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.

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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.

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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.

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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 https://itunesu.itunes.apple.com/coursemanager/
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.

https://itunesu.itunes.apple.com/enroll/HFV-4MK-7A3

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.

iPad in Education wiki

I came across this wiki on my travels today. I’ll admit, it’s not very interesting visually but it’s passed with some great resources regarding using iPads in schools. It even has some useful links to implementation plans and a categorised section for apps used in different stages of schooling. Check it out when you get a chance.

iPad in Education.