Tag Archive for ios

iOS Interface Confusion

Do you find it hard to remember where the share button is? New? Reply? Favorite? New? You are not alone! Familiar user interfaces, once a distinguishing quality of Apple products, now appear to be a thing of the past. iOS app developers are seemingly placing buttons wherever they see fit, no doubt confusing and discouraging users. Let’s take a look at some examples.

Top bars

Google Drive

actions - Google Drive


new - calendar


new - GMail


new - Outlook


new - twitter

BBC News

open in - BBC News

Bottom bars

Twitter – tweet

actions - twitter

Twitter – web browser

open in - twitter

Apple Mail

actions - Apple Mail


actions - photos


open in - safari

Share menus


share - Facebook

Google Docs

share - Google Drive

“Open In”


U Prep’s New Tablet + Laptop Programs

When I arrived at U Prep this past August, the school had just announced the decision to launch 1:1 student device programs in the fall of 2013. A decade ago, U Prep decided not to have a laptop program, so this represented a shift of direction from the school’s past position. Now, given that both student laptop use at home and school had become commonplace, U Prep decided to turn the corner and make student technology use ubiquitous. Students would have access to these research, communication, and production tools all of the time, which both students and teachers would use to support their learning.

The first step was to open the school’s network to student-owned devices. In a BYOD spirit, a wireless VLAN was opened so that any student or employee could log into wireless with one’s school username and password. Starting last spring, students began to increasingly bring laptops and tablets to school to support their work. By this fall, many students were observed using devices in classes and during free time, sometimes up to a third of the class in some courses.

The next step was to determine how much flexibility to allow students in device selection. Should students be able to bring any device at all to school, or could we make a move to provide some uniformity to assist with teacher planning and tech support? The tech department acquired different kinds of tablet devices, and faculty members tried them personally and with students. This led to a recommendation and decision — to standardize on iPads in the Middle School and allow a range of devices in the Upper School. Many different factors contributed to this decision: device capabilities, cost to families, platforms used at home, teacher preferences, and BYOD theory.

In the Middle School, all students will bring their own iPad to school beginning in Fall 2013. The iPad was selected based on its balance of capability, simplicity, and portability, the huge number of existing apps, and the many other middle schools that have started iPad programs. This year, Middle School faculty members were provided with an iPad, and our academic technology staff led a series of training events to encourage familiarity with different apps. Middle School faculty members have been asked to develop at least one new activity that takes advantage of student iPads and share it with a colleague. The school provided five iPad carts to classrooms so that teachers could experiment with student iPad use. Next summer, these iPads will become available for purchase by eighth grade families, so that they do not have to purchase a full-price device for one year of middle school use.

For the Upper School, a faculty/student/admin study group considered the range of options for a high school device program, from standardizing on one laptop model to allowing a wide range of student-owned devices. The group quickly reached consensus that both laptop and tablet capability were essential to fulfill the program’s vision. The work of our math department was instrumental in reaching this decision. In our math classes, Sympodium devices are ubiquitous, and other advanced uses take place when possible: writing solutions using a PDF annotation app and a stylus, doing math together from home using a shared virtual whiteboard, and watching teacher videos from home. Teachers in other subject areas are currently exploring the potential of tablets to support learning goals, for example for handwritten feedback on student writing, keeping an electronic science laboratory notebook, and providing a more comfortable form factor for reading electronic texts.

The question of platform standardization was trickier. Should the school standardize on one Windows 8 computer or permit both Windows and Mac in the Upper School? A standardized environment would be more predictable for teachers, whereas a two-platform program would be friendlier to students who prefer Mac. We made the decision to go with two platforms. We would recommend a single Windows model, the same one that we would acquire for our faculty members, but also welcome Mac users. However, Mac users would have to bring both a laptop computer and iPad to school, in order to have the full set of computing capabilities that we want all students to have. This may be a obstacle, or a hassle, but ultimately the choice of spending more to have a Mac will rest with families.

Respecting the high value of student choice, Upper School families will have the option to provide any model of Windows 8 computer that supports both touch and type. The school will announce a single recommended Windows 8 device, the same one that we will provide to our faculty members, but students will be able to bring a different model if they so choose. Students who select the recommended device will naturally be able to receive more technical support from our IT department, since our staff will know that device best. Also, we anticipate that some families will look to the school for purchasing advice, so it will serve them well for the school to provide a recommendation.

