Well, that was fun. Friday double lesson is 2 hours of 31 year 8s and 31 iPads. We were week 1 , Term 4 and it was iPads behaving badly. Did I want to bring back the books and pens? No way ,but it was an interesting test of my skills to keep 31 students and their iPads on track no matter what. Unless things go wrong , you have no idea what you are capable of. I am capable of producing a lot of wires, talk and trouble shooting while I simultaneously keep my lesson going. To think I had given up multitasking. In crisis management mode you have to multitask and run the calm universe in parallel to the chaotic one. We were working. We were supposed to be creating a photo montage which we were labelling in French to load up onto the LMS . I had created the task that morning but the task showed Saturday’s date and one student spotted that. Well spotted and then it was on…
“Mrs. Woods, my iPad apps are jumping shut. Look! “ He appeared at my desk to demonstrate the offending iPad behaviour. “So, what do you think the problem is?” I asked. “My iPad is having a spaz attack.”
“Okay , so shut it down and start again and we’ll see. “ He did that but it was still misbehaving. It had 142 games apps updates to install and 15 other apps updates. He had numerous apps open. We closed those, cleared the cache and I got him to download a different document reader and all was fine for 5 minutes. “My iPad is flat.” I plugged in the charger and he sat on the other side of my desk.
“My iPad has an exhausted stream. Look!” came the voice of another student. “Oh, now the battery has run out.” He borrowed my spare iPad and got on with the work. ” I can’t upload my file. Look, I’ll show you. “ This was another student. So we connected the iPad to my laptop, transferred the file and I logged into his LMS profile and he uploaded it in 2 seconds. That done, another student had exactly the same problem. Repeat process. In the meantime there was a student moaning and groaning because his iPad was so slow. “Close all your open applications, shut it down and start again.” Smiles this time. I thought that might have been it but this just kept going on all lesson and I had to keep swapping leads, connections, getting them to shut down and restart their iPads or use my laptop to transfer files and access things they couldn’t. The one student with a laptop couldn’t get on the Net so he had to see the technicians. Technology behaving badly. First week of term and it can only get better. It was a funny lesson , though. Year 8s will just adapt very quickly to any given situation and so you can manage these sorts of technology – based classroom chaos lessons quite well…if you just breathe deeply, smile lots and stay zen.
This site has a list of the best apps for iOS and Android. It is divided into categories and then the site shows the best app followed by the next best apps, so there is a pretty good selection of apps and some good recommendations if you are looking.
I am with IrixGuy. I use a stylus because I don’t like messing up my screen! He is also right – if you use a stylus then you will enjoy it a whole lot more than you thought you would. IrixGuy covers the benefits of using a stylus well. He also allows you to understand that expensive is not necessarily better. I have found some cheap ones to be as good as ,and sometimes more effective than, my expensive one. One of my cheaper ones is a pen as well so that can be handy at times. I need to use a stylus, actually, and this is one of the things IrixGuy doesn’t cover. I have arthritis. On a bad day everyone is going to get rubbish text messages from me on my phone or ridiculous emails. On a bad day it is too much bother to fix the errors. Pressing and swiping can hurt. A stylus will help and I can use my phone and tablet far more effectively and more comfortably. I am using my hand eye co ordination. Some days my fingers just don’t really respond properly to direct surface work. The opposite is true on my computer. A keyboard is mightier than the pen for me because I can write faster and more effectively. With a stylus I can be faster, more accurate and get better detail where I need to. I am a classic klutz when I have to try and press on links with my fingers. I can’t do what students do and type with my thumbs because they would become inflamed. Students laugh when they see me trying to type on a flat screen but they are suitably impressed with my iPad set up which has a really nice keyboard and stylus. To them a stylus is the ultimate in poshness! I was able to try a stylus before I actually bought one. I think that is important. You have to be able to play around with one and see if it suits you and your needs. You also need a range. Android tablets and phones allow a broader range of styluses. iPads can be a bit picky but that is what you need to know. I always carry one with my phone incase I need it. Styluses keep the surface cleaner too and so they help protect you from all the germs I have blogged about which gather on glass surfaces when you use your fingers. IrixGuy also reminds you that sometimes you need to check your fingers and your stylus to make sure you have not picked up anything with which you can scratch a screen if you are in an area which might have “bits”. I am waiting for the day where fineline styluses will be the go. That will really increase tablet and smartphone options.
This is 20 minutes well spent if you are a bit self conscious about shifting photos to and from and iPad. It carefully explains so many options and the 20 minutes you spend with this video should make you feel very confident.
One of life’s grand challenges these days is to put a screen protector on your device without it turning into a bubble landscape. My year 8s and I decided it was a really tough challenge but that screen protectors were really worthwhile on devices because they protected the screen and could be replaced to help assist cleanliness. Some had decided it was so hard , it was not worth having a screen protector. Some were like me and had found a shop where you could get screen protectors put onto your devices at a reasonable price. All my devices have cases which protect the screen when they are in transit. This video shows you some tips which might help you become more adept at installing screen protectors. Used to be the great book covering challenge, now it’s screen protectors. Life has some interesting ways of making you feel inadequate.
I have put up iPad tips and tricks for older iPads. This is for the newer iPads running on iOS 7. It serves as a refresher or a way of learning how to get the best use from your device. It is clear and well thought out.
Are you tech savvy? Does it matter? Is a child better than you? Is that true? You can try the test here. I got it form an article about 6 year olds being more competent technologically than adults. It is a British study which is being reported on and the article is worth a read because it discusses digital trends in the young and how they use technology. As a teacher that kind of information is invaluable. I knew my Year 8s were trying to get on SnapChat in lesson time. I only had to have them at my desk looking at their iPad work when a little message came up. I then had to show them how to log out of SnapChat so it would not disturb their attention during lesson time. Has not been an issue since. The test itself is very vague and general and I would have expected to score above average on it. Digital awareness and understanding are umbrellas for so many skills and capabilities these days. People do tend to group around certain aspects of technology according to their age. The backbone of Twitter is mainly older people. Pinterest is largely driven by women. Will your lessons collapse because you don’t know about SnapChat or Instagram? No, they won’t, but you might fall foul of the negatives of technology if you don’t have some awareness of what software is popular with the young and how they are using it. The research seems to promote the notion you are more digitally competent if you can use cognitive interaction really well. YouTube, Spotify, Chatting, knowing apps are all consumer activities. Knowing where these things might fit in to something else you are doing is good. Knowing you can use them might help you make a more productive use of your devices. In a classroom we should always be aiming for explicit interaction. One of the first things I noticed when I had year 8s this year with their iPads was that they knew a lot of apps, were using the iPads as toys, thought if they had an iPad it was more important than anything or anyone around them, thought the iPad would run the lesson, they could use their iPad to annoy and undermine others, they loved their iPads. The journey began. We know now that the iPads can be put away and down when someone is speaking. We know we can crowd source help and information impressively across a class using our iPads. We know our knowledge of apps can help us get a really good list of resources to work on an assignment. We know there are other apps like QR code readers, voice synthesisers, word reference, audio editors, image editors , animators, sites for uploading work, LMS messaging which can enhance our knowledge and skills. My year 8s now understand it is a team effort. A child has a way of doing things but an adult has life experience and a brain which has developed fully. Add that to performance standards, teaching experience, life experience, teaching guidelines, curriculum guidelines and technology is used far better. It is a team effort based on knowledge sharing.