Tuesday, March 12, 2013

iPad for Instruction: Zombie Cat Approved

Bruce waves his stylus at Zombie's new iPad and meows "I approve!"
My humblest apologies for the extended time between posts as of late. I have been playing virtually non-stop on the iPad provided by my school district and have had time for little else. Having owned a Samsung Galaxy 10.1 Tablet since my August blog post, I was unsure that an additional device in the classroom room would make much of a difference in my instruction. BOY was I wrong!!!! 

If/when you are able to afford or acquire an iPad for your classroom, you absolutely MUST get one. End of story. The tablet still has its uses, but seriously... the instructional apps in the Android/GooglePlay store for my Samsung Galaxy are far inferior to those available in the iTunes App store. Most notably, Doceri Desktop and Reflector App (currently only available for iPad) have made Smart products virtually obsolete in my classroom.

Here's a price comparison to make my point:

Typical "modern classrooms" outfitted with Smart products: ($6000-7000 per classroom)
  • Wireless capable laptop ~$500
  • Smart Notebook software suite ~$500-600 (very hard to find pricing!!!)
  • Smart Board & Projector ~$5000-6000 (plus ~ $500 for installation)
  • Teacher must be touching the Smart board or markers to interact
  • Time wasted if/when students walk back and forth to interact with board
  • Time wasted importing teaching materials, pdf, PPT into Smart program
  • Needs specialized instruction and installation with all components
  • Warranties must also be purchased for tech servicing/upgrades
  • Good WiFi infrastructure/speed is helpful, but not critical

New "classrooms of the future" with iPads/projectors: ($1500-2200 per classroom)
  • Wireless capable laptop ~$500
  • iPad mini or 10.1 ~ $400-500
  • Optional iPad Stylus ~ 10 for $3.24
  • Computer Projector ~$500
  • Optional Projector Cart ~ $150
  • Optional roll-down Projector Screen ~80
  • Doceri Desktop App ~ $30  (remote controls computer/projector from iPad)
  • Reflector App ~ $13 (reflects iPad or iPhone onto computer/projector)
  • Teacher can control computer from/with iPad from anywhere in room
  • Teacher can hand the iPad to a student to interact with content from desk
  • Teacher can interact and/or write on Doceri ink layer from any program 
  • Teacher can record instruction with Doceri/other program and post online
  • Any Joe Shmoe with wifi and average tech skills could set this up pretty easily
  • Warranties only needed on laptops and iPads for drop/spill protection
  • Bundle pricing discounts are available for school-wide use of apps
  • District/school MUST have great WiFi infrastructure & tech support
  • Access to online and/or computer versions of content is extremely helpful

Granted, I have a Smart board and LOVE it... having the flexibility to interact with either my Smart board, or my laptop, or my iPad from anywhere in the room. But if you don't have a Smart board yet, there is going to be less and less need for one in the future, and you simply cannot argue with the pricing difference. I mean really... a typical school has around 60 classroom teachers.... that's a difference of roughly $240,000!!!!!

Are you lucky enough to fall into the "classroom of the future" category? Here is what is working for many of the teachers in my district. 

1. Set up an interactive classroom. Schoology.com is free with no ads and can be accessed from anywhere. There are Schoology apps for all types of devices. Cloud Storage can be used to link your Google Drive. You can also share documents, links, pictures, class content and videos within classes and in "groups" with colleagues.

2. Try out lots of different Remote Desktop control apps. You never know which one you are going to like the best for your particular grade level and subject. For instance, many of my colleagues prefer Splashtop 2 over Doceri Desktop. Both apps remote-control your computer from your iPad. Splashtop 2 is nice because it is available in both Apple and Android formats, and many users find the interface more friendly. Doceri Desktop has a big advantage in its ink layer that will write over ANYTHING. But you have to close the ink layer to go back to interacting with your content. Both apps have recording capabilities.

Doceri Desktop is my favorite desktop app. Watch the video to see how I use it. 
1. Install the trial version of computer software at http://doceri.com/download.php 
2. Install the free app from the iTunes store on your iPad (not available on iPhone)
3. Launch the program on both your computer and your iPad BEFORE instruction
4. Search for the device or use the camera feature to locate the bar code
5. Once your iPad and computer are communicating, set up a Doceri password!
6. Minimize the app on your iPad to do other things if needed, like checking email.

3. Want to project a video or app or game from your iPad onto your computer? Download the free trial of Reflector App. You can show iPad content on your computer/projector for up to ten minutes before the free trial will shut the program down. That's usually all the time I need it for. I like to use it with the MyScriptCalculator app to show a math problem on the Smartboard (or projector). See the video below for how it can be used.

1. Install the computer program from http://www.reflectorapp.com/
    ( you do NOT need to install an app for this on your device)
2. Launch the program on your computer and set a password
3. Open the gray app tray on your device
4. Slide the tray to the right. You should be at your iTunes player bar
5. The bar should have a new rectangle button that is your Reflector app "mirror"
6. Click the button and search for your computer under the device list
7. Once you find your computer, toggle the mirror button from "off" to "on"
8. Right-click the iPad/iPhone image on the screen to adjust its view/width
9. Make sure to turn the reflector "mirroring" button back to OFF when done!!!!

**PLEASE NOTE** You CANNOT use Doceri Desktop and Reflector App at the same time. Their program types make your iPad "compete" with your computer, so that one reflects the other, which reflects the other, which reflects the other, on and on into infinity. It takes some time to perfect switching between programs. But they both have their uses!

4. Math teachers - I highly recommend using and inviting your students to try MyScriptCalculator. You can add it to any devices, whether phones or tablets, Mac or PC. It's free and extremely helpful. You just need to have semi-decent handwriting. Here is a video that shows how it works:

Have fun playing! I will post more updates as I find cool new apps and instructional uses.