Doodle: My great timesaver in scheduling & coordinating

As someone who supports students, teachers and schools in my school board it requires me to try to arrange meetings with different stakeholders where I need to either coordinate a common meeting time or set up a series of individual meetings within a specified period of time. I have always found this to be incredibly time consuming as it requires a barrage of exchanging emails, phone calls, text messages, etc. I have always accepted this as an unavoidable task in order to coordinate my day.  That was until Doodle entered the picture…

Simple, straightforward and if you are in a rush, no account required!
Set up is simple and easy – allowing you to quickly get a Doodle up and running.

Doodle is an online and interactive scheduler that allows you poll participants in order to find common meeting times or arrange a series of meetings. You can create a free account or start a simple Doodle without any account at all. The paid subscription to Doodle offers more tools and functionality such as tracking, collecting participant info and setting up reminders.  For my use, the free account has been more than adequate as it allows me to invite participants via email or by directing them to a link.  As the administrator, I can then view the results and determine meeting times based upon participant feedback.

Even with the free account you do have some useful options available to you.  Aside from determining dates and times that you would like others to consider for possible meeting times, you can also adjust settings so that busy participants can indicate an “if need be” response as well as limit the number of selections a participant can make on your Doodle.  Another handy setting was the ability to set the number of eligible spots/openings available per proposed meeting time.  This allowed me to open up a variety of dates and times that I would be available to meet with schools and teachers where they could then select and occupy a time slot that would then no longer be available to others. This little feature literally saved me numerous back and forth emails of updating participants on remaining available dates and times.

Even with the free account (and with no account) you have some useful options when setting up and administering your Doodle

In order to distribute your Doodle you can invite participants directly from Doodle using their email address or you can simply copy and paste the URL to the Doodle and distribute it on your own. For participants who are responding to your Doodle, you have the option of allowing them to see the results and selections of others.  However, if you wish you can also have the responses set to private so only the administrator is able to see the selections of other participants.

Outside of my own work, I can see how Doodle would help teachers/educators organize meetings within a school, coordinate meeting times for parent-teacher interviews, committee meetings, extracurricular groups and sports teams, etc.  For meetings or gatherings that span across departments and schools, Doodle can be a great timesaver.

K. Takahashi

Stock Video Footage For The Classroom

Whenever I am out in the city or travelling, I try to make a point of shooting some stock video footage for the classroom.  For teachers who employ video production as a way for students to engage new concepts and demonstrate understanding in the classroom, the use of stock and prerecorded media can help enhance the final product and streamline the creative process.  Below are some clips that students (as well as teachers) can use as an establishing shot or even as a background for chroma key work.  You can never have too many of these on hand.  Stay tuned as I hope to add more media in future posts.


CLICK on the links below to download these clips…

(NOTE: These clips do not have sound.  Students will have to add that in themselves!)

  1. CITY STREET (at night)

    Stock footage of venues, buildings, exteriors and interiors can help set up or establish a sequence or scene.
    Stock footage of venues, buildings, exteriors and interiors can help set up or establish a sequence or scene.
  11. HALL
  12. SUBWAY


Can I Use These Clips in iMovie for iOS?

TIP: If you download these clips and then upload them into your own Google Drive, you can retrieve them on your iOS device by going to your Google Drive app, selecting the clip and then opening up the options under information or ‘i’ button.  You should then be able to see the option to ‘Open In’.  Once you have selected, it will eventually open up a list of apps that you can use.  Find and select the iMovie app.  I did notice that it may not take the first time, so try it again if the clip does not successfully appear in iMovie.  Good luck!

– K. Takahashi

10 new iOS 8 features for the classroom

At first sight, you might be tempted to say that iOS 8 is indistinguishable from iOS 7.  However, as you begin to dig deeper into the settings and features within the operating system, there are a number of changes and new tools that may be of great value to the learning environment.  Listed below are 10 features that I find particularly interesting as an educator and teacher…

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words - so you might as well add a photo to your note.
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words – so you might as well add a photo to your note.