The rapid maturation of tablet computing makes this an exciting time for schools. It dramatically increases the number of possible computer uses beyond what is possible with only a laptop computer. Having three modalities (touch, type, stylus) makes the devices match the activities of education better than just a laptop computer. We will also receive the benefits of the energy that software developers are pouring into innovative apps, while we presumably will experience a decline in innovation in desktop apps. At the same time, as long as tablets remain limited in terms of what software they can run, we will still have the full capabilities of laptop computers.

Our preparations for the device programs have involved most parts of the school. The year has featured a steady stream of professional development activities focused on preparing teachers for student computing. Many of these have been worked into pre-existing meeting times, such as faculty meetings and professional development days. Others have been optional, such as Wednesday tech breakfasts and individual consulting with our academic technology staff. We have provided four additional iPad carts for Middle School teachers to develop new class activities before we go 1:1 next fall. Our head of school has written about student computing to the parent body a number of times. The parent council has devoted meeting time to the topic. The business office has dedicated the necessary financial resources, and the financial aid office will ensure equitable access to the program. Our IT staff is preparing in many ways to provide network access, app distribution, network security, technical support, loaner devices, and more. A committee is revising our computer science and technology course offerings. We remain mindful of other issues to address this spring, such as student lockers and availability of classroom power outlets.

Our program is designed to maximize the benefits of student computing while minimizing the negative repercussions. We are indebted to the experiences of schools that have preceded us with conventional laptop programs and shared their experiences. One particularly interesting area to note: student mindfulness. We are excited to learn from the work of Howard Rheingold and others who have tackled the question of student attention in a device-rich environment. We want to maintain the special, highly personal qualities of the student experience at U Prep. Teaching students to maintain mindfulness when using computing devices may be a key to reaching this goal.

The following documents capture our communications to the school community over the last eight months.

Middle School RYOD (November 2012)
Upper School RYOD (November 2012)
Technology Update (September 2012)
Technology Plan (May 2012)

iTunes Match

iTunes Match is a paid service that, in my opinion, is very worthwhile althoug it flies under the radar. For $25 a year, Apple will host your personal iTunes music collection on their servers, irrespective of whether you purchased the music through them. I uploaded my entire music collection, nearly all imported from CDs, and now all of my songs and playlists are available on my work computer, phone, and tablet. Music used to use up the most storage space on these devices. Now, I have bought less storage in all of my new mobile devices: 16GB iPhone, 16GB iPad, and 256GB MacBook Air.

Mobile Traffic

Check out the growth of mobile traffic since 2009. Mobile devices now account for 10% of all traffic to our website. Mobile traffic rises at two times each year: September and January.

(Click on the image to view a larger version.)

Mobile users visit the same top pages as computer users, with one exception. Our online family and employee directory is the sixth most popular page for mobile users and ninth for all users. Update: when I remove iPads from the mobile category, the directory and athletics schedules both move up a couple of positions in the top pages list.

Will mobile traffic eventually exceed computer traffic? I don’t think this data much helps us understand that.

Currently, the Catlin Gabel website displays the same on computers and mobile devices, but we are working on a mobile theme to present mobile users with a more usable interface. It will be interesting to observe whether that affects website overall traffic and popular pages.

iBooks 2.0: Reinventing Textbooks? at MobilePortland

Thanks to Corey Pressmen, Steve Burt, Tim Lauer, and Thor Pritchard for sharing their insights at this event last night. I took away some great tidbits:

McGraw Hill and Exprima Media will soon release an anatomy ePub document, two years in the making.

The current disruption about mobile devices and textbooks is an extension of the Internet as a disruptive moment for the electronic distribution of instructional materials.

We are currently in a phase of multiple platforms vying for industry longevity and/or dominance. No wonder it feels so varied, shifting, and confusing.

http://inkling.com is one new publisher of enhanced electronic instructional materials.

A tension exists between instructor curation of electronic materials for a course and publisher curation of electronic materials for publication and state adoption.

One college is using http://www.epubbud.com as a free, simple, multi-platform ePub authoring environment. This stands in marked contrast to the proprietary, closed, iAuthor application recently released by Apple.

A number of education staff in the audience expressed that it would be impossible to require college students to all purchase from one platform. This makes me think of colleges that did exactly that with Mac laptops many years ago. I’m not sure how many of these programs are still around.

What does this all mean for secondary teachers? At this point in time, I imagine that only the very earliest adopters will be creating their own materials in iAuthor, whereas most will wait to see how this industry shakes out. If I were to recommend a solution to a school, I would encourage one to stick with web-based instructor curation for the time being, as it is the most multi-platform, media-rich, multi-user, linkable resource currently available. iAuthor would make sense if the school has a 1:1 iPad program, but one would need to be careful to maintain one’s own pedagogical style within the highly structured authoring environment of iAuthor.


