Tag Archive for ipad

This iPad case can do anything.

One case with four modes maximizes the ability of the iPad to act as both laptop and mobile tablet while also protecting the corners. Unfortunately, the case is also too tight and may stress the glass screen. Love the form factor, however. Supernight 360

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Uses of Technology to Enhance Formative Assessment and Differentiated Instruction

CiC Tech Formative DifferentiatedAcademic Technology Director Jeff Tillinghast and I have co-authored an article for Curriculum In Context, the journal of the Washington State Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, an ASCD affiliate. We wrote a practitioner’s view of how our teachers use contemporary computing technologies to provide specific, rapid, and varied feedback to students and then accordingly adjust individual student instruction. Read the article (PDF) or access the full issue. Many thanks to Seattle Pacific University professor David Denton for inviting us to contribute to the journal.


Attention and Mindfulness in Technology Use: Five Perspectives

U Prep facilitates professional development opportunities for the individual teacher, group of teachers, and whole faculty. This year, at least three of these sessions consider our new iPad and laptop program, wholly within the context of principles of teaching and learning and youth development. Today, we explored the topic of attention and mindfulness in the context of technology use.

On the one hand, we are working hard so that our school keeps up with rapid technological changes occurring in society. The main feature is a huge infusion of tablet and laptop devices that we have placed in students’ hands, plus consideration of how to change our instructional practices to take advantage of the many capabilities of this change.

At the same time, we heard a clear message from our community as we designed the program last year—we want and need balance in our lives. Balance between high-tech and low-tech learning environments; balance between email and face-to-face communication; balance between productivity and reflective practice.

What does imbalance look like? When we feel compelled to answer emails at our desk instead of seeing colleagues in the staff room. When we spend hours addressing a technical problem instead of getting work done. When we find students watching a video or playing a game instead of paying attention to class. Looking to the future, one might image a dystopic view of technology in our lives. Let’s take a look.

In one of our faculty summer reads, William Powers wrote:

We’re losing something of great value, a way of thinking and moving through time that can be summed up in a single word, depth. Depth of thought and feeling, depth in our relationships, our work and everything we do. Since depth is what makes life fulfilling and meaningful, it’s astounding that we’re allowing this to happen.

What does balance look like? When tech is truly complementary, part of the environment, rather than taking center stage. When we have the necessary self-control to avoid immediately responding to that ding, buzz, or alert window. When we feel that our humanity is preserved in our very personal practice of living and working within a learning community.

Again, quoting William Powers:

History is replete with moments when some astonishing new invention came along that suddenly made it easier for people to connect across space and time. And those earlier shifts were as exhilarating and confusing to those who lived through them as today’s are to us.

Even in a hyper-connected world, everyone has the ability to regulate his or her own experience. It’s the same theme that great thinkers have struck time after time over the last two thousand years, but it keeps getting forgotten. The answer to our dilemma is hiding in the last place we tend to look: our own minds. The best tool for fighting back is still the mind itself.

We must move a step forward in our understanding of attention and mindfulness, so that we may open the classroom to technology without feeling ruled by it.

How do we achieve this? First, let’s understand that the study of attention and mindfulness with technology is an emerging field. Different approaches exist: some support each other. Others contradict. It’s quite likely that some combination of approaches will be best.

Let’s take a look at five approaches to attention and mindfulness in a technology-rich world. We may identify which aspects of these approaches have the most potential, so that we may implement them broadly throughout the school, incorporate them into our behavioral and professional norms and expectations.

Executive Function

This topic asks what brain research can tell us about learning and technology use. Karen Bradley, a teacher at Head-Royce School in Oakland, describes executive functions as, “our judgment, the ability to set priorities, to choose a ‘go’ versus a ‘no-go’ action, to distinguish junk from useful information.” The use of executive function is critical for young people to learn, as they make decisions about whether to pay attention in class, do homework, and consider thematic concepts in the curriculum.

Frequent interruptions by technology may impede executive function, as students lack the “quiet space” to think deeply, and as their working memory is bombarded by new inputs. Brain scientists such as John Medina tell us that multitasking is a myth, that frequently switching our attention is a detriment to productive thought.

Let’s take a whimsical look at multitasking with designer Paolo Cardini.

[ted id=1622]

Megan Reimann is an expert in special education. She has taught study skills, resource room, language arts, and social studies and is a U Prep ninth grade parent. Megan currently specializes in working with students who have executive function deficits to help them create strong study habits. Megan ran one of our breakout sessions during the professional development day.


Our second topic is mindfulness. Did you know that you may actually hold your breath when you open your email app to check for new messages? The tense moment of uncertainty—what’s in there?—triggers our fight-or-flight response; our physiology is on high alert while we wait to find out.