1.  Add photos to notes – The Notes application is a simple and easy-to-use app for students looking to record (or dictate) notes and observations in the classroom.  Notes can be synced across other iOS and Mac devices through the use of iCloud.  iOS 8 now adds the ability to add photos to your notes.  Simply press and hold on the notepad in order to call up the option to insert a photo.

2.  Guided Access now has time limits – Guided Access is a helpful accessibility feature that prevents students from accidentally or deliberately exiting a particular app or activity.  Within the accessibility settings in iOS 8, teachers can now set a time limit where an application is no longer responsive when a preset time expires.  In learning situations where students may need to be prompted to move on to different tasks or stations, the time limit feature is a welcome addition to Guided Access.

3.  Voice activated Siri – Apple’s personal assistant can now be called upon by simply speaking to your iOS device.  Siri can be set to respond to the voice command, “Hey Siri” by accessing the Siri settings within the General settings menu.  In a learning environment such as a tech shop, science lab or cooking class, the ability to engage and access your iOS device without a single touch is very handy.  Note that this feature will only work if the device is plugged into an AC power source.

4.  Privacy settings for camera access – iOS 8 now allows for the controlled access of the camera from other applications.  Camera access settings are added under the privacy settings menu in iOS 8. This adds more granularity in determining how the iOS camera is to be used as iOS 8 now allows you to grant camera access to certain applications.

5.  iCloud Drive access for other applications – Historically, iCloud has done a fairly good job in supporting Apple’s own suite of iWork and iLife applications where projects and media could be saved to the cloud and shared across other iOS devices linked to the same iCloud account.  iOS 8 now expands iCloud access to other 3rd party applications.  As new updates for our favourite classroom applications become available in the app store, look for new features that allow for the saving of files and media to iCloud.


A friendlier way to see and use word suggestions as you type.
A friendlier way to see and use word suggestions as you type.

6.  Quick-type keyboard – Taking a page from Google’s Android keyboards, iOS 8 now provides a keyboard that actively predicts and suggests words as you are actively entering text on the keyboard.  Simply tapping on a suggested word will then immediately insert it into your work.

 7.  Find my iPad (or iPhone) based on its last known location – Find My iPad is a handy feature that can help you relocate a misplaced or stray iPad.  However, a dead or dying battery may prevent the iPad from being detected.  iOS 8 now provides the option to activate a setting that will have the iPad send out a final location before its battery completely dies.  This then allows you to view the last known location of the device when attempting to track it using the Find My iPhone app.

Do even more with the iOS camera in the classroom with time-lapse video
Do even more with the iOS camera in the classroom with time-lapse video

8.  Time-lapse video – The ability to record and edit video on an iPad or iPod has helped propel iOS devices into the creative space.  Now with iOS 8 we have the added ability to record time-lapse video.  This feature not only appeals to the filmmaking student but may also support other subject areas that would benefit from the ability to document changes, movement or observations over long periods of time.

9. Real-time dictation – Dictation on an iOS device is a slightly different experience in iOS 8.  As the user dictates to an iPad, the interpreted text begins to appear in the selected field.  Previous versions of iOS would only reveal feedback on what was heard and interpreted at the end of a dictation. This may have been a little unnerving for those of us who felt a sentence was too long or scattered. The new real-time feedback during dictation may help students better communicate thoughts and ideas when they can begin to see their words building upon the page.

10.  Peer-to-peer Airplay on Apple TV – Apple TV is a popular tool for the classroom and now iOS 8 makes it easier for iOS devices to connect and stream to this device.  Using peer-to-peer connectivity, iOS devices on different wireless networks can now connect to the Apple TV.  For schools that may broadcast different wireless networks for school and student-owned devices, this feature serves to bridge that gap and further supports the BYOD classroom.

