As students fill the hallways of our schools on their first day back, there is a major change afoot for those kids under the age of 13. Students in the pre-teen realm have always had less options when it came to personalization and use of certain websites/social media. While some of those rules still apply when it comes to the web, Apple’s new system of allowing districts to issue Apple IDs for those students under the age of 13 (with parental consent) means that the days of every elementary students having the same standardized iPad are in the past. Combining that with the new deployment system and (in our case) an MDM like Casper, and we are finally starting to see some of the real powerful potential of the 1:1 iPad platform. While I know there will be some glitches (there always are in technology), I’m looking forward to the improvements listed here this year for our K-6 students.
For the past 2 years, our elementary students have been living in the 1:1 world when it comes to devices, but haven’t really gotten the full-fledged personalized experience of their older counter-parts when it comes to apps. Because we couldn’t have individual Apple IDs on each iPad, we used Apple Configurator to provision “images” to sets of iPads at every grade level. This was a painfully arduous process that entailed having a Support Tech go classroom to classroom with a Macbook and provision the images to each iPad. With the amount of time and man-power it took to accomplish this, we basically had time for one app-refresh cycle every year. Besides the inefficiency of this model, we also had several times when iPads would get “hung up” during app refresh and have to be completely wiped, losing important student work that hadn’t been backed up. Now that every student will have an Apple ID, we can “push” apps out to students over the air (OTA). If a classroom wants an app, they contact our MDM campus manager who loads the app and pushes it out to the class overnight. If it’s a free app, the kids can even download it themselves!
Since we basically had two groups (K-2 and 3-5), that meant front-loading the images with pretty much every app we would think to use for the school year. The resulting images were somewhat heavy (taking up over 6GB of the 16GB space) and many were unnecessary depending on your grade. Here’s our example list of apps for elementary last year. You could have 3rd graders looking at 5th grade apps that they didn’t even need. While we’ve really focused on productive apps vs. consumptive ones, we at least knew that all kids would have the tools they needed to create a finished product. Now that we can now push apps over the air, that means starting with a much leaner set of core apps to start (nearly all “productive” apps) and adding those content or grade-level based consumptive apps as needed. One drawback of not having a set image on them is that iPads are essentially naked to begin the year until the students have their Apple IDs set up. Enter the always clever Janet Couvillion. She’s an Ed Tech at one of our elementary campuses and she created this tremendous Thinglink about all things you can do on an iPad with only basic apps:
We utilize eBackpack as our web-based and app-based content distribution system. However, we’ve also found some successes using iTunesU at the upper grades when it comes to quickly creating courses for students. Now that our students under the age of 13 have Apple IDs, we can have them enroll in a class course at the beginning of the year that a teacher can use to push out content as it becomes relevant. We can also provision specific iBooks or class sets of iBooks to students based on their Apple IDs, something not possible in the past.
Time to Focus
Another potential bonus of all of this is the new Casper Focus feature we had a kindergarten teacher test for us last year. With all iPads in this new system and each student with an Apple ID, a teacher can now “control” or “lock-down” all the iPads in his/her class into a specific app. While I’m not a big fan of the lock-down control model when it comes to teaching and learning, I do know there is a time and place when this might need to happen from time to time. With state and national testing moving to an online platform, we’ll need to have this ability going forward. This year we’ll be pilot testing the ACT Aspire test on iPads for students in grades 4-9 and we’ll also be piloting using a Desmos Calculator app during our 8th Grade Algebra State assessment. None of this would be possible without this new system in place without individually going to each iPad and enabling Guided Access.
In order to make this system work, we have to really rely on parent support. They have to go through the online consent and Apple ID creation process for us to be able to utilize all the advantages listed above. As a parent, the advantages to this program versus making your own Apple ID are many (here’s a Parent Guide from Apple). They’ll be able see what apps their students are purchasing. With their students being in the Under 13 program they’ll have less advertisements and data mining to worry about. As a parent of a new kindergarten student, I was excited to not only set up her Apple ID because we can now mirror the apps she’s getting at school and put them on our devices at home to help with her learning. I’ve always been a believer in the concept of a village raising the child and in our ever-increasing online world, the lines between home and school are no longer clearly defined. This process gives us as a district another opportunity to communicate about the education of their child, which can in the end only be a good thing.
To help introduce parents to this process I made this somewhat silly 3.5 minute video (below) along with some instructions for them on their end.
