Month: March 2016
As iOS 9.3 rolls out, one question remains in my mind: How will these updates change the way iPads are used in the classroom? While many previous updates have been geared towards benefiting the everyday user, iOS 9.3 is instead aimed to ameliorate usability in education. Although such updates are usually shipped around September or October of every year, the article iOS 9.3 and Education explains why this release is coming out now. Because many of the improvements are meant to help education applications, Apple decided to release it so that teachers and administrators would have time to learn the new features and master them before the start of the next school year. Many of these updates may in part be due to competition with Google Chromebooks for a spot in the education system, as explained in Apple is Uprading iOS for Education in a Major Way.
Sharing iPads Has Never Been Easier!
One of the most groundbreaking updates is the Shared iPad feature; this will allow students to simply sign into an iPad, and their apps and setting will automatically be downloaded. As explained in the article New Education Features in iOS 9.3 Include Shared iPads, New Classroom App and Improved Apple ID Management, some schools do not have the capability or the funding to go completely 1:1, but would still like to incorporate the benefits of iPads in education into their curriculum. If their iPads are assigned for a particular class, students may log in using photo-ID or a PIN system, making it easier for younger students to identify their iPad and log in. Although it does take time to load the content the first time a student logs in, a comprehensive caching system saves the information, and makes it easier to log in the next time
Apple Classroom in Your Classroom:
The updates that iOS 9.3 will bring to Apple’s brand new Classroom App and Apple School Manager will make a dramatic impact on the way that iPads are used throughout school. Apple Classroom will allow teachers to control all of the iPads in their classroom. When students are on the app, teachers have the ability to airplay their work, bring them to different websites or application, and allow them to interactively follow along with the lesson plan. If a particular class or student has difficulty paying attention, the teacher can even lock the iPad to prevent the student or students from leaving the app. School Manager allows administrators to have similar control over all of the iPads in the school. As explained in the article iOS 9.3 FAQ: Everything you need to know!, Manager also allows apps, books, and other educational tools to be distributed more easily.
A New Parking Policy that Will Benefit the BHS Community
Frustration from teachers, students, and preschool employees and regarding the regulation, or lack thereof, of gym parking spaces is at an all time high. Although administration has made some attempts to control who can and can not park by the gym, there has been no lasting solution. Allocating spots to sports captains for the duration of their season proved to be too difficult to monitor, as the simple red slip of red paper used to indicate captaincy could easily be duplicated. Further, as more and more students have realized that they too could pass as captains and park there, the lot has become overcrowded. The parents of students and workers in the preschool no longer have enough spaces to accommodate them. Students, teachers, and workers would benefit from this project as parking would become less of a hassle, and administration would have one less problem to worry about.
By April first, Chandler and I hope to have our plan completely worked out. We want all of the details to be worked out so that we can effectively present it to administration. By May first, we would like to have our parking pass tags completely designed and in the development stage. By June first, we hope that the plan will be completely ready to be implemented the following year. When we have finished our project, we will present our fully designed tags, which will be color coded to differentiate cars of students, teachers, and preschool workers, as well as a design for marking the physical spots by the gym accordingly. We will need to design our tags online, and produce them. We would like to utilize the 3D printer to make the tags, and would therefore need the funding to pay for all the supplies.
We are very excited about this project, as it will mutually benefit students, teachers, school employees, and administration, and therefore ameliorate the atmosphere of the school community. Not only will this simple solution to gym parking problems satisfy those who park at the gym, it will also give administration the chance to focus their time on other projects; rather than worrying that preschool workers are not being left enough parking spots, they can work to help students and staff in other ventures.
My first screen cast assignment was admittedly a mess. From issues with Airplay to uncharged IPads, it seemed as though I would never be able to complete it. When I tried to Airplay to Ms. Scheffer’s Mac, I had no success. After toying around with it for a few minutes, the period ended and I left without having made any progress. The next day, I came to class determined to complete the project. Once again Airplay was not working, but we had a plan to circumvent the issue. Rather than Airplaying, a classmate of mine held up my phone and videotaped my IPad. I thought we had solved all of the problems, but apparently I did not. I very quickly realized just how difficult it was to record myself. It took two days and about thirty tries, but eventually I overcame the awkwardness of speaking out loud to myself about an App and finished the assignment.
