Thursday, April 04, 2013

Students On Using iPads At School

These are some quotes extracted from the end of the year survey that we gave students regarding the experience with the 1:1 iPad program at the Encinitas Union School District in June 2012. We had around 800 students take the survey and were able to get good data on students attitudes toward using the iPads in the classroom. Of course the best examples are the words directly from the students themselves. For anyone wondering about if iPads are having any effect on students read on. You can also view highlights of survey on the Google Slide Show below.

Student Quotes

The iPads are amazing and it doesn't negatively influence your learning at all.

The iPads have changed the way I learn, think, and explain. I was able to write so much more because I didn't have to go home to type it. The iPads have opened doors and my life is changed because of them. They are AMAZING! 

They were the awesomest thing that has ever happened at school besides the last day of school.

I did not like the iPads because they made me do more work and i did not like that.

I chose iPad because if you use paper it is killing trees and iPad is easier.

A worksheet is like soooooooooooo last week it's boring and it makes me dislike math sometimes. I like the iPad because it makes math fun and easy.

On the iPad, you could keep practicing one area in IXL that you struggle in, while everyone else could move on. One person and their math level wouldn't hold everyone else back.

If you are doing a test on it you get your score instantly so you don't have to wonder if you did good or not for a long time while the teachers are grading all of the tests. 

My favorite project was when we go to use iMovie to make videos for science and social studies class.

This year I enjoyed blogging on my IPad because rather than just doing plain old reports we got to share them internationally while learning Australia history and common things they do. Now that was a real treat! 
I really enjoyed making movie trailers on iMovie for our book reports. It really made the book come to life. 

I loved doing the cell project. We got to experiment with the iPads and learn at the same time! I learned a lot about cells, how they work, and what organelles hey have in them.

I prefer using the iPad because I just have to bring my iPad home instead of bringing text books and workbooks home and it's a lot easier because when I walk home it's a lighter load. Another reason I like the iPad for math is because all I have to do is click an answer to a math problem and it goes to the next one.

It is extremely tiring and draining to be sitting at a desk and just having 35 questions to solve. IXL, or an app like Numbers allows you to feel like your accomplishing something and your work can be saved without a million papers flying around.

The iPads make the letters perfect so my teacher does not have to ask me if the letter is an o or an a.

It was more fun on the iPad to learn and on textbooks they somehow manage to make it really boring. 

I prefer the iPad because it will correct you right away, tell you what you did wrong, and tell you how to fix it. It's like one on one. 

I prefered IXL because you now right away if you are doing it wrong and there's basically a built in teacher. 

I think...well, i am addicted to screens (video games) and that helps me concentrate because I am constantly looking at the screen and not realizing that I am doing my work. 

It is harder for students to cheat off of someone's test on the iPad. 

I had a longer stamina to do math. 

On the iPad, it is easier to just tap in the answers and there is no way of breaking your pencil. 

When I'm doing work or a test on the iPad it doesn't feel like it was a test or work it was fun and I wasn't so tense. 

Sometimes your paper rips and an iPad doesn't rip.

I wish I could keep my iPad through the rest of school and college—that's how awesome it is. 

They were great in every way, but I think every kid should be allow to get at least one game on their iPad. 

It was cool that the fourth graders were trusted with it and the sixth graders weren't. 

It's important to learn about technology, I think, because we need to be able to utilize technology to its fullest to be successful when we are adults. 

It gave me another chance to see another way of seeing education instead of having to see education staring me right in the face as it is. 

I LOVED the iPad. It is the most fun experience I've ever had at school. I always look forward to going to school because I am using an iPad that is the most helpful learning device ever. 

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Digital Ecosystem For iPads In The Classroom

San Diego CUE Conference 2012

The Goal:

Create a paperless and easy to use system for students to share work with the teacher from their iPads.

Challenges For Encinitas Union School District (Fall 2011)

  • Out of the box the main sharing was via email. District did not set up email.
  • Students could not print directly from the iPad.
  • iPad apps we were using did not easily connect to cloud services like Google Docs. The iWork apps specifically were limited to saving on, email and something called WebDav.
  • Any solutions initially would have to be home-brewed with the apps we had available to us.

