Friday, October 19, 2012

School iPad Implementations: What Would You Do Differently?

My school district is taking a step into the world of using iPads in the classroom with a small, targeted implementation of a pod of iPads on several campuses.

"Yea!" and "Oh my gosh, how do we do this in the best way possible?!"

There are several great posts about implementation Dos and Don'ts out there, like these from Tony Vincent, Carl Hooker, and Terice Schneider. I'm curious, though, to see if others in my network have some advice for a first time iPad deployment.

If you have implemented iPads in any way, shape, or form, then I would love to hear what's the ONE thing you would do differently if you could go back and start over again from the beginning. Please share in the comments section below. If you have written about this elsewhere, feel free to leave a link back to your own post.

Thank you in advance for sharing! Teachers and students in my district, and in the schools and districts of many others who find this post, will benefit from your experience.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Vicki Davis Edscape 2012 Keynote

I'm so glad @NMHS_Principal Eric Sheninger arranged to have @CoolCatTeacher Vicki Davis's Edscape 2012 keynote broadcast live via Ustream yesterday! I really enjoyed hearing Vicki as she encouraged all of us to invest in our own positive attitudes and outlooks so that we may impact the lives of our students and do what is right for them in spite of circumstances which may exist in our school systems.

Vicki is a wonderful, inspiring speaker who is passionate about investing in the lives of students. Snipits of her wisdom in 140 characters or less don't come close to doing her words justice, but instead of taking full-on notes on my blog like I often do, I decided to try and catch her gems in Tweets. Ustream's Twitter integration made it convenient to do this. Embedded below is a slide-show of my Tweets from her speech yesterday, with a few Tweets from others thrown in. I hope you are able to glean some wisdom from her words.

If you are interested in learning more about Vicki's work with Julie Lindsay on the Flat Classroom Projects, you might also enjoy these notes I took from a webinar that Vicki and Julie did back in April, centered around their recently published book Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Parent Concerns in a 1:1 iPad Initiative

Used With Permission
 Under a Creative Commons License
Last Sunday, I received a note via the contact form on my blog that was a first for me in many ways. It was the first time I had ever been contacted by a parent via my blog, the first time I could not put a comment out of my mind until I had addressed it, and the first time I ever thought about the impact a school's 1:1 take-home technology initiative could have on a family.

With the permission of the parent, I share here the note she left for me, slightly edited to keep her identity confidential:
My son was issued an iPad. I wasn't able to make the iPad meeting at school. I am in panic mode. I want to embrace the new technology but I also want to know how I can set limits. Before we had strict "screen time" rules. Now he just says he's doing homework or studying but it is taking all night (4-6 hours) so I'm convinced he's being distracted by other things on the iPad. I miss him, he is always plugged in when he is home. 
Your name came up when I searched under School District, iPad. Can you point me in the direction of a good book, article or person who might help? 
In all of the amazing things I've been reading over the years about 1:1 initiatives, this was a side of the story I had not read about or managed to consider on my own. 1:1 should bring a paradigm shift to the classroom, but it can also impact family dynamics in a profound way.

The phrases "I am in panic mode" and "I miss him, he is always plugged in when he is home" tugged at my heart. I went to church, hung out with friends for lunch, and ran some errands, but all day I was thinking about what, if anything I could say to help this parent.

Below are the contents of the email I sent back to "Ms. Jones", again edited slightly for confidentiality.  It really was this long and this detailed! I share it here in hopes that it will stir your thinking and provide ideas to educators and parents on how to support students in the home aspect of  implementing of 1:1 learning.

Hello, Ms. Jones,

This email is in response to the comments/questions you left for me via my blog at 

I am glad you see the potential of this technology for your son's learning and that you reaching out for answers in a situation that is new to the teachers, students and parents at your son's school!

iPads in education are very new (the device itself has only been out since March 2010), and I can't think of a specific book or article at the moment that would address your concerns. Based on my overall experience as a former classroom teacher and now an edtech specialist, I have a few suggestions for continuing to address the situation you described in your comments above and seeking balance for your son and your family. This email started getting long so I separated my ideas into sections below.

Communicate With Your Son's Teachers

As a former classroom teacher myself, I cannot stress enough that one of the most important things you need to do is communicate with your son's teachers. Share your concerns with them just as you did with me in your comments above.  Ask what kinds of activities you should be expecting to see him doing for homework on the iPad and how much time you should be expecting him to spend on homework. 

As you approach his teachers, remember that  teaching and learning with the iPad is new to your son's school and his teachers. Everyone is excited by the possibilities of the impact this technology can have on learning, but they are all in the process of learning the best ways to do it together. Approach this conversation from a perspective of being a partner with your son's teachers in his education.

