Friday, December 16, 2011

From slates to iPads - a reflection

Recently I was discussing and showing the educational use of the iPad to some retired educators. We looked at some Apps that have really used the features of the iPad to transform learning.

One of the educators has a keen interest in music and we looked at the ability to play musical instruments on the iPad while also discussing the possibilities of using Apps to store, edit and scroll her sheet music.

Later she emailed me with her response to the use of the iPad. I was really struck with the things she said about the use of iPads, the changing use of technology over the years, the future possibilities and often the negative responses to the introduction of 'new technologies'. She agreed to share her reflection with us:

"The use of the iPad in learning really is fascinating, and it's definitely going to be a huge revolution in schools. I can see less discipline problems, more help for kids with learning and physical disabilites. (Will there possibly be a talking version or a braille version too for the blind?) I can see, too, it will free teachers up a lot, as they don't have to go and collect the books from the store room; they don't have to run to the photocopier all the time, they don't' have to book the electronic items that only one person can operate, etc.

It's amazing to think that, when I started school, I used a personal blackboard and chalk, rather than a paper notebook, then graduated to a pen dipped in ink (used with blotting paper for mopping up the ink splats we made, and for which we were rapped over the knuckles with the edge of a big wooden ruler). That's where that saying came from.

Even when biros came in, for years we were forbidden to use them at school, and there were dire predictions from eminent scholars saying biro use would lead to lazy scholars with illegible handwriting!!"


1. A braille version of the iPad is already a concept in design via Omnifer who have designed a concept case meant to make the iPad usable for blind and visually impaired customers. The Omnifer almost covers the iPad completely, save for a small portion of the screen, and adds raised Braille buttons.

2. A colleague who is also a musician, recommends the App "OnSong" as the best App he has used for his sheet music. With OnSong, you can manage huge collections of chord sheets, quickly pull and reorder lists and flip from one song to the next, transpose and highlight chords or change font size. You can import songs directly from online sources, or add your own songs with the built-in editor. Just type the song like you would expect and surround your chords in square brackets inline with your lyrics. You can set OnSong to scroll your music via an autoscroll feature.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

IPad purchase models for schools

Following are examples of different purchase models for deploying iPads with examples of contracts, FAQs and more supplied to students and their families on a 1 to 1 iPad program

School purchased model
Lease Agreement Model
Webb School of Knoxville iPad lease program
Webb School of Knoxville iPad program FAQs

Purchasing Options Model
John Monash Science school provides students/parents with a variety of options for acquiring their iPad, including buy outright a bundled iPad with accessories through an approved supplier, lease or create your own bundle. See the options at their iPad purchasing webpage.

Many Schools are also putting together FAQs for students and parents to make the transition easier:
Green Acres School iPad FAQ

Schools are putting together Booklists of Apps or iBooks for students to purchase for their iPads. John Monash Science School ebooklist

Checklist for Implementation

Lastly, a user contract is only one part of an effective implementation program. Here is a good list of things that you should be looking at before you even get to the purchase agreement stage. Use this as a checklist to make sure that your 1 to 1 implementation goes to plan. Preparing your school for an iPad implementation

Monday, November 7, 2011

Apps for Transition from School to Work

13 Students from 6 schools participated in a produce based learning work experience one day per week over 10 weeks at Aengus Kavanagh Education & Equity Centre Mount Druitt.

This enabled them to engage in a wide range
of tasks including merchandising, packaging of goods, customer service, money handling and an opportunity to use the latest technology and the latest apps from the Learning Exchange to enhance their employability skills.

Students can be seen using an ipad with an App - 'Jungle Time' that tests their ability to tell the time and tell elapsed time using a dial on the screen. This app provided students with different time telling scenarios which is a valuable time management skill and essential employability skill for students to successfully transition from school to work.

Jungle Time ($2.99) is a very interactive App where students can interact with the clock by physically moving the hands around the clock. As you move the clock hands, wherever you stop the App speaks the time to you to confirm the time you have set.

You can personalise your level of learning, learn via a range of activities and personalise the clock face. The same developer also has a Jungle Coins App that is very useful as it has an Australian currency option.

Other Apps useful for Transition skills are the series of Life Skills sampler, Work Skills sampler and Social Skills sampler. More information about the Apps was posted previously at: Personalising Social Skills Learning.

Involving parents with your schools iPad program

Many libraries and educational organisations across the world see the benefits of including your community in understanding how latest technology can enhance learning. A number of libraries have what they call a 'Digital Petting Zoo' where you can go and find out more about the technology, find out what it can do, how to use it and feel comfortable with the technology.

