Find out what is streaming on Netflix, Hulu, etc. (Tech tip 2 of 31)

Search for a title across several streaming platforms at once.
Search for a title across several streaming platforms at once.

Searching for a movie or television show within and across different streaming services (ex. Netflix, Hulu, Google Play, etc.) can be a painful and lengthy process.  If you know what you want to watch but have no idea what streaming service is currently offering the title, check out Can I Stream.it.  This is a free service that also allows you to search for titles available as digital rentals, digital purchases as well as disc purchases.  Can I Stream.it is also available as an app for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Chrome.

– K. Takahashi

Find out what is using up your storage on your iOS device (Tech tip 1 of 31)

iOS devices with smaller storage capacities can quickly fill up with a variety of recordings, projects and media. The installation of some applications may also use up large amounts of storage space as well. Inevitably, there will come a point where the storage capacity of the device will fill up and decisions will need to be made on applications and media that may need to be deleted, backed-up or uninstalled in order to free up more space.

Go to your storage management settings in order to quickly determine the applications that are currently using up the most amount of storage on your iOS device.

  1. Go to SETTINGS
  2. Select the GENERAL menu item
  3. Find and select the USAGE menu
  4. Then go to MANAGE STORAGE

In the MANAGE STORAGE section, you will be able to see the amount of storage still available on your device as well as a list of all your apps and the amount of available storage capacity. You may be surprised to discover the amount of storage that certain apps use up. With that said, this information can help you determine which applications to attend to (ex. delete or back up) in order to recover the maximum amount of storage space on your iPad, iPod or iPhone.

– K. Takahashi

 

Why 1 of 31?

In an attempt to start my own everyday project, here is my modest attempt at trying to complete a 31 day project.  At the end of day 31 whether this daily project is successful or a complete failure, I want to be able to reflect back on this experience and articulate what I have learned.  Since my work currently involves the support and exploration of technology and its support of classroom instruction, I am going to post a quick tech tip each day.  Here we go…

– K. Takahashi

Creating Vine videos for the classroom: Less is more

Vine is a video sharing service where users can upload, edit and share a 6 second clip of looping video.  Even with such a short length of video playback to work with, Vine hosts some pretty compelling and engaging loops of video.  The concept of the short video is not limited to Vine, as Instagram also provides creative videographers the opportunity to post and share up to 15 seconds of video.  In November 2014, Ocho was launched as another social networking platform allowing users to share video clips of 8 seconds.  15sectech is a web-based technology show (hosted by Amber MacArthur, Jeff MacArthur and Lara Killian) offering technology tips, reviews and news within an episode running time of (you guessed it) 15 seconds.

The question for me, does the short video format have any value for education and student learning?  What can you say, describe or explain in 15 seconds?  8 seconds?  6 seconds?  After spending some time on Vine, Instagram and 15sectech, it would seem that you can convey quite a bit of information. These short video platforms host a variety of engaging and innovative scenes and demonstrations lasting mere seconds. Will the creation and sharing of these condensed forms of video work in the classroom?

My first Vine video!  Animation took a bit of work but basically it was created using a series of PowerPoint slides that I exported out as pictures and then assembled in iMovie.
My first Vine video! Animation took a bit of work but basically it was created using a series of PowerPoint slides that I exported out as pictures and then assembled in iMovie.

Well here is my first attempt.

I picked a concept from our Grade 9 science curriculum within the biology unit that specifically deals with ecosystems.  The term I picked out was biomagnification and my task was to create a Vine video that explained this concept.  I anticipated that the task itself was pretty straightforward.  After all, how long could it take to create a 6 second video?

I quickly found out that creating a short, compressed and comprehensive video takes a lot longer than I thought.

