Tying the Training to the Curriculum

This morning we hosted Andrew Goodgame once again.  It was his fourth visit to ACS Cobham by my count and this time he met with our fourth grade teachers to discuss how the inclusion of one-to-one iPads in their classes next year might support their curriculum.

I’d sent Andrew the first quarter plans for the fall term 2012, and he arrived with some ideas about incorporating app-led lessons in the social studies unit on Europe.  These do not necessarily require any additional apps to those that come with the iPad on purchase.  There are many things the creative teacher can do with the bundled Maps app – especially when it is combined with screen shots taken from Google Maps’ street view.

Andrew Goodgame working with the fourth grade team at ACS Cobham International School, March 16th 2012.

We did get into some specialised apps, of course.  Andrew took the team through Explain Everything, which I now think superior to the Show Me app I’ve been raving about since discovering it last year.  We also looked at CollabraCam and Teleprompt Plus.  These two compliment each other perfectly, and for the private user the £1.99 expense of the former is justified by the fact you can sync the app to up to five devices – making it feasible to create an impromptu TV studio from any combination of up to five iPhones or camera-equipped iPod Touches or iPads on the same WiFi network.

For reading classes we revisited David Baugh’s Story Spine (although it’s probably more suited to younger grade levels than fourth grade) and the fridge magnet poetry app Instant Poetry HD.


Screen Recording of an ACS Student’s eBook

The movie link below shows an ACS kindergarten student’s eBook as described in the previous post.  It was captured from the screen of an iPad 2 using the method described in that same post.  No jail breaking was required and the iPad to Mac app was downloaded on a free trial basis, although the software used to capture the Mac’s screen was the US$69 full version of Snapz Pro X.



Recording the Screen on an iPad

Today’s challenge was prompted by the need to include in an iMovie I’m finishing for the board some footage of an iPad 2’s screen while someone reads a student-created iBook on it.

The iBook was made on a first generation iPad using some pretty straightforward technology.  The writing was done in pages on a Mac.  The teacher scanned images of the paper book the child had made in her kindergarten class and typed the prompts that had been in the original worksheet that the children had used in the classroom (the book was on the theme of the number 100 as the lesson had taken place on the 100th day of school).

These documents were collected into one Pages document and saved in ePub format.  This was then exported to the iBooks shelf as an eBook.

So far, so easy.  The finished documents can be seen on the virtual bookshelf – and the children receive a considerable boost from seeing their books alongside established classics such as Winnie the Pooh and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (or for that matter War Horse as in the example below).

The problem is although still photos of the iPad’s screen’s content are easy enough to make using the home button and the on/off button pressed simultaneously (the resulting screenshot being saved to the iPad’s camera roll), it is much harder to screenshoot moving images from the iPad.  Most people who do this rely on apps that are only available to jailbroken iPads, and these obviously mean anything one shoots from the screen is a screenshot of a jailbroken iPad, not a standard iPad.

There is a workaround to this problem that involves using an HDMi cable (pictured below) and some special hardware and software.

A Macmost video that explains this in more detail can be seen here.  But I figured there must be a simpler way.  I looked into Air View, which is wonderful software for use with Apple TV, an IWB or even if you just want to work from two screens at the same time and only have one Mac and one iPad (see below).

But I needed the Mac to show what was on the iPad – i.e. moving footage of an iBook being read with sound, turning pages and everything else.  Air View only lets you see your Mac’s screen on your iPad, not the other way around.  So the search went on.

Then my esteemed colleague, Steven Cliff, had an idea.  Here’s what you do.  Go to http://reflectionapp.com and download Reflection.  It costs US$14.99 for the one-Mac license or US$49.99 for up to 5 Macs (this is for OS X 10.6 by the way).  There is also a free time-limited trial which may be worth using if you can get everything you need recorded completed inside ten minutes.

Reflection will allow you to see on your Mac whatever is playing on your iPad provided both are linked to the same WiFi network.  You can use the screen capture software of your choice on the Mac.  Obviously, many will plump for Quicktime, but I have to say the one piece of software that I have never regretted spending money on is Ambrosia’s Snapz Pro X.  It remains for me the best screen capture software available and well worth the asking price (which is currently US$69 but there is a free trial version available which allows 15 days’ use or 100 captures).

Anyway, this solves a problem that I know from having searched Google and other sites for answers and being directed to countless Cydia fanboys’ pages, dodgy YouTube sites and even downright illegal practices filmed for all the world to see, is a big question many of us have.  I’ll post a sample video in my next entry, but this is already just about the longest blog entry I’ve made so I’ll cut this short for now.

Don’t Call it an iPad 3!!!