St Patrick's Primary Guildford felt it was important to have parents involvement and understanding about the use of iPads in learning at their school. So recently they organised an event where students at St Patricks got to show parents the opportunities for learning with an Ipad.

Parents were invited to the school hall for an iPad in-service. After a brief introduction about the value of iPads in the classroom parents were able to watch children from all grades using the iPads in a variety of ways. Children demonstrated maths, literacy, logical thinking and music apps to the parents and showed them that they do not just “play” with them but also transfer this into other activities.

The parents were also given the opportunity to use the iPads themselves to explore the apps displayed as well as other apps available. The aim was for parents to enjoy this learning experience and see the huge benefit that iPads have in the classroom.

St Patricks is also exploring the opportunities that using the iPads with Air Display and Apple TV may have to assist in enhancing learning and teaching.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

iPad use in a school for Special Needs - St Gabriels

Earlier this week a group of educators from Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta were privileged to visit St Gabriel's School to see how they were integrating the use of iPads in their students learning. St Gabriel's is an independent Catholic Primary School catering for children with hearing impairment and other special needs such as intellectual disability and autism in the mild to moderate range. Most students had their own iPads purchased by or donated to their families.

What we saw was a wide range of use by
students. Here is some of the Apps and the usage comments:

Doodle buddy - for writing letters
Intro to letters, by Montessorium - teacher says sound of letters, students select and then trace the letter.
Pocket phonics - letters, tracing and sounds
Intro to maths by Montessorium - includes number rods which provides the visual confirmation of number concepts.
Pearl Diver - number concepts, gross motor skills, good for tracking skills too.
Notes app for writing sentences
- okay for typing but print is a little small for kids ‑ Predictive text can be a nuisance ‑ can turn it off in settings.
Pictello ‑ used for student news - creating their own talking book
Proloquo2go - Assistive Communication Device
What we saw was one on one instruction with a student. Teacher had her own iPad too, as well as child.
They were doing a listening task with the student selecting the right word from the image and text choices.
Word lists were created in the app for the student ‑ While it is labour intensive to put words in, it is extremely useful for personalisation of learning. You can drop your own photos into it and they had programmed it for this students holidays as well. Can link word lists with books.

They were using word groups from National geographic magazine and replicating sentences from the book in Proloquo2go. The teacher felt that this App had assisted the student greatly with his comprehension.
It was also used as a diary for parents to know what's been happening at school. My school diary with visuals, eg I played with (photos in photos section), I did ... In religion ‑ Screen shots of any work, art works, etc.

Where did they found out about good Apps?
Aspect, Spectronics, and from their families: a whole community learning together.

Comments on the iPad
The iPad is a lot easier to access than laptop or dedicated devices for eg: dynovox, due to portability and touchscreen features. There are more things you can do with an iPad than a dedicated device. Don't have to read a manual to use it.
Ipad allows easy researching on the internet and Youtube.
Businesses have been happy to donate iPads. Easy to replace if they break.
The advent of Air Display will also help with teachers and students able to project their iPad to a TV wirelessly.
Need to ensure that settings are chosen to stop inadvertent deletion of Apps or in App purchases.
Bluetooth keyboards are useful for some students. However keyboards with built in batteries are better as without batteries it can drain iPad power.

The future
Possibilities of the Pad in the playground for
move about therapies reading communicative intent of students ‑ what other kids are doing ‑ Need to prepare students and families, possible‑ insurance, accessories for carrying the iPads etc.

The iPad is seen as a 'Communication Partner'.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Creating iBooks with Pages

There are so many ways that students can get creative with ebooks that can be then published to iBooks on the iPad. We have touched on this in previous posts.

Creating your own iBooks
Creating iBooks or Ebook Apps

iBooks uses ePub format which is a free and open standard format created by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), designed for reflowable content that can be optimized to whatever device is being used to read a book file.

This post highlights some great resources for creating epub documents/books via Pages on a Mac or via devices/software other than on the iPad.

An excellent step by step pdf document 'Using iWork Pages 09 to create ePubfiles' from Charlene Chausis, Adlai E. Stevenson High School.

The ePub template that is recommended by Apple ePub Best Practices Sample Document.

A useful video tutorial on using Pages to create an ePub book:

How to Create ePub ebook Using Pages '09 from Jason Rhode on Vimeo.

An extensive list of links to creating ePub files via a range of sotware in ePub in Classroom

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bulk licensing deal for childrens story books

As educators, we are often lamenting that publishers of digital resources don't cater very well for the way we need to work at school level. App purchases on the iPad are a case in point, where you must buy a copy of the App for each iPad due to the licensing constraints. So we all understand that iPads are best suited for use as a personal device, but libraries and schools for many reasons are using them in shared ways. So how to accommodate this?