Certainly iOS 8 brings in a ton of other features that are not mentioned here. Features around the connected home, personal health, payment services and messaging are some of the more prominent additions to this new OS.  However, new features around safety, accessibility, collaboration and creativity are welcome additions for teachers and students in the learning environment.

K. Takahashi

Setting up “Find My iPad” and why you need this for the classroom

When you first activate your iPad, you are presented with the option to activate Find My iPad.  Whether or not you agreed to this invitation, you are going to need to revisit this setting if you want to set up this feature properly and securely.  For iPads in an active classroom setting, Find My iPad can be a critical tool in both locating, monitoring and recovering your iOS device.

NOTE: This article will refer to both Find My iPad and Find My iPhone.  Why?  Since we are setting up this feature on an iPad, the setting menus will refer to the feature as Find My iPad.  However when we attempt to access or locate the device remotely from another device, you will be using an iOS app or web app called Find My iPhone

The Find My iPhone app allows you to view the location of your all your iOS devices that are attached to the same iCloud account.
The Find My iPhone app allows you to view the location of your all your iOS devices that are attached to the same iCloud account.

By activating Find My iPad you can…

    • Locate your iOS device on a map and have it emit a sound for easy location from another iOS device, Mac or PC – OK this is an obvious feature, but in a classroom or school where iOS devices can be misplaced or moved around to different locations in and around your building, having the ability to quickly locate any stray device is very handy.  The Find My iPhone app for iOS devices allows you to use another iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch to locate your missing device.  PCs and Macs can also be used to track your iOS devices by logging into the website from a web browser and using the Find My iPhone feature.
    • Set the device to Lost Mode – Activating Lost Mode through the Find My iPhone app or web app lets you lock down the device and have it display a contact phone number and message for the person who happens to find your lost iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone.  For teachers, this might be a bit overkill if you simply want to send out a message to all of your classroom iPads but this might be the tool if you want to send out an urgent message to your devices.
    • View the battery charge remaining on your iOS device(s) using Find My iPhone – A minor but handy feature to determine at a glance how your class set of iPads are holding up with their battery charge throughout the school day.
    • Erase and reset your iPad – Arguably a fairly drastic course of action and it should not be taken lightly. However besides being able to remotely wipe the data from your iPad should it be stolen, this feature also comes in handy when you have been locked out of the device completely. Sometimes all it takes is an overzealous student who inadvertently locks out the device after unsuccessfully trying to enter the passcode for the eleventh time.  If you are in desperate need of reactivating the iPad and you do not have the luxury of a nearby configurator, wiping the iPad using Find My iPhone may be your last resort.

Find My iPad is an iOS feature that you will rarely use, but when you need to use it, you really need to use it. Losing or misplacing your iOS device is never a predictable event so ultimately this is a feature that will only help you if you set it up now. Right now.

Setting up Find My iPhone

Setting up this feature has improved with iOS 7 but there are still some additional settings to consider in order to better secure this tool.

Enable Location Services and ensure that Find My iPhone is ON

SETTINGS –> iCLOUD –> ensure that FIND MY IPAD is turned on

Why? Find My iPad requires location services to be turned ON in order to track the iPad.


Ensure that Find My iPad is turned ON under your iCloud settings.  This may require you to sign in to iCloud if you have not done so already.
Ensure that Find My iPad is turned ON under your iCloud settings. This may require you to sign in to iCloud if you have not done so already.


Turn ON the Passcode for your iOS device


Why?  Should you lose your iPad, the passcode is your only protection in preventing someone from accessing the information and media that is stored on your tablet.

Passcode settings are found within the main Settings area.
Passcode settings are found within the main Settings area.

Turn OFF access to the Control Center from the Lock Screen


Why? Find My iPhone requires internet connectivity.  Turning OFF Control Panel access from the Lock Screen prevents someone from turning OFF WiFi connectivity and/or activating Airplane Mode when the iOS device is locked.

