The iPad and Apple TV as a classroom solution (iPadpalooza 2013 Presentation)

It took a little time to get this post up, my wifi was not cooperating in the USA, and I have been very busy since touching down in Calgary just before the massive flood that is devastating that city.

I’ve decided to try something new with this presentation, and give you a slide-by-slide post of what I discussed, hopefully highlighting the same things I was able to discuss in person.  At the end of the post is an embedded PDF that you can download if you would like the whole presentation.

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I decided on this presentation for iPadpalooza because when I moved into my new classroom at the beginning of this school year, the iPad and Apple TV were the first system I was able to set up to be able to present content to my students and begin to start managing my classroom.  In a converted library space that did not even have a whiteboard, I was able to set up a projector, connect an Apple TV and present to my students on the bare wall.  Once my district was able to install more comprehensive equipment, the interactivity and use of the space became more refined.

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Ways to contact me, and my current philosophy for professional learning, learn it because you want to and make it fun!

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Whenever I speak internationally, I like to give a little snapshot of where I have come from. I find it helps to give some perspective for learners of where I have come from and how I came to be standing in front of the audience.  Much of this information is available elsewhere on this site, so I won’t dive to deeply here.

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An initial discussion of what participants wanted from the presentation followed.  Quite varied responses and perspectives were given and I was encouraged by the fact that many of these educators were looking for ways to use existing technology that they already had more effectively.  It seems the biggest hangup in schools is the wireless infrastructure in schools.  Remember, if you are allowed to do so, you can pick up an Airport Express from Apple to make a cable connection into a local wireless network.  A great advantage of this is that you can limit access to only your devices and are not competing with others for bandwidth to stream your signal.

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Like the Airport Express, the rest of the equipment to set up a wireless solution for your iPad is inexpensive and simple to set up.  If your projector does not have an HDMI connection (the Apple TV only uses HDMI) you will need to purchase an HDMI to VGA adapter.  The two adapters pictured are available through the Apple Store online.

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I wanted to present a little bit of the amazing research that is developing about iPad use in the classroom.  Some very large-scale, sponsored studies have shown the benefit of iPads in the classroom, but there are now some very comprehensive qualitative and quantitative University peer-reviewed studies that are showing some very important results about iPad use in the classroom. The results; that there is no cost to learning with iPads, and learning continues.  What does show clearly is that there are significant secondary benefits to students in using iPads, including increased autonomy, creativity and willingness to support other students.  Many of the benefits that Sir Ken Robinson discussed could be the benefits of new technologies as used in education.

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Another article I reviewed recently discussed the benefits of learning literacy using the iPads as an instructional and interactive tool with students.  The key takeaways were consistent with those that Lisa Carnazzo presented at iPadpalooza as well.  Students who were able to use iPads for literacy learning using effective apps and well planned lessons showed higher engagement and more learning when using iPads when compared to times when taught traditionally.

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One of the great benefits of these studies are the comprehensive description of the apps and activities used in the classes.  In this case, the apps used for instruction and rehearsal by the students included: iBooks, Popplet, Doodle Buddy, Strip Designer and Sundry Notes. Each of these apps, while not specific to subject content, offers the students ways of creatively and effectively showing their learning and working through problems.  It is this capacity that makes them highly effective classroom additions, and draws us away from seeing the inclusion of technology as ‘play time’ for students.

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Apple has come a long way in the past seven years of iOS development, and it is now quite easy to get connected with an Apple TV in the classroom.  One of the key considerations you have to make is the state of the technology infrastructure in your school. If you connect too many devices at once, you may find yourself being disconnected and dropping signals quite often.  When you are just starting out with this technology, that can be quite disheartening.   If you have a computer that you usually leave plugged in to the projector anyway, a stable method of presenting is using the Reflector program on the computer, allowing you to mirror your iPad screen on the computer that is already showing on the projector.  However, even this solution requires some network connectivity, so you have to make sure that is available.  Another consideration you may want to think through is how this new technology will impact other teachers and students.  While I consider it a positive pressure if students want other teachers to use iPads in the classroom and instruction, other teachers may not see it that way.  It can lead to resentment, particularly if other teachers do not have access to the same technology as you due to grants and funding disparity.  I have always made a point of sharing whatever technology resources I have freely, so that other teachers can try what is working for me, or just get a handle on the technology for themselves.  I believe it has saved a great deal of stress for everyone.

