Sunday, April 29, 2012

5 #iPad Apps for the Itinerant

Whew, over the last few days, it's been horrible suffering on my Macbook. For some reason, the OS is clunky, slow, and though it has pretty pictures, I am definitely missing the command line. While playing around with my iPad, I've had to do some interesting jobs and stumbled on some apps that you may find of interest.

App #1 - SSH Mobile Free
For example, while at work (my previous job), after turning in my equipment, I realized I could tweak a setting on the server to improve performance for my team. Rather than go borrow someone else's laptop, run Terminal in Mac or boot from my LubuntuLinux USB flash drive, I decided to see if I could do the job with the iPad. 

Sure enough, you can get the job done with the ad-supported SSH Mobile Free. It allows you command line access via SSH to a Linux server.

As I was looking for great ideas for an iPad intro activity for a staff development, I ran across Mark Wagner's workshop activity that involves using Splice Video Editor (ad-supported but free). Although designed for the iPhone, the Splice app was surprisingly easy to use (that is, I found it to be an easy app for a video-challenged person like myself) to create content.

App #3 - Onion Browser
If you're looking to surf the web incognito on the iPad, the $.99 Onion Browser app will allegedly make it possible. It certainly seemed to work as I tried it out with Check TOR and, both of which identify your IP address. Not familiar with TOR?

Tor is a service that routes your data through a sort of tunnel composed of Tor-connected computers, allowing connections to be made more or less anonymously, though with a significant penalty to transfer speed. Until now there was no easy way to connect your mobile browser to it, but Onion makes it a snap.
You install it just like a regular browser and there's some initial configuration of Tor, but after that it should be fairly easy to operate. You can manage cookies to control who tracks you between sites, and at any time you can create a "New Identity" that clears away every record and gets you a new IP address. (Source)
For $.99, it didn't seem that big an investment. I've only used it once, and I look forward to using it in school districts I visit that have things "locked down."

App #4 - Fileboard
Someone mentioned Fileboard in some blog post, so I thought I'd give it a shot (and, I added it to my must-have apps). I've since had time to play with it even more and find it quite useful when accessing documents from a variety of sources, such as Evernote, Dropbox, Box, and others. It simply gives you access to content

App #5 - SuperFiles Lite
Need to FTP a file from a web/ftp server somewhere? Then you have plenty of choices...but one of the few no-cost, ad-supported ones that actually works is SuperFilesLite. It's a beautiful looking app that allows you to download content, delete content (file by file, not folder as far as I could see).

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Learning with the iPad

Learning with the iPad 
Provide students with engaged learning opportunities that not only transform delivery, assessment and differentiate the delivery of instruction, but change how students and staff create, collaborate, communicate, as well as develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills in a globally connected environment. Students and staff must develop new literacies--skills, strategies, and dispositions--that enable them to engage in the 4Cs--Creating, Collaborating, and Communicating as they hone Critical thinking and problem solving skills (Source:

Students need increased differentiation to engage them, and educators need to be able to assess that differentiation in efficient and robust ways. New technologies and increased connectivity, the twin requirements for trans-global communication and collaboration make old technologies increasingly obsolete. Essentially, education leaders (e.g. teachers and administrators)  and students must employ technology in such a way as to redefine how they approach teaching, learning and leadership. This means a radical departure from what we’ve done as educators and students in the past, shedding preconceived notions of what a classroom looks like, feels like, and how it operates.

In fact, it is not enough to be able to evaluate web sites, synthesize information, but important that students and staff be able to create and craft compelling narratives—digital stories—that encompass, as George Lucas shares, the “language of images and sound.” Text is no longer enough, and new literacies require a level of fluency that teachers today have not yet grasped systemically in K-16 education.

What Success Looks Like
Success in this endeavor is defined in the following ways:

In the Classroom:

  1. Classroom usage of iPads will reflect student creation of content, rather than content-consumption of instruction. For example, instead of watching math videos, students create them.
  2. Students and staff create interactive videos of projects and  mini-lessons to increase differentiation and easily make them public online.
  3. Students and staff  create and use online student surveys and audio/visual apps to voice their emotions, curiosities, and academic goals.
  4. Students and staff employee district-hosted and cloud-based storage solutions, as well as websites such as Google Docs and Edmodo to create a faster feedback loop. Since these sites (e.g. GoogleDocs, Edmodo) utilize color coding, instantaneous feedback, and automatic student grouping, they facilitate data analysis.
  5. Students and staff will develop multi-media presentations to communicate concepts and theories.
  6. Students will increase research and global connections as they access information portals and network with other students in other places around the world to research curricular topics.
  7. Students and staff will be able to use online texts enabling them to annotate and highlight materials for their personal reflection as well as writing research.
  8. Students and staff will be able to share writing from rough draft to finish copy in a highly efficient way.
  9. Students and staff will share presentations and respond in real time to presentations given by the teacher and other students.
  10. Students and staff will interface data collection probes to collect experimental data in the laboratory setting.
  11. Students and staff will collect, organize, analyze, and report experimental data, results, and conclusions in an efficient and professional manner.
  12. Students and staff will participate in, as well as design, online quizzes and exams to test knowledge and evaluate understanding.