It wasn’t enough to find and recite a definition of biomagnification from a text book or website because I had to create an explanation that accurately described and defined the term within my 6 second timeframe.  I realized that I also had to figure out what I was going to show during this 6 second video.  Simply posting a screen shot of a chart or diagram was not going to work because the viewer did not have enough viewing time to explore the visual themselves.  Much like my script, the visual component of my video needed to be concise and explicit.  Ultimately, I had to cram in as much information as possible into this video and it would require a careful combination of what I was saying and showing during my 6 second clip.

My finished product is not going to rock the educational world by any means but what was remarkable for me was the amount of research and thought that went into this single video.  The short running time forced me to identify the critical components and information that needed to be conveyed around the term, biomagnification. Wording of the definition had to be carefully selected and the decision to create an animation provided me the best way to illustrate this concept.  Add to the mix that there was this heightened incentive to get it right because this video would be posted for the world to see.

 

 

Reflecting on my finished product, this experience raises new questions for me if I were to try this again. What did I learn about biomagnification? Was my explanation complete? What could I have done differently? Does it move too quickly? Does the looping format of Vine help the viewer understand the content by giving them a second, third or fourth chance to see the video? What would be an appropriate follow up video?

Adding to the conversation around the use of Vine to support classroom learning, I can appreciate that the educational value is in the process of creating a short video.  I would definitely recommend educators to try this for themselves and see if the creation of short-length videos has potential in your respective classroom.  Give it a try!

– Kenji Takahashi

 

 

 

 

5 awesome iOS apps for moviemaking on the iPad

iMovie for iOS is Apple’s video editor for the iPad, iPad Mini and iPod Touch. It is designed with a touch interface in mind and provides a very intuitive user experience. For the classroom, iMovie is a powerful tool for students to create content and demonstrate learning. However even with its growing list of features and effects, some students (and teachers) may already be looking for more functionality from iMovie. If you and your students are looking to do more with video production have a look at the following applications that can help extend the scope and potential of iMovie for iOS.

 

Green Screen (Do Ink, $2.99)

Multiple video tracks allows you to do some pretty complex chroma key work on your iPad!
Multiple video tracks allows you to do some pretty complex chroma key work on your iPad!

There are several green screen apps for iOS but Green Screen by Do Ink is the one that I like to use. It offers multitrack editing of footage so you can choose to use prerecorded media to produce your shot or scene. There are also helpful tools like Lock Exposure which prevents your camera from trying to brighten and wash out your green screen. Once you have produced your shot, save it locally to your Photos (camera roll) and then retrieve it in your iMovie project when you import videos saved on your iOS device.

With the ability to do some green screen work on the iPad, you are no longer limited to a classroom or school setting. A picture, graphic or video can now serve as your background and setting. For the creative student, this now opens up a new door of possibilities for their video projects.

For iPod Touch and iPhone Users try Green Screen Movie FX (Epocfield Ltd, $1.99)

 

Explain Everything (MorrisCooke, $2.99)

A compelling app for the classroom, Explain Everything is a fantastic addition to a videographer's iOS device.
A compelling app for the classroom, Explain Everything is a fantastic addition to a videographer’s iOS device.

Make no mistake, Explain Everything can stand on its own as a fully featured application. However this application has been extremely helpful in creating unique and specialized clips for my video projects. Explain Everything allows you to record and capture annotations of images and videos. This application records both your voice and the changes you are making on the canvas/screen. With the ability, to save finished projects locally to the iOS device, these video clips are available to import into iMovie.

Similar to the added creative potential of green screen (chroma key), the ability to video capture annotations made on the touchscreen opens a new world of functionality for iMovie. These screen captures may help students illustrate new concepts, demonstrate innovative solutions or showcase unique creations.

 

GarageBand (Apple, $4.99)

Apple’s own GarageBand application for iOS is a useful tool to help out with the audio facet of video production. GarageBand may be regarded as a powerful application for music recording and editing, but videographers will appreciate its ability to create and refine audio elements for videos. You can use GarageBand to record and edit your own sound FX, foley work or voice overs and then import the finished products directly into iMovie. You do have the option of recording voice and sound from within iMovie but I find it much easier to edit and manipulate audio recordings within GarageBand. For the more musically inclined, GarageBand also provides the ability to create your own soundtracks and theme music for your video projects.