Go to the Control Center within Settings to turn off access from the lock screen.
Go to the Control Center within Settings to turn off access from the lock screen.


A good feature but not perfect…

Find My iPad / Find My iPhone is a great tool but even with these measures to try to keep it secure and functional, one can still prevent an iPad from being tracked remotely.  iPads that are completely shut down (not in sleep mode) or have completely run out of battery charge will not be detectable using Find My iPhone.  iPads that are not able to connect to the internet or have been completely wiped, will also be untraceable.

Granted, Find My iPad is far from foolproof.  However, considering the easy set up and the features that it can provide, it is a setting that every school or classroom should set up now.  So be warned, if you wait to activate Find My iPad until you really need it… it’s already too late.

– K. Takahashi


Toontastic Review: Worth a closer look


There is no shortage of iPad apps and games to help young learners practice their skills in literacy and numeracy.  However, the iPad presents the opportunity for young learners to create and apply new learning using the tablet’s cameras, microphone and touch screen.

Toontastic allows students to manipulate characters as they provide voice and narration for the story.  Toontastic makes use of standard story templates that help guide students through the basic elements of plot (story arc) as they create their animated story.  The free version offers access to a small selection of backdrops and characters as well as the option for students to create their own background using the in-app painting program.  The finished product can be viewed within the app but if you are looking to export the finished product to the camera roll, you will have to opt for the paid version of Toontasic (Toontastic: School Edition).


  • the app walks students through the creative process with a plot/story arc template
  • instructions are accompanied with voice-over instructions
  • large buttons and symbols for easy touch navigation
  • allows students to go back and edit the project after they have viewed it


  • unable to export finished product to the camera roll with the free version
  • access to the camera roll and camera to create custom backgrounds is available in the paid version (Toontastic: School Edition)
  • users who opt to use the free version will have to endure the persistent reminders to purchase additional content
  • the premium upgrade is pricey at $9.99

The free version of Toontastic offers enough content and functionality to get a good sense of what this app can offer.  In the end it serves as a great opportunity to test drive the app and have students try to create a story using the iPad’s touch screen and microphone.  Teachers can then evaluate how the app can best support learning in their respective classrooms and decide for themselves if the School Edition is indeed worth the additional cost.

– Kenji Takahashi

iPad vs Chromebook: Different Devices, Different Uses

Questions and comparisons around Chromebooks and iPads continue to grab the attention of educators as schools look to make decisions around the purchase of new classroom technology.  In this blog post, we take a closer look at the inherent strengths of both the iPad and the Chromebook in order to better appreciate how each can support learning in the classroom.  Each device also presents its own unique set of traits that may impact its viability in a school or classroom.  Let’s take a look…

The iPad and iPad Mini

iStop Motion iOS app
The iPad has access to a rich library of applications that have been designed with a touch interface in mind.

Apps designed for touch

Since the iPad was released back in 2010, app developers have been exploring the use of touch as a viable (and in some cases, preferred) alternative to the keyboard and mouse.  As a result, the iPad has access to a wealth of applications that are optimized for a touch interface and in many ways provide a user experience that benefits from unique and instinctive gestures.  This experience ultimately lends to the overall appeal of this device with users both young and old.  For the classroom, the touch interface helps to improve access to technology for our younger students (and students with special needs) who may struggle with the keyboard and mouse.  Doing away with the keyboard and mouse also helps to make the tablet an extremely portable form factor where the device can be used and operated in the hands of the user while sitting, standing and moving.

iPad accessories
When it comes to iPads there is no shortage of accessories that can extend the use of the tablet.

Creation apps

Apple’s recent move to market the iPad as a tool in the creative space draws attention to applications that focus on producing and creating media.  Apple’s own iLife (iMovie, iPhoto and GarageBand) suite of applications help to illustrate the creative potential of the iPad.  Recording, editing and sharing media from one portable device is a very compelling strength of the iPad.  This helps to advance the integration of technology in the classroom towards learning tasks that are about synthesizing and applying new learning.