In the School Leaders’ Offices
  1. Develop and implement online assessment tools that provide anytime, anywhere access to data for analysis
  2. Evaluate student and staff performance in the use of technologies that facilitate achievement of the 4Cs (e.g.
  3. Enhance productivity in the use of online resources.

Online via the iPad
To support robust use of iPads as learning and creativity devices, the Curriculum & Instruction and Technology Departments will design an app that facilitate access to critical curriculum resources for students and staff alike.  Specifically, this involves creation of the following:
  1. A “redefined” curriculum--blending in the new Technology Applications:TEKS and the 4Cs--that takes advantage of the iPad-based creativity tools and fosters new literacies among students and staff.
  2. The creation of an EC Hornet iPad App that provides quick access to resources as they become available.
  3. A robust wireless network to support mission-critical usage of network-based iPad apps (no “standalone iPads” disconnected from the network are allowed).
  4. A robust document sharing solution via WebDav (WebDAV is a web protocol that enables file reading and writing via the web) that eliminates the need for students and staff to save confidential information via cloud-based storage (e.g. Dropbox, and OwnCloud.

Implementation Phases
Although a timeline is provided to frame the implementation, one can observe the progression via multiple phases (shown below). Since this project has superintendent approval, seeking approval is not included below.

Prior Planning: Mobile Learning Team Selection (Start: May, 2012)
A) Develop a team of stakeholders responsible for ensuring implementation success. The team members should include the following:
  1. Executive Planning Team - Facilitator: Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction
    1. Meeting Frequency: As determined by facilitator.
    2. Members:
      1. Instructional Technology Specialist
      2. Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction
      3. Director of Technology
  2. Technical Planning Team - Facilitator: Director of Technology
    1. Meets weekly regarding Phase 1 technical items.
    2. Members:
      1. Network Specialist
      2. Account Management Specialist
      3. Instructional Technology Specialist
      4. Director of Technology
  3. Professional Development and App Selection Team - Facilitator: Instructional Technology Specialist
    1. Meeting Frequency: As determined by facilitator
    2. Members:
      1. Campus-based staff as outlined via the m-Learning wiki at

B) Establish an email group and wiki to facilitate information sharing among 3 teams. Schedule weekly meetings to discuss progress.

C) Revise relevant acceptable use policies and administrative procedures (Appendix B)

Phase 1: Acquisition
Acquire student/staff (424)  iPad devices for use in schools along with necessary peripherals, such as carts, bluetooth-enabled keyboard sets for classrooms, and iPad cases.

Phase 2: Technical Preparation
This phase has various technical components, including the following:
a) Setup of additional wireless devices in classrooms to support one to one, heavy usage;
b) Increased bandwidth through the adoption of new Internet Services Provider (ISP);
c) Preparation of RFP, bid review and selection of a mobile device management (MDM) solution;
d) Creation of a VLAN or separate network for iPads; WebDav Server to facilitate document sharing;
e) Setup of mobile EC Hornet iPad app through external company after image and web site development;
f) Set District wallpaper on iPads
g) Adopt iPad insurance plan

Phase 3: Professional Learning Planning and Curriculum Re-Design
This phase involves instructional design and outlining of activities for face to face and online professional learning for staff to take place. More details are provided in Appendix A: Professional Learning Plan. This includes available iPad-related conferences to maximize exposure.

Phase 4: Selection and Development of a Virtual Learning Environment
This phase involves selection of an virtual, or web-based, learning environment (VLE). There are various choices such as Moodle, Sakai, Edmodo, CollaborizeClassroom, Schoolology, and Project Share. For the purposes of the m-Learning initiative, the District has decided on Edmodo to serve as an online repository and learning interchange.

Development of the VLE focuses on the development of appropriate groups and activities that will support student and adult learning as needed.

Phase 5: Implement Professional Learning Plan
This phase will be marked by 3 opportunities for professional learning, occurring in June and early August, 2012. It will be sustained by regular webinars to be offered throughout the school year and on-site campus support as needed.

Phase 6: Traditional and Social Media Communications Plan
This phase is marked by establishment of media contacts, creation of relevant blog and entries, podcasts with key staff and students on a monthly basis to document the iPad-based experiential learning, as well as the use of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to facilitate information sharing via Real Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds.

Phase 7: Periodic Assessment and m-Learning Showcase
The Executive Team will develop criteria and metrics for assessing progress on the objectives outlined in this proposal, as well as require the sharing of student and teacher creations online for the public/community. Presentations to the school board will also be made that showcase student and teacher work. Teachers will develop web pages/wiki pages that document student progress and methods through the use of iPad-created videos and content.