 

iStopMotion (Boinx, $9.99)

Plenty of features to help create some amazing stop motion animations.
Plenty of features to help create some amazing stop motion animations.

Like ExplainEverything, iStopMotion can stand on its own as a compelling platform to create stop motion animation. With this app, you have access to a wide range of helpful tools to create your own stop motion footage. You have the ability to adjust frame rate, add audio and even set up your iOS device as a time lapse camera. You have a number of options when it is time export out your finished product, but for the purpose of using this footage within iMovie we will need to export our finished clips to the camera roll.

iStopMotion provides students the chance to create their own animations that they can then bring into iMovie for a larger project. The animations can help illustrate a concept, tell a story or help breakdown a complex process. Students can also use stop motion animation to create unique visual effects as well as their own animated titles.

If the price is a little steep, try the LEGO Movie Maker (The LEGO Group , free)

 

Intro Designer (dgMotion Mobile, $2.99)

Add some animated titles and text to help give your iMovie project a unique look.
Add some animated titles and text to help give your iMovie project a unique look.

Recent updates to iMovie for iOS have added more animated titles within the app itself but if you are looking for some other options for titles and credits have a look at Intro Designer. The app makes use of premade templates, animations and sound FX but you provide the text and titles. Templates are grouped into different themes that should help you find the appropriate style for your project.

Completed animated titles and credits are then exported out to your camera roll as video clips where they are now available to import into your iMovie project. Even though you are working from preset templates, you still have the ability to trim and edit these finished video clips to fit your specific movie title and credit needs.

Honourable mention goes to IntroMate by Ralph Huber ($3.79)

App Stacking = Endless Possibilities

Coordinating the use of these apps along with iMovie is a type of application stacking where the product from one app is then imported into another application where it is changed and edited again. But this is just the beginning! For example, there is nothing stopping you from creating an animated clip using iStopMotion and bring in your finished clip into Explain Everything where you can add in some labels and callouts. From there, that finished video clip can then serve as a backdrop as you place yourself in front of the animation using the Green Screen app. From here, you can narrate the animation and explain what the viewer is seeing. After this new clip is completed, bring it into iMovie where you can add in other supporting clips and media. The sky is the limit…

Have fun!

– K. Takahashi

What apps do you use with iMovie?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Google Trends: A springboard for Inquiry-Based Learning

When it comes to inquiry-based learning, we want to avoid engaging students with questions that can be easily “Googled”. However with that said, our searches on Google can tell us a lot about what is on our minds as a region, a country or as a global community. Looking at the trends around these Google queries can be a source for fantastic, student-generated questions of inquiry.

Using statistics on search queries, Google.org uses this information to gauge flu activity for region.
Using statistics on search queries, Google.org uses this information to gauge flu activity for region.

Google.org gauges flu activity country-by-country by looking at the Google searches from within each region. Looking at their global map, we can quickly see that the flu is much more prevalent in certain countries and continents. As a science teacher looking for opportunities for student inquiry, this graphic alone provides a compelling prompt for more student questions. What are the factors that cause a country or continent to become more susceptible to a flu outbreak? Why do we not see the flu across all regions and countries? How does a flu change? What impact do seasons have on the flu? What makes a flu particularly contagious?

Consequently from this one graphic alone, different subject areas may be able to draw upon different streams of student questions. Topics around geography, history, business, etc. may connect to different concepts and content pulled from the information on the map. Ultimately, it will fall upon the teacher to artfully connect and draw the potential flood of questions towards specific learning objectives and curriculum. But the formation of questions, the discovery of new information and the formulation of answers will be driven by student inquiry and curiosity.

Once in Google Trends, select the menu icon and browse through the different types of compiled information.
Once in Google Trends, select the menu icon and browse through the different types of compiled information.