3rd party accessories

The popularity and consistent design of Apple’s iPad (and iPad Mini) lines have generated a wealth of 3rd party accessories for these tablets.  There are no shortage of cases, keyboards, stands and docks that will support the iPad in a variety of different learning environments.  Ultimately, these accessories allow one to best outfit an iPad for a primary classroom, a science lab or a gym class (to name just a few).

The Chromebook

Supports Multiple User Accounts

The Chromebook supports multiple accounts as users can login using their own Google accounts.  As a result, users will have access to their own Gmail, Google Drive and any other applications that they have applied to their Chrome browser.  Logging into to a Chromebook with personal Google accounts provides a multiple user experience that is not yet available on the iPad where there is nothing to distinguish one user from another user accessing the same iPad.  For the classroom, the use of individual accounts helps to maintain a secure learning space for each student where their work and media are not accessible to other students.

Samsung Chromebook
If you are familiar with the Chrome browser and already have a Google account, then you are already well on your way in using a Chromebook.

Google Drive, Chrome applications and extensions

With access to Google’s cloud-based productivity tools and the ability to add applications and extensions to the Chrome browser, the functionality of the Chromebook now extends beyond the use of a simple web-browser.  This now allows the user to connect to some of their favourite 3rd party services and applications using the Chromebook.  Evernote, DropBox, Snagit and Prezi are but a few of the thousands of Chrome applications that you can install to your browser.  Extensions are smaller programs that add more functionality to your browsing experience in Chrome.  Some extensions may add some additional security to your web browsing while others may add helpful tools to capture, view and share content.

Keyboard and Track Pad

Touchscreens are great but sometimes I find the best interface is the old keyboard and trackpad.  For extended periods of typing and word-processing, a laptop form factor may still be the most appropriate tool for the job.  The attached keyboard and trackpad ultimately impacts the portability of the Chromebook when compared to a tablet but this again signifies the inherent differences in how these devices are used.  Where the iPad lends itself to be held and operated in the user’s hands, the Chromebook is best used when resting upon a table or desk.

Other considerations


The management of iPads and Chromebooks also presents some important points of difference between the two platforms.  Chromebooks are managed through Google’s Management Console while iPads (and iOS devices) are managed through Apple’s Configurator.  Each platform will have its own take on the deployment of devices, the purchase of applications and the creation of user accounts that may impact the model of IT support within a school or across a school district.  Although the details around the management of iPads and Chromebooks cannot be explained within a short blog post, it would be wise to become acquainted with the management mechanisms behind these devices.

Chromebook ports
With most Chromebooks sporting at least one USB port and SD card slot, it does provide the opportunity to quickly add certain peripherals and easily add additional storage.

Internet Connectivity

User experience on both the iPad and Chromebook is optimized when these devices are connected to the internet.  Arguably, even with the ability to do some offline work on the Chromebook, Google’s laptop is much more reliant upon the internet for access to cloud services and applications.  Consequently, the iPad (and other iOS devices) offers access to many applications that do not require internet connectivity.  In classrooms that only provide wired internet connectivity, the Chromebook does offer the option to connect to the internet via ethernet port or USB adapter.  With the limited number of port options on Apple’s tablet, the iPad does not have the ability to connect to the internet through a wired connection.


With the iPad Mini providing the most affordable iPad option at $299 US ($319 CDN), it still marks a gap with the entry-level chromebooks that tend to come in at around $199 US (Acer C720).  With that said, schools should be wary of opting for the cheapest alternative without first considering the ultimate purpose and intent behind the purchase of a technology for the classroom.  Even with the starting point of $199, Chromebooks start to increase in cost as you start to look for increased processing power and the addition of a touch screen.

Now what?