Well one publisher has really thought about the use of their books for a variety of markets. A Story before Bed was already a great App with its ability for children to record audio and video of themselves reading a book.

One of our educators has been using this App for a long time and finds it a great App for developing children's oral language and literacy. Children can share their recordings too. The books have great quality graphics and early this year they won the won the first ever Publishing Innovation Award at Digital Book World. Have a look at my recording of Itsy Bitsy Spider via the iPad.

Now they are providing licences for schools and libraries to utilise the App. With the ability to access over 300 books via the App or via the Web this could be a really useful purchase for schools and libraries.

Maybe other publishers/developers will think about doing the same thing for schools.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Educational Apps from Education Services Australia

Education Services Australia has released more quality educational literacy and numeracy Apps, and the good thing is that they are free. Also Apps related to the curriculum and standards.

Click on the image to be taken to the iTunes store link to the Apps.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Create your own magazine using Flipboard

Connect and engage your students with their current research topic by getting them to create a magazine on their topic with the Flipboard App.

Classroom Instruction that works provides some great student learning ideas at 15 Fantastic ways to use Flipboard.

iPad Curriculum also discusses how students can use Flipboard to create their own personalized digital magazine by utilising a class created twitter account.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

iPad study tour Melbourne 2011

A group of educators from Catholic Education Parramatta recently took part in an iPad study tour of a few schools in Melbourne.  We also had input from Apple and educators from schools who were implementing one to one iPad programs in their schools.
Following is a brief summary with links to useful information about the use of iPads  in Schools:

1. Apple presentation:
  •  ios5 enhancements- use of Airplay with Apple TV box to project from an iPad wirelessly will untether teachers.  Some links to understand Airplay: Extension of Airplay in iOS 5 to advance iPad use in schools and a how to setup Airplay mirroring with iPad2 at Welcome to iPad2.5 Presentation Machine.
  •  'Teachers should promote curiosity and the iPad provides that opportunity'
  • 140,000+ apps available
  • Apps like Virtual Roma and the Last Supper which immerse the students in an 3D like panoramic environment that they can explore.  These sort of Apps move the use of technology from enhancement to transformation on the SAMR model of inclusion of technology in curriculum. 
(Some useful links I have found to information on SAMR model and 'Thinking Creatively: Teachers as designers of Content, Technology and Pedagogy')
2. Presentations from:
Shawn Taggert Acacia College.
Went one to one with Years 7's after buying a class set.  RMIT is doing a study on the use of iPads for student learning in their schools.  Initially the school bought iPads for the students, next year parents will buy them.  They have halved their booklist.
Steven Cook Albert Park College.
Delivering a richer more multifaceted curriculum using iPads to transform learning.  Believe that schools need to use devices that are relevant to students of today.
Hilary Bland Victorian College of the Arts.
Look at the PISA Report on Digital Literacy when implementing iPads. Practicalities: use of Webdav instead of Dropbox to save student documents.
3. Visits to:
 Presentation College Windsor, Kelly McGurn and David Patterson provided very useful practical information on the preparation and implementation of a one to one iPad program in their school. Link to presentation.
Adam Brice from Ringwoood North Primary School: they have a one to one program with 138 iPads across the school using it for Challenge Based Learning in an Agile Learning Space.
Outcomes for them: the iPad allows learning to become the focus rather than the technology and teachers as collaborators.  See one example of students work 'River of Belief' and more posts about the iPad trial via the same link.
Phillip Sakellaridis from St Josephs Ferntree Gully. This year 186 students in Yr 7 have iPads.  Next year Yr 7, 8 and 12 will have iPads.  'Students are the experts'.

The above is a very brief summary of two days of very valuable information gathered from this tour. If anyone from the tour has anything else they would like to add or provide further links please add a comment or email any amendments to

Friday, October 14, 2011

Creative writing using Simulated Environment Apps

Simulated environment Apps like Epic Citadel and Castlerama can be used to inspire students in creative writing tasks. 

In each of these Apps you are immersed in a fantasy environment that you are able to walk around and explore.

Use the App for students to explore the environment and then generate descriptive words and phrases around what they saw.  Then students can use these as a basis for writing a story, or creating their own movie or even their own ibook or ebook app.
Here are some ideas from other teachers, schools and students:
Teacher Helen Walker discusses how she uses Epic Citadel to generate creative writing with her Yr 8 classes at 'Creative Writing using Epic Citadel'.

Danielle Bayes uses one iPad and Epic Citadel with her class of 28 year 3 students to immerse her students into this fantasy environment and uses this as a stimulus to discuss, think, imagine and share ideas as a precursor to writing and ultimately making a short movie with their iwn narrative of their experience in the fantasy environment. See the results at her blopost on Creative Writing with Epic Citadel.

At Ringwood North Primary School, students used Epic Citadel to create their own digital stories.  An example of one students final product inspired by Epic Citadel and created with other other Apps such as Doodle Buddy, Strip Design and Keynote can be found at their blogpost 'River of Belief'

Epic Citadel and Castlerama are currently free.

Take a look at Epic Citadel:

Monday, October 10, 2011

iPads in learning

I recently attended the Australian School Libaries Conference (ASLA) and gave a presentation 'Exploring iPads in Teaching and Learning' (see presentation below).  It was interesting to see a good proportion of the delegates were using  iPads as their device of choice.

There was lots of discussion the use of mobile technologies in learning.  Some schools were looking at iPads as a 1 to 1 program, others looking at class sets, and yet others looking at a set that they could loan from the library.  Broader than that however, was how mobile technologies and online platforms and resources can and are being used to access, engage, learn and teach in today's spaces where our learners live, work and play.  Many of the digital resources or tools that were being looked at such as QR codes, Augmented Reality, Ebooks, Collaborative Textbooks etc integrate well with the iPad.

While not all session related to iPads, the presentations from the ASLA 2011 conference are worthwhile for anyone engaged in improving student learning in today's digital environment.  They are starting to go up on the official ASLA slideshare page with some presenters also personally adding their presentations via the tag ASLA2011 .  Greg Swanson who also has a very useful blog reviewing Apps in Education has a good roundup of the presenters and links from the conference at EdTech Toolbox.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Speech and Language Development with the iPad

The iPad platform provides teachers with lots of good resources to assist in developing children's speech and language.  The features of the iPad allows Apps that provide students with the ability to interact with words with all their senses.  They can listen, see, touch and record while developing their vocabulary, language, articulation and grammar skills.

Speedy Reader  ($2.99) is a good example of an App that provides students with practice on contextual words around specific environments, in a simple but engaging way.  Words and matching photographs are displayed and the student chooses the correct matching word.  The images are high quality and the students has options to have the word read aloud to them and to work individually or with others.   If you want to try before you buy, Speedy Reader has a lite version for free.

The range of Apps Talking Tom, Talking Gina, Talking Ben and the latest Talking Larry are another example of Apps that can sometimes be dismissed as just a fun game but can be used in really great ways to build speaking confidence and understanding of language.

The Talking Animals repeat back what is said to them. Children can hear what they have said and self correct their own speech in an easy and fun way.  As the animals repeat in their own silly animals voices, students who don't like the sound of their own voice find this very non threatening.  It helps improve language and grammar as students start to realise that they need to say things in a certain way (first person) if they want the talking animal to repeat it as if they are referring to themselves. Talking Larry even whistles the tune you play on the onscreen piano.

There are a number of websites with reviews and lists of good Apps that can be used in both speech development and therapy:

Apps for SLPs - this is a very informative and user friendly Google Doc that while aimed at Speech Pathologists provides good information on a range of language and communication apps.

Using iPad and iPhone Apps to support Speech and Language Development.  Another useful listing of Apps arranged by categories such as vocabulary,  articulation, etc.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

iPad for Music Education - Part 3

SoundPrism (free) - This is an extremely interesting and, as it turns out, a very in depth piece of music design. When you open up this app you may brush this off as another Beatwave, everywhere you place your fingers it sounds nice, in tune and in the right key, but(!) when delving further it reveals itself to be quite intricate, what I think to be, composing machine.

On the left you have the bass notes (which you can have the names of the notes come up in the settings, recommended for class/teaching use) and on the right you have the notes designed in the such a way that if you hit 1, 2, or even 9 at the same time it'll do perfect chords. Minor and major chords are cleverly designed as dark and light lines on the right and 6th and 7th chords are as easy as where you position your bass note relative to the chord and vice versa.

Being a songwriter myself I can see amazing opportunity for someone who doesn't have a total grasp on music theory to get into writing songs or melodies straight away. This is something I would've loved at school as songwriting/composition was not pushed, I remember doing 1 composition assignment and that's it. From the demo video it's clear the app maker wanted people to feel the emotion of making music without the tediousness of music theory and they've succeeded greatly.

I could go on forever about the midi component in the pro version ($16.99), the limited but excellent sounds/instruments (mostly synth), the keyboard that you can bring up to show you exactly what notes the app is producing and the great demo videos but I'll just let you dive into it yourself. You will be surprised.

Aweditorium (free) - I know from experience that high school students keep to their own music style, rarely venturing into other genres of music, and though you can force "What Do We Do With a Drunken Sailor" and some jass in front of them, its seen as old and ineffectual to them. Enter the music discovery apps starting with Aweditorium, allowing the user to navigate new and varied music easily and entertainingly.

