Digital Device Passport iBook

Digitaldevicepassportbook

As we enter the fourth year of our school’s iPad Learning program I put together this iBook so our students and teachers will have access to the many resources that we use to start the year. In the past, these resources were on a private web site that was not easy to find once the year started. It is my hope that having the iBook on student and teacher iPads will help to show everyone how we can utilize the iBooks app more. We have used more digital textbooks each year and will continue to promote them when they are of high quality and fit the needs of the instructor. I think we can improve the use of digital versions for our manuals and handbooks which will harness the power of a more interactive book.

If you are a parent of a student at my school or anyone else who may be interested, I would encourage you to download this free iBook from the iTunes Bookstore. You will need an Apple ID and either an iPad or Macintosh running OS 10.9 which supports the iBooks app. It is not available for iPhone yet as I will need to redo it using the new iBooks Author software in order to make it work. At least that is what I believe I will need to do as I do not have an iPhone to test it on. If anyone does read it on an iPhone, drop me a line and tell me how it worked.

The Evilness of Devices for Learning

Image from Openclipart.org

Yes, I wrote the title as part link bait and part reflection on what has become a common theme to many conversations I am having these days. As we enter our 3rd year of an iPad program which has been recognized as a distinguished program by Apple. Yes, I realize that is sort of like being a preferred customer at the Toyota dealership because you bought so many cars. However, I do know we are moving our school’s learning forward while also allowing for aspects to remain as we find value in them or because change is hard and slow. There is nothing wrong with moving slowly towards the future as long as movement is happening. I prefer to move faster then my institution but that is how I roll and may not be the best solution for our school. However, I had hoped we were past the notion that playing games is bad and a waste of time given that we have explored all sorts of platforms with our students including hosting our own Minecraft servers. Alas, that is not the case although sometimes games and screen time are mixed together.

I wrote this as part of a position statement about gaming at DA.

While some adults see playing games as a “waste of time” or a way to escape into a virtual coma, many of the skills and standards listed above are found in the act of playing or creating games. For instance, Minecraft, is often seen by adults as just a bunch of chopping and blowing up of a virtual space. What is missed when observed as such is the collaboration that must take place to create worlds, the knowledge base needed to understand the game, and how a community of players have created a wealth of tutorials and information on how to play.

Gaming in classrooms and learning has been gaining momentum for years. Durham Academy has explored using games in the Middle School over the years with software like; Gamestar Mechanic, and Evolver (Pre-Algebra). Research shows that game principles are a way to better engage students. http://www.gamesandlearning.org/2014/06/09/teachers-on-using-games-in-class/ and http://www.edutopia.org/blog/using-gaming-principles-engage-students-douglas-kiang. Jane McGonigal has many resources about games. Watch her TEDX talk about SuperBetter.

Advocacy groups like, Common Sense Media provide resources on what games parents can say yes to after-school. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/24-video-games-you-can-say-yes-to-after-school.Vicki Davis has a nice article on Edutopia on game based learning. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/guide-to-game-based-learning-vicki-davis

As I continue to brace myself for the discussions that are coming, I keep saying to myself this is not a problem with devices or technology. These are human behavior problems which need human solutions that are not just banning or blocking. This is an educational problem that needs to be addressed with our colleagues, students and parents. If a small percentage of students have problems with impulse control so they play games instead of listening to a lecture, do we not help the student? What about the other larger percentage of students who are not having the problem? I help to write the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) each year which was redone to not be Though Shall Not document into a more Though Shall type document. This came about after reading the book From Fear To Facebook by Matt Levinson who at the time was at Nueva School.  It is way too long and still causes my eyes to glaze over. I even created a companion website called iPad Passport to help the Middle School students and faculty understand the concepts and language used. I think we need to be focus on having fewer AUPs and more User Policy. To that end I am adding some links to this post that are shaping my learning evolution on this topic.

Edutopia – http://www.edutopia.org/blog/digital-citizenship-culture-trust-transparency-andrew-marcinek and http://www.edutopia.org/blog/educating-parents-about-education-tom-whitby

Providence Day School’s Parenting in the Digital Age site: https://sites.google.com/a/providenceday.org/digitalparenting/home This site is full of useful and practical resources for starting a school-wide conversation. We are reaching out to Matt Scully and Derrick Willard to get advice.

What if it was Stranger Friend and Not Stranger Danger

Image fromッ Zach Hoeken ッ 

I enjoy reading George Couros’ blog The Principal of Change and liked this post as it resonates with the message I tell my students. There is so much we can learn, share, and help each other with that to cast anyone me meet online as a danger waiting to happen diminishes all that we are and all that the Internet can offer. Should you be careful? Of course! Should you not be careful when traveling to a city or a wilderness area? Absolutely! I have a newspaper article hanging on the bulletin board outside my office that has this 2009 headline: “Unfriendly peers pose greatest Net threat”which features research from Kaiser Foundation in 2007. It is now 6 years later and we still discuss using the Internet as something to be careful

Mark Moran left a comment with a link to Yoursphere which looks like a neat idea on how to help our students and adults in our lives. Check out the Parents section. It is similar to Common Sense Media which is full of great resources.