The future is bright and no longer just for those born before 2001!
I’ve very excited to post my first “Guest Menu Designer” from right here within the district. Margie Brown, an Eanes ISD Ed Tech, has published her first Appy hour Menu for one of her elementary campuses. Margie not only helps train her two campuses, but plays an instrumental role on our team as a trainer and researcher as she’s currently finishing work on her Master’s degree at UT. Her menu is sweet in nature as she also served iCe Cream to those in attendance. Thanks for sharing Margie!
Enjoy everyone – Like menus I have posted before, if you open this in iBooks, the links become interactive and take you directly to the app store. Retweet, Share, and Pin it!
Guest Menu Designer – Margie Brown – @mbrowneisd
I’m always running across people saying, “don’t you wish there was an app for that”. Sometimes I’m surprised to find that actually is an app for “that”. With over 500,000 apps in the iOS marketplace, it’s hard to imagine that we could even need any more. So as the new year begins, here are some I think should be created this year. Some of these are very pie-in-the-sky and require quite a bit of other things to happen in order to be used effectively, but hey! It’s the New Year! Anything is possible right?
1. RefriderMinder – Just in time for those New Year’s weight-loss resolutions out there! Ever wonder what’s in your fridge but your at the store already? Ever get surprised by that old tub of sour cream that’s gone green earlier than you thought? That’s where “RefridgerMinder” app comes in handy. This app can actually detect what’s in your fridge! (Note: “SmartFridge” and optional bar code scanner readers and weight sensors not included) Imagine it, when you put food in your fridge it instantly scans it and let’s you know the expiration date. Enable push notifications to warn you when something is reaching expiration or running out (via weight sensors). With an optional upgrade, you could even have the nutritional information fed to your favorite weight-loss app. If you purchase accompanying tupperware with an electric date/time diode on the lid, your left-overs could communicate to you as well. Finally, if you really wanted to go all out, mini-cams could be installed on fridge shelves that let you actually look at what’s in your fridge via this app. There will also be a companion app called “PantryMinder” coming out not too long after this.
2. BreadCrumbs – During our recent visit to the Big Island of Hawaii, my wife commented to me while we were driving by landmarks, “wouldn’t it be nice if we could have an audio tour happening right now that tells us what significant stuff is around us?”. With the geo-location feature on iDevices, it would be easy enough to enable audio to come on based on your location and the direction your are facing. In fact, there are already a couple apps out there already that already do that. This app would take it even a step further. Users could input their own images, videos, and audio based and geo-tag the location where they are for other users to experience what they experienced. Volcano not erupting the day your are there? No problem! Click on a user-video from the exact spot your are standing and experience an augmented reality version of the volcano erupting.
3. YouTube Ed Edition – This one is exactly what it sounds like. There are a lot of “filtered” apps out there like Kideos, which will categorize some YouTube videos by age level. However, with the recent release of Youtube.com/education, I hope it’s only a matter of time before a separate YouTube Ed Edition app appears on our devices.
4. GreenLightGo – I know we are not supposed to check email or text in our cars. In fact, many states are outlawing the use of any cell phone while the car is in motion. Playing by the rules means we are stuck reading or responding to as much as we can in the 2 minutes it takes for a traffic light to cycle through. Often times, I’m so into my response or research that I don’t notice the light has changed until I’m gently reminded via a driver’s honk to my rear. This app solves that problem. Simply run this app in the background of your device, then when the light you are facing turns green, the screen flashes and sends a small audio alert letting you know it’s time to move. Sounds simple enough right? The trick would be getting the highway department to let this app access their traffic signal cycles.
5. URL in a Flash – The one GIANT roadblock/question I get when talking about iDevices in school or anywhere else is the “yeah, but it doesn’t run flash” response. There are currently several apps that claim to enable some sort of flash integration on the iPad. (Photon being the best, albeit a little clunky and not cheap. Rover is a more limited free option.) With the recent openess of Adobe towards Apple I think a true everything app that runs flash will be out there soon, only in all reality it likely won’t look like this. It will probably be blue with a compass on it and be called “Safari”.
So there you have it. Just enough to wet your appetite to the possibilities. I know I might be giving away a ton of money in free ideas, but the reality is I just want to see these apps invented. (I also didn’t share my top 3 ideas as I do actually hope to invent those :-) The scary thing is, I think we all have these rattling around in our heads. I just chose to create fake app icons and put them on a blog. What app have you thought of? Please share via comments below or invent it and share it with me!
