Saturday, 27 October 2012

Using ipads in teaching and learning - Logistics

As a result of running one teaching workshop with multiple ipads I've encounter a lot of the logistical issues you come across.  Some I foresaw, some I did not.

The easiest way to integrate ipads (or any other tablet device) into formal education is to buy each student a device to manage themselves.  This is a luxury most institutions don't have and would constitute a huge leap of faith.  It's more likely that you start with buying a few and piloting them - as we have done.  However, this involves more managing and more setting up as some of the managing issues fall to the institution rather than the individual.  

Not being a technie I don't have exhaustive knowledge and what's required.  However, I was able to make it work with limited funds and a DIY approach.  I'll outline the issues I faced and how I overcame them below.

1. The wifi - it's pretty good at our place when it works.  There are 2 networks.  However, they have been known to drop out, usually at the same time.  The IT department are working hard to improve this.  As it's uneven across the building I checked it out in the teaching room the day before.  Using apps you can work ok offline to a certain extent.  However, connectivity gives you much more options in the design of teaching and learning with these devices.

2. Wifi access for the devices - Manage carefully access to the wifi of each device.  I was able to connect to a network that, once logged in, would not log out for the rest of the day.  This jumped this hurdle effectively.  I also had backup temporary logins for the another network if this one dropped out.  The ipads have been used twice.  The first time both wifi networks were switched off as maintenance work was going on!  Not good.  Luckily, this session wasn't run by me and my colleague planned only minimal ipad use so this wasn't too disruptive.  For my first teaching session using the ipads workshop this week, it worked fine.

3. Itunes accounts - Each device needed its own itunes account.  Also, each itunes accounts needs to be associated with a different email address.  So I went through the laborious process of creating multiple emails accounts and multiple itunes accounts.  I established a format which had the same text  and a different number for each device.  I then used the same password and identical security information.   Each device was then labelled and setup with the appropriate itunes account and email.  This was, and is, fiddly - but its essential.  I did this before anything else.

4. Getting the right apps on each device - As described in the previous post Using ipads in teaching and learning - an introduction, I needed to put the same apps on each device.  This was simple enough.  I decided to put the ones for the session last week in their own page to make things easier for the participants.  Although my first session involved only free apps I played around with associating a payment card to each itunes account so that I'm prepared when I start buying apps.  You may be lucky and have a work credit/debit card, I don't.  So it's me paying and claiming back.  However, I discovered that apple doesn't like you using the same card for more than 5 itunes accounts.  Following consultation with a colleague, I discovered gifting apps.  This is a good solution.  I can now use my main itunes account to purchase apps, gift them and then redeem them within each device.  The moral issue with apps on multiple devices is that I think you can get away with buying something once and then downloading on more than one device.  This is wrong, don't do this.  However, I didn't think about this issue enough when I sought funding so I'm a bit short of money for apps.  I'll have to be creative.

5. Linking up to a projector - We have PCs in our teaching rooms so it's pretty simple.  We bought an Apple Dock Connector to VGA Adapter.  If we had macs in our teaching rooms I would have a host of apps to achieve the same thing which would be preferable because a lack of wires would free me up to wonder around the room.

6. Baby wipes - I used these to wipe down the ipads after use.  I intend to continue this practice.  

This is very different to normal teaching in an HE institution where you book a room, make sure you work the PC/projector and bring a memory stick.  A learning technologist lives and dies by logistical preparation.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Using ipads in teaching and learning - an introduction

Yesterday I ran my first session promoting tablets in education.  It was to students and staff in my institution and only 40 minutes.  I decide I didn't have time for any substantial presentation and focused on a structure of showing/playing with a few apps.  I haven't quite settled on how I want to articulate and differentiate different types of apps yet.  I've found plenty of other's categorisations but I want to do my own.  These will no doubt come to light as I continue learning.

Because of this and the time constraints I decided to pick 7 apps which I articulated as representing and exemplifying different types of activities you can use ipads for.  I chose free apps, ones that had good usability and no account creation to try them out.  The session worked well.  For each, I did a quick demo and then they played using the ipads I provided.  As I suspected a few already had ipads and, because they were free apps, downloaded them in the session to play on.  For the others they borrowed one from me with them pre-loaded.  I'm anticipating that future sessions will be a similar mixture of ipadded and non-ipadded participants.  I need to be mindful of this.

Below are the apps I chose.  They are good starting point if you have an ipad and want to start thinking about possibility for use in teaching and learning.

Make Dice


A fun way to randomly choose the next activity. Create a dice and label each side with words. Then roll the dice by shaking it. The free lite version gives you enough functionality to use effectively.



Online noticeboard web apps have been around for a few years. This is a simple ipad version which



Suitable for creation of content by teacher and for individual/group project work for students. There is a strong creative element to the design of any visualize project. It's about mixing different media to make an effective poster-like display.



This app introduces the video possibilities of this device. By being mobile its able to be versatile in its location. This app is specifically for sport movement analysis. Try it and see how it works.



There are hundred of mindmapping web apps and many have produced an ipad version. There are many free examples. This one you can paly with without creating an account.



Drawing and annotating on a blank screen, a photo, a map or a screenshot. A versatile app which can be linked to evernote if you use this. Easy to use.



This is a slick, live Q&A tool which works well with both tablets and smartphones. You need to teacher app to create the questions or quizzes and the students need to student app to see and complete the quizzes. You can see/display live results and email them to yourself. 
Finally, I've started a website which I use as a resource to support the use of ipads in teaching and learning.  It is found here -

The next post will concern logistical issues with this type of session.

Ipads for teaching and learning - my strategy

I wrote a few months ago about how I was planning to use this space for regular reflections on the use of ipads in education.  Now that I've starting running workshop using ipads, I'm in a position to start this off in ernest.  This is the first such post. 

My context is that I now have 15 ipad2s I got funded to run some income generating sessions (described in point 1 below).  However, I will try and do other things with them to enhance the practice of colleagues within my HE institution.

This is how I aim to promote the use of ipads in education:

1. By running workshops inviting teachers to come and try out a sample of apps and think about using them for teaching and learning

The idea is to run workshops along similiar lines to the 21st Century tools for teaching and learning session where I present and demonstrate different tools types whilst they practice for themselves on carefully selected apps which exemplify each tool type. I'll market it to London schools. 

2. Within the Institute of Education, London (where I work) for enhancing personal productivity

My plan is to give them to colleagues for use in the workplace. I'll promote this by populating devices with relevant apps and teaching them how they could use them.  I'll concentrate on my department initially but hope to set up an institution wide Special Interest Group. 

3. Within the Institute of Education to enhance teaching and learning

A longer term goal which flows naturally from the workshops I run.  Generally, schools are more receptive to innovative use of learning technologies than Higher Education and I predict this will be the case with tablets.  However, I aim to promote their use in our lectures with colleagues.

So that's my strategy as I start.  More to follow....