Granted, not all of us are born without an arm, but all of us can find friends that could add to our lives. 

What is Going On with My Brain?

Brain

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/21611336@N00/3723710203

I am concerned both about my brain and my student’s brains. My brain due to aging and devices since each year I seem to remember less unless I have it on a device. Then of course I need to remember what device it is on. This is one reason why Evernote, Google Drive, Instapaper, and my new one Pocket is so important to me as they remove needing to remember which device as they are on all of them. I no longer have to remember as much as I need to know how to search. The time I used to spend trying to remember can now be used doing or not doing other things.

I listened/read the audiobook Brain Rules by John Medina and was fascinated by his research and findings. While his research and advice focuses on more then just the matters of distractions caused by our digital world. This is a big concern for educators and parents as we adapt to the changing world. I think that there are some reasons to be concerned or at least aware, but also more reasons to adjust how we teach and use devices in general. Some of this is based on the Brain Rules book while I have also learned much in the MOOC-Ed Digital Learning Transition class I am taking as well as Common Sense Media which is full of good advice as usual.

One thing to always remember is BALANCE being important regarding most activities in life. Too much of anything except oxygen is usually a problem. I received an email today from a parent about the issue of multi-tasking being a huge concern which prompted this post which has been percolating for awhile. The concerns are valid and if we all work at helping each other, we will be fine.

The Brain Rules web site if full of great videos and information about rules of the brain and I highly reccomend watching it and reading the book in whatever format you choose. This video is about attention which is important for both teachers and parents. 

Quoted from his site about Attention and the MYTH of Multitasking:

BRAIN RULE RUNDOWN

Rule #4: We don’t pay attention to boring things.

What we pay attention to is profoundly influenced by memory. Our previous experience predicts where we should pay attention. Culture matters too. Whether in school or in business, these differences can greatly affect how an audience perceives a given presentation.

We pay attention to things like emotions, threats and sex. Regardless of who you are, the brain pays a great deal of attention to these questions: Can I eat it? Will it eat me? Can I mate with it? Will it mate with me? Have I seen it before?

The brain is not capable of multi-tasking. We can talk and breathe, but when it comes to higher level tasks, we just can’t do it.

Driving while talking on a cell phone is like driving drunk. The brain is a sequential processor and large fractions of a second are consumed every time the brain switches tasks. This is why cell-phone talkers are a half-second slower to hit the brakes and get in more wrecks.

Workplaces and schools actually encourage this type of multi-tasking. Walk into any office and you’ll see people sending e-mail, answering their phones, Instant Messaging, and on MySpace—all at the same time. Research shows your error rate goes up 50% and it takes you twice as long to do things.

When you’re always online you’re always distracted. So the always online organization is the always unproductive organization.

Read the articles at Common Sense Media for tips to help your children and yourself as our children model what they see. I also think this study by The Frameworks Institute: A Hands-On Approach to Talking Learning and Digital Media (PDF) could help us all understand the changes taking place with learning and our perceptions. The parts I have read opened up my eyes to misperceptions and gaps in our understanding on how to even talk about some of the changes. The video (12:32) below will discuss the hightlights.

Digital Media and Learning: Trigger Video from Beth Fisher on Vimeo.

Why SOPA and PIPA are DUMB Squared!

wikipediadark

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wikipedia_Blackout_Screen.jpg

On January 18, 2012, the Internet began to live up to the collective tool that many of us think it is by unleashing it’s power on Congress. With many sites going dark or putting black banners across their name along with links to Congressional Members many members of Congress withdrew their support. Read more at Wikipedia (if it is not blocked) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Online_Piracy_Act

After you listen to Clay, read about ACTA which is ACT II but on a world stage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Counterfeiting_Trade_Agreement

Reading The Spicy Learning Blog, I came across Clay Shirky’s TED Presentation. Very good for the full story of why SOPA and PIPA are DUMB Squared. (Doing Unknown Mischief Because you are Dumb).

No honest person supports piracy so it is a false argument. As Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Book Publishing, discusses in his post, SOPA and PIPA are bad industrial policy, piracy has always been around and in fact publishing started that way.

But history teaches us that it is primarily a result of market failure, the unwillingness or inability of existing companies to provide their product at a price or in a manner that potential customers want. In the 19th century, British authors like Charles Dickens and Anthony Trollope railed against piracy by American publishers, who republished their works by re-typesetting “early sheets” obtained by whatever method possible. Sometimes these works were authorized, sometimes not.