Key Areas to Implementation Success
This plan considers 3 areas to be key to the implementation success of this Initiative. Those areas include the following:

Infrastructure and Technical Support
  • Sufficient wireless access for iPad deployment
  • Mobile Device Management (MDM)
  • Email Archiving to ensure archiving of student and staff communications
  • Single sign-on (SSO) to ensure ease of use for students and staff to multiple district systems

Professional Development Support
  • Professional Development for ECISD Curriculum and Technology Staff
  • Staff Development for ECISD HelpDesk staff to provide end-user support
  • Presentation to appropriate personnel to disseminate information and expectations.

Communications and Public Relations
  • Social Media usage and regular documentation of what is happening in the m-Learning Project.

Assessment and Evaluation
  • Ongoing assessment--focus groups, monitoring online activity--during the process. Assessments will be jointly conducted by the Curriculum & Instruction and Technology staff.

Implementation Timeline
The following timelines outlines who will do what by when, as well as designates who is responsible for checking up to ensure work is done. It also outlines the decision-making.

WHO will do...WHAT by...WHENCheckUp or CheckBack

Participate in Organizational Meetings02/27/2012

Ms. Mary RayFacilitate Appy Hour Training Sessions03/05/2012

m-Learning Planning Meeting04/04/2012NA
m-Learning TeamVisit Eanes ISD to view their implementation04/17/2012NA

Order new iPad, reallocate iPad 2 as needed04, 2012

Order InTouch 40 Tablet Cart from Spectrum Industries04, 2012
Technical TeamReview MDM Solution Provider proposals and make recommendation selection04, 2012

Consider registration ($25 for TCEA members or $50 per non-member attendees) at the Eanes ISD iPadPalooza to be held Tuesday, 06/19/2012.04, 2012

Revise AUP to reflect Responsible Use Policy04/30/2012
Develop m-Learning Proposal04/30/2012
Technical TeamEnsure wireless access points have been ordered, purchased and scheduled for placement.05/05/2012

Review m-Learning Proposal05/03/2012
Executive TeamFinalize Professional Learning Plan (PLP) for Summer Session05/05/2012
Executive TeamFinalize selection of PLP consultants from NorthEast ISD05/10/2012

Principals’ Leadership Seminar Proposal05/11/2012
PD and App Selection TeamMake specfic app recommendations06/30/2012
Technical TeamEC Hornet App07/01/2012
Technical TeamWebDav Server Setup07/15/2012
Technical TeamPrepare and provide training to district technicians on MDM for iPads.0720/2012

Finalize outward facing web site/wiki featuring recommended apps, workshop materials, video lessons/tutorials and Edmodo groups07/01/2012

Schedule webinar sessions and meetings for m-Learning campus participants07/15/2012
Communications TeamCreate social media accounts to facilitate sharing of information, ideas, projects online07/15/2012
Executive TeamSchedule school board presentations09/01/2012

Prompt approval and implementation of this plan will ensure successful implementation. While no plan can anticipate with 100% accuracy the issues that will arise, we can anticipate the support structures that need to be set in place. This plan seeks to do this, and your feedback is invited.

Please submit questions you may have or suggestions for improvement to the following staff....

Appendix A - Professional Learning Plan

Event #1 - m-Learning Teacher Academy
The purpose of this Academy is to model effective use of the iPad, delineate expectations, and is organized as if the teachers were the students. Only Day 1 is proposed below since it may be helpful to spend Day 2 & 3 working on curriculum and apptivities.

8:00am to 8:15am Welcome and Introduction

8:15am - 8:30 am Predicting the Future
Defining expectations for today’s session, curriculum redesign
Divide into learning teams

8:30am - 10:00am Redefining Your Approach to Instruction
  1. Read article--Redefining Instruction with Technology: 5 Essential Steps and discuss with learning team partners.
  2. Create Your Own Video
  3. Share Your Video with the whole team

Activity Instructions: Create a Video
Interview three colleagues and video record their response to, How might you use an iPad in your role as an educator?
  1. Splice 2.0 Tutorial - Getting Started (Video)
  2. Download the Splice App for iOS (Note: this is optimized for iPhone, but works well on iPad.)
  3. Shoot some video!
  4. Edit the video, export to camera roll, then upload to YouTube.

10:00am - 11:30am Mathematics and the iPad
  1. As a learning team, read this blog entry, App-tastic Middle School Mathematics and reflect on how you would
  2. Select some of the math apps and create a video of how you encourage students to create a math-relevant activity.

Activity Instructions: EduCreations Interactive Whiteboard
Model how you would use a math app as if you were a student in response to the video you created with your learning team.
  1. Educreations Tutorial (Video)
  2. Get the Educreations Interactive Whiteboard App from iTunes
  3. Download math iPad apps relevant to the lesson you want to facilitate
  4. Record process of using it
  5. Share the video with others.

11:30am - 12:30pm Lunch

12:30pm - 3:30pm Curriculum Re-design

3:30pm - 4:00pm Session Presentations

Event #2 - iPadPalooza
Participants attend iPadPalooza then present back to the rest of the team on what they learned.

Event #3 - To Be Developed

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure