Welcome to Jennie Magiera's Technology in Education Blog:

Redefining the (digital) Classroom

Friday, August 31, 2012

Introducing... the Student Innovation Team

Click here to to view the students' blogs!
Many of us rely heavily on the Internet for our professional learning... Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and - of course - blogs. I've found so many great resources out there, and learned much of what I know from clicking around in the middle of the night. However, amongst the myriad of voices and ideas floating around in cyberspace, there is one voice I see very rarely... and yet this is the voice that should be most heard: the kids.

As we explore digital learning, we are always talking about what we think is best for kids, or how kids will respond to x, y or z... but what better way to find these answers than going straight to the source?

So this year, I have created a group of students who will meet after school twice a week. They have dubbed themselves the "Student Innovation Team" or S.I.T. for short... not the most actionable of acronyms, but easy to say nonetheless.

As a focus, we have "borrowed" the four A's from the Apple Distinguished Educator program: Advocates, Authors, Ambassadors and Advisors. We spent our first two sessions discussing each of these concepts and how the students could fill each role. Surprisingly, they were most excited about becoming Advisors. Apparently, being able to tell a teacher how to use technology was an urge many had been secretly harboring for some time.

Yesterday, they began their blogs as part of this Advisor role (and also dipping a toe into the "Author" role as well). For the students' safety, they've all chosen pseudonyms and have taken on this avatar when blogging. After creating their avatar, their next task was to share a bit about themselves and to explain why they were invested in digital learning.

Please take a moment to read the team's blogs, and comment. They are so excited to interact with you: an authentic audience of adult learners. As "DigiEmani" said to me this recently, "I have something to say, and now people will finally listen."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Free Workshop on QuickTime Screencasting & iBooks Author!


Thursday 9/20/12 at 9am
Apple Store on North Ave in Chicago, IL
Hands-on Workshop: Bring a MacBook & an iPad!
801 W North Avenue - Chicago, IL 60642
RSVP / registration not required, but an email is appreciated. Please email jenniemisong@gmail.com if you plan on attending. This will help us know how many to expect.

Thanks to those who attended my previous Apple Store presentation; I enjoyed meeting you! On Thursday 9/20 at 9:00am I will be back for another session - this time about QuickTime screencasting for video differentiation and creating your own content with iBooks Author... and it's free (and open to all)! 

The next presentation will be more of a hands-on workshop. Bring your MacBooks and iPads as we'll be creating your own digital content for immediate use in your classrooms! If you have curricular materials you'd like to digitize and/or create lessons with, bring those too! 

I know it's a schol day and wish the timing could be better... perhaps ask your principals for a PD 1/2 day :)? Hope to see you there!

Session description: Innovative applications such as QuickTime and iBooks Author allow teachers to become creators of their own curriculum and meet the needs of all students—no matter how many devices you have in the classroom. Join Apple Distinguished Educator Jennie Magiera for a hands-on look at how to differentiate learning through teacher-created digital content. You’ll explore ways to leverage pedagogy and discuss strategies such as the flipped classroom, screen casting, and guided reading. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Apps in the Classroom - This Sunday 8/26 @ 9:00am

This Sunday (8/26/12) at 9am I'll be speaking at Lincoln Park's Apple Store (in Chicago, IL) to share my favorite apps for the classroom and show some examples of how to leverage them to up the ante on learning.

If you're in town and would like to learn more about using iOS devices with your kids, please come by!

Hope to see you there :).


Friday, August 17, 2012

Best in class for Your Class: Google Docs on the iPad vs. Apple's iWorks Apps

3/8/13 Post Update: A new app came out - Appser for Google Docs. It seems to be the most full-features Google Docs app around... as of now. There seem to be a few bugs, but hopefully nothing an app update can't solve. My students have enjoyed experimenting with it... especially using Google Drawings and Spreadsheets on an iPad. Also - it's Free! Check it out!

9/10/12 Post Update: The new update for the iOS Google Drive app allows for real-time editing of Google Docs on your iPad! Hooray! See this page for more information. 
Another option is to use the Google Chrome Browser app for iOS and access your google Doc in desktop mode. This solution offers the most functionality of Google Docs. Neither of these options are viable for Google spreadsheets (though the Chrome workaround supports creating Google Forms). 

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Many thanks to Greg Michie, a colleague who brought Office2HD and QuickOffice Pro HD  to my attention. These are two apps that allow you to access and edit Google Docs on your iPad in a way I've never been able to before. I've used GoDocs in the past, but have never had great success with this app (the interface was awkward).

Office2HD and QuickOffice have a much cleaner interface; in fact using them feel much like using Apple's Pages, Keynote and Numbers - but you're editing a Google Doc, Presentation or Spreadsheet.