Well, it’s here and so all the speculating can cease.  Yes, it’s bigger.  Yes, it’s better.  Yes, there’s much more to tempt the reckless into parting with their hard earned cash.  But enough about the fantasy baseball season.

The new iPad’s looking pretty good too!

The Middle Kingdom

OK, this has nothing really to do with China, but the middle school (where I still teach a weekly Mandarin class as it happens!)

Couldn’t resist giving my esteemed colleagues’ Brianna Gray and Alex Read’s blog a plug on here – and to show off Brianna’s ingenious answer to the problem of over-priced iPad cabinets.  Brianna took a trip to a well-known Scandinavian flatpack furniture emporium and put together this little beauty in which the middle school iPads can be safely stored as well as charged and synced.  It came to something in the region of a thousand pounds less expensive than the commercially available cabinets – and it stores twice as many iPads!

Tracy Island, anyone?

The Qualitative Phase…

It’s been gratifying seeing the responses to my article in The International Educator filling up my Twitter, Linked In and Facebook accounts.  Thanks for all the news people have reported from their own iPads projects.  These have made fascinating reading.  Subscribers to TIE can access the electronic version of the article at http://www.tieonline.com/view_article.cfm?ArticleID=100 and the second part will be published in the April edition.

The second part of the article describes the qualitative phase of our study.  In sequential explanatory research designs the qualitative phase typically seeks to explain the results obtained in the quantitative phase.  In our case, the results of the quantitative phase are not yet final, but the preliminary results constitute enough data to complete an analysis of variance (ANOVA) that yields a statistically significant difference between the emotional engagement, collaboration and perseverance observed and measured in the groups of students before and after the introduction of the iPad into classroom teaching.  These are interesting preliminary findings but they will be set aside for now and treated with caution until we have had a chance to look at what the students are telling us in interviews.  These interviews form the qualitative phase of the study and they are proving quite entertaining to process – not an adjective I can recall associating with too many previous studies I’ve been involved with!

An IB Psychology student from the twelfth grade interviewing second graders at ACS Cobham as part of his research assistant duties.

We have been assisted in the gathering of the the data by a small team of research assistants drawn from the twelfth grade IB Psychology students.  It’s a real win win situation for us as they help us spread the workload considerably and at the same time gain invaluable experience as researchers on a formal study.  The interviewers were all trained in interviewing young children, and the responses will be aggregated and measured using MAXQDA software.  The finished results can then be exported into an SPSS file and cross tabulated with the original quantitative data from the observation phase last December.

That’s the theory, anyway.  In the meantime it’s been interesting reading what the six-, seven- and eight-year-olds in the study group have had to say about using iPads in class.  Here is a sample of the first set of responses:

“Sometimes I like that Mrs. O’Brien says we can do math games today and I get really excited because they’re good for our learning”

“Story buddy is actually my favourite for making stories. I like it better than a paper and pencil” 

“Sometimes it’s good because if you don’t have any paper you can still work, but it might not help your eyes.  It hasn’t happened to me or any of my friends but if you keep staring at the screen it will happen!”

Angry Birds is just fun, but Shapes helps me learn lots of shapes that I didn’t know before”

“I prefer to read books on an iPad because you don’t have to turn the pages.  You just tap “Next Page””

“My dad takes our iPad to work so I don’t get to use it often”

“The iPad will help you find pictures of Victorian horses, but you have to tell it to find them with people riding them”

One trend in the data that seems to be emerging strongly is how much easier first and second graders find it to type on an iPad compared to a computer.  That is a surprise, and it counters an argument heard from adults who typically criticise the iPad’s keyboard for being too small.  Finger size may, of course, be a factor here, but as this is a school-based study involving young children, the preference for the iPad’s keyboard – if borne out by the full picture from the sample, is a legitimate finding.

Hurst’s Digital Pencil Case

This week a colleague and I were delighted to have the chance (finally) to take up Vickie Bacon’s kind offer to visit Hurstpierpoint College‘s iPads programme and see the “Digital Pencil Case” in operation.

Hurst is an old school with a modern feel.  The sight of iPads in the classrooms somehow gelled completely with the chapel and cloisters from a world of long ago.  The students seemed at ease with their digital life, and Vickie’s name for the project – the Digital Pencil Case or DPC, captures neatly the idea that iPads are just another tool students that expect to use in their day-to-day classroom life.

Both Vickie’s visit to ACS and Jane’s and my visit to Hurst have reinforced in our minds how much more alike than different our children are.  Hurst will soon be launching a formal study of their own that will complement the work we are now completing at ACS.  It will be interesting to see how the two studies results compare.  I suspect they will reveal some significant areas of commonality.

The dining room at Hurst, where Jane and I discussed with staff and students the impact of iPads on Hurst's curriculum.