I would also ask if there is a way to gain access to any resources that were shared during the iPad meeting the school held and/or if the meeting was recorded for parents who could not be present.

As an aside, you may be helping other families in this process. There may be others with your same questions who have not spoken up yet. It is possible your son's school and teachers are not aware of these issues yet, and they need to assess if this needs to be addressed in future parent communications/outreach.

Communicate With Your Son and Set Limits

Continue talking with your son about your concerns. Even though the school is providing this wonderful learning tool, it is still not healthy for him to be buried in the screen all night. Your son may push back on some of your comments, but that's partly his age. He is internalizing more of what you say than you may realize.

As your son's parent, I believe it is still your right to limit screen time if you feel your son is spending too much time with his iPad. Realize he probably does need it for homework, but if he was not spending four to six hours on homework pre-iPad (as a former middle school teacher that amount of time seems excessive to me), he is possibly being distracted. His distractions may be non-productive "play" time or they could be self-directed learning. Either way, he should be focused first on completing his assignments. 

You may have to make a rule that at 8:00 PM or 8:30 PM (or whatever you feel is a reasonable amount of time before his bedtime) the iPad gets put on the charger for the evening and doesn't get used again until the morning. The charging station should probably not be in your son's bedroom if you choose to do this. A rule like this will hopefully help your son focus on getting his homework done before the "iPad put away" deadline. You will also have to be firm on the deadline; he may have to suffer the consequences of a few incomplete assignments or low test grades before he adjusts his time management. (If you choose to do this, please be in contact with his teachers about it so they will understand why some assignments may be incomplete.)

Put Some Supportive Structures in Place at Home

Used With Permission
Under a Creative Commons License

Establish a homework area in your house that is NOT in an isolated area. Perhaps at the kitchen table or in the living room. It should be an area where other members of the family will at least occasionally be but where there won't be distractions. Realize this may impact how the rest of your family utilizes the space during homework time. For example, if there is a TV in the room it might not be on during this time. Homework should always be done in this area whether it requires the iPad or not.

Over the course of the evening, check in once or twice with your son.  Ask him what he is working on for his homework and ask him to show you how he's using his iPad to do it (if he is using the iPad at that time; check in even if he isn't using it!). If you can do this in an "I want to learn about the iPad and how it's helping you learn" attitude as much as possible, as opposed to an "I'm policing you" attitude, the communication will probably go better.

As Time Goes On, It Will Probably Get Better

Realize that with time some of the "newness" of the iPad will wear off and your son should grow in his ability to self-regulate. As he matures, you may be able to back off on a few of your rules. I would probably keep some structure in place at least through the first semester, then re-evaluate in the Spring.

I am reminded of a presentation I attended this summer where high school students talked about their first year in a 1:1 iPad environment. They said the day the iPads were issued, lunch time was silent because everyone was buried in their screens! But over time the novelty wore off and people started talking with each other again. The students also noted that even in class they were sometimes distracted by their devices, but they learned quickly that they couldn't afford to continue being inattentive and still keep up their grades. Your son is in middle school, but with time and your support, he too will grow and mature in his technology use.

Concluding Thoughts

Ms. Jones, you may have gotten way more than you were asking for in this email. If that is the case, I apologize. But your questions/concerns struck a chord with me and I wanted to share what I was thinking. I've been thinking about this response all day!

I hope you find these suggestions valuable and that you will reach out to your son and his teachers to partner in finding solutions to your concerns.

Good luck as you and your son move forward on this new learning frontier!

I was relieved to receive the following reply from Ms. Jones yesterday:
Hi Sandy
I was blown away by your response. Thank you so much for taking the time to help a stranger. Of course you may quote my original email.
Like you, I believe many parents are facing the same issues. I really appreciate your advice and plan to implement some of your suggestions.
I'll let you know how it goes!
Thanks again,
Ms. Jones

Yay! I didn't completely overwhelm her, and I can't wait to hear back from her!

What Would You Say? What Are You Doing In This Arena?

What other advice would you give Ms. Jones and parents like her who undoubtedly have similar questions? Do you disagree with any of the suggestions I made?

Used With Permission
Under a Creative Commons License
Keep in mind, the child being able to say, "I'm working on my homework" is somewhat of a game-changer when it comes to supporting and setting limits. How easily could you tell your child to just put the technology away when it could be impacting their grades?

If you are in a school or district that is doing one-to-one, are you making parent/family support part of your implementation, and if so, how?