Discover this for yourself by visiting Google’s Trends. Select the menu icon and browse through the different trends and charts around Google’s search statistics. Selecting the Explore menu item will allow you filter information by region, category and/or time. The results you get back in return may be surprising and provocative, and it is then where new questions begin.

What do you use to inspire student inquiry?

– K. Takahashi

 

 

 

Assessing an App: A technical checklist for educators

There are plenty of websites and services that can help you locate some of the best iOS apps for the classroom (Edutecher, Edudemic and Education Apps on Pinterest). However, there comes a point where a teacher, a school or a school district will need to ultimately make the final decision on selecting the best and most appropriate apps for their students. This is easier said than done if you are not sure what to look for when selecting an app.

The TPACK model of integrating technology in education would tell us that along with the need to assess the pedagogical and content demands of a course and classroom there is also a need to assess the technological aspects of a given technology. So before you settle on that iOS application for your classroom or school set of iPads, spend some time putting the app through a technical diagnostic.  Assuming that all is good on the pedagogical and content front, the question remains “what do we look for when we are evaluating the technical merits of an app?”. Below is a list of “look fors” grouped into 4 main areas that I have found to be helpful when testing out a potential app for the classroom.

1. In-app purchases and other hidden costs

One of the first things we look at when sizing up an app is the price. But whether looking at free or paid applications it is important to consider some of the other costs that can come attached with the use of an application.

Scaling Cost for a Classroom or School

Even low-priced apps can present a substantial cost when purchasing them in bulk through Apple’s Volume Purchase Program. A $1.99 application installed across a classroom set of 30 iPads can add up quickly. Even with educational volume pricing (where the price of the app drops by 50% when purchasing 20 or more copies) a $1.99 app balloons to a $30 purchase for 30 iPads. With that said, not all apps offer this special volume pricing.

Tellagami is initially a free app that later prompts the user with in-app purchases in order to unlock more features.
Tellagami is initially a free app that later prompts the user with in-app purchases in order to unlock more features.

In-App Purchases

Some apps subtly ratchet up their price point with in-app purchases that go on to unlock new features, content or tools within the app. Apps that start out as a free download may later prompt users to pay a small fee in order to unlock a key feature within the app. In this case it really does pay to test the app and run it through its paces. I have run across several free apps that look as though they offer certain features and tools only to be presented with a prompt for an in-app purchase that would allow me access that feature.

Advertisements: The price of “free”

Although not a direct cost, the display of ads within an app is another way that developers can generate revenue from an app that is offered for free to consumers. As an educator, my concern around the use of ads within applications is their potential to distract from the learning task at hand. Students may quickly quickly find themselves removed from the context of the intended application with the simple touch (whether deliberate or accidental) of a posted ad within an app. With some apps, it is also difficult to determine and regulate the types of ads that appear within the app itself.

2.  User interface and navigation

Explain Everything is a fantastic app but it does require a quick tour to acquaint yourself with the different tools and menus available to you.
Explain Everything is a fantastic app but it does require a quick tour to acquaint yourself with the different tools and menus available to you.

Intuitive interface and navigation

Since apps do not come with instruction manuals, the user must rely on the tutorials and hints embedded within the app itself. However if an app is designed with gestures and navigation that are intuitive and easy to discover, users may quickly orient themselves within an app with simple tips and interactive instructions. This is something to look for when assessing apps for use with students. Ultimately, is the app inherently designed to quickly orient students and get them using the tools and features quickly? If so, what ages or grade levels would be able to us this app? Are the tutorials helpful and easy to read or view for younger students?

(Snapseed is an example of an application that maximizes the touch gestures of the iOS device. Edits to a photo are done by simply touch gestures (ex.pinch to zoom, tap and drag, etc.) on the screen and specifically manipulating areas of the photo that you wish to edit.).

Big onscreen buttons and easy-to-read icons help new and younger iOS users.
Big onscreen buttons and easy-to-read icons help new and younger iOS users.

