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Monday, 25 February 2013

Completing the Set

Building on my pervious post, I have gone ahead and attempted to compile a list of reasons for investing in more iPads for student use in lessons. I am currently interested in bumping up our pilot collection to a full class set, 10 of which would be iPad Minis. 

So here we go.
These are my 20 reasons for implement a class set of ipads. This is by no means an argument for their implementation of iPads as desktop or laptop replacements. iPads and computers, both desktop and laptop are very different different devices with different strengths and weaknesses.  Instead this list exemplifies the reasons I see as important for bringing iPads into the classroom for use as the best tool for many jobs. 

  1. The auditory, kinesthetic and visual aspects of the iPad appeal to different learners and learning styles.
  2. Students can work collaboratively in learning pods more easily with iPads, than they can in a traditional computer lab. Collaborative work is facilitated either on one device or across devices depending on the task and the apps being used.
  3. Students already use  a wide range of different smartphones and tablets. They are familiar with touch screen technology and take to them easily. Our students also see the potential of the tablet and not only choose them as their tool of choice in lessons, but also book them outside of lessons often for audio and video work.
  4. We are beginning work with Evernote this year and it runs flawlessly on the ipad for research, notetaking and the gathering of multimedia resources. 
  5. The set or partial set would be available for booking by other departments when not in use in ICT. Our English teachers have already started using them at times for their digital storytelling assignments.
  6.  iPads are viewed by many as devices for content consumption. That is a very shallow view of the potential the tablet offers.  I would argue that their greatest value in education is content creation. We use them extensively for content creation, such as work with digital video, digital books, podcasts and digital presentations using apps like Voicethread and Storykit. The beauty of the iPad is that this type of work can easily take place from start to finish on one device, with no need for external cameras,card readers, cables, or desktop computers.
  7. Having a class set will allow them to be used more effectively in lessons. At present students are partnered up, which works well for some activities but not all. 
  8. With careful planning a class set of iPads will free up our iMac lab for for certain lessons and even entire units of study.
  9. Initial work with the younger grades, involving audio and video can be done on the iPads, instead of the iMacs. The applications are much simpler to use, and although they do not offer all the bells and whistles that iMovie and GarageBand do on the iMacs. There is sufficient there for our youngest students to explore and apply creatively, without overwhelming them. 
  10. iPads  are great for starter activities in lessons and we have experimented with online apps like AnswerGarden and Quizlet with great success. Right now our students must share iPads, so responses are not always individualised.
  11. Our iPads are well on their way  (in some cases already have) becoming student personal learning studios.
  12. Notably, Server storage for projects including heavy multimedia is no longer as necessary as storage solutions have moved to the cloud.
  13. iPads are brilliant for Mobile learning. Students can take them any place anywhere at anytime. This means for example, that they can be down at the pond taking photos and recording their observations with Evernote or Fotobabble, annotating their findings with Skitch, showing their understanding with Explain Everything all on the go. 
  14. A lesser investment in hardware spending may result. Not as many desktops will be required, and those we have may last longer. There are no mice or keyboards to break or go missing. 
  15. iPads are inexpensive in comparison to a desktop computer and more powerful than many and apps are relatively inexpensive and often free.
  16. Storage and space issues are minimal, desktops take a lot more space and a small set of iPads can be locked away in most cabinets.
  17. We already have a system in place for app purchases. Developer support is great. There are so very many apps to choose from many free for our needs, and these are updated constantly.
  18. After the initial sync, a small set can be synced ever few months usually in under an hour.
  19. Little maintenance is needed and application installation is easy.
  20. We already have systems in place for student use of the devices, which includes a device email address and dropbox account for transfer of work.

I hope that this list is useful in illustrating why a class set of iPads is a sound educational investment. I would love to hear back from others on this, so please feel free to leave a comment.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

IPads and/or Chromebooks

I have been spending a few hours this weekend looking at iPads and Chromebooks. I have run a pilot on a small number of iPads and played briefly with a Chromebook. I am no expert on Chromebooks, having had little exposure to them, so I wanted to see how they measured up when it came to iPads. It is a bit like apples and oranges really. Here are my findings so far.

“The iPad 4 and Samsung Chromebook 550 represent the “best available” models, respectively.