From the moment you open this app you can see it's simple and stylish design with the band photo tiles appearing on a large canvas of music landscape, the touch is smooth and responsive and in the top left hand corner you can see little dots of where people are on the music map in real time.

From the get go it urges you to tap the centre tile, as you do you get pulled into a high res photo of the band and a song instantly starts playing. You tap between two screens while in this mode, a lyrics mode and a information mode, the latter has pop up speech bubbles of
information on the band (a la VH1's "Pop Up Video") obviously written by the band themselves. Also in the information mode is a peace symbol which is a share function for Twitter and Facebook (this also counts how many earthlings have shared the song), a heart symbol which you can fly to different songs by the same artist and download the song on iTunes ("a song means a lot when a song is bought" it reads) and links to video interviews and music videos all watched within the app.

The only downside is that there is too much indie (as in the genre) music. There is an underground in all types of music but it's indie music that is the main aspect of this app and Triple J, it is the music of the moment but there needed to be more varied types of music to make this a true music discovery app.

KCRW Music Mine (free) - This music discovery app is an offering from American radio station KCRW who is a leader at supporting new music (Triple J for the States). It has the same sort of design as Aweditorium but this one is sponsored by unobtrusive ads and isn't as slick. Though swiping through the tiles (however jittery) the tiles on the sides sort of attach and unattach in a very cool manner. Also different is from these tiles there are songs, videos, radio DJ sets updated daily and also KCRW's streaming radio station.

Once listening to a song you can share it, buy it, listen to other songs by the artist, look at photos, get video, view blogs that have mentioned the band and view their full bio. Truly a tremendous way to show an artist and have info on them for students to experience all the band has to offer.

As for the music collection, there is still an over presence of the indie genre and there are more artists that you would actually know (which isn't particularly a good thing for a music discovery app, I mean I saw Radiohead and Joy Division in there) but it is much more varied than Aweditorium, for instance right now I'm listening to a Spanish dub step song. In terms of finding more genres for the students to experience, I'd have to say KCRW Music Mine wins out.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Literacy Apps

The Central Coast Children's Foundation (CCCF) in Monterey California has put together a very useful list of Literacy Apps.  While aimed at Adult Literacy the list also includes a category of apps that can be used with young children who are beginning to develop their literacy skills.  The list provides details of the App and what it does as well as the costs, platforms it  can be used on, and any reviews available.  The following link takes you to the downloadable pdf on their website.
Adult literacy Apps list. 

Special Needs Apps for the iPad

Steve Jobs and Apple didn't forsee the extensive use of the iPad for people with Special Needs.  However the easy to use swipe design, portability and accessibility features are making it a very useful tool for many people with disabilities or learning difficulties.  Add to that is an extensive range of Apps that can be used to assist with literacy, communication, living skills and more.

On this blog we have put together a list of websites that have useful Apps for Sepcial Needs students accessible via the Special Needs Uses tab at the top of the blog.

In this post we look at some Apps we have recently trialed.

ACT Spell  is an app that aims at targeting specific vocabulary and assisting motor, visual and neurological skills.  Users or facilitators of the App can access a set of aready installed word banks or create their own word banks of words or phrases depending on their need.  To adapt for users needs in terms of visual communication or mobility issues users can adjust button size, background colours and hear text to speech. The only negative can be the voices used to read about the letters and words.  While they can be adjusted in a number of ways they are not very natural.  Apart from that for $2.99 this very easy to use App has many possibilities for students with a variety of special needs.  See the video below to see how it is being used by one person.

iWritewords $2.99 (A free lite version is also available to trial)
This App is useful for teaching handwriting and encouraging fine motor skills.  It's bright colours and fun way of drawing the letters making this a very engaging App.

Literacy Skills Sampler.  In a previous post we reviewed the Social Skills Sampler.  From the same company wand with the same features of being able to personalise the set of literacy videos comes the Literacy Skills Sampler.  This App provides videos around recognition of basic words in certain social situations, ranging from shopping to warning signs etc.

