All the ways iOS 9.3 will impact school iPad rollouts

Apple’s latest overhaul will impact one-to-one and shared device rollouts

In March, Apple upgraded the iPad and iPhone operating system to iOS 9.3 (quickly followed by iOS 9.3.1, which tweaked a few bugs). The lead up to the release caught the eye of the K-12 community, which had been waiting for a few tweaks of their own that would help it better manage both shared and one-to-one iPad implementations. It’s only been a couple of weeks since the new operating system hit prime time, but the feedback is already coming in—and it’s largely positive.

New features in iOS 9.3, for example, make it easier for IT to set up and manage devices via a new managed home screen layout. This feature allows administrators to deploy iPads configured for students, and to select which applications will appear on their device home screens. It might be most useful in shared environments, where more than one student is using a device—but where not all of the apps are relevant for all of those users. Schools can also locate and recover stolen or lost devices via ongoing location tracking that doesn’t compromise student privacy.

Expanded capabilities…Read More

Why some schools pay $100 more for the same iPads

Education technology experts discuss various solutions to the ‘broken’ process of ed-tech purchasing

The ed-tech procurement process is broken, said former New York City Public Schools Chancellor Harold Levy during the 2016 South by Southwest Education (SXSWedu) conference in Austin, Texas, March 8—and to prove it, he said a study last month found disparities of more than $100 per unit on how much schools were paying for the exact same iPad model.

In a session titled “Begging for Disruption: Ed-Tech Procurement,” Levy and the other panelists discussed the problems that school districts have in discovering, evaluating, and buying technology products that meet their specific needs.

They also shared information about new services that aim to bring more transparency to the buying process for schools—including a nonprofit organization called the Technology for Education Consortium (TEC) that just launched last month.…Read More

App of the Week: Nonfiction reading for all levels

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated with help from Graphite by Common Sense Media. Click here to read the full app review.

Newsela

What’s It Like? Newsela is an online news-as-literacy platform that features current articles in seven categories: War & Peace, Science, Health, Kids, Money, Law, and Arts. Content is updated daily, with stories from a wide range of sources (from the Associated Press to Scientific American to the Washington Post) in both English and Spanish. On top of this, all articles are Common Core-aligned and available in five Lexile levels, ranging (roughly) from third to 12th grade. Each leveled text features a quiz tailored to that particular article plus a writing prompt that asks kids to write and respond to what they’ve read.

Price: Free/paid

Rating: 5/5…Read More

The 4 essential elements of any successful one-to-one program

Not all successful one-to-one programs are alike. But they do share some common ground

As more and more schools and districts set goals to provide one-to-one access to technology to students to meet teaching and learning goals, district and school leaders are faced with the task of planning and implementing technology resources at levels that they might not have experienced in the past. My district, Santa Ana Unified (SAUSD), is increasing access to students through a program called “Access for All,” a well-received iPad and Chromebook initiative. Through this experience, we have developed a model for planning and implementation. Here’s how we got started.

Establish your vision

It is important that any plan to increase levels of access to technology to students does not move forward as a “technology for technology’s sake” effort, but that is integrated as part of the district or school vision for teaching and learning. At SAUSD, the goal of expanding access to technology to students is aligned to the district Framework for Teaching and Learning and has been established as an essential part of the district vision. This vision is centered on establishing a growth model with expanding choice options for students, enhancing personalized learning pathways, and providing a wide variety of blended learning opportunities to support increased student engagement and improved student learning outcomes.

Provide opportunities for stakeholder engagement

One of the first considerations when planning a one-to-one initiative is establishing support and funding. The Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) is a critical part of California’s Local Control Funding Formula. As part of establishing the LCAP plan, school districts must engage parents, educators, staff, and the community.…Read More

What does research really say about iPads in the classroom?

Two educators put the research to the test. When (and how) are iPads most effective?

Popular mobile devices may come and go, but the iPad has remained a hit in the K-12 classroom. But even though they’re in schools, our work with teachers has led us to understand that while many of them would like to use iPads meaningfully in their classrooms, they can’t because of time, access, and training.

So for the past year and a half, we’ve both been working with teachers and university students integrating iPad technology into the classroom in a controlled way. While doing this, we came across several outcomes that made us question and dig deeper into what the research actually says about using them in the classroom. Do students and younger teachers use them more effectively? Do they work better for some student populations? It’s probably not giving much away to say that the most important learning outcome we found was that experience is the greatest teacher.

