Tablet Indaba – EdTechConf Thinkshop

Today I will be taking part in a panel discussion about using tablets in the classroom, at a Tablet Indaba being hosted by EdTechConf, as part of their Thinkshop initiative. I will obviously be discussing our school’s experience with the iPads, but there will also be discussion around other tablets and more specifically, Android devices. I am really looking forward to this discussion as I am always happy to hear about other peoples’ experiences and I love to learn from like-minded folk!


The Tablet Indaba was a very interesting experience. I participated in the panel discussion with Gail Gubb (Cedar House), Wendy Hindle (Parklands) and Judi Francisco (Micklefield). It was a very interesting afternoon in which I got to show the attendees (around 50 people), the DigiDesign videos created only one month after the iPads arrived! Gail Gubb demonstrated a Maths App (more for High School), Wendy demonstrated the Reflection App for Mac and shared her Grade 4 Book Creator project and a small iMovie project. Judi’s school is just investigating iPads at the moment, so she could not contribute at this stage.

The discussions around questions asked by Tim Keller and Rick Greener were most interesting. It is clear that there are other schools in the Western cape embarking on the iPad journey, but many are still in the investigation phase. Our approach is quite different to both Cedar House and Parklands, but both were Mac schools and the iPad was the obvious progression from laptops. Since we are a Windows school implementing iPads, I believe this is where we can make our mark by sharing our experiences with other schools.

It seems that Android devices are not yet being implemented in any schools.

[For a good summary of the Indaba, go here:]



What Apps Are We Using?


I had an enquiry the other day about which apps we are using on our iPads. There are a number of apps on the devices at present, so I will mention only the ones which I believe are “must-have” apps. Most of these are paid apps, but they are worth the money.

Pages – Similar to Word, great for making notes, writing reports etc.

Keynote – Similar to PowerPoint, but oh so much more creative!

Numbers – Similar to Excel (I don’t have much experience with this yet).

QuickOffice – Very useful for getting documents, PDFs, videos etc. onto the iPad wirelessly – easy to manage.

iMovie – Create videos on the iPad by using photos or videos taken on the iPad – an awesome app.

I Can Animate – Create animated stories on the iPad and view them as videos.

GarageBand – I am waiting for our music department to embrace this one – it is nothing short of amazing!

Book Creator – Create e-books straight on the iPad, great fun to use.

Comic Life – A fun comic creator app, great for creative writing etc.

Epic Citadel – Created as a demo for a game, this app allows you to walk through a deserted citadel, taking in all the sights and   sounds. An amazing app for poetry or story writing.

Star Walk – Navigate your way through the stars, take an in depth look at the planets and visit the constellations – a “stellar” app!

Planets – Take a close-up look at the planets, see them rotate and compare their statistics. Great graphics.

National Geographic World Atlas – A superb, detailed atlas for bringing Geography to life!

Google Earth – A little limited on the iPad, but always a must!

Explain Everything – An easy-to-use design tool that lets you annotate, animate, and narrate explanations and presentations – its possibilities are endless!

Show Me – An app for creating and sharing whiteboard-style lessons on your iPad – easy to use and presentations can be uploaded to the Show Me website.

Videolicious – Create short videos in three easy steps – has many possibilities.

Popplet – A great way to make colourful mind maps on the iPad. 

I will soon share how exactly some of these apps have been used by our teachers. Until then, happy app-shopping! 

1:1 Trial


 Since the arrival of our 25 iPads at the end of February, we have been sharing these devices amongst our four Grade 6 classes and the teachers have endeavoured to use the devices to enhance their teaching and the children’s learning. In fact, it has been a time of great learning for all of us as we navigate our way through apps, ideas and methods of sharing these devices.  In this time one thing has become very clear – these beautiful devices were definitely designed to be personal devices. In sharing them, we have hit one or two stumbling blocks and whilst we have usually managed to find a “work-around”, nothing can replace work which has accidently been deleted off a device by an over-zealous class mate!

It is our aim to have looked at these devices from all angles and to have experimented with them in as many ways as possible before we make any decisions as to what our future approach with the iPads will be. To assist us in our research we will trial a 1:1 approach for the rest of this term.  This will allow us to do a comparative study of our experiences, the results of which will enable us to make informed decisions in the future.

So, from May 28, the iPads will be allocated to one class per week, and:

  • The pupils will be allowed to take the iPads home and use them as personal devices for the duration of that week. The pupils will have to ensure that the devices are charged for each day and that they are brought to school every day for the duration of the week.
  • The pupils will be asked to keep a daily journal in Notes to track how often the iPad was used, how they feel it could have been used more and to reflect on their experiences on a daily basis. 
  • The pupils and parents will be required to sign an Acceptable Use Policy.
  •  There will be a student and parent feedback opportunity at the end of the trial, for each class.

The devices are Wi-Fi only, but we are encouraging our parents to add them to their home Wi-Fi network, should they have one. To ease concerns about access to inappropriate content, internet restrictions are in place at school and restrictions have been set on each device for the downloading of apps, music etc. Internet usage at home will have to be monitored by parents.

Naturally, there are implications with regard to responsibility. The devices belong to the school and are insured by the school for accidental damage or loss. Whilst we do acknowledge that accidents can occur, we trust that every measure will be taken to care for the devices properly. Should any damage or loss occur during this trial period, and it is found to be due to negligence (such as spilling of cooldrink over the device or the device being stolen from a vehicle etc.) the parents will be liable to cover the damage or loss.

We trust that our parents will understand our thinking behind this trial and that they will support us in this initiative. These are exciting times that we live in and in order to make informed decisions about how or why we roll out more iPads in the future, we want to make sure that we have done our utmost by having done all the necessary research.

Create shortcuts on your iPad home screen

Here’s a nifty little iPad trick for you!

To create a shortcut to a website that you often visit (e.g. your blog), on your home screen, do the following:

·        Open Safari and navigate to the website of your choice.

 ·        Click on the little arrow icon at the top left of your screen.

·        A drop down menu will appear.

·        Click on ‘Add to Home Screen’.


·        You can type the name of your short cut (or leave the one that appears). 

·        Click on ‘Add’.


·        Voila! A shortcut to your website will appear on your home screen!


Our iMovie Project

In DigiDesign club at the end of last term, ten of our Grade 6s were tasked with creating marketing videos for our school. They had to plan their videos by brainstorming ideas with Popplet and then they had to film the video of our school and use iMovie to edit and create the final videos – all on the iPads! [See the wiki for the full project instructions].

What a success this project was! The students were totally engaged from the start and enjoyed the project from start to finish. Some of the students worked in pairs or in threes, some worked on their own. Either way, the level of engagement and enjoyment was phenomenal!

What did they learn from this project?

  •  How to use the iPads for creation
  •  How to use iMovie
  •  Brainstorming – what to film
  •  Decision making – what to include/leave out
  •  Team work (those that worked in pairs/threes)

The final product was totally amazing. Please take a look at our YouTube channel to see just how well our students did. Enjoy! 

Show Me!


This screen casting app is a great way of turning your iPad into an interactive whiteboard – just what teachers need and want!

You can create demonstration videos with voice recordings, drag and drop images from your Camera Roll, write over them, draw around them, add colour, erase mistakes and more.  And then, if you wish to, you can make them available for your  students to access via the Show Me community website.

Jill Brandeberry, a 6th Grade teacher in Michigan, makes great use of this app by encouraging her students to create and upload their own presentations. Visit her blog to see how effectively she does this.

The best thing about this app? It’s FREE in the iTunes App Store!