ProloQuo2Go helps people who have difficulty communication ranging from people with autism.  Press pictures and words on the iPad and it will speak the words out loud.  While it is not one we have trialed yet and the App seems expensive at $199, it is a less expensive option than many other Augmentative and Alternative Communication solutions and many people are finding it very effective.  See one child using it to communicate with his Mum about his favourite food.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

iPad literacy research

 iPads Make Better Readers, Writers
THE Journal reports: In a research paper titled “Unlocking Literacy with iPad,” Ohio English teacher James Harmon found that state-compiled statistics indicate that those students with iPad access in the year leading up to the Ohio Graduation Test had a 6-percent greater chance of passing the test’s reading portion than those without, and an 8-percent greater chance of passing the writing portion. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

New ebook Apps for Primary

That all time favourite nursery rhyme Winken, Blinken and Nod is reimagined in this quirky little App ($1.99).  The art work is very beautiful with a layered collage look.  This App can hear you speak the words and the words and animations follow as you speak the text.  This interactivity is an innovative idea for ebooks.  We found that there was a delay in the words being highlighted as you read which could be confusing for some children and in some cases it didn't pick up on your voice.  However you can tap the words for the story to continue.  It would have been good to have a Read aloud function too that read the story to the children.  However it is still a App that children would find it very engaging.

In Harold and the Purple Crayon children interact with story with the ability to  colour in Harolds drawing.   Lots of interaction and suprise elements to be found in the Touch Tale mode as well as a read to me and read aloud mode.  $7.49 at the App store.

Blue Hat, Green Hat is another favourite book that is available as an App ($1.99).  With simple repetitive words, focusing on the the 4 primary colours and clothing words it is a very colourful and engaging app suitable for early readers.  You can tap the animal characters to get them to do different things.  The fun comes with the poor turkey who is always wearing things the wrong way.  Children can use this app to reinforce common words and colours as well as learn independence about getting dressed.  On top of this they get to have fun seeing what the animals get up to when you tap them.  A thoroughly enjoyable book that will have everyone going Ooops!

Listening and Language

The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children has just released an app aimed at developing children's listening and language skills.  It has been created by listening and spoken language specialists and is one of a series of Apps that are being created and will be released soon.

 The first app in the series, Old MacDonald, is now available on the iTunes app store for 99 cents.  To learn more about the app visit the RIDBC website

Firefly Pix is a very engaging free app that can be used to learn new vocabulary.  Watch hundreds of fireflies create a beautiful picture of simple letters, words, numbers or shapes.  The App will speak the word.  It also provides quizzes and a drawing component. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Exploring iPads in learning at St Josephs

Fun, Fun, Fun!

The community of St Joseph’s Schofields spent Thursday 18th August celebrating their Fun-a-thon. This fundraising event raised a terrific amount of money to use towards purchasing technology, in particular Ipads, for St Joseph’s.

One of the activities the students completed during the day, was an introduction to Ipads. Students from Kindergarten through to Year 6 loved being introduced to Ipads and a variety of Apps. They loved learning how to use “Puppet Pals”, which allowed the rookies right through to the experts to create and present a show.

Kindergarten laughed and laughed as “Talking Tom” kept interrupting them from the IWB as they created colourful characters for their puppet shows.

A HUGE St Joseph’s thank you goes to The Learning Exchange for loaning the school a set of 20 Ipads to help make the day a success.

Read more about the St Joseph’s Fun-a-thon here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Editing with iMovie on the iPad

An excellent post from iPad Insight on how to get your videos from your iPhone to the iPad without having to sync your devices. Quite a few options here :

How To Get Videos from iPhone to iPad Without iTunes Sync.

It seems too that for iPad users of the iMovie App you are limited to editing movies created either on the iPad or iPhone. Hopefully that changes with future upgrades.
See the support sections of Apple:

iMovie for iPhone and iPod touch support page
excerpt :
Can I import an iMovie project on my Mac into iMovie for iPhone 4 and iPad touch (4th generation)?
No, the projects from iMovie on your Mac cannot be imported into iMovie for iPhone4 and iPod touch (4th generation)
(eds note - this seems to apply to the iPad too)
iMovie for iPad help

Friday, August 12, 2011

Assessment Apps for Education

With the increasing use of team teaching and agile classrooms, teachers are now looking for Apps that will assist them in assessing the learning of their students while mobile around the classroom.

Anecdotal Assessment
One App that is useful for gathering anecdotal evidence is Evernote.
Teachers can make notes, take photos and record audio of the work that students are doing. You can then tag each note for easy searching later. So if you are doing your half yearly reports and want to look back at all learning achieved by students in your Yr 3 literacy group you can if you have tagged it that way. A neat feature is Evernote's ability to read the text in any of your images and make the words searchable.

The other excellent feature of Evernote is the ability to share evernote notes, so if you are team teaching you can share your notes on particular students with your colleagues very easily. Also once you have set up an account on Evernote you can use it across all your device platforms: iPhone, Macs, PCs, Web.
The free version of Evernote is more than capable of meeting most peoples needs. But if you want more you can go to the priced version. See the Evernote website for more information.

Structured Assessment
If you would like an App that could give you a more structured way of assessing your students there is a very useful list of Assessment Apps at the Apps in Education blog - Assessment Apps by Vicki Windham.

