One Best Thing Collection on iBooks

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Last year was a huge year full of growth and development both personally and professionally. I won’t bore you with the details of my personal growth here but I will share my professional highlights and projects from 2013.

In 2013, I became an Apple Distinguished Educator and was invited to attended the ADE Asia Pacific Institute in Bali. This was hands down the single most profound and powerful professional development experience of my teaching career to date. Being surrounded by so many like minded educators was inspiring. The passion, knowledge and collective talent from the participants at that event was incredible.

As part of the ADE Asia Pacific Institute, ADEs were introduced to the One Best Thing project. The One Best Thing collection highlights a specific use of Apple products, apps, and other content to transform teaching and learning.

I am proud to announce that my One Best Thing has been selected for publication and is now ibookstore-on-itunes

My One Best Thing is empowering students to become technology leaders by providing them with opportunities to create and deliver professional learning workshops and tutorials. As an educator I have transformed my learning environment by facilitating and coordinating a program called iLearn uLearn. The program promotes an open learning community where the learning process between students and teachers has been redefined. Students have been empowered by contributing and sharing their skills to enhance our learning community. The program offers students the opportunity to share their knowledge with teachers and students by planning and delivering their own ICT workshops.

Do yourself a favour and explore the One Best Thing collection as a source of professional reading that include some truly inspirational stories.


Free ANZAC Day Multi Touch Book for iPad and Mac

Last year, I created a simple multi touch book using iBooks Author for my class. It was on the topic of ANZAC day and it focused on the famous poem “In Flanders Fields” written by John McCrae. Once I shared the book with my class, they began to connect with the content almost immediately. They all downloaded the book on to their iPads and within the first 5 minutes of the first lesson, students were engaged and connecting with content that other students found to be very dry and boring in previous years.

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Why was this the case? What made these students so interested in this topic. After much discussion with the class, many students stated that having all of the resources in the one place that they were able to look through at their own pace made a huge difference. Even though the students had access to all of the lessons and the corresponding resources, this was not a self paced project nor was it student directed. Lessons still took place in class but the book allowed the students to have direct access to the content on their iPads.

What I found last year was that I had only scratched the surface of what is an amazing part of Australian history. The students were so engaged and inspired by the few lessons that I had planned. It made me feel as though I was doing them a disservice by having not prepared more

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lessons. So this year, as ANZAC day approaches, I decided to create a few more chapters to the book. Now, I would normally publish this via the iTunes Bookstore but I cannot be 100% confident that I have all of the permissions to do so as many of the images are archival and difficult to obtain the correct attributions for. Therefore, I am making this resource available here for free. As it is purely for educational purposes and not for any financial gain, I am sure that it shouldn’t be a problem.

The Free ANZAC Day Multi Touch Book for iPad and Mac can be downloaded here via Google Drive

The Free ANZAC Day Multi Touch Book for iPad and Mac can be downloaded here via Dropbox

Photoshop Touch for iPad








The amazing Photoshop Touch app has been available on iPad for quite some time now and I’ve been a massive fan from the first few moments of exploring the app’s capabilities.

Now let’s not get this confused with Abode’s Photoshop Express App that is also available for iPad. The major difference between the two apps is while Photoshop Express offers a range of handy little filters and tools for enhancing your images, Photoshop Touch offers you the whole kit and caboodle! It’s an absolute beast and it pretty much allows you to experience most of the functionality that is available through Adobe Photoshop on a desktop computer. 

Considering that the latest desktop version of Adobe Photoshop CC  is available on annual subscription for $19.99 per month, the $10.49 once off cost for the iPad counterpart is a pretty good deal. 

Rather than go into the nuts and bolts of the app here on my blog, I decided to create some tutorials that show you how to use various tools within the app. These videos can be found as a playlist on my YouTube Channel 

iPads in Physical Education

Recently, I have been asked to assist my PE teacher with the integration of iPads into the PE curriculum. I am fortunate that the PE teacher at my school is quite forward thinking and keen to involve mobile technology into his lessons as we share the belief that the iPad and the available sport apps have huge potential for

improving student outcomes. In it’s simplest form, we wanted to see if using the iPad as a skills development tool would translate into students analysing and critiquing their technique and therefore improve their performance. Needless to say that the natives were very excited about the prospect of using their iPads during lessons.

After a brief discussion, we choose to trial 3 free apps into our PE curriculum.


