if done in Apple's usual style, would make it appear as though Apple has created the great new device in computing, even if Microsoft and others already have a similar product on the market. The new device could be as big as the current Macbook Air (11 inches) but be an iPad type device with the full power of a computer.

The Macbook operating system has continued to move closer to that of the iPad with Mountain Lion having a very iOS feel to it. The new device could use Mountain Lion or an updated operating system which marries iOS with the Macbook to combine touchscreen computing with a full powered computer which could run both iOS and Macbook apps. It could be priced between that of the current iPad and Macbook Pro and prove the perfect device for consumers and educators. The Macbook Pro could serve those who need a computer with more power under the hood. I suggest that Apple introduce this product this spring and price it at around $$800-$1000 to be competitive with devices such as the Surface Pro.  Although more expensive than the iPad, which starts at $500, it would be cheap enough to prove attractive to many consumers and schools.

The second thing Apple needs to do: 

Another area which has enormous potential for Apple, is TV. Rumours of an (actual) Apple TV have been around for quite some time but Apple has yet to show any real signs that it will shake up how we watch TV. I believe that Apple is working on partnerships with TV companies like LG to put an Apple TV type service into televisions and is also working on an Apple TV (much like the current one) which would work with existing TV sets as an external device, to bring games and TV to the living room. In addition, Apple could put the technology into its own large computer monitors such as the iMac.

This would compete with established entertainment systems like the Xbox, Playstation and Wii and would potentially change the whole way that we consume TV. Cord cutters have long been looking for the day when they can enjoy a-la-carte TV together with live television in a way which is fluid and affordable. The huge barrier to this reality is content providers who fear having happen to them what happened to music companies as iTunes offered up cheap, downloadable songs. However, there is clear momentum happening which is bringing us closer to a reality where  we can enjoy our shows much like the way we currently enjoy apps. Numerous companies want to be the one to do this well but Apple stands to win this race if it can get the right content deals in place. Again, they need to act fast and do it well if they do not want to lose their out to companies like Microsoft or Google.

The third thing Apple needs to do: 

Apple needs to stop thinking they can tell people what they want to buy. Jobs vowed he would never make a smaller tablet because people didn't want one. Clearly the popularity of the iPad Mini proved this wrong. The declining demand for the iPhone 5 is likely due - at least in part - to the lack of innovation of the iPhone 5 and demand for phones with larger screens such as the Galaxy S III or even Galaxy Note. A whole new market is developing for fablets which combine large screens with phone capabilities. I suggest Apple either introduce a new product which is somewhere between the size of the iPhone and iPad Mini or add a phone to the next iPad Mini (at least as an option). Otherwise, Samsung will continue its rise and soon be the one on top as the Glaxy Note gains popularity.

The fourth thing Apple needs to do: 

Apple needs to tear down its walled garden and be more open like Android is. A few things Apple did in the past year have really angered even its most loyal fans. The change of dock connector, while perhaps necessary, forces people to spend money on over-priced adapters and cables. The sudden upgrade to a fourth generation iPad just a few months after the third generation one was released, upset the early adopters. The lack of real innovation of the iPhone 5 made it appear that Apple is in it more for the money than for wowing consumers with a great new product. The lack of retina display on the iPad Mini ( while still being far more expensive than the Nexus 7), made Apple look like they were cutting corners for the sake of profit margins.

Apple may be losing some of its mojo recently and many question whether they can get it back without Steve Jobs to provide creative direction for the company. My thinking is that the company still has a lot of magic left up its sleeve but that it needs to act fast if it wants to continue to remain cooler than companies like Microsoft or Samsung.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Google+ Now Available for Google Apps for Education

Today, I received an email from Google to notify me that Google+ is now available for Google Apps in Education.

This is something that we have been waiting for for a while since it opens up the possibility for whole new ways for teachers to collaborate and share information.

The most exciting feature is the availability of Google Hangouts and Google Hangouts on Air where live sessions can be recorded and uploaded to Youtube. This will make it easier for teams to collaborate and for us to offer scheduled PD sessions which can be archived and available on demand.

As part of the EdTech team at our school, one of our goals this year is to offer more tailored PD for teachers, by teachers. The availability of Google+ and Google Hangouts for education will make it much easier for us to achieve this goal.