I spent some time playing with each and comparing them to Apple's productivity iWorks Suite (Pages, Keynote and Numbers).

My essential question as I explored these apps was: Would it be worth it for my kids to use one of these apps to do all word processing/presentations/spreadsheet work on a Google Doc or should I have them work through Pages/Keynote/Numbers? 

Below are my observations. Please add any insights you have in the comments section below.

Office2HD - $3.99 in Volume Purchase Program for 20+ copies
Pros:
  • Work Flow: Immediately syncs to Google Docs upon "save", so students can "turn in" their work much easier than with Apple's iWorks apps (for a suggestion on how to turn in work with Pages/Keynote/Numbers, see this previous post about the Showbie app)
  • Organization: files shown first by folder and then by recently updated/created
  • More functionality than QuickOffice: 
    • Word Processor (compare to Word/Pages): Track Changes, Insert Pictures, Change opacity in pictures, add border in pictures
    • Spreadsheet (compare to Excel/Numbers): Greater options for formulas/math functions

Cons:
  • Not all the features translate easily to Google Docs. So if your student creates a document with a picture behind text, or with a border, these features will not show up when you open it in Google Docs.
  • Still not as many functions as Apple iWorks apps:
    • Spreadsheet (compare to Excel/Numbers) doesn't allow you to create tables/charts and you can't insert media
    • Word Processor (compare to Word/Pages): Can't insert video, fewer media options and editing options, fewer fonts
    • Presentation (compare to PowerPoint/Keynote): fewer transitions, can't insert video, can't insert tables/charts


QuickOffice Pro HD - $9.99 in Volume Purchase Program for 20+ copies
Pros:
  • Work Flow: Immediately syncs to Google Docs upon "save", so students can "turn in" their work much easier than with Apple's iWorks apps (for a suggestion on how to turn in work with Pages/Keynote/Numbers, see this previous post about the Showbie app)
  • Easier to use than Office2HD; cleaner interface than Office2HD (buttons more clear, my students had an easier time learning how to use it)
  • Recently acquired by Google (read more about it here); so one may predict that this app may (1) drop in price, (2) increase in functionality and (3) become more naturally tied into Google Docs

Cons:
  • Lack of functionality as compared to both Office2HD and Apple iWorks apps:
    • Spreadsheet (compare to Excel/Numbers) doesn't allow you to create tables/charts and you can't insert media
    • Word Processor (compare to Word/Pages): Can't insert any media at all, few font options
    • Presentation (compare to PowerPoint/Keynote): fewer transitions, can't insert video, can't insert tables/charts


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cool Finds, Awesome Ideas

I am lucky to have an awesome PLN that shares great finds with me... so in the spirit of paying it forward, I would like to pass on these great finds to you. Enjoy, and pass it on! Have a great find you've seen recently? Please share in the comments below!

Swivl
It's a robot! It's a camera man! It's... Swivl! This little bad boy is a mount for your iOS device and pivots to follow a remote you wear. So the camera follows you as you move up, down, side to side. Check out the video to see it in action. Wow... it's definitely on my wish list (Labor Day present?). Thanks to my colleague, Chris Bruggeman, for sharing this fun tech tool with me.

21st Century Ice Breakers
Aditi Rao, a tech integration specialist from Texas shared a genius list of 10 ways to start off your classroom leveraging digital learning. From Pinterest to QR codes, this list has a myriad of ways to not only get your kids' feet wet with technology, but also get to know each other at the same time! Thank you so much to amazing Autumn Laidler for sharing this resource!

Showbie
Sick of iPad workflow issues? Tired of having kids upload all their docs to a Dropbox account, only to delete each other's work? Or getting 100 emails everyday with kids turning in Keynotes or Pages docs -- only to email the work back with feedback and encounter version control issues? Not to fear! Showbie is here! It creates a WebDav server and gives each of your students a unique login. (The process seems similar to that of Edmodo, for those who are familiar with this site.) Once the kids create any product in an iWorks app (Pages, Keynote, Numbers) or any app that allows for WebDav upload (iAnnotate, iThoughtsHD, etc), they login with their username and can upload the file. Teachers can then see each student's work on their teacher laptop or iPad, make audio or written feedback and return the file. There is automatic copy control, so teachers don't overwrite student work. The student will see a partitioned file folder with their work separate from teacher comments. So. Cool. Thank you to John Shoemaker for this little gem!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Amplifying my Classroom

Last spring, a team from Amplify came to visit my classroom and capture some of my kids in action. They put together this lovely video about our philosophy regarding digital learning pedagogy. My students were so excited to be caught on film and I was glad to talk about my favorite topic :).

Thanks, Amplify, for sharing our story with the world (and for inspiring me to get my bangs cut like this again)!