Forward to Fall 2012

Students are now able to share the majority of the work created on their iPads easily with the teacher through a digital ecosystem developed over the last year.

The Digital Ecosystem
Connection Points For File Sharing

WebDav (SharePoint)
Google Drive (via PocketDav)
You could technically mirror the WebDav setup using Dropbox. You will need to have two accounts one for teacher and the other for the students. Teacher will create shared folders for the student Dropbox account and students will submit.

Student iPad Apps

  • iWork
  • iMovie
  • Comic Life
  • Explain Everything
  • Notability
  • Google Drive
  • WebDav Nav: This is an app that will allow you to connect directly with a web dad of server and be able to manage and view files. You can also upload movies and pictures directly to the web dads and with that "open in" feature you should be Able to open PDFs and other supported files.

Turning in Assignments and Tests

Interactive Literature


Allows the teacher to interact with students on reading materials. This could be literature or any text that can be imported from the web. Teacher curates discussions and have students leave comments right in the text it. Teachers can also embed links to the web from whatever text they wish. Uses Google books for literature availability. This includes all books in the public domain which are free.

Camera Roll

Is a central repository that most apps use to either import or export images and video. Taking a screenshot of anything on the screen immediately makes it shareable through WebDav, Dropbox or Google Docs

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Simple Way To Share iPad iWork Files With Google Docs

I posted a few weeks ago about what my district did to setup sharing student work from their iPads. Our solution required a WebDav solution, in our case it was Sharepoint. This did not give us connection a connection with Google Docs. Technically we could get files into Google Docs, but it would be via a several app workflow. Good Reader is actually a two step solution, but we do not have this app on our student iPads.

DAV-pocket Lab has created a service that will let anyone with a Google account setup a WebDAV connection to their Google Docs. The sign up was simple. If your district is using Google Apps for Education, students just need to have to create a user name and password on the site. They do not need to verify signup through email. I suggest students use the same user name and password as their Google account.

Once this is setup you can connect to your iWorks copy to WebDAV function or any app that supports WebDav sharing.

There are instructions for the whole process on the DAV-pocket Lab web site.

DAV-pocket Lab - WebDAV access to Google Docs

With sharing into Google Docs students can turn in their work through Edmodo as well. Which is HUGE.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Visual Note Taking

One of the advantages of having a tablet device is the ability to take notes that would be comparable to the way many of us learned. While I was never very good at taking notes, I did find that being able to map out or visualize an idea or information was extremely helpful. I found some good examples from someone that shared some screenshots of their work that would be useful to share with teachers or students.

One of my favorite apps right now, Notability, can be used to create very visual notes or even designs of a students learning process. Like many things I have introduced to the students in our iPad program, if I show a few key students some examples or how to do something it will spread throughout the class quickly.

From Sketchnotes

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Information On Encinitas Union SD iPad Program

I told those that attended my session on the Encinitas Union SD iPad program that I would post some resources from the session that would be helpful in developing an iPad program at a school or district.

Most of the resources that we developed on are on the program web site. These include policies, information on insurance, our overview video and an FAQ.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Solution To Sharing Student Work On An iPad

The Problem

The value of creating work in a digital format is being able to turn it in digitally. At the beginning of our iPad implementation there was no way to get files from the student to the teacher. Since we decided not to setup student email on the iPad, this method of sharing could not be used for sharing from the iPad. The iPad’s lack of a file manager eliminated the ability to upload to files through a web browser into Google Docs which all students have an account for. We found writing on the mobile version of Google Docs was very limited and did not see this as a long term solution.

We found some creative ways to have students be able to save to Google Docs using Office2 HD. The app will let students connect their Google Docs accounts with the app and can create or edit work that is synced with Google Docs. While this solved the problem of getting work off the iPad, it was not seamless to get it to the teacher. Office2 HD does not support sharing, so students had to go on to the Google Docs web access to do the sharing. Most of our teachers found this inconvenient and did not generally use as an option.