Buttons and menus

If we specifically look at the layout of buttons and menus that we find when navigating an application, we can begin to assess if the application is at a level that is appropriate for our learners. Applications that present a lot of onscreen menus or provide a navigation bar covered with many buttons and icons may ultimately be too confusing or overwhelming for inexperienced users. Even onscreen buttons that are relatively small in size may be challenging for younger, less dexterous hands.

An application’s onscreen layout and navigation may also determine if the app can be used while simultaneously carrying the tablet or if the device needs to be placed on a surface in order to properly operate the application. If the intent is to have this app support a learning activity where students are constantly moving with the iPad or iPod (ex. physical education class) will the interface allow them to navigate the application easily without the need to prop or rest the device on a surface?

3.  Exporting content from the app

Another great feature of the Notability app is its ability to export out to a number of other applications.
Another great feature of the Notability app is its ability to export out to a number of other applications.

Depending on the nature of an app and how it is supporting learning in the classroom, it may be necessary to investigate how students can share and move their work beyond the app itself. In certain situations, a teacher may wish to have their students submit their work or creations from the iPad to another application or into some sort of cloud storage.

If there is an export feature it is typically indicated by a fairly common icon. This icon is drawn out as a box with an arrow or pointer coming out of it. Selecting it will usually reveal your options for exporting content and projects from the app. Apps may offer the ability to export out to Photos, email, Airdrop, iCloud Drive as well as any number of 3rd party applications such as Google Drive, DropBox, Evernote, Twitter and Tumblr to name just a few. Regardless of the export pathway that best suits your classroom needs, be sure to thoroughly test the export feature to ensure that it works and provides the results that you are looking for.

4.  Importing content and media into the app

Media stored in your local iOS Photos folder or captured directly from the camera as well as content stored in other applications can help extend the use of an application, providing the app can access them. This is what what we ultimately need to find out when reviewing an application.

The ability to import media from the Photos folder as well as the ability to take pictures from within the app are important features to look for within any application.
The ability to import media from the Photos folder as well as the ability to take pictures from within the app are important features to look for within any application.

Can the app import photos and videos locally stored in your Photos folder?

This feature will most likely appear as a simple button or icon on your screen. This is an important feature to look for as this will allow the user to bring in media created in other applications.

Does the app allow for the recording of photos, audio and video directly into the app?

These features usually appear as camera and microphone icons. This feature allows the user to capture and bring in new media without having to leave the app.

Can you bring in other files from other applications?

When creating a new file or project can you also bring in media and content stored in other applications? Cloud storage services is a common example here. Exploring this feature may also require us to look at other critical applications that we currently use. For example, if your class uses Google Drive, you will want to see if this Google app will allow you to open one its files in the app you are reviewing.

Some other things to check out

The SETTINGS menu in iOS may also reveal additional settings that may be interest to the classroom.
The SETTINGS menu in iOS may also reveal additional settings that may be interest to the classroom.

Explore the app settings

While you are within the prospective app, be sure to check out its’ settings menu.  This is often accessed by selecting a gear or menu icon.

Explore additional app settings within the SETTINGS menu of iOS

You may also discover additional settings listed within your iOS SETTINGS menu.  Select the SETTINGS icon and scroll down the list of menu items until you come across the settings for individual apps that are currently installed on your device.  Select the app in question and see if there are other additional settings that may be of importance to you and your classroom.

How much space does the app take up on your device?

If storage space is limited on your iOS device, it may be worth seeing how much storage space is eaten up with the app and the files that it creates.  The app store does list the initial download size of the app under its description.  However as you begin to use the app you can see how much space is dedicated to the app and its associated project files by going to the SETTINGS menu, selecting USAGE and then looking under MANAGE STORAGE.

