Apple Distinguished Educators




It is with much excitement and pride that I am able to announce my membership as an Apple Distinguished Educator as part of the class of 2013.

I am so thrilled to be part of such an amazing selection of innovative and inspiring educators world wide and I am looking forward to learning and growing through this unique opportunity.

Stay tuned… 😉


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

AppGuides by AppAdvice

I came across this website while searching for apps to help teach students about fractions in a fun and interactive way. Not only did I find exactly what I was looking for but,  did so easily and without hassle so I thought I would share this page for a few reasons.

1) This website is organised and easy to navigate around. The “app list” section groups apps in categories such as Apps for Photographers, Apps for Musicians, Apps for filmmakers etc. Inside each category, you will find a collection of great apps to get you started.

2) The “appguides” section is also a great way to find a selection of categorised apps.iPhone/iPad AppGuides by AppAdvice.

3) This website also has up to date news about Apple products for those who like to stay informed.


Microsoft Surface Tablet – New mobile device, same old Microsoft

In the land of Windows and Microsoft, there was great anticipation and excitement about the new Microsoft Surface Tablet. The very first tablet made by the tech giant in its attempt to win back customers and hopefully challenge Apple in the mobile tablet market. There was much hype surrounding the release of the device by the loyal Micro-geeks and true to form, Microsoft delivered what it usually delivers. A cheap and inferior product!
Watch the clip below to see what I’m talking about.

Is it just me, or does everything about this product launch scream “rip off!”? Even the casually dressed Windows Exec presenting seems to have watched hours and hours of Steve Jobs footage in an attempt to make the piece of rubbish in his hand look cooler. Here’s an idea, forget about trying to be cool and just make a product that actually works… It’s really no surprise that something like this would happen to Microsoft is it? The have such a long standing history of producing cheap, unreliable and down right blatant copies of other pieces of technology that the though of this happening to them when launching a product almost seemed a given.

So what you see in this clip can be perfectly replicated in any scenario. You too can buy a cheap and inferiorly designed and produced tablet and have it crash on you when all you want it to do is work. This video is a perfect example of what you can expect when taking the “cheaper” option when it comes to quality technology. So if you are trying to convince someone to purchase an iPad as opposed to an android tablet or this cheap rip off, do yourself a favour and who them this clip. Better yet, show it your principal, especially if you’re trying to justify the purchase of iPads for your school.

Here’s another little clip that you might like.