Our district had adopted SharePoint at the beginning of the school year for file sharing and collaboration. I did some research and found out that SharePoint could function as a WebDav server. The Apple’s iWork’s apps all have the capability of sharing through WebDav. We did some experiments and found that it was fairly easy to set up a directory and then connect that directory as a classroom dropbox. We worked through some of the early challenges of where to put the directories (intranet or Internet) and also security access. We already had an account for students to log into their classroom through Active Directory and were able to use these within SharePoint for logging in. Students however would all be accessing the directory anonymously as they were all using a shared account. We were able to work around this by making some adjustments to the workflow students went through in copying their work to the WebDav server.

While we use SharePoint for WebDav, there are other options for creating a WebDav server. Ask your IT department if they could research setting one up.

The Solution

We now have very easy to use system for students to share work from their iPads to the teacher. Our teachers are all set up to have a remote folder shortcut on their Finder in the MacBook Pro. They can create folders for students to share in right on their Mac using the same process as creating a new folder anywhere on their computer. The teachers are creating a folder for each assignment that students will be turning in.
Students are naming the files so that the teacher can easily distinguish which file belongs to which student. We came up with a naming scheme that incorporates their name and the assignment name. We trained the students how to setup the WebDav folder in each of the iWork apps. They only had to do this once because the iPad remembers the settings. The teachers are able to go in and open any file that the students copied right on their MacBooks within moments of it being copied there. There is no struggling with the technical side of the solution for teachers or students. We are recommending for teachers to copy the assignment folder to their computer for assessment so that they do not have to open each document remotely.

We are also using a app called WebDav navigator for teachers to access the directories on their iPad. They can create folders as well as open up files. Students can also use the app for uploading images and movies into project folders.

There are times when teacher needs to get feedback to the student. By students saving writing in Word or Pages a teacher can edit and provide comments to students in a different color font and send back to the students. Teachers create a folder called “Return Work” and the students are able to go into their own named folder and open up the returned document in Pages using the copy from WebDav option. We did find a glitch in the process of returning work on the Mac. Teachers cannot put files onto the WebDav server using the finder, this includes saving work from an application on the Mac or dragging and dropping. There is an error message that occurs. We did some research and found this was a known error that others discovered as well. We found a work around by using the Microsoft Document Connection that is included with MS Office. The teachers could setup access to their SharePoint directory and drag and drop returned work to the students.

Process for setting up WebDav sharing on iPad to the Mac

  1. A directory is created for each teacher and a project folder is added to the teacher’s Finder on the Mac.
  2. Students set up the iWork apps to connect to the classroom SharePoint directory through WebDav.
  3. Teacher sets up a folder for a first project they would like the students copy to them.
  4. Teacher begins integrating digital turns in for published assignments or even drafts of assignments.
  5. Teacher starts to provide feedback to students on drafting of projects and writing that is returned to them via the Microsoft Document Connection application to the student iPad.

We did consider using Dropbox early on, but found that all teachers would have to create a classroom account that students would need to have login for. This is a feasible option for classrooms that need image and video sharing and do not have access to WebDav.
For sharing images and video from the iPad Camera Roll there are several options. Students could use the WebDav Navigator app to copy image and video files directly to the SharePoint directory. For the less technically inclined that just want copies of images, students can creating a Pages or Keynote doc and insert the images to share with the teacher and save through WebDav as PDF. This works well for apps like Comic Life that can export images to the Camera Roll.

We also have some of our teachers who are using Edmodo for turning in writing. Students can draft writing in Pages and then copy and paste the text into an Edmodo assignment that the teacher created. The teacher can assess and send notes back to the students. The grade will also be automatically be added to the Gradebook in Edmodo. This works best when the writing is text only, if there is media embedded the WebDav share will be used.