 

Exploring these 4 areas during your technical assessment of an application is a great starting point as the features you find (or unable to find) may lead to more questions and areas of exploration. You may find that a promising app lacks a critical feature or perhaps requires the installation of other supporting apps. You may find better alternatives to apps that you are currently using in the classroom. Exploring these apps may also make you aware of some features that you may wish to limit or lock down through restriction settings. Ultimately taking the time to carefully assess and evaluate applications helps us to realize their potential in the classroom.

What else do you look for when sizing up an application?

– K. Takahashi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teachers Reluctant With Technology? Encourage Failure

It is remarkable how our students can pick up a new technology and quickly uncover and master the wide variety of features within a new piece of hardware or software. I have watched many students display this fearless attitude towards trial-and-error as they literally tap, press, hold and drag every button, icon, switch and setting. I have been caught informing my class that a certain feature or function is not “do-able” only to be proven wrong when a student takes a moment to explore the technology on their own.

Why is this? Why do many of our students have an easier time acquainting themselves with new technology than their parents or teachers? Without any sort of instruction manual in sight, what possesses them to start opening up drop-down menus, tapping on buttons and clicking on icons?

They are not afraid to fail.

Ultimately when it comes to exploring technology I find that our students are not afraid to make mistakes. Many students are quite comfortable in making several attempts at finding a feature or accomplishing a task within a new piece of hardware or within a new application. Failure after the first (or third, or sixth) attempt is not a big deal, they just get to try it again.

Perhaps this disposition is not entirely surprising when we consider how our students are first introduced to technology. Most likely, our students were first exposed to the wonderful world of computing technology though video games whether it be on a personal computer (PC), mobile device or gaming console. It is here where the concept of failure is presented as a valuable source of feedback and the game quickly whisks the young player back into the mix in order to try it again. Certainly when it comes to the concept of failure, video game developers have gone to great lengths to capitalize on its power to motivate persistence and perseverance.

Corporations similarly understand the value of failure in their own attempts to build, grow and innovate. Ed Catmull recalls the importance of failure in the creative process at Pixar. In their book, Creativity Inc. both Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace credit failure as being a critical outcome that inspires a culture of learning, experimentation and innovation. Embracing failure as a necessary step towards success is an attitude found within organizations that are fearless in the face of change.

So what does this mean for the teacher who is reluctant or struggling in learning about a new technology? Do we simply turn professional development on instructional technology into some sort of game? How do we shift this attitude towards failure from a traditionally negative educational outcome to a motivational outcome?

A simple Google form provides a list of features and tools for participants to find within the application.
A simple Google form provides a list of features and tools for participants to find within the application.

Encourage Exploration

Let’s do away with the step-by-step instructions that tend to dominate professional development sessions. There will certainly be times where step-by-step tutorials are needed for quick reference but those resources can be posted online somewhere or distributed for use later. If we want our teachers to be more comfortable with the trial-and-error around technology then we need to encourage play and exploration.

Perhaps this is where we can employ some elements of gaming. One of the best changes I made to my teacher workshop on iMovie for iOS (video editing) was eliminating the series of step-by-step demonstrations that I would do at the front of the room. These tutorials are now replaced by a type of scavenger hunt where I simply list the different tools and features of iMovie and then let the participants try to uncover the features for themselves. Questions and collaboration between participants are always welcome but the task itself relies upon trial-and-error.

Move beyond the one session workshop

The problem with the one session workshop is that both the facilitator and participant feel the pressure of having to cram as much information as possible into the single session. This is hardly conducive to a learning approach that encourages exploration and instead risks bringing us back to the sit-and-get tutorials and demonstrations. As mentioned above, there is still value to having these step-by-step instructions documented somewhere whether online or as a printed resource. Making these resources and tutorials available outside of the workshop can help preserve the exploration time that teachers have when they are together as a learning group. Both my YouTube channel and my teacher website have become repositories for resources that I have created for teachers and their continued learning long after the workshop has passed.

