Free iBook: Student Guide to iPads & iOS 6

The iPhone User Guide for iOS 6 has been out for a few weeks now, but Apple hasn’t yet released one for the iPad & iOS 6. Rather than wait, I decided to write a bare-bones intro to iPad & iOS 6 for my students – just enough to get comfortable with basic iPad use and get organized.

I just published The Student Guide to iPads & iOS 6 to the iBookstore for free, in case other students/teachers find it useful.

Constructive feedback is welcomed, and please take the time to review if you find the information useful.


Facebook reminds us of technology’s purpose

Facebook has just released a video that elevates their advertising platform to the ultimate goal of technology: to connect us, give us a sense of belonging, and make us more human. What is the price we pay for this desire to find a tribe?

For years now, my first class has been a discussion on the definition of technology. We use this word everyday but many of us can only give examples, not  a concise explanation. Technology is:

An object or invention created conciously by animal or human, changing the nature of something to make work more efficient or simplify life.

– 6th grade class in 2010

 Technology is the use of new knowledge to improve our lives by solving problems or making us more productive.

 – 5th grade class in 2011

Though my students have different answers year-to-year, we always focus on technology as a means of productivity, creativity, communication and identity.

Technology with intention in the classroom for optimal learning

We then jump immediately into the unintended consequences of technology – a conversation that illuminates our increased reliance on energy, on technology, and our loss of privacy.

This new ad is a great stepping off point for middle- and high-school conversations about both technology’s goals and its impact. is flipping lectures is teaming educators with animators to create TED-Ed flipped lectures. Anyone can choose a YouTube video and then place it side-by-side with a variety of questions, allowing viewers to assess their own recall and understanding.

I was honored to be invited to present a lesson while in Chicago for #FlipCon12 back in June. My recording went live today! You can view the entire lesson directly at Ted-Ed: Why do competitors open their stores next to one another? – Jac de Haan or watch the video below:

Thanks to Logan, Jordan, Stephanie, Jon & Aaron for making this happen! And thanks to Luke Rowsell for bringing the story to life.

social network restrictions in iOS 6 for iPad

iOS 6 – MDM not yet ready for new restrictions

If you are planning on upgrading your school-based deployment of iPads & iPod Touches, check your Restriction Profiles to ensure the new feature settings are compliant with your school policy.

Today Apple released iOS 6 – the new operating system for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. iOS 6 contains tighter social network integration, with deep links to Twitter and Facebook.

For those of use deploying devices to students under 13, it is nice to be able to restrict this account integration as it isn’t technically legal for our students to have social network accounts.

Devices can be managed by touching every single one, navigating to the Settings>Restrictions screen, enabling Restrictions and then switching off Twitter & Facebook. But for those of us with hundreds or thousands of machines to manage, this isn’t easy to do.

Most iOS device managers use a combination of Apple Configurator for tethered updates and a mobile device management (MDM) tool for over-the-air (OTA) updates.

I’ve been testing this afternoon and it doesn’t seem like any of these management tools have updated their Restriction profiles to allow for the management of these new Restriction features.

Keep an eye out for Configurator updates in the new few weeks to help us support our deployments. If you have an MDM solution that has been upgraded, please comment or tweet back!

social network restrictions in iOS 6 for iPad

Create a classroom blog in under 2 minutes: updated

Back in April 2011 I wrote a quick post on how to get started with Blogger in your classroom. Google has since updated the user interface at Blogger, so this is an updated version of the instructions…and the process is even easier than before. Jump to the bottom of this post for a video walk-through, otherwise, here are the steps:


Start the clock, let’s build a blog:

0.00: Go to ( is owned by Google. If you already have a Gmail account just login, otherwise you’ll need to add 45 seconds to create one).

0:12: In the webpage that opens, search for the “New blog” button and click it.


0:15: Add the title for your blog, create the URL (the address people will type to see your blog), and choose a template. Click “create blog!”

classroom blog instructions edtech

0:40: Click the “view blog” button to admire your new homepage.

blogging for teachers - blogger homepage

0:50: Enter the blog settings via the drop-down menu and take a look around.

1:20: Sip a tasty beverage while your first brilliant post idea percolates.

1:35: Click the “new post” button to start adding content.