Integrating mindmapping apps in learning

We have just been in a wonderful workshop with Marco Torres - a world leading educator leading a workshop with teachers and students about the Challenge Based Learning Framework.

Among the many useful teaching and learning ideas we were introduced to, was the power of Mindmapping for learning. Using mind mapping to ask under the surface and over the surface questions for solving challenging problems.

There is a variety of MindMap software available for laptops. This is also true of iPads.

Yesterday a number of us started using Popplet Lite (free) as an introductory mind mapping tool. For all student age groups it is a very intuitive app, easy to quickly map your thoughts and link them. A great feature is the ability to include photos and your own drawings in your mind map. You can then export the mind maps via email as a jpg, or save the mind map as an image to the Photos App on the iPad.

If you upgrade to the priced Popplet you can export mindmaps as a PDF, and also upload your mindmaps to an online space where you can collaborate with other students on the one mindmap by sharing an email link to your Popplet. Here you have more options to align your mind map, include video and other media.

A great example of integrating the use of Popplet in your curriculum is at iPads in the Classroom: Popplet App in the ELA classroom. Here 6th grade is using Popplet to gather/organize notes in their Research Essays unit. Yesterday we used it in a variety of ways, one example being for students to use it as a basis for outlining the structure of their essays. Another useful blog post about the use of Popplet in class and its features is at Mrs Huffs Edublog : Popplet Mindmapping.

Marco also referred to another good Mindmapping App - Maptini ($5.49) which is a truly collaborative app which allows you to work together to share you ideas, syncing your data in real time.

If you want to explore other Mindmapping Apps there is a very useful list and review of them at Hans de Zwart blog : Mind Mapping Apps for the iPad: A Comparison.

Here is an example of a beginning collaborative Popplet mindmap our team worked together on at this link:
Collaborative mindmap on Girls participation in soccer.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

iPad for Music Education - Part 2

Mixeroo Lite - This is a great little app that has the potential to show young school children the different elements that go into a song and a basic level of understanding and skill in mixing. With the Lite Version you get "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" performed by a piano, harp, glockenspiel and oboe while with the full version ($1.99) you get 4 songs (Wheels on the Bus, Itsy Bitsy Spider and Ode to Joy).

As I said, this app has potential but would ultimately fall short on young ears. Teaching mixing to a 2-7 year old I would imagine wouldn't go very far. Also, the sounds used (at least on Twinkle) kind of meld into each other and you have to really do some drastic changes to hear what you're doing.

I would love to see an app like this aimed at 14-16 years olds with rock/pop songs with really basic introductions to compression, noise gates, reverb and delay explained and implemented (that would be fantastic!) but I couldn't find anything like that in my iPad travels. Garageband and ShapeMix scratch the surface but not nearly enough.

I recently mused that people not knowing the behind the scenes of music is part
of the factor for people not caring about music piracy. Think about how many movie behind the scenes featurettes you've seen compared to music behind the scenes. But maybe it's just too long and boring to be made interesting to the casual music lover. ...maybe a thread for another blog...

Miso Music - Potential might be the word of the day. This app turns your iPad into a working guitar with Rock Band style tabs cascading down the frets, sounds good right? Well yes and no. Try holding your iPad like a guitar and do a G chord, not too easy is it?

The pros of this app is the great guitar sounds and the strumming/plucking would give Garageband a run for it's money. The music you can download is surprisingly extensive from The Beatles to Miley Cyrus, you can even get traditional songs like Amazing Grace for free (but not too many) and the store is reminiscent of iTunes and are usually $0.99 each. The instruments you can use are also quite extensive (ukulele, mandolin, banjo, etc).

The cons of this app is the prices of those songs could run up a really hefty bill in the matter of moments, I would've liked to see packages or something. And of course the playing on the iPad issue.

Although! And it's a big although, this app can hear notes you're playing with a real guitar via the microphone or an adapter (either Woodees or iRig or I'm sure you could get a cheapy from eBay by now) and just play like that. Now I haven't been able to do this being without the right equipment but reviews are pretty solid which puts this app in the realm of brilliant. Imagine having a class full of kids practicing to a song or lessons on their own at their own pace.

There is a lot going on in this app so here's a video for all you visual people (although the video reckons this guy learnt Freebird from this app, no professional guitarist doesn't know Freebird already!):

How2Play - Again this is a free app that gives you a taste and then to get more you have to sign up on their website and buy more. Lesson packages being $4.99 each, this gets you about 12 lessons each with backing tracks, video for specific techniques and tabs although this can get pretty steep very quickly (maybe I'm cheap...) with the full beginner package with 6 lesson packages in that making it $30!