My apologies to those looking for a straightforward answer around the decision to purchase either a Chromebook or iPad.  Ultimately, we want to purchase technology that supports the learning needs and tasks within our respective classrooms and schools.  Both the iPad and Chromebook provide unique and compelling features that may set one above the other but there are other factors that may also serve to influence our decision.  In the end, educators will have to decide for themselves how all these factors rank and prioritize themselves against the need to best support student learning and achievement.

– Kenji Takahashi

Google Forms in the classroom – A great place to start

Google Drive connects to a large suite of Google productivity applications (Docs, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Drawings, etc.) that may be a bit intimidating to educators who are looking to get started with Google in the classroom.   Before creating lavish presentations or setting up students with their own shared folders in Google Drive, perhaps the best way to bring Google into your classroom is to start with Google Forms.

What is Google Forms?

Google Forms is another part of Google Drive that allows you to set up online surveys and then share them with others.  Results are then automatically collected and compiled on a Google Spreadsheet.

Why start with Google Forms?

Besides being easy to create, using Google Forms presents a great way to acquaint newcomers to the potential of Google Drive and its accompanying productivity applications.  Here are some other reasons why using Google Forms in the classroom is a great place to start…

  • Facilitates student participation – The nature of the online form is to request the participation of others.  Google Forms is a fast and easy way to engage students and provides opportunities to place technology in the hands of students rather than at the front of the classroom where the teacher may be the only person interacting with technology.
  • Cross platform – Any device with a browser and internet connectivity can potentially be used to access and complete these online forms.  For a school that supports BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) this is a great way to leverage the variety of different devices and platforms brought into the classroom.
  • Participants do not need to have their own Google account – As the creator or administrator of a Google Form, you have the ability to share the form in a number of different ways.  Forms can be sent out via email, shared as a link or embedded on your own website.  When you share the link or embed the form it is open to the public and as a result, participants will not need to have a Google account to access and complete the form.  This helps to get around the problem of having to ensure that all of your students have a Google account.
  • Results are immediately compiled and accessible – Google Forms is a great way to gather and assess student feedback quickly and easily.  As soon as students begin submitting responses, a spreadsheet is automatically generated for the form and is accessed through the creator or administrator’s Google Drive.  The form can be a quick exit card for students to complete at the end of a lesson or they can be used within larger tasks or projects that require student input or feedback.  Google forms can also be generated quickly on the spot so teachers can create and deploy a survey when the unexpected need arises.
  • Viewing the results together – Perhaps one of the most powerful features of the online form is the ability to use and share the results with the entire class.  The spreadsheet of responses can be displayed on a large screen or shared to the class for viewing on their own devices (you can provide viewing rights to the spreadsheet).  Sharing the results can help facilitate discussion, generate some new ideas or even determine next steps for learning.  The possibilities are endless…

Get started with Google Forms

If you already have a Google account, you just need open your Google Drive, select Create and then choose Form.  Have a look at the video below for a whirlwind tour of Google Forms.  If you are still running into some problems and questions, have a look at the links below for more in-depth help from around the web!


More Resources?


Create a survey using Google Forms

Google Forms 2014 Tutorial


– K. Takahashi

Gamification in the classroom: The importance of feedback

Gamification at Science World Vancouver

In our household, the end of summer is capped off with a visit to Science World in Vancouver, B.C.  For the kids it’s a chance to spend the day playing amongst exhibits, simulators and demonstrations.  For me it’s a chance to see how my own instructional practice stacks up against the highly engaging learning environment of this science and discovery centre.  With this most recent visit, it provided an opportunity to see how gamification is employed throughout the exhibit floor and how the concept of feedback is a critical gaming mechanism.  With that said the concept of feedback is certainly not new to educators.  However in a gamified setting feedback helps to drive engagement and ultimately encourages the participant to “try it again”.