2 minutes? Really? Yes, really:

Multi-step projects with a single-task device

A few weeks ago Ethan Delavan and I presented at the 2012 iPads in Education workshop, hosted by the Puget Sound Educational Services District. I hosted a session called Multi-Step Projects with a Single-Task Device that focused on providing choice within projects that use an iPad.

The heart of  my session was the idea that, when assigning a project that requires multiple apps for completion, there is a big difference between dictating which app to use at which time (linear) and allowing students to design and follow their own path to success (branching).

The entire session was built around 2 quotes from fabulous educators:

Don’t worry, be vague.

– Physics teacher Ben Smith

If you assign a project & get back 30 of the same thing, you didn’t assign a project, you assigned a recipe.

– SLA principal Chris Lehmann

Consider the following assignment:

Design a poster that incorporates photography and expresses your perspective on how failure shapes learning.

A linear approach:

Each step of a linear version of this project would be provided along with the appropriate app to accomplish each task. If the process is teacher-defined, then the teacher is left to assess a student’s ability to follow the procedure, demonstrated mastery of each app prescribed, and adherence to any guidelines.

Self-reflection might look something like this:

I like Photosynth because it is pretty easy to use but Paper kept undoing my work so it was complicated. I turned in my poster on time and like it.

linear iPad multi-step projects

A branching approach:

In a branching assignment, students are left to break the assignment into actionable steps. Students will be required to think through each step and identify apps that will support each stage of completion, often engaging peers to compare notes. Because the process is student-defined, then the teacher can listen to students verbalize decisions for each step and ask guiding questions to encourage analysis, collaboration and discovery. “How did you decide to use Skitch for step 2? How would your project be different if you changed the order of your steps? Is there anyone else who used all of the same apps as you?”

A simple Project Planner document can be used as a post-project self-evaluation tool, as a planning document, or can be partially populated and provided as a scaffold for students who require support.

Self-reflection might look something like this:

I started this project in Screenchomp but the app only let me add 1 photo so I switched to Keynote. The poster is only a single slide in Keynote, but it is a better choice because Pages makes all posters in Portrait mode and I wanted my poster to be Landscape. When it was time to turn in my poster, I couldn’t get the printer to connect to my iPad even though I asked the teacher. I had to email my poster to the teacher instead.

branching approach to multi-step ipad projects in the classroom

While this presentation was focused on classroom projects using iPads, the idea of linear vs. branching projects is applicable beyond a device-centric application. The full slidedeck is  embedded below (RSS feed readers may need to jump to Slideshare to view):

Google Drive update: new mobile features

Google updated its Google Drive app for Android and iOS today. The 2 big new features are:

  1. the ability to edit Docs from within a mobile interface.
  2. the ability to upload video & photos to Drive from a mobile device.
For Google Apps for Education schools using mobile devices, students can now send and store media on Google Drive. This provides a way to share creations with family and friends that doesn’t require the use of email and yet stays in a school-controlled environment that is COPPA compliant (assuming your Acceptable/Responsible Use Agreement is current).

5 ways to use Google Voice in your classroom

I recently spent the afternoon with some enthusiastic teachers at the Mercer Island School District who are prepping for the start to the school year. One of the sessions I presented was an introduction to Google Apps for Edu with a focus on classroom application.

One of the tools I referenced was Google Voice – a free yet powerful web interface for an  phone number that can forward to your personal phone numbers, record voicemail, and make smart routing decisions based on rules that you manage.

I love the ability to give families & students a way to contact me without revealing my personal contact information. The other killer feature for me is that any voicemail can be downloaded or embedded as an mp3 with a couple of clicks:

As I tend to do when in a room full of talented educators, I introduced the tool then opened the floor for a conversation of potential applications. As usual, their ideas were much more interesting than mine:

  1. Students on a field trip phone in their responses to leading questions rather than sit on the floor in a museum scribbling a reflection on a worksheet.
  2. Use their cell phone to interview someone and then collect the file from Google Voice to embed on a website.
  3. Students call in to record their pronunciation of a vocabulary list. The teacher can check the work at their convenience rather than try to listen and offer feedback to each student within a single class period.
  4. Students call in to offer status updates on group projects.
  5. Students call in, each reading aloud a single chapter from a book or an original poem. The results are then downloaded and dragged into Audacity or Garageband, where they can be stitched together to create an collaborative audiobook.

As with so many Google tools, Voice lowers the barrier of entry and encourages students to create. These readily available tools, combined with the creativity of student and teacher minds, can evolve into something memorable.