Yesterday we had the pleasure of once again hosting not just one school, but a number of schools from in and around the Ballarat region including Invermay PS and Halls Gap PS.

This visit was on the back of the curriculum day that I had the pleasure of speaking at, which I spoke about in the previous post, where a number of smaller schools got together to collaborate on iPad integration and differentiated learning.

It was great showing these staff members around our college and taking them though the iPad areas in years 6 and 7. Once again the students were outstanding in accommodating our visitors and took a little time out of their day to share some of the great things they were doing in class. Our staff also in these areas were also outstanding in speaking to visiting educators and sharing a number of key processes and app’s which they use. The notion and pedagogy which we keep regurgitating, that the technology is just a tool to assist teaching and learning and that we want our students to CREATE RATHER THAN CONSUME, is a key focus for us.

As per usual it was great to sit down and talk about iPads in education and implementation issues and queries that schools had. As in the past a number of these schools were going down the path of a shared device and therefore had issues around students working off multiple devices and how to then keep work either separate or shared amongst the staff. Issues also of wireless and bandwidth were discussed as well as what do schools do financially in relation to mobile technology integration. Do they lease, buy outright, or move towards a BYOD framework?

In relation to the shared options, usually the first response is to use either Dropbox or Box.net, for online cloud services and file sharing. I have recently however come across eLockers (which has been developed in conjunction with StudyWhiz, an LMS), that not only allows students to save to the ‘cloud’, but also collaborate on documents with other students and staff. Well worth a look. More info can be found HERE.

Also discussed were the issues around apple legalities in terms of iTunes and app purchasing, as Apple’s official stance is one device, one apple ID, something that is ridiculously difficult for schools to manage. We spoke about gifting app’s and using app’s which we only free and syncing those on to a number of devices off one account. As we do not have app volume licensing here in Aus, and, understanding that it’s not working all that great in the US, other alternatives may need to be looked at.

Printing in schools is always a hot topic and towards the middle to late last year we made the decision to NOT allow any student in the college to print. We felt that this was a mindless activity, putting it bluntly, as the money that we as a college can save is quite substantial. Paper does not grow on trees.. or does it… as well as printers being made for a disposable market and needing to be replaced every 12-18mths, not to mention ink costs. The greatest reason however for not printing is to have students create outstanding pieces of work and then share that via the web, to give it a greater GLOBAL audience. No matter if it is a movie, a PDF or ‘another’ PowerPoint/keynote’. The use of blogs and wiki’s have certainly allowed for this!

One of the last things that we discussed and spoke about was using the iPad as teaching tool, and the greatest way of sharing and demonstrating work via an iPad device. I know of a number of schools using iPad VGA adaptors to connect to an interactive whiteboard and modelling iPad use that way. One way that we as a college are going is to use flat screen TV’s and Apple TV devices and use the Apple TV’s mirroring capabilities to demonstrate student work and to modelling effective app use as well as many other things. We/I feel that the mirroring capability of the Apple TV devices is excellent as a teaching tool as we found that most of our IWB’s were being used solely as projectors. For under 1K, a relatively large LCD TV can be purchased, along with an Apple TV Device and a Nintendo Wii (just so we can play Mario Kart!)… For more info about the Apple TV devices you can visit the following LINK.

Thank you to all the schools who visited. We as a college look forward to seeing what journey your schools take in tech integration and it’d be great to be in contact along the way, even also setting up some collaborative resources that we can work on together to assist us all in iPad implementation.