The first app we asked the students to download was Slo Pro. Slo Pro is a great app that allows you to record up to 1000 fps and play back your video at super slow motion. This app also allows you to slow down a recording at variable rates, which means that you can play sections of your video back and changing speeds. The student were able to use this app with minimal support, the interface is simple and intuitive and the app works as described. The only thing that caused some difficulty was sharing the videos recorded. Even though the free version allows users to upload their videos to YouTube, doing so was very clunky and unreliable. Out of a whole class, 3 students were able to do so successfully. The free version of Slo Pro does not allow the user to save their video to their camera roll on their own device, to be able to do this, you need to purchase the full version, which costs $4.49. Buying the full version also unlocks some other useful features like altering the frame rates of your recording.


The second app that we asked the students to download was Coach My Video. This app also allowed the students to record and play back their videosn slow motion and with frame by frame accuracy. It also allows the user to draw lines, shapes and calculate angles on top of the  video recording. This made analysing skills much easier as students were able to highlight areas of their technique that require practise. Another great feature of this app is that you can place two videos side by side and play them together. This feature, I believe, is what this app does best. When it came to sharing their work, the students were able to save their images with drawn overlays as jpgs which can then be emailed.

2099711763-iOS-StyledThe third app we experimented with was Ubersense and is my personal favourite of the three apps discussed in this post for a few reasons. Firstly, Ubersense allows you to record your videos in slow motion just like Slo Pro, you can playback at frame by frame rate, and it also allows you to draw and annotate your videos as Coach My Video does. So in other words, it can does what the other two apps do. Secondly, when it comes to sharing your video, Ubersense just works! Users sign up for a free account, this then allows them to not only email their videos, but it also allows them to record audio on top of their video with their annotations. So what they can produce is a video, that not only highlights areas for improvements, it allows them to record audio reflection or commentary of their videos.

We are yet to see if using these apps and iPads within PE classes will result in improved student performance but what is evident, is that our students are already becoming more aware of their technique and are able to describe where they need to improve when watching their recordings. Watch this space for further developments.

Minecraft Club

Ever since attending the Game Master Exhibition @ ACMI in Melbourne last year,

Game Masters Posterthe thought of utilising Minecraft as a learning and teaching tool has appealed to me. Since then, the Minecraft bubble has continued to grow and swell without any sign of bursting. More and more of my students have become totally enthralled and spend hours of their spare time online creating some of the most detailed and magnificent structures that many would never have believed they would be capable to building.  In the amongst all of this creativity and flexibility, I believe, lies an incredibly powerful teaching and learning tool.

During the Game Master Exhibition, my students were given time to explore the games that were available. I came across one of my students creating a basketball arena in Minecraft. The engagement, concentration, focus he displayed was mind blowing. I instantly thought two things
1) A list of educational application came flooding into my mind within seconds. Advanced spatial awareness, rotation of shapes, symmetry, angles, volume and capacity, area and perimeter etc and that’s only in Numeracy! Imagine how many other ways Minecraft could be used across various other curricular areas.
2) Why the hell aren’t I already using this in my classroom?

I came across a great post on edumedic a couple of moths ago that reignited my first thought when I first saw one of my students using Minecraft.  So I decided to start a Minecraft at my school for students who might be interesting. As you can imagine, the response was completely overwhelming. Over 65 students expressed their interest to join what had been advertised as a “small club”.

Before taking on the responsibility of creating the Minecraft club and getting my students all riled up, I needed to answer a few questions for myself. What is the purpose of the Minecraft club? Why do we need it? What are the students going to get out of it?

I came across another great blog written by David Lee who started a Minecraft Club at his school in Korea to teach students about civics and citizenship. Great read and I thoroughly recommend you have a look when you get a chance. What I found interesting was the idea of collaborative teams working towards a common goal. I contact David and we are in the process of negotiating a Google Hangout session so that our students can discuss how they are using Minecraft in education.

I decided that teamwork, communication, planning, collaboration and sharing of resources and ideas would be the fundamental skills I wanted my students to take away from our Minecraft Club. I also wanted them work on small construction projects in competition with other groups within our club.


Week 1
Students formed groups of 4 to 5, created group names and established rules and a code of behavior for future Minecraft club activities and participating members. Edmodo groups were established for each team as a forum for members to share ideas, distribute resources and discuss their projects.