Opening Faculty Meeting Presentations

These slides accompany my presentations to our divisional faculty groups. What did you roll out to your teachers this week?

iPads at Lewis Elementary

At EdCampPDX today, Lewis Elementary fourth grade team Paul Colvin and Matt Marchyok took us through how they used 13 new iPads in the classroom this year. I took the following notes and screen captures. Thank you for helping us get a head start with our small iPad pilot this year!

I left the session with a better understanding of what iPad tools could facilitate the transition to a digital classroom. Less clear is whether this represents a digital version of time-honored paper activities or a new form of learning. Toward the end, we laid out some preliminary ideas for uses of iPads in an inquiry-based classroom.

Sharing documents
– DropDAV, WebDAV through DropBox
– iCloud a likely replacement
– Shared passcode between student partners
– DropBox good for sharing but not security
– Google Docs good for security but not for sharing and writing

Class Activities
– Assign an entry task each day, also
– BrainPop of the day available on iPad for free
– BrainPop also available through Google Apps & student accounts
– Reading AtoZ to get a bank of leveled books, fileshare those PDFs to reading groups
– Keyboarding problematic: some students preferred to use a regular keyboard
– Better to type in landscape mode

– Pages
– WritePad
– Dragon Dictation

– Khan Academy
– various apps
– http://easycbm.com (progress monitoring)
– Khan Academy uses Google Apps logins, for tracking student progress
– RocketMath, Fraction Factory, PizzaMath

Reading: RAZ Kids
– Leveled books  http://www.raz-kids.com
– Share PDFs
– Seeking a reader that supports annotation really well (goal for this year), save annotations into iBooks
– Secret Garden, in place of class set of books, public domain book

Social Studies
– Google Earth and Maps
– Oregon Trail
– This Day in History

– Brushes for freehand painting, Brushes Player for playing back brushstrokes on a Mac

BrainPOP: very relevant to daily events
– featured movie easy to access on iPad
– also available online + other free content but not as easy to access

Computers vs. iPads
–  you could argue for diversity of platforms
– iPads may better fit kid hands

EdModo — social network for the classroom

IdeaFlight: broadcast teacher iPad to student iPads in the classroom

Going paperless
– fewer stacks of paper
– writing submitted online
– quick prompts

I am beginning to think that nearly everyone can read successfully on a screen if they practice enough. An iPad may offer an easier transition to reading on the screen, because you can hold it in your lap, where a book traditionally goes. We do not read books directly in front of us like a computer screen!

“Not one time did I have a tech issue” — Matt on iPad ease of use

iPads in an inquiry-based classroom
– interview notes
– photos and video
– publishing
– writing

Write Chinese Characters with a Mac Trackpad

One of our Mandarin teachers discovered this feature the other day — very useful for students to practice handwriting Chinese characters!

Apple appears to be bringing touch features to the Mac using the trackpad rather than the screen. The handwriting feature includes virtual buttons that you press by tapping along the right or left edge of your trackpad, as if you were tapping a phone or tablet screen. David Pogue writes,

Touch-screen computers don’t work. There, I said it. Spending the day with your arm outstretched, manipulating tiny controls on a vertical surface is awkward and exhausting. The ache you feel later is not-so-affectionately known as Gorilla Arm.

Apple has built what it considers a better solution, a horizontal multitouch surface. That’s the trackpad of its laptops, and the top surface of its current mouse.


iPad: Finding the Grey

Here I am at 30,000 feet, blogging on the school iPad with GoGo wireless. How far these technologies have come in such a short time! I have previously stated that the iPad is poor for content creation, but now I am beginning to see the promise. I am finding the grey space between evangelist and curmudgeon.

By far the best feature is the long battery life, able to last a cross-country plane flight or a full day of class use. No device is effective when it’s out of juice. The keyboard is just tolerable if I place the iPad in landscape orientation. I’m probably typing at 20 words a minute.

I recently read the accreditation report of a peer school that is rolling out a 1:1 iPad program. That’s one iPad for each student in the school. Last week, my reaction to this news was surprise and lack of understanding. It’s highly unlikely that we would do such a thing at our school. Having learned more about their school, I can see the rationale now.

1. They are committing to replace texts with electronic content as much as possible. The iPad is best equipped for content consumption, so this fits great. Presumably, they have strong teacher support for this.

2. They are interested in better supporting students by presenting materials in multiple media (another advantage over print).

3. They are simultaneously seeking a new learning management system platform. The iPad rollout will take place along with a new platform for delivering instructional content and working together.

4. They have a smaller budget than most laptop schools. A 1:1 laptop program is likely out of reach, so it does not make sense to speculate how much better laptops are than iPads. The real question is how much better iPads are compared with laptop carts and shared desktops.

5. Similarly, they may not want to increase tech staff. The iPad lends itself to a distributed management model. Load them up once and then let go of the management responsibility. So far at least, the iPad appears to suffer few weaknesses compared to a device with a full operating system.

6. They are seeking distinctive programs to help attract students within a competitive independent school market.

7. They are timing the rollout to coincide with iPad 2 (good move!). They should avoid the limitations of the first version, gain a camera and microphone, and perhaps lower the price, plus whatever other improvements Apple has cooked up!

I still have questions about feasibility of this program. Can students really write essays and complete assessments using the on-screen keyboard? How will the school deal with the lack of a central file storage system? Are enough teachers committed to developing sufficient electronic content? I look forward to seeing how it goes.

Just because it’s popular now …

Teachers, parents, and students often ask our IT department to support new technologies that have just gained popularity in the home consumer market. The latest darling is iOS devices, particularly the iPad.

How may we anticipate the future enterprise growth of a new, personal technology? What qualities of home electronics help predict future success in the enterprise? I would appreciate your thoughts and any resources you have encountered that address this topic.

One useful idea is the technology adoption curve. Actually, “curves” is a better word, as I have come across several different types.

Rogers Technology Adoption Lifecycle Model

Source: Wikipedia

As people adopt a technology, overall adoption increases toward the technology’s “saturation point,” the maximum penetration possible for that technology. The maximum point is usually less than 100% of the possible users in existence (more on that later).

Source: Wikipedia

Some studies have found a gap between the early adopters and early majority, suggesting that some innovations do not proceed directly from minority to mainstream adoption.

Source: Nielsen Company

For some technologies, this gap represents the end of the road. The technology never gains mainstream acceptance, either because it is ill-suited to the mainstream or because another technology supersedes it (see “Laser disc” and “Blu-Ray”).

These graphs help answer the early adopters when they come calling. Early acceptance of a new technology does not guarantee its popularity with the mainstream.

What technologies gain mainstream acceptance?

This chart shows the adoption curves for major household electronics.

Source and full-size version: Karl Hartig

Note that the chart is limited to technology innovations that succeeded in gaining a high adoption level! Also note that the early rate of increase does not necessarily predict its later rate of increase. Compare cellphone adoption to cable TV. Cell phones started slowly and then rapidly increased in adoption. Cable TV started quickly and then tapered off. The following chart describes the adoption curve of a less successful technology. The y-axis represents “visibility.”

Source: Mike Slinn

Let’s talk about organizations

The previous graphs focus primarily on consumer technologies. What about organizations such as companies and schools? Typically schoolwide implementation lies at the end of the adoption curve. The following chart proposes that adoption moves progressively from smaller to larger organizational groups.

Source: James Rait

What qualities do successful school technology innovations have?

I wonder what qualities these successful innovations share. Ease of use? Utility to the user? What can we learn to help us understand the potential future popularity of newer devices like the iPad?

Suitability for an enterprise network: Technologies that integrate well with enterprise networks have a greater chance of success in schools than those that do not. The iPad is poised on the brink of this question. Apple did a nice job with WPA2 enterprise integration for iOS. What about print and file servers?

Applicability to teaching and learning activities: It appears that major manufacturers are not seriously interested in designing technologies for the education market. We are left to choose among richly designed technologies for personal or business use and less mature technologies designed by smaller companies specifically for the education market. When a new technology arrives on the scene, we should first ask whether it is at all suitable to teaching and learning activities. I am not talking about “finding a use” for a new device, but rather identifying high compatibility between a device’s capabilities and existing principles of good teaching and learning, which make it possible to replace and/or extend existing learning environments with technology.

Potential for content creation: Learning is as much about content creation as it is about consumption. Devices like the iPad are rich with consumption capabilities but so far weak for creation. If creation represents at least half of the education process, then what use is the iPad today, compared to a $500 laptop computer?

How far along the curve will a particular technology go?

“Every school will have a 1:1 student laptop program.” One no longer hears this once-popular refrain. The adoption of student laptop programs has clearly slowed since 2000, and still only a small proportion of schools overall provide individual student laptops. High cost, disillusionment about effects, and difficult of integration have proven to be significant obstacles. Do you know of any quantitative studies of student laptop program adoption? I would like to see them.

Your turn

Are you on the “cutting edge” or a “fast follower?” How do you mediate the effects of new technology enthusiasm on your organization? Have you measured the percentage of your budget devoted to innovation? What resources have you found to be helpful in investigating these questions? I look forward to your replies.