iPad #2

I’m on an iPod kick recently.  I watched the presentation today for the new iPhone 4 and was duly impressed!

Anyway, I found a great site from Tony Vincent who’s been using hand helds in the classroom for several years.  He has some good observations on the iPad.  This post is a followup of my previous iPad post that only talked about the advantages of the iPad.  These aren’t problems, but thinks to keep in mind.

  • Web filtering can be done with OpenDNS for free.
  • Some school Wi-Fi networks aren’t working with the iPad.
  • There isn’t an easy way to project the iPad’s display.
  • It doesn’t print out of the box.  There is an app for this, but it’s not as easy as it should be.
  • No flash.
  • Students can download apps by first signing out the school’s login name and then signing with their own account.  This means it can’t be locked down.

I’ve very interested to see where the iPad leads us.  Some have hailed it as the desk of the future!

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The iPad is an exciting device, so I’ve been searching for ways that it’s actually being used in education.  I’m focusing on school use, whether this is by the teacher or students.

The excitement surrounding the iPad has a lot to do with the fact that it allows students to interact with data through the auditory, visual, and kinesthetic modalities.  Here I summarize some ways that a fourth grade class has been using the iPad.

  1. Keynote Presentations
  2. Grammar tutorials
  3. Mind Maps (Idea Sketch)
  4. Note Taking  (Sundry Notes)
  5. Graphing – iWorks Numbers
  6. Vocabulary and spelling activities
  7. Math activities

Uses for teachers:

  1. Attendance
  2. Informal Assessment – teachers can walk around the room taking grades as they observe.  No more clipboards followed up by later data entry.

Here are some ideas that I have read about, but haven’t heard of actually being implemented yet:

  1. Symmetry lessons allowing young students to rotate, flip, and mirror graphics.
  2. Worksheets and assignments can easily be emailed to student iPads and emailed back when the students are finished.
  3. Digital portfolios will be much easier to organize now that students are emailing work to the teacher.
  4. The iPad alone becomes the textbook, worksheet, schedule, and assignment book.  This could certainly simplify the number of physical objects a student must carry around.  On the flip side, it will begin teaching digital organization.
  5. Parents can synchronize with the classroom calendar, so they know what assignments are due.
  6. Playground & lunchtime behavior reports can be created on the spot with an iPad, rather than be entered into the computer later.

Here are the sources from which I summarized the above:

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Dropbox with TrueCrypt Encryption

One possible issue with Dropbox is that the encryption keys are in the hands of Dropbox and whoever else Dropbox gives them to.

Using Dropbox with Truecrypt I’m able to keep encryption keys on memory sticks.  Using personal keys along with the TrueCrypt password provides an extra layer of security to  Dropbox. This involves some extra steps, that can be tedious, but it will protect data while stored in the cloud.  This solution allows synchronization between Windows, Macintosh, and Linux.

Randomware and the daily moe have stories on this with some good followup discussion.  Below is a summary of important things to understand when using TrueCrypt with Dropbox.  These issues don’t bother me, but they won’t be OK for everyone.

  1. This solution requires that the TrueCrypt container is mounted first.
  2. If the container is automatically mounted at bootup and demounted at log-off, there won’t be time for Dropbox to synchronize the container.  This might be solved by selecting “Preserve modification time of file containers” in Truecrypt, but I haven’t tried it out yet.
  3. The TrueCrypt container can only be opened by one computer at a time.    That means this won’t be a good solution for collaboration, most probably.  This also means that the container must be closed when you are finished.  If left open, it you won’t be allowed to access the container from another computer.
  4. Large containers, such as 10 gig, might take up to 5 minutes for synchronization to complete.

I’ve used TrueCrypt for several years and had no problems with it.  The fact that Dropbox and TrueCrypt both work for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux make this a highly portable solution.

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Constructivism and Technology

I found a great book in Wikibooks discussing Constructivism & Technology.  Below are a few of the case studied provided along with others I found through google.


Willodale Elementary School has created a great series of student generated podcasts that cover subjects such as Social Studies, Science, Geography, and art.