I hope you'll contribute in the comments section below!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Texas Education On iTunes U

Notes from Fall 2012 TCEA TECSIG Breakout Session
Kathy Ferguson
Texas Education Agency

Direct Link to Texas Education on iTunes U (Need iTunes to launch...)

Texas Education on iTunes U is part of Project Share.

Access Texas Education on  iTunes U through in the resources feature on the home page.
through the iTunes store through the iTunes U button in the top navigation menu. Select iTunes U, then go to K-12 in the top right navigation menu. Find Texas Education under T, of course!
through the iTunes U App on your iDevice!

When you get to Texas Education in iTunes U, look at the What's New area at the top to see the latest and greatest uploads.

There are also Science Features, OnTRACK for College Readiness, and featured school districts.

All content in iTunesU is reviewed by TEA curriculum specialists.

Texas Education needs content from districts! 

Content should be classroom friendly:

  • Engaging
  • High Quality
  • Age Appropriate
  • Appropriate Classroom Length (typically no more than 10 minutes)
If you submit content, you will need cover art (600 x 600 png file works best), a title, a description, and a copyright. Copyright decisions should be made at the district level. Consider Creative Commons.

iTunes file formats can be video, audio, or PDF. If possible, develop videos with Closed Captioning.

Tech Details
  • Audio files (AAC, MP3) with extensions .m4a or .mp3 - up to 500 MB
  • Video files (MPEG-4) with extensions .mp4, .m4v, or .mov - up to 1 GB
  • PDF or ePubs files of supplemental material (these download to the iTunes library or optionally to the iBooks app on an iOS tablet device)
How do you share your content?
  • On iTunes site there is a Share Your Content link near the bottom of the right-hand navigation menu.
  • Documents with guidelines for submission are included here
  • After you go through the process of filling out the submit content form, TEA will send a legal agreement form which the Superintendent needs to sign off on.
  • Content goes through a multi-step review process, including a technical review and a curriculum content review
  • Content should not promote or advertise a commercial product.
  • If you use third-party content, make sure you have copyright permission.
  • Have documentation saying that you have written permission from parents to record their children and submit it for potential use on iTunesU.
Links for more info:
  • 512-463-9400

iOS 6 Update

Notes from TCEA TECSIG Fall 2012 Breakout Session
October 4, 2012
Austin, Texas

Speaker: Brittney Van Zant, Apple Senior Systems Engineer

Over 200 new features in iOS 6. These features are relevant to education:

Accessibility System Preferences

Guided Access - Can set up home button to toggle on and off with a tripple-click. Can disable hardware buttons and disable touch so an app just runs w/out user interference. You can also select only certain areas of the screen to be touch-sensitive.

Speak Selection - Enable this so selected text can be spoken

Restrictions with Apple Configurator (Supervised Devices Only - Prevents iTunes Sync):

  • Allow/Disable removing apps
  • Allow/Disable use of Game Center
  • Allow/Disable iMessage
  • Allow/Disable iBookstore
  • Allow/Disable iBookstore explicit content
  • Allow/Disable Configuration Profile Installation
  • Enabe Siri Profanity Filter
  • Single App Mode - Locks user into a single, specified application (Think Pearson TestNav). Specified application launches at boot if device is powered down.
  • Global Network Proxy for HTTP - Route all web traffic through a web proxy for filtering
Profile Manager 2 - Use with Mountain Lion server - Pushing config profiles over the air
  • Profile-Based management
  • Over-the-air updates
  • Mobile device management
  • iOS and OS X
  • Self-service portal
  • Web-based authentication
  • Up to 5000 devces per server
  • Gatekeeper settings
  • Unified passcode policies
Apple Apps
  • iWork - Ability to open a doc, presentation, or spreadsheet in another application (Ex: Dropbox, GoodReader)
  • Garageband - create custom ringtones and alerts for iDevices. Run GarageBand in Background. So can record while running another app. Ex: Hit record then open an iBook to record a student reading.
  • iMovie - Create movie trailers. On iPad, open precision editor to create split audio edits. Create a slidewhos by sharing photos from iPhoto for iOS. Tap help for guided coach while using app.
  • iPhoto - Tags, smarter cropping, ink effects, better sharing options, journal enhancements, support large photos
  • iTunes U - new single day view to see all of your posts and assignemtns on single page
  • Find My iPhone - New lost mode sets passcode on lost devices.
  • iBooks - Suport for iOS 6 restrictions
Apple Configurator - has not yet been updated to use configuration profiles but it will be soon.

iOS 6 EDU Deployment Guide - Coming Soon!

Be careful with Mobile Device Management solutions that say they can push out paid apps. Pushing out paid apps is not supported by Apple and it often breaks when you update the app.