Student where then introduced to their first construction task. The first task was to reconstruct a model of Melbourne’s Eureka Skydeck using the scale of 1 block is equal to 1 metre. Students were given time to research the dimensions of the actual building using a range of websites and begun calculating the height and width of the various sections of the building. They then shared their findings with their group via their Edmodo group page.

What struck me was the ease in which the students were able to conceptualise how they would replicate the original building using Minecraft while applying size, scale and shapes contained within the real life model. I look forward to adding more to this blog post as the weeks progress.

iTunes Course Manager

I have been playing around with iTunes Course Manager and I am so excited about the potential applications that it is going to have on my class and beyond. Before I get into the process and my experience with creating a course, I’ll start off by saying that I have always thought that iTunes U was one of the most underused brilliant resources available to teachers. I have worked with people, who I would classify as quite IT savvy, who haven’t  heard of iTunes U at all! This is where things usually get a little awkward as I somehow morph into an almost Evangelical iTunes U fanatic and go on and on with my spiel about “how amazing iTunes U is” and “how there is so much amazing content available literally sitting there waiting to be downloaded and integrated into classrooms. The content ranges in complexity; from Ivy league universities such as Yale, Oxford, Harvard etc to a grade 3 student’s reflection about a ball game they played in PE. It’s awaiting you!” This is roughly about the time that they are backing away from me with a slightly freaked out and bewildered expression on their face…

So back to iTunes U. My tale starts back in 2010. At the time the only issue I had with iTunes U is that after scratching the surface and being completely blown away, I instantly wanted to begin creating and sharing content to my students by creating a school channel or profile. This is where I hit a snag! I couldn’t work out how to apply to become a representative or a content creating organisation. I contacted Apple and found out that Australian Government funded schools could not become content sharing schools, this had to be done through your particular state educational body. In my case, it was The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development  in Victoria. For teachers in Australia, you will understand my dilemma without having to go into detail too much, for those overseas, let me just say that you would be better off trying to train your dog to speak and cook you breakfast rather than have The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development assist you in any way… This was in the days before iTunes Course Manager.

iTunes U Course Manager allows you to create your own media rich courses that are delivered directly onto your students’ iPads. Your students are presented with all of the teaching content, resources such as weblinks, videos, images, apps etc as well as lesson plans and the ability to take detailed lesson notes all within the one neat and well organised place. They are then able to access this information 24/7.

The first thing you need to do is login
Once you have filled in the required online forms, including an instructors bio, you are ready to begin creating your own course.
Your students will also need to download the free iTunes U app on their IOS device.

Before you create a course and start adding content to that course, you must first create a course outline and a course overview. The overview is a brief statement about the course and what it will encompass. The outline can be a list of the different lessons/activities within your course. The outline is needed to structure your course and allows you to create a detailed post fro each item in the course outline.

Students can take detailed notes directly within the iTunes U app

The main body of the course is created in the form of posts. Each post can be allocated within a topic or a part of an entry within the course outline. When you create a new post, you can choose the section in which you want the post to appear. You can then add a lesson overview or instruction for students and attach material such as audio, video, books, documents, apps or images or weblinks. So when a student opens that post, they are presented with your lesson and all of the digital material required for that lesson. They are then able to use a check box to show that they have completed the work set for them. Furthermore, they are able to take detailed lesson notes within the iTunes U app. These lesson notes are automatically categorised for quick and easily reflection.

Courses can be as simple or as detailed as you wish. Once you have finished adding content to your course, you can share your course by creating a unique enrolment code that can be delivered to your students via email as a direct url. Students simply open the email and enrol into the course. An email is then sent to you requesting approval for that student’s enrolment. You can also provide a short, 9 character, code to your students for them to enter in the Enrol form within their iTunes U app should you wish not to choose email as a form of delivery.

As stated above, I am so excited to be creating courses for my students. I love the idea that all of the digital resources that are required for my lessons can be distributed within the one app. More than that, I love the fact that my students will have access to course content on demand. I have started creating a bunch of courses. One of the courses that I created is a beginner’s guide to The Pinnacle Studio app for iPad which is an absolute killer of an app. I will be creating a post solely about this app shortly but for those who wish to join the iTunes U course about this app, simply open the link below on your iPad. Enjoy.

Common Craft – Explanations made simple

Just a very quick post to share a useful little website I came across this afternoon called Common Craft.
Common Craft is a great website that houses simple and clear explanations about many complicated tech areas.
You can browse through their video library categories and find a large number of video explanations on subjects such as podcasting, twitter, augmented reality etc. This site would be great if you were presenting info to colleagues or students who have very little prior knowledge on a particular subject.