In saying that though, they've done a really good job with this app. The free lessons you get show you it's potential and ease of use with the audio being separated into 3 tracks: just guitar, guitar and backing track and just backing track. I could see kids having a lot of fun and learning a lot from this sort of medium and how it's laid out.

Ear For Life - (also lite version) So this app is very similar to the Karajan app in Part 1 of iPad for Music Education and a little bit cheaper, although you can see why straight away. The almost Microsoft Paint style is so exceedingly dull you're amazed that the app even works, but work it does. And it works very well truth be told.

The amount of different options for what you have to choose from in either Chord, Interval and Scale recognition is top notch and it would get extremely difficult for even the most astute of ears. The piano sounds good as well as having choices for arpeggiating the chords but the guitar can sound horrendous at times.

Although it's a little bit cheaper than Karajan it's not worth it. Coming from Karajan to Ear For Life there's just no comparison.

Verdict: Buy Karajan. It's really the best music app from my iPad app whole travels.

Friday, July 22, 2011

iPad Storage/ Trolley Options

The following list of various iPad storage and trolley options was compiled by Jeremy Lane at Patrician Brothers' College Blacktown. He has kindly allowed Learning Exchange to share this information.

While the information has been compiled on the basis of the needs of the Patrician Brothers' College, it will be a useful resource for all schools looking for storage options for their iPads.

Click on the image to be taken to the full document.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ebooks on iPads - second instalment

Yesterday we attended the Paul, Pearls and iPads workshop at the Childrens Bookshop, Beecroft organised by Julie Walter from Our Lady of the Rosary Primary, Kellyville. 50 teacher librarians discussed, among other other topics, the future of the book.

Paul MacDonald, educator and owner of the Children's Bookshop discussed the range of fantastic print books available, noting that "The Book is not Dead" and instead people are reading for pleasure across a range of media. With Apps like 'The Elements' enticing people to purchase the print version as well.

Kristen McLean, Publishing Perspectives also notes " the book is still highly valued, and that experimentation with digital content will actually expand the market for books". As humans we find something deeply satisfying in the reading of a physical book.... However this is the age of consumer choice, which means accommodating an infinitely variable range of customer behavior, which in turn means serving content in many ways to many people.

Reading in iPad Transmedia universe: five real-world issues notes " we need to expand the types of texts students are exposed to and engaged with at school by turning attention to electronic books, or e-books. Today's readers are immersed in multimodal experiences and, consequently, have a keen awareness of the possibility of combining modes and media to receive and communicate messages." This article has some good ideas on how to incorporate digital media such as ebook apps in reading.

It is hard to find a site devoted to reviewing ebook Apps, however a good site is Kirkus Reviews which have good reviews of the top childrens ebook apps.

Our presentation at the Pauls, Pearls and iPads workshop yesterday about iPad ebook Apps

Engaging students in music with an iPad band

Watch as these students perform an original piece with the iPad through various music Apps like Garage Band. Neil Johnston from demonstrates how you can have a 24 piece band playing music via iPads.

iBand HD | Amazing 24 Piece iPad Performance In School

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Ebooks on iPads: fad or future?

Mindful Learning Mindful Teaching Ning have put together a very good post on using ebook apps in learning: 'Digital Reading on the iPad: Fad or Books in transition'.

They quote Kristen McLean (online, 2009) who suggests that ebooks are potentially highly effective literacy learning tools allowing young readers to : control the story, absorb information visually, immerse themselves in an alternate world, scroll back and forth, touch and point, anticipate developments, and ask thoughtful questions. This creates great analytical skills and an empowered reader, the kind of reader that will hopefully go on to ask better questions of all media, and make thoughtful decisions about what is worthy of their attention.

However they point out that just like traditional print books 'quality matters' for ebook apps.
They suggest you look for books which have engaging narratives, with well developed story lines, strong characterization, contemporary themes as well as rich use of language.

Read more at the Mindful Learning Mindful Teaching Ning. If you are not a member of this Ning you can ask to join when you go to the site.

Some ebooks we can recommend are:

Bartelby's book of buttons (uses the interactive features of the ipad to make this a highly engaging experience)

A Christmas Carol by Padworx - an abridged version of Charles Dickens Classic (steam punk animation brings this beautiful classic alive to a new generation)

Wonkey Donkey (engaging, fun, repetition of words reinforces learning)

Animalia (the beautiful artwork is replicated in this app as well as search for hidden objects.

Rockfords Rock Opera (a unique musical story around the topic of ecology, ecosystems and extinction)

Angelina Ballerina's New Ballet Teacher (includes read to, read by myself, video, a puzzle.)

Cozmo's Day Off (great animations, includes activities)