[box] “The feedback system tells the player how close they are to achieving the goal. It can take the form of points, levels, a score, or a progress bar. Or, in its most basic form, the feedback system can be as simple as the players’ knowledge of an objective outcome: “The game is over when…” Real-time feedback serves as a promise to the players that goal is definitely achievable, and it provides motivation to keep playing.” – Jane McGonigal (Reality is Broken)[/box]

So what did I learn about the power of feedback in the gamified setting of Science World?  And in our exploration of gamification in the classroom, how can we use feedback and assessment to drive learning and engagement?

Feedback was…

Using competition as a way to illustrate proper rowing drive
In order to illustrate how to maximize the power of a rowing stroke, participants engage in a rowing race with the a screen providing instant feedback as to who was winning the race. Ultimately, participants figured out that it was critical to use the legs as the initial driving force for the stroke.

Quick and instant

What helps to make the hands-on exhibits so engaging is the fact that the participant does not have to wait long to see the result or outcome of their attempt and effort. In many instances the feedback was instantaneous, allowing the participant to try again almost immediately.

Brief and easy to understand

Similarly, feedback was brief and easy to understand. Many times the feedback was presented in different ways through graphics, video and even sound. Ultimately if the feedback was to be of any use to the participant it was important that the information was brief yet easy to interpret.

Making feedback social
By keeping feedback brief, relevant and easy to understand, simply allowing others to see and share in the feedback created a very social atmosphere where other participants could learn from each other. In many exhibits, feedback was merely diplayed on a larger screen so others could view it as well.

Relevant and detailed

If feedback is to be brief in length then it needs to be concise and relevant to the task or activity at hand. The exhibits were extremely effective in staying on point and only providing feedback that was specific to the participant, their particular task and their current point of progress.

Relevant feedback also helps to inform the next attempt. Along with feedback that outlined what was done correctly or incorrectly, many of the exhibit activities also provided feedback on what participants could try differently on their next attempt. This type of feedback ultimately makes it difficult for one to simply leave an activity after just one try.


Similar to the classic leaderboard posted on the screen of our favourite arcade video game, there were many interactive exhibits that made the point of sharing the results of previous participants.  In some cases it was meant as a way to generate some friendly competition and further drive the need to improve one’s previous performance.  In other cases, it presented a fascinating perspective in recognizing the diversity in the perceptions and attitudes of other people.  It generated a type of community around the exhibit and encouraged participants to watch and learn from what others were doing.

Ideas for Technology Integration

It wouldn’t be a technology blog if there was no mention of some tech!  Whether in Science World or in a classroom, designing different mechanisms of feedback provides a compelling opportunity for the integration of technology.  In looking at the exhibits at Science World, technology was instrumental in providing instantaneous feedback that was brief, easy to understand and social.  Enhancing feedback through technology is a powerful place to start for those of us who are continually looking to find ways to effectively integrate technology in the classroom.


– K. Takahashi








Starting gamification in the classroom? Keep it simple

Science World Vancouver

Science and discovery centres are great places to see some examples of gamification in action. They present poignant reminders that gamification does not need to be extremely complicated nor lengthy.  In an exhibit from RBC on the Science of Sports, Vancouver’s Science World sets in with some gamification before one even sets foot inside the exhibit. It also serves as a great example of gamification made simple.

In keeping with the topic of sports, the floor and walls just outside of the Science of Sports exhibit display a series of lines and labels indicating various lengths and heights associated with different records around a variety of sports performances.  Some lines show the actual length of a world record standing long jump or show the height of the high jump world record (2.45m).  Lines with some labels… and that’s it.

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Let the games begin…

With no other instructions provided to exhibit-goers, people naturally started trying to size up their own ability and performances with the displayed records. People were jumping alongside the standing long jump record to see how they fared against Arne Tvervaag’s 3.71m world record.  Other guests tried to jump to touch the height of the high jump record or match the distance covered in a second by a record holding sprinter at full speed.  With this information presented in such a simple yet compelling way, participants were now experiencing and playing with content and concepts rather than just reading about them.