  • Boot times measured in seconds
  • Battery life of 10 hours (iPad) or 6 hours (Chromebook)
  • Weight of 1.5lbs. (iPad) or 3lbs. (Chromebook)
  • Limited access to the file system
  • Streamlined updates of the operating system, apps or extensions
  • Built-in cameras, microphones and speakers for video conferencing
  • Ubiquitous connectivity, thanks to WiFi or WiFi plus cellular data connections.” (Wolber, 2013)

wifi needed for certain appswi-Fi-only
encourage mono-taskingrun a single application - a web browser - complemented by user-added extensions and web apps
touch screen and voiceover (external keyboards available for a price)conventional trackpad and keyboard
changes orientation no orientation changes
back-facing camera: 5 MP, 1080p HD with video stabilization, face detection, flash
Front-facing FaceTime camera: 1.2 MP, 720p HD
front-facing camera: 153,600 pixels, VGA (640 x 480)
mobile Device Management of iPads with third party software
Google Apps’ control panel provides controls for management of Chrome OS devices
email and basic document editing, reliable and powerful mulitmedia creation with a variety of free and paid apps (no flash)
Advanced doc editing with pages, sheets with numbers and presentations with keynote. Alternative free apps available.
email and basic document editing, no multimedia except through chrome apps,
Alternative free apps available.
Microsoft Office, is not availableMicrosoft Office, is not available
Google Drive create and edit Docs and SheetsGoogle Drive works fully
no file managerfile manager
Easy Transition for Mac UsersEasy transition to chromebook for Google apps users.
multimedia creation tools in the form of apps readily available, usually for free but upgrades often for a price.

A stable internet connection is required to transfer any large files from an iPad elsewhere. Smaller files can be transferred through email.
Chromebook are ideal for those who work
primarily on the Web, not designer, developers or those creating multimedia projects. The necessary tools aren't available, can be found in the Chrome store but many are not terribly reliable, especially when a less than ideal internet connection is available.

Primary useage: write, send and receive email, work on google docs and other Web applications, play some games, and browse the web.
Working with one app at a timeWork by flipping between app tabs
The iOS is not internet dependent, most apps run without a network connection. No file manager is available.The linux based OS is designed for people who spend the majority of their time on the Internet.

The device runs apps through a browser and it comes with with media player and a file manager. That dramatically limits its utility when you're disconnected from the Internet. Some apps such as Google Drive Offline and Notepad will still run.
The iPad mini (starting at $329) is considerably smaller and lighter than the iPad, but lacks the “retina display” of the larger iPad.

Mini $329
7.9 inches screen
0.68 lbs
10 hour battery life

1.4 GHz Apple A6X (ARM-based) SoC (system on a chip), PowerVR SGX554MP4 quad-core GPU
Samsung built US$249 is half the price of the least expensive 10-inch iPad
Chromebook: 2.42 lbs, 11.4" x 8.09" x .69", 11″ screens and slower performance are available  such as the Samsung Chromebook at $249.
It weighs 2 pounds and measures 0.8″ thick.
16GB standard on board memory, 2GB of RAM, a USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 port, HDMI output, a .3MP web camera, dual 1.5w speakers and a 6.5 hour life expectancy of battery

1.7 GHz Samsung Exynos 5 Dual (ARM-based) SoC, ARM Mali-T604 quad-core GPU

A less-expensive  alternative is the Acer C7 which offers a conventional hard drive  and costs $199.

Google includes 100GB of online storage for up to 1 year, after  which a fee must be paid.
aluminum unibody construction and solid glassaluminum-colored plastic
iPad 3: 2048 x 1536 pixels
ipad mini 1024-by-768 pixels
1366 x 768 pixels,
Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technologyBluetooth 3.0
ipad 3 : 45.0 secondsChromebook: 9.1 seconds
Wake from sleep
Wake from sleep
RAM and Storage not expandableRAM and Storage not expandable, has built-in SD card slot for extra storage
Audio, Bluetooth, dock connector/LightningBluetooth, USB 3 (1 port), USB 2 (1 port), HDMI

“In a browser-and-app world, you should be able to seamlessly switch devices. The device matters only to provide access to data and an application. The data lives in the cloud; the application is either a browser or installed app”(Wolber, 2012)

“The perfect device is the one that does what you want it to do.”

In Summary

Any purchase of ipads and/or chromebooks should be based on their intended use of said devices. Both differ in many ways, and offer advantages over the other depending on their intended use. Similarities do exist, such as cloud storage, apps, powerful batteries 6-10 hours), bluetooth, the use of apps and cloud computing.

Understanding each devices limitations and strengths is vital when making a decision to purchase. For example, Chromebooks are not the best option for any work involving multimedia. Instead they are they are the ideal option for basic document (text,sheets, presentation) work, emailing  and other forms of communication as well as web browsing. They use internet dependent apps in most cases, so work best where the internet connection is strong. My experience with Chrome apps so far has been mixed. Multimedia apps can be slow and at times unreliable. I have found the same thing true for some of the basic Google Apps, such as Drive, Sites and even Gmail at times.  An investment solely in Chromebooks brings with it certain limitations. I would not want to attempt to run any class in which student work was dependent on Chrome store multimedia apps dependent on a stable internet connection. I think that generally teachers would find this a frustrating experience if they did not first understand the limitations of the device.

