Family Sharing – An iPad Management Option to Consider

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Struggling with managing purchases on more than one Apple device in your family? Confused by who owns what and which passwords apply where?  Then Family Sharing might just be the management tool for you!

“Family Sharing makes it easy for up to six people in your family to share each other’s iTunes and App Store purchases without sharing accounts. Pay for family purchases with the same credit card and approve kids’ spending from a parent’s device. Share photos, a family calendar and more to help keep everyone connected. And with an Apple Music family membership, up to six people can get full access to Apple Music too.” (Taken from the Apple website)

Go here for more information: http://www.apple.com/za/icloud/family-sharing/

It is really worth a look!

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Managing your Child’s Screen Time

Managing our children’s screen time and getting the balance right is an issue that many parents face. Today I came across a blog post about an app that might just be what parents are looking for to assist them in managing their children’s devices and to train their children to manage their screen time effectively.

Read OurPact Helps Parents Manage Their Child’s Device Use and take a look at the app in more detail here.

OurPact (Take note it is an iPhone app for iOS, but is also available on Android).

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An Update…

So, we are about 9 months into our 1:1 iPad initiative and we are on track! I have not posted here for a long time, but it was primarily due to the fact that I have had my hands full with the roll-out and teacher guidance and training. Our focus has been primarily to get our teachers comfortable with having these devices in their classrooms and to expose them to the possibilities that theses devices offer them to enhance learning and teaching in their classrooms. It has been a slow, but worthwhile process. We started off by requiring our teachers to follow an iTunesU course that I created. The focus of the course was an introduction to the iPad and then a broad introduction to various useful and most popular apps for learning and teaching – with a distinct focus on apps which could be used in a variety of ways and which are not subject specific. The idea is to get our students to create their own content and extend their creativity. Since then we have moved on to looking at how to use this technology effectively, not just for the sake of using it. We are exploring deeper learning and more effective ways in which to engage our students without focusing on the iPad, but by including it as one of the many tools available for teaching and learning in the classroom – albeit a potentially powerful tool. The secret to the success of a programme such as this is when the teachers start asking the right questions for themselves and don’t wait to be shown what the next steps are; when they feel confident to show initiative and try new ideas without prompting. This is slowly happening and it is an exciting time for us. Has it been an easy, plain-sailing journey? Definitely not, and our journey is long not over. There have been challenges, the least not being effective iPad management in the classroom. Some teachers found it more difficult than others to manage how and when the students were allowed to use their devices. Also, creating an effective workflow solution was a challenge, but we have a WebDAV server for iPad work and have recently ‘Gone Google’, so we will use Google Drive too. Helping our parents to help their children manage the number of games on their iPads has been one of our biggest challenges. We have asked our parents to restrict the number of games on the devices to 6 – 8 games only, as they provide an irresistable temptation for the children, and they take up a huge amount of space, especially on 16GB devices. We have tightened our rules around the playing of games at school and we insist that our students use their free time for play and socialising with one another. I read a lot of blogs where teachers share their iPad successes and challenges and I have connected with a number of teachers around the world who are using iPads in their classrooms with huge success. What I see and read excites me and confirms for me that what we are doing is the way to go. There is no turning back! FullSizeRender (4)

 A Grade 6 flipped classroom activity – watch a video and complete a Google form afterwards.

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Our Tablet of Choice

As at July 2014 our Senior Primary School will be a 1:1 iPad school. This is not a decision that we have reached lightly, nor have we simply jumped on the iPad bandwagon. It is a decision that has been three years in the making and it has been taken after due consideration, research, discussion, consultation and deliberation. For us as a school this is the way forward. As mentioned in my previous post, it was of utmost importance for us as a school, to engage with our parents and share our journey with the iPads with them, and then of course, inform them of the path that we as a school have chosen as the way forward. This was of extreme importance too, since we are asking our parents to provide the devices for our students.