Gamification in the classroom…

The sports examples listed above would lend themselves to a physical education classroom or gym class but this approach can perhaps find a way into other courses and subject areas.  Within the unique concepts, skills and competencies that are inherent within each course and subject of study, there is an opportunity to reinvent the way we present this content.  Looking for a way to present information in a manner that brings scale, accessibility and a perspective that is both authentic and measurable supports an interactive element to learning.  And maybe, just maybe… serve as an enticing invitation to play.

K. Takahashi




iPads in the Classroom: Sharing one iPad in the classroom

iPad in the Classroom

Most of us do not have the luxury of accessing a classroom set of iPads.  Instead, many classrooms that have access to this technology may only have one or two iPads to share within a classroom. In the single iPad classroom, how can we best utilize the iPad in a way that it continues to support student learning across an entire classroom? How can we provide opportunities for students to interact with the iPad and access the applications that it can provide?  If an entire class is to simultaneously view the activity on a single iPad, we need to make the screen visible to the class by broadcasting it to a data projector or large display.  Fortunately, there are a few options to consider…

The Apple TV
The Apple TV offers a way to wirelessly “mirror” your iPad to another display. An ideal set up that allows you to easily pass an iPad around the room.

Apple TV

The Apple TV provides a way to wirelessly transmit or “mirror” an iPad screen to a display panel or data projector.  This wireless connectivity allows the iPad to be moved about the classroom where students are now able to view the work being done on the single tablet device.


  • wireless mirroring to a data projector, large monitor or television
  • provides a quick and easy way for several iOS to take turns mirroring to a larger screen


  • Apple TV only exports out via HDMI (there are 3rd party adapters are available to convert HDMI to VGA)
  • price of an Apple TV will set you back $100 US ($110 CDN)
  • classroom access to a WiFi network is required in order to connect the iPad with the Apple TV


AirServer or Reflector software


AirServer iPad in the Classroom
Similar concept as the Apple TV, but for those who already have a PC connected to a data projector, AirServer or Reflector may be worth a closer look.

AirServer ($14.99) or Reflector (starting at $12.99) offer software alternatives to the Apple TV by providing wireless mirroring for classrooms that already have a teacher or classroom PC connected to a data projector.  Essentially AirServer and Reflector allow for the wireless streaming of an iPad screen to a computer desktop.  This particular arrangement offers the ability for an iPad and PC to share a common classroom data projector or display.


  • similar to the Apple TV, these pieces of software allow for the wireless mirroring of an iPad to a larger display
  • makes use of existing computer hardware (computer already attached to data projector or large display)
  • software can be used as a way to do screen captures of your iPad or even show multiple iPad screens at once
  • a potentially cheaper alternative to the Apple TV


  • classroom access to a WiFi network is required in order to connect the iPad with the Apple TV


Lightning to HDMI Adapter
For classrooms without WiFi networks, it is still possible to connect an iPad to a display or data projector through an adapter.

Lightning to HDMI Adapter

The use of a Lightning (or 30 pin) to HDMI adapter provides the ability to connect your iPad to a larger display through a wired connection.  This adapter provides a more straightforward set up as it does not require a WiFi network for connectivity.  However, the wired connection between iPad and display limits the ability for the iPad to be passed easily around the classroom.  In many cases, the iPad remains in a fixed location where students now have to come up to the iPad instead.


  • straightforward set up
  • does not require a WiFi network for connectivity


  • wired connection limits the mobility of the iPad


Although the Apple TV, AirServer and Reflector offer a wireless solution to mirror an iPad to a larger display, it does require access to a WiFi network.  For classrooms that do not currently have an accessible WiFi network, the use of the Lightning to HDMI adapter provides a simple, straightforward (and somewhat limiting) alternative.  Ultimately, if we want to have our students engaged with a single classroom iPad, it will be important for other students to see what is happening on this shared device.  However, this is simply one way to maximize the use of the singular classroom iPad.  We will continue to explore some of the possibilities of designing tasks that can benefit from one iPad.

– K. Takahashi