Ipads on the other hand will run word processing, presentation and spreadsheet apps independently of a wifi connection. They are the more powerful devices, but for a higher cost. They perform all the basic tasks as well as  excel at  powerful multimedia activities, all of this on just one device. They are the more complete solution, as they offer greater versatility, and are quality devices that will last for many years. The majority of students are familiar with how they work, and with the introduction of the ipad mini, the cost has come down considerably while and portability has improved.

Ideally a school might consider offering both of these powerful devices to teachers and students, budgets allowing. Once those planning the learning experiences, the teachers,  understood the strengths and weaknesses of each, they would be in a good position to plan and deploy lessons which optimise their use in learning experiences.

It is my suggestion that the school pilot a set of Chromebooks whilst providing teachers with a roaming set of mini iPads simultaneously.  We have piloted ipads successfully in ICT lessons as well as English and there is a great deal of potential for other subjects as well, assuming a sufficient number of devices were made available. In the case of a dual investment, teachers should receive a brief orientation session with the devices that would focus on how to best maximise the use of each in the educational setting.

Wolber, Andy. "Chromebook or IPad: Choose Your Post-PC Device Wisely." TechRepublic. CBS Interactive Inc, Dec. 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. <>.

Sande, Steven. "TUAW Smackdown: Google Chromebook vs. Apple IPad, MacBook Air." TUAW. TUAW, 3 Nov. 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. <>.

Steve. "Decadent Waste." Http:// Squarespace, 12 Mar. 12. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. <>.

"Why Choose a Chromebook or Chromebox? - Chrome OS Wiki." Why Choose a Chromebook or Chromebox? - Chrome OS Wiki. Google Sites, n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. <>.

Wood, Joe. "Chromebook Caution." Web log post. JoeWoodOnline. WorldPress, 18 Mar. 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. <>.

Julian. "The New Google ChromeBook Is Ready To Be Explored, Priced At $249-$329." DFRAGG. DFRAGG, 19 Oct. 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. <>.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Book Week is Coming Soon!

Each year the LRC hosts Book Week. This is a special event in which books and reading are the focus. Students participate in competitions, read plenty of books, focus on literature based activities, interact with guest authors and guest readers, dress up as their favourite characters and more.

This year Book Week will take place during the week of February 25th.

Do take a look at the short video teaser we have prepared for the event. There will be more information to follow soon.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Internet Safety Week

The teachers and students have been very busy creating internet safety videos for everyone.

We have begun collecting them all in a playlist for easier view, and they are also being posted on our Facebook page.

The short videos were produced by the KS3 students using Morfo on the iPads. The longer, Netiquette video was produced by Mr. Fastiggi in the Upper Primary school, with contributions by the upper primary school students and Mrs. Garcia in the LRC.

Have a look. We hope you enjoy and even learn something new from them.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Using Minecraft

We have recently purchased licenses for Minecraft Edu and are about to set up our first server. This is a huge step for us as the 7th grades will be using Minecraft in ICT to plan and build fortresses in teams. We have a great many team leaders in the 7th grade who will be in charge of organising each build, leading the work and building the more complex structures and mechanisms. This is our first time trialing Minecraft at school. That said, a good half of the grade has rated their abilities as intermediate to expert. The remaining half are novices who will be learning on the job, with the support of their teacher, their team and our online lessons.

Students will use their understanding of Castles and Fortresses from their 6th grade work to organise the materials, and plans for the project. We will build in Creative mode most of the time, but test the structures in survival mode during the process and once the builds are complete. 

It is always heartwarming to see students selecting the right tool applying their ICT skills in other subjects. Our 8th grade students have been working on WW1 Trench projects in Humanities and two of them have recreated their interpretations using two very powerful digital tools, Minecraft and Sketchup.

I have included their work below.

SketchUp Trenches

Minecraft Trenches 


Preparing for Internet Safety Week
Yesterday I put together a short Puppet Pals video for the Primary School, which attempts to explain what Netiquette really is.

The Apps
I have found that Puppet Pals is a great resource, once you have purchased the director's pass. It allows you to upload your own content and produce short videos that are easy to download as well as upload. Videos can easily be opened and edited in iMovie as well as dropboxed to a Mac where they can be edited and scored in iMovie and Garageband.

I also love Sock Puppets for this type of work and Morfo is great for head shots. In both cases the puppets mouths actually move with your voice. I have had trouble with Sock Puppets recently however, as the option to save to the iPad picture roll seems to have disappeared with the free version. Time to upgrade I guess....

Anyway I hope you enjoy our little video on Netiquette.