The Internet will not be the Internet if any of these laws are passed which also means that the new ways that learning can be changed by the Internet will not be available as many companies will for certain go dark. Call your representatives and let them know how you feel after you get informed yourself. In addition, this is a teachable moment that our students will connect with more then a historical fact although if you want to do a historical fact on the early printing, you might discuss the piracy that followed the invention of the printing press.

Raising Cyber-Smart Kids Presentation by Michele Guiterrez

Cyber-Smart Kids

Michele Gutierrez gave a repeat presentation of her earlier talk on how we as parents and teachers can help our students. She offered these links for parents to check out or join.

Common Sense Media – Join Today –  http://www.commonsensemedia.org/

Google Family Safety: http://www.google.com/familysafety/

I would add these two:

Google Good to Know: http://www.google.com/goodtoknow/

How to manage your data with Google by using Data Liberation: http://www.dataliberation.org/

These two standard definition movies will give you the context of Michele’s presentation. They are a bit “yellow” but the message is measured and appropriate. Feel free to share this link with anyone who might benefit from this presentation.

Part 1 Time: 30:29

Part 2 Time: 34:01

Client Software Downloads When You Do Not Own the Device

upload

‘Upload / Download’ http://www.flickr.com/photos/59158146@N00/1229138273

Our students use FirstClass Communication for their school email and messaging system. As part of my Digital Learning class, I assign the act of downloading and configuring the client software so students have the best possible experience with the system. There is a web-based interface which to their credit has become pretty good. However, it is not apples to apples between the client software and the web interface, so we still prefer that students download and install the client software on their “home” computers. For many students this is not an issue as siblings may go to school here as well so the software may already be setup. Others share computers with their parents and while many parents do allow the downloading and installing others do not for any variety of reasons. Perhaps the laptops are the parents work computer or perhaps they prefer to only install software that is needed for their use. It may also be a case of the real fear of being infected with malware or viruses. Computers for the most part become quite personal and must be dependable since new software can cause issues with other software. Again, great strides have been made, but yet the client is more powerful.

Here are some responses I received from my 5th and 6th grade students. You can see that the success and reactions are all over the place. If this were the class textbook, how would this be handled?

Dear Mr. Schaefer,

Success! It was very easy. However, if we ever have to download more downloads, my mom needs to know what we we are going to be using it for. Thank you and I can’t wait for another fun day in Technology!! 🙂

Best wishes,

N

Dear Mr. Schaefer,

Sorry but my mom won’t let me download first class on my computer, sorry once again

Your friend,

I

Dear Mr. Schaefer,

I tried to download First Class they way you told us in class, but it still would not work. I usually would ask my dad to help me but both of my parents are out of town right now. My dad gets back on Thursday and I will ask him to help me then. I apologize if this causes any trouble and I will do my best to install it.

Sincerely,

J

I have had it since the begining of the year. In fact, my mom is the one who thought of getting it on my computer!

See you later,
C

Firstclass is downloaded on both of my computers, my ipod, and my ipad.

Thank You,
D

The most telling part of our class discussions around email is that while almost all of the 5th grade students use FirstClass, almost all of the 6th grade students use a non-school Google account for their personal Gmail. FirstClass is only their “school” account. Since FirstClass has Instant Messaging, I asked them if they use it. Their response was, uh no, we use GTalk.

How are schools supposed to work in this new frontier when the approved tools become outdated because newer ones are available faster then schools can adapt and/or adopt? Is this OK since should schools attempt to be responsible for all aspects of a students technology?

As our school continues to contemplate issues a device to students there will be more questions like these that will need discussions. A good point of issuing a device is there will no longer be a need for students and parents to do homework that involves downloading, installing, and configuring software. Or will it?

 

 

Middle School Device Reflections Week 4

The Calatrava Eye

‘The Calatrava Eye’ http://www.flickr.com/photos/22746515@N02/5354806024

We started the Middle School Digital Device Project on October 17th when Ms. Donnelly’s class were given MacBooks for use. The iPads were handed out to Ms. Williams’ class on October 24th. After the first week students were able to take them home if we had the signed form back. I have been pleasantly surprised with how the students have responded and are helping us determine if we should adopt a MacBook or an iPad, or nothing. While the process is still very young, I thought I would share some thoughts.

iPad and Laptop

Evernote

We are testing this software and service as the iPad presents a challenge to easily transfer files. Teachers have set up Shared Folders where they can add notes for the students which appear when the account is synced. Each class has setup their school sponsored Evernote account. We did run into a few bumps with the iPad group not being able to sign up using the iPads as it appeared to not like the URL for our sponsored account. A quick trip to the computer lab allowed us to use a Desktop to setup the account as well as sync to the iPad app. Ms. Donnelly assigned an Evernote assignment for the students to teach their parents about Evernote through the use of a recorded audio note. Once the note was created/recorded, students shared the note with Ms. Donnelly where she could listen and assess the assignment if necessary. While I am not sure if this software is critical since we have Moodle and Google Apps for Education, the ease of use and automatic syncing along with the ability to move notes between almost any device does have benefits. I will be very excited once Skitch is integrated so students can draw on PDFs or other notes in Evernote. I sent out invites to the entire 6th grade team today so they could also test the software.