I experienced first-hand how much of an impact BHS Help Desk has on not only our community, but on the world this past Wednesday. Visitors from Kuwait came to our school and were toured around by the superintendent. One of the stops along the way was in Help Desk. We explained the function of a student tech team, and elaborated on what we do when we are not helping students or teachers. Explaining what we do every day in class was a bit nerve racking, but I was able to overcome my nerves and demonstrate why Help Desk is such an interesting and necessary class. We showed them the Help Desk blog as well as our own individual blogs and talked about just a few of the projects we have done so far. It was a great experience, and it proved to me once again how important Help Desk is.
On Thursday night I participated in my first Twitter chat. Using the hashtag “#techteamMA,” I was able to answer questions and connect with teachers, students, and administrators from all over Massachusetts. Because I was at work while the chat was happening, I had to use TweetDeck to schedule my tweets in advance. I was able to check in on the chat every so often, but it was difficult for me to reply and be an active part. When I got home, I looked through the archives and was very impressed with what I saw. Not only students from BHS, but other tech team students as well as teachers were interacting and sharing ideas with ease. The diversity in the answers to questions such as, “Q2: How is your school community benefiting from your student tech team,” demonstrated how valuable tech teams are for various communities for various reasons. My takeaway from the chat was that it is crucial for students and teachers to effectively communicate for mutual benefit.
My first two weeks in Help Desk were action-packed to say the least. With only a few days of “experience” under my belt, my fellow classmates and I helped our first customer. We had not yet been instructed on proper customer service, as we had not been in Help Desk long enough. Regardless of this, we did the best we could to help explain Google Drive, Gmail, and other Google apps to her. We were momentarily stumped as to how to delete a single email in a conversation thread. We took to our computers and quickly found the solution: it could only be done on the computer. She left knowing much more than she had when she arrived, and we felt much more comfortable assisting her and other customers.
Although we learned a lot from customers and Ms. Scheffer within Help Desk, our ventures outside of our classroom were the ones in which I learned the most. We went to Mrs. Carey’s class, where a student was having trouble accessing a Youtube video in class because of restrictions. Ms. Scheffer taught us to type “ss” before “Youtube” in order to create a link that can be accessed by anyone. We also went to Mrs. Hoerle’s class and helped her students use iMovie. They were confused as to how to put captions on their video clips, so we showed them how to add and edit captions.
The main focus of the two weeks was proper customer service. With each student and teacher, we applied the acronym “WIRED” to assist us in how to treat them. When we had visitors from other schools visit, Chandler and I were tasked with showing them around and demonstrating how Burlington High School utilizes technology to facilitate learning. In the upcoming weeks, I hope to become more comfortable with various technologies and explaining them.
Ms. Scheffer has been a valuable resource for me and my fellow Help Desk members in our first few weeks. From teaching us proper customer service techniques, to understanding and utilizing technology, and even being cognisant of creating a professional online image of ourselves. She has been a security blanket for us; she was always there for us to turn to when we needed assistance or advice. When an amazing opportunity to travel to the Google Innovator Academy sent Ms. Scheffer to California for a few days, I was nervous about how I would handle being without her as a resource.
My nerves proved to be unnecessary, her teachings guided me through the obstacles I faced. Mrs. Riley, the school librarian, visited us in need of help posting a picture on the BHS library blog. Right off the bat we greeted her and made her feel welcome and comfortable to ask us for help. She took a seat next to us and began to explain her problem. A few of the tips and tricks Adam and I tried did not work; We could add the picture, but it came out sideways every time. We decided that because she could not save the picture to the chromebook she was using, she should instead try it on the mac. She was able to add the picture how and where she wanted, and left with a smile on her face.
Admittedly, the days we spent without Ms. Scheffer were not very action-packed; we had a lot of downtime to research and work on our own. I spent most of my time on Prezi, practicing adding media and researching new tricks. I even found the blogs of other students around the country working in similar student technology programs. It was not the most exciting week, but it helped bolster my confidence in Help Desk and my abilities to assist students and teachers.