Learning at the Speed of Technology - David Jakes

Notes from David Jakes Keynote
Fall 2012 TCEA TECSIG Meeting
October 4, 2012
Austin, Texas
All resources posted at

Question: Are we taking brand new disruptive technologies and trying to force them into old models?

The emerging model in business today is BYO3 - Bring Your Own Laptop/Tablet/Phone

We are coming to a price point where schools can provide small tablets and allow students to bring their own devices for learning as well.

We are still on the grid model - classrooms with desks in rows. Even when we put technology into the classroom. We are putting new technologies into old classroom models.

Students may have tons of devices, but don't know how to use them deeply beyond texting and recording. How do teachers manage the multiple platforms.

Regarding student use of technology, Mimi Ito says, "Students engage in friendship and interest-based activities. They need academic intervention..." For example, students are engaged in social activities an passion based research (if they love photography, they look for photography info).

Richard Halverson: "Digital media provides a path to personalizing and customizing learning...this has meant that digitally literate young people have come to understand that there are at least two living channels for learning 1. an institutional channel, and 2. a peer-driven, interest-driven, and unregulated digital media channel.

How can we help students build the skills they need to learn on their own if we are not providing digital teaching and learning spaces (online spaces)?


Mission vs Vision - What's the difference?

Our mission has not changed: Help kids learn. Our vision for how that occurs should change over time as new technologies emerge.

Do we live and breathe our mission and vision every day in what we do and how we act?

What do you want learning to look like?

What do you want your school to be?

Unifying Theme: The Ecology of Things
is represented by the sum of the connections between people, information, ideas, and technology and are manifested through the interactions that occur in the physical and digital spaces of the school.

Things: apps, cloud-based programs that allow us to share and collaborate on projects. (Example: WeVideo for Google Drive.)

Unifying Theme: Transliteracy
is the ability to read, write, and interact across a range of platforms, tools, and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.

Kids have to exhibit an ability to negotiate across a range of modalities from face-to-face to world-wide virtual connections.

Unifying Theme: Content, Skills, Habits of the Mind, Dispositions and Experiences

In education, we tend to cover content, skills, habits of mind, and dispositions well. Are we providing the range of experiences needed to successfully cover all of the contemporary skills, habits, etc that modern students need? Or is their primary experience sitting in rows??

What If? School As Studio

School as studio - spaces that inspire, spaces that support remix and creation, spaces that together contribute to the "ecology of things" Spaces where boundaries for learning do not exist. Spaces that support the timeless value of teacher-student interaction.

Do we have these kinds of spaces in our schools? Spaces with room to move, inviting colors, comfortable furniture? Where do kids hang out in your school and why?

There are models out there. Blue School is an example. How can spaces in your school be re-designed?

What If? School as App

School as portal School on demand. School as node with 24/7 connections.

mySchool app?

How have you positioned your school for anywhere, anytime, any device learning? Are you designing for mobile?

Are you providing digital learning spaces where students have ownership of their content? Where it is not locked in a learning management system? (Ex: Google Apps accounts).

What If? School as Network

Learning is now independent of time, space, and place. Schools serv to link learniers.

Network as School

Anyone can be a teacher, anyone can be a learner. Learning not limited to a class roster.

Standford MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) - Introduction to Artificial Intelligence - 180,00 enrolled; 6,000 have completed

mobiMOOC - Course where participants self-organize based on their interests in mobile learning.

M.I.T. - Has been offering open online courses for 10 years. Is now launching MITx where instructor is involved. More students have successfully completed a course on circut design since it's been online than in the 40 years of face-to-face only prior to that.

Skill Share, Hour School - people who voluntarily organize around learning experiences.

What If? School as Canvas

The school canvas paints a picture of the capabilities of the human beings associated with school. The school canvas illuminates their presence and ideas locally and globally to create a conversation aobut the learning taking place, and about the passions being explored.

Make it OK for kids to publish their work with their names to create a positive digital footprint.

Youmedia YOUmedia is an innovative, 21st century teen learning space housed at the Chicago Public Library's downtown Harold Washington Library Center. YOUmedia was created to connect young adults, books, media, mentors, and institutions throughout the city of Chicago in one dynamic space designed to inspire collaboration and creativity.

What If? School as Third Place

Part of the connective ecosystem, part of being transliterate, is to be able to step away from technology and have the face-to-face conversation, the quiet reflection experience, and time away from technology.

Schools need informal spaces for learning. Think Starbucks, Barnes & Noble coffee shop...

Update October 21, 2012 - A recording of David's presentation has been posted online. If my notes left you wanting more (they should have!), you can now view the whole thing for yourself!