Personalize the objectives

If we are going to help motivate teachers to persevere and overcome failed attempts and trials, then they need to have something worthwhile to work towards. Learning about Google Apps for Education (GAFE) for the sake of simply learning about it may not provide the intrinsic motivation to see them through the trial and error around learning this platform. Designing professional learning sessions where teachers come in with a specific learning goal or classroom task in mind helps to focus where they would like to invest their time and energy in exploring and playing within a certain piece of technology.

If a teacher is interested in using Google Forms to support a learning task within their own classroom, why not allow them to spend time exploring Forms instead of requiring them to investigate Google Presentations with the rest of the group? Encouraging teachers to continually think about how they might use a technology to support learning in their respective classrooms and curriculum will allow them to carve out their own learning pathway both within the formalized workshop and beyond. If their journey of learning is to be shaped and driven by failed attempts and trials, let it be for a learning goal that is of value to them and to their students.

Provide support to help learners work through failed attempts

I find many teachers who are reluctant learners of technology are concerned about damaging or breaking the technology. Understandably, they are worried that their lack of knowledge around a piece of hardware or software may result in irreparable damage to the technology. If we are to make these reluctant learners more comfortable with the idea of moving forward from their failures with technology then we need to establish supports that can help them get back up quickly and ready for another try.

As an example, teachers learning about the iPad will quickly discover that it is difficult to break an iPad by simply pressing a few “wrong” buttons or accidentally adjusting a few settings. Short of dropping or physically damaging the device, the iPad can always be reset if the user has been locked out; applications can always be reinstalled if deleted.  When presenting new technologies to teachers, it will be important to provide supports and platforms that allow for the learner to explore and play without the fear of damaging or breaking the technology.

In the end, this is about rethinking the traditional attitudes towards failure in the educational space.  I grew up in an educational system that looked upon failure as an undesirable outcome in the learning process.  However, I acknowledge that my most compelling learning experiences have been lined with numerous failed attempts as well as trial and error.  Ultimately, if we want teachers to feel more comfortable in navigating new technologies in the classroom, we need to make them feel more comfortable with the aspect of failure.  Failure is not an outcome to be avoided but rather it is a critical, informative and motivating step in their learning process.

K. Takahashi

 

Enable Restrictions in iOS to better manage your classroom iPads

For those who are manually managing school or classroom iPads, setting up and restoring a collection of iOS devices is a time consuming activity.  Configurator offers an automated option to configure and maintain iPads but if these devices are left open and unrestricted, users can quickly undo your hard work.  Whether you are managing sets of iPads or just your own, be sure to become familiar with the options after you enable Restrictions in iOS 8.  Turning ON a few of these options can save you the time and trouble of having to continually reset and manage your iOS device(s).

First of all, we need to enable Restrictions

Be sure to create a passcode that is different from your passcode for your lock screen.  It is also critical that you have a way of recalling this passcode in the future should you forget.

 

Restricting Access to the Safari, Camera, FaceTime and Siri

Be mindful that changes that you make to your restrictions settings may also impact the functionality and accessibility of the apps that you currently have installed on your device.  For example, completely restricting Siri will also take away the dictation function on your iOS device.

 

Restrict Purchases, Podcasts and the ability to Install/Delete Applications

Restricting the deletion of apps is a helpful restriction to use if you are concerned about users deleting apps from the iOS device.

 

Restricting Various Types of Content

Once again be mindful of the content that you are restricting as it may impact and limit the apps and media that you currently have on your device. For example, setting filters on your websites will impact all web browsers on your iOS device not just Safari.

 

Restricting Changes to your Accounts

Restricting changes to accounts will effectively lock down accounts that you would set up in your Settings menu. This includes account changes to Mail, Calendar, iTunes, iCloud and iMessage to name just a few. Consequently if there is no account currently associated with a service or feature in iOS, restricting changes to accounts will also prevent someone from adding a new account.

 

– K. Takahashi

 

Storify: A teaching tool to differentiate instruction

Storify offers both students and teachers an easy way to gather, arrange and display content and media from around the web.
Storify offers both students and teachers an easy way to gather, arrange and display content and media from around the web.