First, a note about who we are. Jeanne is a teacher (elementary and part-time professor) and Tanya is a university professor (former special education teacher) who loved using technology as a teaching tool. Jeanne wrote several grants to bring technology into her school and her classroom but she kept noticing that she was flying solo—very few of her school’s teachers were using iPads in the classroom beyond the usual Friday afternoon fun time and as a reward for being “good.” We wanted to know more about this resistance and hesitation when it came to the use of iPads in the classrooms.…Read More

TabPilot launches app for classroom management

TabPilot released Teacher Tools for iOS, an app that allows teachers to control student iPads in their classrooms with tools that have previously only been available through the cloud-based teacher console, normally accessed on the teacher’s computer.

Teacher Tools is a set of features of TabPilot MDM for Schools. Teachers choose a class to manage and then have the ability to freeze student screens, lock students into a single app, clear student passcodes with a few clicks, or lock students into a single web site or group of pre-selected sites. Teachers can also choose a student iPad to be broadcast to the classroom projector via Apple Airplay.

“With the launch of Teacher tools for iOS, we’re showing once again how a school-specific MDM is the best choice for both teachers and school IT administrators,” said Jarrett Volzer, founder and CEO of TabPilot. “With our new Teacher Tools app for iOS, the teachers can now take control in their classroom directly from their own iPad.”…Read More

Wireless sensors help students connect with science

PASCO’s wireless science sensors are compatible across all operating system platforms

Sensor-based lab investigations provide rich opportunities for students to deepen their science understanding and develop hands-on experience using tools like those used by real-life scientists and engineers.

PASCO Scientific has introduced a line of wireless sensors that are compatible with multiple technology platforms, including Windows, Mac, iPad and iPhone, Android tablets and phones, and Chromebooks.

The new line, which includes wireless pH, temperature, pressure, and force/acceleration sensors, simplifies lab setup and removes the clutter of cables. As a result, students can now spend more time exploring, and perform experiments that were difficult or impossible before. The wireless technology also helps schools save money by eliminating the need for a separate device to connect sensors to a computer, tablet or smartphone. Students can simply transmit the data directly from the wireless sensor to their device.…Read More

App of the Week: Daily news and events, just for kids

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated with help from Graphite by Common Sense Media. Click here to read the full app review.

What’s It Like? News-O-Matic, School Edition, 2015-16 is a daily news and activity app for kids in grades 2–5. Teachers and kids can read five current events articles daily, answer questions, chat with classmates about the stories, and send comments or questions to the editor. Topics include everything from religion and politics to scientific discoveries and kid entrepreneurs.

Rating: 4/5…Read More

App of the Week: Shakespeare for the iPad generation

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated with help from Common Sense Graphite. To read the full app review, click here.
shakespeare-in-bits

What’s It Like? Within Shakespeare in Bits: Romeo & Juliet, the full text of the play is featured side-by-side with an animated reenactment. While the style of animation is somewhat simplistic, there are professional actors voicing the parts. Within the text, simply tapping any highlighted words offers a more modern-day term. Tabs at the top of the text let students move easily between the text, section notes, a synopsis, and their own notes. A navigation bar at the bottom of the screen shows all options — viewing by scene, examining characters, reading analysis, and reviewing notes.

Graphite Rating: 4/5

Price: $15…Read More

The complete guide to picking the right device for every grade level

Ed-tech expert Kathy Schrock weighs in on mixed platform solutions for all grade levels

mixed-devicesA few years ago, many school districts jumped on the iPad bandwagon, when they were still brand new. The fact is they were easy to justify for a purchase of a shared cart since the Apple app store had so many wonderful applications for remediation, practice, and extension. These districts purchased the first iPad, which did not mirror and, believe it or not, had no built-in camera. Other districts waited for the second version to be released, which did have a camera and could be mirrored via Apple TV or the Reflector app, but only purchased the model with 16GB of RAM.

After a while, it became evident that maintaining a shared cart of iPads was no small feat. Taking care of the installation of apps and maintenance of the devices, as well as providing a positive experience for each shared user, was not easy. The 16GB of RAM was quickly eaten up by graphic-intensive apps, i-books, and PDF files, and the use of the camera for taking photos and videos. Schools began to think twice.

Enter the Chromebook, a device which was much cheaper and required little maintenance. However, even here there were difficulties at first as students needed to be attached to the internet to use the online Google tools and many of popular Flash-based sites were simply incompatible.…Read More