As of February 2012, the Edmodo app for the iPad now has the ability to upload images and video from the Camera Roll into the student library on Edmodo. They can turn in these as assignments to their teacher.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Selecting Apps For Large iPad Implementation

When we started the process of selecting apps that would be used on students iPads, we did so with a good idea of how we will be using the iPad instructionally. There were certain apps like GarageBand and iMovie that were no-brainers. We did have a specific budget to stay within which also helped us to narrow what our choices would be. Over the summer we ran an iPad Academy with about 20 students. It was here where we could really see if the apps we chose would be of interest to students and if they would be able to create things with minimal instruction on how to use it. We found some of the apps like Comic Life and Keynote were easily adopted by the students. IMovie and GarageBand were also immediate hits and students were able to produce creative work with it over the course of the two weeks.

On top of paid apps, there were a lot of free apps in which we could install onto devices and see the value for students. In a way the iPad is a modular device and the apps used to create a workflow will allow students to start out with an idea and then take it to production state. An app like Sketch Book Express, which is free, is a pallet that students can create drawings diagrams and even touch up and enhance photos. After they finish the drawing with the app, they can send their work to the photo library which serves as a repository for all image work on the iPad. From there they can import their images into a variety of other tools like iWork, iLife, or Comic Life.

We also have decided to install the apps Kindle, Nook and iBooks on the iPad's. Since each of these apps can be used with an account that independent of the iPad accounts, any student that wishes to download a book to read in class can with a family account. The book is not tied to the device so that upon leaving the one to one program they still own the book. The AppStore also has apps that give students the ability to annotate PDFS or keep a notebook. There are many paid apps that did these things well, like Notetaker HD, Penultimate, and iAnnotate. After extensive testing we found that Notability served are needs best.

The choice of putting games on the iPad was a big challenge. We decided to add some games like Cut the Rope and Angry Birds to the iPads during the summer. The thought was that during downtime to give time for kids to be able to choose activities that will include these games. With these games on the device it became a constant distraction for the students. In the end this is a classroom management issue, but teachers had to be on top of the kids to make sure that they weren't sneaking onto games while they were working on projects or instruction. There is great value to having games on the iPad, however we also need to be mindful that this is primarily educational device. With the knowledge of the behaviors students were displaying during the summer with their use of games, we decided to include some free educational games that would have more academic or educational value.

Probably the biggest challenge was in reviewing and selecting educational apps. There are many apps that help students with math, grammar and other important skills. For small deployments picking up a handful of apps at $.99 each is not a difficult investment. However when you multiply $.99 times 1200, it's hard to justify purchasing an app that may help with certain skills, but is limited in scope. Every teacher had their favorites, but in the economy of scale it is hard to justify. For core skills and standards alignment we had to search out something that provide a more complete curriculum. The best choices were web-based for the most part. However almost every program we looked at had an Adobe Flash foundation to it. Knowing that Adobe Flash and the iPad are not compatible, we were very limited in what could choose for the curriculum. There were several recommendations to use a flash browser on the iPad like Puffin to access flash-based sites, my personal experience was that it was hit or miss using these browser apps. We could not take the chance that would rely on a browser that has to go to a distant server to render the flash for every student if it is too buggy. In the end we chose IXL Math as it worked well on the iPad. It lacks important features like preassessing students and creating specific learning paths for them based on their skills, however it did give students feedback and goals for working on different math skills. It also has a pretty robust teacher reporting tool which was one of the important criteria for us for a math curriculum. We are also using the Khan Academy which works well with our Google Apps domain. We know that there will be better programs available soon that will be much more integrated with the iPad itself, but for now we had to choose something that will work to create the context of a learning environment where students can receive feedback immediately and teachers can have immediate data on students proficiencies.

The whole environment of the iPad is evolving. Choices we made today may need to be modified in the future when better systems for managing the content on the iPad become available. We are at the dawn of iCloud and iOS5 which will give us much more transparent manageability of the devices and make it easier for us to maintain and update any apps we put on. Once we finish rolling out the first wave of iPads to the classrooms teachers, they will have some autonomy for selecting additonal apps that will go on iPads for their schools. This will allow some more customization beyond what we gave them and allow for any grade specific apps to be put onto the iPad.

List of current apps on Encinitas USD iPads