Storify is an online application where users can create a story (although you can think of it as a list, collection or lesson) by bringing together material and content from other social media platforms.  This Web 2.0 platform presents the opportunity for teachers to further differentiate content, process and product within their own classrooms.  Content can be pulled from a number of sources such as Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr and Google – to name just a few. Searching for content takes place within the Storify interface and adding content to your “story” is as simple as dragging and dropping elements from your search results into your storyline. You can also add your own text (headers, captions, etc.) and links to your “story”.

Publishing your work allows you to share via a link that you can send out yourself or publicize your work via Twitter or Facebook.  Readers can further share your publications via email or through their own preferred social media platform. Storify also provides an embed code for those looking to embed a published “story” on their own website or blog.


Storify for the Classroom – The Possibilities

Differentiating Content

Create an online lesson or resource that can be posted to on your website or use the HTML embed code to embed your publication within your own learning management system (LMS) or website. You can create a mini lesson or generate a list of media and links to support a lesson very quickly. All of those relevant and supporting articles, images and YouTube videos that you want supplement your lesson can now be corralled into one place complete with your own guiding text and titles. Media content that you add is viewable and playable from within your “story” so students can stay within the context of your lesson rather than navigating away to other sites.

 

You now have another way to produce, present and distribute content that can be differentiated according to student interest, readiness or learning preference. It is the ability to drag and drop content that enables a teacher to piece together a piece of content or several pieces of content that are customized to the needs and strengths of their students. Not a lot of time fussing with backgrounds and digital decorations but rather the ability to bring together a variety of content into a presentable “story” or publication.

Storify allows teachers to easily create customized lists of content the attend to student needs, strengths and interests
Storify allows teachers to easily create customized lists of content the attend to student needs, strengths and interests

Differentiating Process

Similarly, Storify provides a simple platform for students to gather and curate their own links, videos and media that they feel are relevant to a piece of research or help illustrate a particular opinion or concept. Again, it is the simple drag and drop functionality within Storify that provides a simple way for students to arrange, organize and/or rank elements and content within their publication.  Students can generate notes or extensions from the “stories” that they and their classmates have created.
As a formative assessment tool, teachers can gauge student understanding and provide feedback on the student-curated content as well as their comments and captions that accompany their Storify projects. Students can easily share their “stories”  with others in their classroom and engage in both self and peer assessment.

Differentiating Product

Storify provides another compelling choice for students to demonstrate their learning through the creation of a Storify publication.  For me this is a great alternative to creating a website or blog. If you have students that have created videos or photos, those elements can be quickly added to their “story” if they have been uploaded to a social platform like YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, etc.

As always if you are looking at any Web 2.0 or social media platform to support student learning in your classroom, you are going to want to be sure to do your homework and understand the conditions and agreements that you and your students are acknowledging when you hit the  “accept” button.  Schools and school boards will also have policies, procedures and guidelines for social media. Be sure to understand and adhere to these important guidelines before engaging in the vast selection of online tools and platforms.

K. Takahashi

5 Cool New Features With iMovie (iOS) Version 2.1

The iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone have access to a pretty impressive video editor with iMovie for iOS.  With the release of iOS 8, Apple also updated iMovie with some new effects and functions that will be of interest to any mobile moviemaker.    Here are 5 cool new features with iMovie (iOS) version 2.1.:

  • Adjust playback speed within portions of a video clip
  • Some new animated titles paired with sound effects
  • 10 new filters that can be easily applied to your videos and photos
  • Pull media stored in your iCloud Drive
  • Export your project directly to other iOS applications

So ultimately, the iMovie app for iOS continues to get better and better.  For classrooms looking for a video production solution/platform, the iPad, iPad Mini and even the iPod Touch provide a very comprehensive and creative solution.  The ability to shoot, edit and share video products from one mobile device is something that should be appealing to any creative classroom.

 

K. Takahashi