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It was at this point we discussed the current practice in education of purchasing tools to simply ‘drop’ into classrooms with little awareness of the stresses or intended uses of that technology.  Many educators have experienced receiving a ‘tool’ that they did not ask for or particularly want, but were asked to use it in their classes.  I am a big advocate of using the technology you do have as effectively as possible, and effectively pairing tools together to allow for even greater benefit, and the iPad is a good tool for this, as we can see below.

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Smart has created a pairing that allows for highly effective use of their Smart Notebook software with the iPad.  While it is not perfect (the iPad version can’t use Flash objects, for example) it does offer options for those who wish to interchange between the software and hardware that Smart offers to make better use of the technology they may have in their room, or have used in the past.

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As time goes on, tools for educators evolve and become more refined, and one of the great developments in this area is in the area of multi-platform tools.  Class Dojo is a great behaviour tracking and management tool, but better than just being a simple tool, it is multi-platform as well.  In fact, it is one of the more refined multi-platform tools I have used.

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Class Dojo allows for instant feedback of student behaviour for students, teachers and parents. When used in conjunction with an Apple TV, a mirrored computer or the Class Dojo app, teachers have various methods to note student behaviour, and any behaviours on each of the various methods updates on others simultaneously.  I love this as I can have Class Dojo on the board at the front of the room during a class task, and then update it from my iPad or iPhone while moving about the room.  The visual and audio feedback of the site still appears at the front of the room for students to respond to.

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Google Drive is another solution that provides opportunity for real-time collaboration and connection. Districts can contact Google for a self-managed, free Google implementation for their students.  One of the huge advantages of this system is that individual applications in Google can be turned on and off as need be.  That means that students who are too young to need email don’t have to have a working email account.

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I also discussed the benefits of giving students a shared document to collaborate on, and the benefit of putting work to be edited on the projector to display for students.  Students on several iPads, or on yours, can brainstorm with the results appearing at the front of the class.  As a multi-platform option, Google Drive can be used through an app or browser.

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I believe that Aurasma, which is an augmented reality app, has incredible possibilities for us as educators.  This app uses a trigger image (perhaps the cover of a book) and then overlays an image or video (perhaps with a review of the book) that appears when the image is scanned.  It is pretty incredible, and there are so many ways you can ‘tag’ in the classroom to show student learning, or set up engaging activities for the class.

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Learning solutions like Mathletics have built in mini-lessons and reviews that don’t only have to be  used individually.  Why not project these apps on your iPad and use these apps for class review, teaching and discussion?  An added bonus of this use is that students are then seeing you use the app, rehearsing the manner in which it can be effectively used.

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Three ring is an assessment and learning evidence collection platform.  Using the app, the iPad can quickly collect video, images and audio evidence of learning.  I use this app to collect student activities as they complete it.  It uploads in a blog-like format and, like Class Dojo, has the ability to connect parents to the system to provide real-time learning data.  It’s a pretty powerful platform!

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Like Mathletics, puzzle games allow for the possibility of class solutions and modelling processes for students.  Once the concepts are highlighted and rehearsed, students will be more likely to use apps effectively during their own time.

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If you have the ability to secure even a few additional iPads, there are many ideas of how you can use them in the guide “Less than a Class Set” written by  Kristin Redington Bennett. If you are proficient in project-based learning, iPads can become a very versatile tool that allows for different modes of expression and learning.

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Ultimately, it will be your flexibility and perspective on using your iPad that will make the difference to any implementation of iPads.  If you are willing to give it a go, you will find the Apple TV a highly effective tool for presenting and interacting in the classroom. If you need support, let me know. I’m always glad to help!

https://mrkeenan.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/ipad-and-apple-tv-as-classroom-solution-iplza13.pdf