Digital Media and Acceptable Use

This does not surprise me but we have had a couple of issues with students making poor choices even after we discussed the use of the many tools available to them. We are talking about Middle School students so boundary testing is part of the mix as is making mistakes. Some issues that we have dealt with include IMing during class, leaving an iPad/laptop unattended or at home, taking pictures of other students without permission, bypassing the filter to view YouTube, and a couple low battery after being at home. All are too be expected and have been addressed and students are helping us to write How to articles so we can have some student created solutions. These are all very teachable moments.

I think we would have been better prepared our community if we had used and discussed the Common Sense Media Family Media agreements before the students were given the devices. I am pretty sure it would have helped our families cope with the addition of the device to their homes. This area should be a focus if the school were to adopt a device or frankly even if we do not adopt a device.

iPad only

Syncing and Books

While the cases are nice, they must be removed to be charged and synced in the Bretford PowerSync tray. While not horrible, it does mean students must take them out and take off the passcode so we can update the iPads. This is probably not the way we would manage a 1 to 1 iPad environment since students would probably be required to sync over the air or via a different system where they had full rights to the iPads. Since we have them locked to a school ID, students cannot add or delete apps. We struggled with the best way to handle this and decided for the purpose of this test, we would use the Apple Volume License approach where we purchase the apps and install the software apps. Students are using a shared Google Doc to record app suggestions as well as Books they would like to read in iBooks. We will then purchase and sync to the iPads. I am not a big fan of the iBook app as I prefer the Kindle app since I can read the same book on almost any device. Again, for the purpose of this project, we are testing the use of iBooks.

Google Docs

Even with Office2 HD, the use is not the great on an iPad. I read an open letter from Scott Meech where he hoped Apple and Google could make it work better together. Given the competition between these two rivals, I will not hold my breath, but it is a real deterrent on the iPad since the mobile browser does not allow for a rich editing experience.

Blogsy

This app has proven to be a true winner for blogging. While I struggled understanding exactly how to use it, after a few minutes we had a group who knew how to use it and were able to help all of us learn. This is key since the device must allow for writing and we are trying to get our students to write for an authentic audience.

i-nigma QR Code Reader

I love this simple app that allows us to create a QR code and add it to the Moodle course so students just point the iPad at it and they are taken to it. We have used it for the Blog and Discovery Education Mobile site. To learn more about QR Codes in Education read the ISTE article.

Laptop only

  • Kernel panics were new to the students and seems to afflict a few each day. Not sure if it is due to 4 year old laptops or the system but we are attempting to solve this issue.
  • Cords and power adapters across the floor is an accident waiting to happen. We must have a more elegant solution.
  • Storage before, during and after school is in need of fine tuning as many students do not have room in their lockers since it is still full of binders.
  • Using a Google Doc where students could ask questions and I could provide answers makes it easy to support and instruct as often the document would show up in my list of documents as bold alerting me to a question. In short time, I could provide an answer, image or link to a solution. Other times, I just walked to the room to assist.
  • Transitions are always an issue and having one more thing to stow before students leave the classroom is not ideal.

Things to consider in the future

  • Boot camp for students, teachers and parents where we learn how to do manage the devices both from the care perspective but also with respect to digital citizenship and balance.
  • Develop activities that students, teachers and parents can do to practice these digital citizenship practices.
  • Create opportunities for the exchange of information between all members of our community so we are mostly rowing in the same direction as I believe all members of our community desire what is best even if we have different opinions on how to fast to be rowing.

I am looking forward to the next few weeks as the data we are getting back is providing very valuable.

 

 

Digital Citizenship PSA’s

footprints

 

‘Footprints’

http://www.flickr.com/photos/28481088@N00/423884596

 

For our unit on Digital Citizenship, we watched movies from Common Sense Media and The Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Students responded to questions in a Google Doc shared with me for some of the movies and others we used a Moodle Forum in our class. The goal of the unit was to have discussions that would lead to deeper thinking of their digital life. As a culmination, students in both classes created Wordles for a Public Service Announcement. They could do it on any topic of interest as long as they felt they could provide tips. I love hearing it from the mouth of the digital natives as you will hear that they do know more then we often think they do when it comes to be safe and appropriate online. I suppose it could be do to the “pleasing the teacher” syndrome, but think that most students do have a plan and simply need guidance from adults in their life as the learn to make, as Cheyse calls it, “Digital Footsteps”.

 

We hope you enjoy our PSA’s and that in some way help you with your digital life.