The animations are simple and I believe this promotes greater understanding for the viewers as they do not distract the viewer from the explanation.
Oh and before I forget, this site is 100% iPad friendly as the online videos are not flash based.

You can access the transcript of each video along with a quick summary on what the video explains in a quick bullet point format. Great for teachers who don’t have time to sit and watch each and every video while planning.

Common Craft offer memberships for people who want to download their online clips or embed them onto their blogs, websites etc.  You don’t have to be a member to browse and view their online clips, that part of the website is free and ready for use.

Give it a quick look when you get a chance, you might even learn a thing or two 😉

Starting points for use of an iPad in the Classroom

There are lots of great resources out there for teachers who are embarking on introducing iPads into their classrooms. It can be a little overwhelming as you may not know where to start. This is a great little resource shared by  Tom Barrett so you don’t need to worry about coming up with innovative ways to use iPads in your classroom right away.

Apple Configurator and Volume Purchasing Program

ImageI have recently been involved in registering my school to the Apple Volume Purchasing Program. The process was quick and very straight forward. Once I entered my relevant details and submitted the online form, an Apple representative looked through the application and our school was successfully registered 3 days later. The next step was to create a completely new Apple ID that would be used by the Program Coordinator at my school (me) solely for the Volume Purchasing Program.

For those who might be new to the VPP, I’ll give a very brief and simple outline of what it is and how it works.

The Volume Purchasing Program is an Apple program that allows educational institutions to purchase apps for IOS devices on behalf of it’s students, teachers, administrators etc. The apps can be purchased at a 50% discount if purchased in volumes greater that 20. This makes the whole process very appealing to educational institutions. Once the Program Coordinator purchases an app, specialised individual codes are created by Apple.
Apple also run free online seminars relating to the Volume Purchasing Program – They are held every Tuedays until December 19 2012. Be sure to convert the time to you appropriate timezone. Register here

There are a few ways of distributing the redeem codes to each individual user. Here a few examples.

Example 1.
Self Managed – This is the method I am taking up at my school as I believe it promotes a culture where the user has a greater responsibility, ownership and more involvement in the process. My school is entering a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) model so this is another factor for choosing this option. It may be a slower option for larger educational institutions but it works for our school.

Each redeem code, for each separate app is recorded, collated and then distributed to each individual user. A new Apple ID is set up the user at an information evening before the codes are handed out. The users then redeem the apps via the App Store on their own.

Example 2.
Apple Configurator – A free piece of software create by Apple to assist in managing IOS devices. Much better solution for larger deployments.

Apple Configurator allows you to prepare IOS devices for distribution, supervise and configure individual or large numbers of devices and assign devices to individual users. Apple configurator can be used to install apps by distributing the redemption codes created in the Volume Purchasing Program.

Example 3.
Casper Suite – A feature packed piece of IOS management software that is designed to simplify Inventory, Configuration, Security Management and App Distribution.

This piece of software is appealing to our school as it allows tech staff many options especially relating to security management. Casper Suite allows staff to check that all students have the required apps, use content appropriate apps, have access to the school wifi, send our security patches, clear pass codes etc. The pricing for Casper Suite includes a two day on-site visit with a JAMF Software Field Service Manager to install the software and provide guidance and training.

The following Links were taken from – Check out his blog when you get a chance.

iPad Implementation Professional Learning Session

I have recently been asked to deliver a professional learning session regarding the implementation of an iPad rollout for schools. I’m really excited about sharing my thoughts and offering some solutions to some of the issues schools face when moving towards implementing iPads in their schools. I am even more excited about involving some of my students as presenters at this Professional Learning session as two grade 4 students asked if they could demo their favourite app.

Here are the details of the professional learning session.

Implementing an iPad Initiative Professional Learning Session

Are you planning on implementing iPads at your school? Have you recently purchased iPads and are not quite sure where to start? Do you currently have iPads and would like to gain further ideas about classroom integration? Come along to our professional learning session where you will hear the about the benefits and limitations of various implementation options, get advice on finding apps and where you will find the answers to a range of questions that you and your school may have about iPads.

Date            Thursday 23rd August 2012
Time            4:00pm –  6:00pm
Venue          St Albans Meadows Primary School Auditorium, 2 Laurel Street, St. Albans Vic 3021