How is our quality of life when these moments of alertness happen all day, in quick succession? What can we do to create contemplative spaces and improve our quality of life? How may we teach our students to do the same?

David Levy is a professor at UW’s Information School and an expert in information, contemplative practices, and the quality of life. David is a former computer scientist, researcher on the nature of documents, and student of calligraphy and bookbinding. Dr. Levy’s more recent work has focused on contemplative practices, the quality of life, and how to use digital tools more mindfully. He gave a superb talk on the activities teachers can organize for their students to promote self-awareness and mindfulness. This video provides a brief introduction to his work.


This topic looks at attention and mindfulness from the perspective of student engagement. Maybe our students and their technologies aren’t the problem. Maybe our educational paradigm needs to change instead.

Cathy Davidson, another of our summer book authors, asks whether we need to update our definitions of attention and engagement. She argues that distraction actually helps us receive a variety of input that supports creativity, connection, and collaboration. Instead of keeping technology at arm’s length, perhaps we should embrace it and change our educational environments to match. Information is no longer scarce, and teachers have a new, exciting role to play as the architects of student-directed learning environments. Progressive education and project-based learning meet technology in this topic.

In this video, Alan November describes one such learning experience (jump to 3:35).

Further reading:

Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design” (Mizuko Ito et al)

Exploring the Edge: New Learning Environments for the 21st Century” (John Seeley Brown)


This topic asks whether we feel uncomfortable with technology simply because we have not fully mastered it. Alerts and notifications can be turned off. We can get better at how we use communication and collaboration tools, so that they truly become part of the background of our educational environment.

In Send, David Shipley provides perspectives and techniques to allow you to take control of your email inbox.

Howard Rheingold invites us to tune our “crap detector” and “attention muscles” (to borrow a term from David Levy) to restore control over our electronic interactions. “Dive into the deep end,” Rheingold tells us.

Clay Shirky says that the problem is not information overload, rather it is filter failure. The key skill now is to be able to set up systems to bring the most relevant, stimulating content to our attention.

Further reading:

Attention, and Other 21st-Century Social Media Literacies” (Howard Rheingold)

It’s Not Information Overload. It’s Filter Failure” (Clay Shirky)

Personal Learning Networks: Knowledge Sharing as Democracy” (Alison Seaman)

Students’ Social Media Lives

What are students doing behind those screens? Anthropologists Mimi Ito and danah boyd have a lot to tell us about how young people experience life through social media. Understanding their perspectives may help us work with students in classes and evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of separating students from their devices.

Further reading:

Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project (MacArthur Foundation)

Teens and Technology 2013” (Pew Research Center, Berkman Center for Internet and Society)

Teens, Social Media, and Privacy” (Pew Research Center, Berkman Center for Internet and Society)

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)

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.


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

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.

Misinformation and Marketing

From NJ.com

… the iPad is basically a full-service computer that looks like a giant iPhone. But with a 9.7 inch screen, it’s just half an inch thick and weighs only 1.5 pounds and does everything a laptop or a netbook does, only instantaneously and with the flick of a finger.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. Schools could use accurate reporting and analysis of new products.

iPads Not Matching Our Needs

Someone please help me consider the iPad more favorably. I tested some curricular integration ideas tonight.

  1. Use iPads to plan a virtual trip in Google Maps.
  2. Use iPads to research on the web.
  3. Use iPads for writing exercises.

The theory was promising. iPads would provide a simpler, more portable computing environment for students. They could research, write, and use websites at one-third the cost of websites and fewer potential distractions for kids.

After having used the iPad, I’m back to the drawing board. The trip planning project uses Google Maps. Visiting http://maps.google.com in Safari causes the iPad Maps application to automatically load. Needless to say, it doesn’t support the bookmarking, placemark notation, and flythrough features used in the project.

Google Docs does not supporting editing in Safari.

Pages, Numbers, and Keynote cost $10 each per device. I have heard that one can sync a single purchased copy to multiple devices. How long will Apple let that continue?

Safari views web pages pretty well, unless of course you want to view a Flash-based video. However, how would students bookmark sites or take notes on their research? You can’t view both browser and note taking application simultaneously, and Safari doesn’t integrate with Delicious. Would you need a second iPad for notetaking? ;^)

Add to that the lack of camera, no printing, and no network integration.

Do iPad apps make up the difference? Interactive CD-ROMs of the 90’s offered richer learning environments than the apps I’ve seen. Why hasn’t someone yet created a Shakespeare website or app that combines the text of plays with audio and video of stage productions and movies? We had it in the 90’s.

I’m not seeing it. For $500, give students a Linux netbook instead. Please tell me what I’m missing.