I’ve been gathering several lists of “Must Have” apps for various educational levels and subject areas. These come from all sorts of different blogs, websites and sources that I’ve found useful and used on our district iPads at some point this year. One of the things I love about many of these sites is that they give you some ideas as to how to use and integrate them too. So feel free to bookmark this and add more lists to the comments below. Enjoy!
So, this is a start. All told there are over 3200 Apps listed above (not including Apple’s education site which lists all 20,000+ Edu Apps) and hopefully some tools and ideas for integrating them.
Adding more here:
I’ve been on a journey to a magical land where the world is positive, the weather is always 72 degrees, and the food comes at you in loads that you don’t have to pay for. You may think- is this Heaven? Or is this a scene from Albert Brook’s underrated comedy “Defending Your Life”?
No. This is Cupertino, California. The words “yes, but” never enters their vocabulary. The phrase “you can’t do that” doesn’t ever weed it’s way into the vernacular here.
I was recently honored to be part of a select group of 15 administrators from 11 different states picked to be a part of “Apple Academy”. I know what your thinking – there goes Carl taking big gulps of the Apple Kool-aid again. Normally, I’d agree with you. Or worse – say “yes, but”. However the enlightening part about this trip has nothing to do with Apple products or their world of 350,000 apps (over 20,000 in education alone).
It’s in their attitude.
It’s in the people they hire.
It’s absolutely contagious.
I came away with greater knowledge of how Apple will improve our education, but more than anything else I wanted to bottle their “Yes, and” attitude and feed it to my staff.
While Apple didn’t develop the mantra “Yes, and”, it’s certainly a part of their life’s blood.
We in education become too hung up on the “Yes, but’s” in the world. We use as a way to scapegoat to avoid change.
Yes, but we have state testing to worry about.
Yes, but we have too much distraction in the classroom already.
Yes, but what will the community think about all of this change?
These are all things I heard upon return from my journey. While it grounded me quickly and forced reality on me in a way that almost made me hurl, I could now palpably taste the negativity in the air. We’ve grown so adapted to the extra burden of “yes, but” that we are accustomed to carrying the extra weight.
My journey to Apple-land freed me of those weights.
And while I will try my best not to put them back on again, I also want my co-workers to experience the freedom of living in a “yes, and” world. Life becomes so much more livable. Work becomes so much more enjoyable. You just have to commit to it.
And a journey to Cupertino wouldn’t hurt either. :)
Editor’s note: This article posted from my iPhone.
My recent trip to the mountains of New Mexico brought to light an uncomfortable fact. I’m addicted to 3G cell phone service.
I’ve always taken a cell phone and sometimes a laptop to the cabin with me in past years, however, this year the lack of signal strength seemed excruciatingly painful. Why this trip and not others? I think the superfluous saturation of connective-ness had finally come to a head.
Facebook, Words with Friends, Twitter, my 6 email accounts, Yelp, Around Me, and Google Maps were continually accessed and continually crashed under the weight of a tin-can-and-string like signal. I know it’s good to be disconnected in some form, but to be completely cut off? Smokers are at least given nicotine gum, but to be completely cut off a Connected-Freak?
The nail in my cyber coffin came when my favorite app Pandora, couldn’t stream! Me without music is like a Snoopy without Woodstock. I can get through my day, but I’m not happy about it. Too make matters worse, my over-reliance on Pandora made me fail to upload any of the 3000 songs to my phone. So I was stuck listening to Steve Perry scream out a choppy version of “Wheels in the Sky” so much so that I had to mournfully close the app and carry on with my life.
So who do I have to thank for this addiction? AT&T? Social Media? Steve Jobs? *gasp*
Unfortunately, there is only one person to blame…myself. I’ve become addicted to informational access in the palm of my hand. Need a burger? Let me see what’s “Around Me”. Need to get caught up on Larry Sanders re-runs? Fire up Netflix and enjoy. Wondering where the cheapest gas is? Let me check the “Gas Buddy” app real quick. Of course, all of these are rendered utterly USELESS without a 3G signal.
In the end, William Shakespeare had it right when he said: (loosely adapted from Hamlet)
“3G or not 3G, that is the question.
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
The slings and arrows of outrageous signal strength,
Or to take arms against my cell phone provider,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep; to App”
Death indeed Bill. Death indeed…