OurCity Podcast   provides a view of google maps overlayed with student podcasts describing the cities that they live in.  I found podcasts from the United States, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Qatar, England, and Germany.


Students from a Philadelphia elementary school created this video documenting a cross-curricular activity and posted it on-line.  A description from the posting:

This was a very powerful project that incorporated historical aspects of the American Revolution, geometry, public speaking, working cooperatively, ratio and proportion and a whole menu of grade appropriate curricular objectives and state mandated standards.

Website Design:

ThinkQuest provides a large collection of student created websites.


The langwitches blog describes a project where student connect to other classrooms around the world using skype.   Here is an interview that has been posted on youtube.  Students were able to talk with classrooms from Thailand, Spain, China, Canada, South Korean, and other schools throughout the United States.

Posted in 1 - Creativity and Innovation, 2 - Communication and Collaboration, constructivism, culture | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Montessori Perspectives on Technology

I have never been trained in the Montessori method, but it has caught my attention from time to time.  Therefore, I have done a little research to see what their perspective on technology is.

According to Montessori in the 21st Century  advances in technology are shifting our culture towards methodologies which form the foundations of the Montessori method.  Below I have pasted a table, from their website, describing this shift:

Industrial Age Information Age
• Book as tool • Technologies as tool
• Age-specific grade levels • Community of learners
• Covering the content • Covering learners’ needs
• “Just in case” learning • “Just in time” learning
• Norm-referenced tests • Performance-based assessment
• Classroom as world • World as classroom
• Rote memorization • Problem solving
• Competition with classmates • Collaboration with classmates
• Speaker centered • Student centered
• Teacher as dispenser of knowledge • Teacher as coach

The Monroe County School District has published a 2003-2004 technology plan with the following quotes and highlights:

Montessori learning environments emphasize following the child, to regard her/him as an investigator, one who seeks knowledge in order to satiate an intrinsic desire…The use of technology and technology tools in our Montessori classrooms extend the scope of student learning for exceptional students, and enhance the curriculum for our special needs students; all students benefit from having computer workstations in the classrooms 

Each student at the Montessori Elementary Charter School will demonstrate personal
academic growth through experience in a nurturing environment, and will continue to
develop the qualities of self-discipline, self-confidence, cooperation and responsibility.

They use the NETS framework to define their objectives.  Sine the release of their technology plan the NETS framework was updated in 2007.

Posted in Montessori, Technology Plan | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Professional Development

I found an interesting article on professional development from the Journal that describes characteristics for a successful professional development program.  While this article specifically targets on-line course development it seems applicable to other types of professional development as well.  Here is a list of characteristics that teachers desired in a professional development program:

  • They could use right away or were related to a current project;
  • Had built-in follow-up procedures;
  • Fit into their busy schedules;
  • Matched their learning styles;
  • Focused on curriculum;
  • Included leadership or direction from the program chair; and
  • Included a support person (technology facilitator) who they could call with questions.
  • Posted in Professional Development | Tagged | 2 Comments

    Kinesthetic Learning with GPS

    I came across a fascinating website, mscape,  that allows the creation of virtual learning environments that are then brought into the physical world through the use of a GPS enabled PDA.  After finding a large area, such as a field, the user walks around the field triggering videos, images, sounds, and events through their PDA.

    The site includes software for creating these kinesthetic experiences.  It looks like some of these are location specific, but most are generic enough to be experienced anywhere.  From the huge list of projects, here are a few:

    • A Walk to the park in Shanghai
    •  St Fagan’s National History Museum
    • Thailand’s first GPS-guided audio tour

     Unfortunately the mscape website is being phased out, but I was able to discover that calvium is working to fill the void.  mscape is only compatible with a short list of devices, where calvium is intended to work with more modern devices such as the iPhone.  This is definitely something worth keeping tabs on!

    Here is a short demo of what the mscape experience is like:http://wiki.mscapers.com/bin/view/Main/HowMediascapesWork

    Posted in 1 - Creativity and Innovation, kinesthetic, Learning Styles | 1 Comment