During October we held a series of three meetings at different times to accommodate as many parents as possible. During these meetings we shared the journey that we have been on for the past 18 months with our shared iPads in Grade 6. We showed them some student examples and also interviews with both the teachers and some of the students. All in all, the presentations were well received by our parents. In preparing for these talks, our principal and I made every effort to ensure that we would cover most, if not all, of the potential questions from parents and I believe that we did this very well. Questions about security, internet safety, which devices were suitable, financial implications for the parents etc. were covered in both our presentations, and of course, the answer to the question that many of our parents were interested in – Why iPads? This was well covered in the presentations, yet we still had one or two questions afterwards about why we were not going with the new Microsoft Surface tablet or why we were not going with Android devices. After a recent email from a parent about this very question, our principal, Arthur Preston, put together this very clear and concise response which explains exactly why we have decided on the iPad as our tablet of choice:

We decided on the iPad for the following reasons:

1)     Apple’s App Store is quality controlled whereas the Google Play store has only very recently begun a purge of inappropriate and poor quality apps but still lacks a formal approval process for apps.

2)     Malware and viruses are far more common on Android devices than Apple. According to a report released earlier this year 97% of malware and virus attacks on mobile devices were made on Android devices (http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2013/04/14/apple-enterprise-android-malware/). We obviously wish to keep our children safe and our network secure and believe that iOS devices are best placed for this.

 3)     The Apple operating system, iOS, is updated regularly and can be installed quickly and effectively. This means that developers are regularly updating their apps to take advantage of the latest operating system.

 4)     The battery life of an iPad will allow a fully-charged device to be used throughout the school day without charging. This makes it an ideal device for school use.

 5)     Apple has made a concerted effort to provide support for education. This includes teacher development, a specialised education section on the App Store and support for schools.

 6)     Providing IT support for many variants of Android devices makes it very difficult for both teachers and our IT department to support both teachers and pupils. By keeping to one device we are giving our teachers the best opportunity to become familiar with one operating system and one device’s settings and unique characteristics. A classroom filled with a variety of Android devices made by different manufacturers and running different versions of Android (including possibly watered down versions for simpler tablets) will not allow this and will possibly take up valuable learning time as the teacher ensures all pupils are able to access the same app or utilise the device as expected.

 7)     The new iPads with the A7 processor and retina-display provide a desktop quality computing experience in the children’s hands. No other mobile device currently available is able to offer this quality of experience. The new iLife and iWork suite of apps are head and shoulders above anything available for Android or other operating system.

 8)     While many other tablets on the market offer a good quality experience to the end-user, it is our belief that the iPad provides the best educational experience for school pupils. This belief is founded on the experience of many schools both inside and outside South Africa, our own research and input from well-respected educational technologists from various countries including South Africa.

 I own a Samsung Galaxy Tab and an iPad. Both are good devices, but there is no doubt in my mind that the best quality user experience and certainly the best option for my children at school is found on the iPad.

Arthur Preston – November 2013

In closing I leave you with a quote from Fraser Speirs (Shared on Twitter in September 2013):

“The iPad is not for schools that want to “use tablets”, it is for schools wanting to change the educational experience.”

Goodbye iPads…

No, no, we are definitely not giving up on our iPad project!

Today our first class of Grade 6s got to take them home for the weekend and they will keep them until next Friday. This leap of faith by the school is so that we can give these students a taste of what it would be like to have access to an iPad for 24 hours a day, every day. We want them to use the iPad as a personal device, add homework to the calendar, keep a daily journal in the Notes app or Pages, download apps from the App Store (we took off this restriction), send emails (we set up personal email accounts for them with their school email addresses), add the device to their home Wi-Fi networks and expose their parents to the wonders of the iPad. In short, we would like them to treat the iPads as their own!

To say that these students were excited is an understatement beyond belief! They were like cats on a hot tin roof and couldn’t wait to get out of the door at home time to show their parents. Let’s see what the outcome of our little experiment will be. Only time will tell.

To read a more in-depth explanation of the trial, read my earlier post below.

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!

UPDATE:

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: http://www.teachersmonthly.com/index.php/2012/05/ipads-for-education/]