iPad Rollout tips

Thursday, October 10, 2013

KBEA - iPad workflow

I'm very happy and honored to be presenting at the KBEA conference again this year!  As I've been working with schools to set up iPad deployments I've noticed an issue - because these devices make it a bit difficult to print, and they don't save to traditional file storage systems we have a bit of a dilemma.  How do you manage the workflow of distributing assignments and returning them?  How do you share work that has been completed with others?  Sometimes these questions are a gotcha after a successful deployment, but these issues should be a big part of planning!  I'll share a few ideas with the attendees at my session and here as well.

Even though printing is a bit complicated - it can be done with iPads.  Just DONT!!!  It's incredible how much money gets spent each year on printing - toner, paper, maintenance and replacing printers that are worn out.  We could buy lots of new devices for less than our printer budgets!  If you must print - newer printers do support Apples AirPrint protocol.  Older printers can be supported by software or hardware means - software would include Printopia which works great but requires a Mac to act essentially as a print server. But it does more than print!  It lets students "print" a file to a folder on your machine!  If you MUST print.. grumble...  then consider Lantronix xPrint print server. It is a device that is installed on the network and allows you to add printers which can be selected by iOS users.  Works well, and non platform specific.

Good old-fashioned email works too - but there are some gotchas, and disciplines that will help. Many schools don't provide email for students, and its a bit complicated for younger ones.  Google Apps for Education schools can set up accounts for students that only allow messages to be sent within the district.  This helps with some security concerns.  Teachers that use email will employ methods such as having students use very specific terms in the subject line, and then create a filter to route the mail into "folders".  Fairly effective.

Some districts would like to have "cloud" like service, but have the files kept locally within the network.  Apple 10.8 server is a very inexpensive way to do that.  A reasonably recent Mac, with the addition of the $19.95 server app can be turned into a server.  Yes a real file server!  Users can be added and the WebDav service enabled, and you have instant file storage and sharing!  Most apps in iOS support WebDav, so it isn't a bad solution.

I'm a big fan of GAE - sometimes referred to as GAFE -  Google Apps For Education.  It is free.  Yes free.  I've fought mail servers for years, and it was so nice to just turn that responsibility over to the geniuses at Google. Did I mention free??  GAE just takes minutes to sign up for and has become fairly simple to implement for tech directors.  Of course you get Google Drive, and the related apps.  Wonderful environment for schools - its cross platform and cloud based..  and free! I am a fan of a script that has been created to easily make classroom folder structures within Google Drive - it is known as gClass Folders and is worth a look.  Not the most intuitive thing to use, I'll demonstrate it at my session.

There are several CMS systems that now support iOS devices very well - I'm a fan of My Big Campus and Edmodo.  They have apps that facilitate moving files in and out of the directories that are created within the apps. Even Blackboard offers support now.  If you are using one of these systems, its worth investigating how well it would fit in your workflow.

There are some very nice web based solutions  - I'll cover a few here - recommended to me by the Queen of Apps - Linda Loder with Smoky Hill ESC in Salina.  Showbie is easy to use and free - within limits of course!  Another great LMS site is Schoology.  Both have a bit of a learning curve, not bad though and facilitate the exchange of files, in the context of a course.   Very helpful!

Well this is a pretty big list of stuff!  There's no right or wrong way, and there are many solutions, these are just a few that have proven effective.

Hey if you've read this far, like my JTTG page on Facebook ...  thanks!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Podstock... groovy!

I'm so excited to be writing this as I finish final preparations for my presentation at Podstock 2013 - one of the best education conferences anywhere!  I've been doing a lot of iPad setup work lately,  helping schools get off on the right foot on their iPod deployments.  They are a bit of a booger to get set up properly, but the good news is once they are off the ground - they have very few problems.  You did get really good cases, right???   Breakage is probably the biggest hassle down the road.  Use the banner link at the top of the blog to visit my links to helpful sites.   IPads are a truly transformative technology. We are truly in the post-PC era, and they are best of breed.  Looking forward to my session, hope to see you there!

Monday, March 11, 2013

it Works - how to convert MS Works files for Mac

I was working at one of my schools today and the Superintendent asked me how to get his collection of Microsoft Works files into some format that he could use - he'd switched from PC to Mac - (good move) but was a bit frustrated at the thought of re-creating files, or losing the information within them.  So with a bit of head scratching I came up with a good solution.. with just a few steps to solve the problem...

First - get yourself a copy of LibreOffice it is free and as a bonus is a pretty capable replacement for the Microsoft Office suite..  Did I mention free?  Some districts aren't buying Office and are using it instead.. but I digress..  Open your .wps (Works) file in LibreOffice, then go to File-Save As and select Microsoft Word 2007/2010 XML (.docx) .  This saves your old .wps file as a nicely formatted modern Microsoft Word document. I was surprised how well the formatting was preserved..

This made me look really smart, and I didn't confess that I sort of stumbled into it. I've fought this problem for years and used to keep an old copy of Works on a  PC just for this.  Much better solution!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Great Resource, with a great resource!

I just love IEAR - i Education Apps Review.  Not the prettiest or flashiest site, but it contains wonderful resources to track down good apps - all the entries there are posted by real educators and are organized by grade level.  So many great ideas and in a nicely organized fashion. There are so many apps out there, its nice to be able to take advice from those who have been there, done that.

I found a page there linking to a blogger named Tony Vincent, who posted three great items for schools to ponder as they consider an iPad or other iOS device.  Proper planning and attention to infrastructure, logistics and workflow are critical to success.  Mistakes made early, caused by poor planning can cost big money, and make it difficult to have a successful program.  I recommend anyone considering iPads follow this link and read the three articles.

Another essential bit of reading -  Apples iOS 6 education deployment guide.  It is Apples handbook so to speak about iOS deployment.  A great resource. Unfortunately - you don't know what you don't know, so reading it doesn't adequately prepare you for a rollout. I always recommend doing a cart pilot first to familiarize yourself with the process.  What you know after that - makes these resources a whole lot more useful!  Good luck!  These devices can revolutionize learning!  They can put the power into the hands of the students and teachers - a major shift in education technology!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I was asked to talk to the folks in the TEEN network about iPads for their TEEN mashup day. I'm very happy to be a part of the TEEN network family again, and I'm glad to be able to share a few ideas and resources I've gathered. I'm not much of a powerpoint, stand and deliver person. I'd like to share conversations and resources with the TEEN teachers and everyone.  Here are some great links to resources for starting up an iPad program, get started using the iPad, and finding great Apps.  Enjoy!

Getting started -

Preparing your school for an iPad implementation:

Next step, a must. Apples Volume Purchasing Program - save money!:

Apples home page for iPads in Education. Good starting place.:

Create an itunes store account without a credit card:

Ipad New users guide:

Can't figure out how to do "that"?  Ultimate how to resource!!!:

Another Objective based how to site:

Apps -

Huge LiveBinder of resources!:

Great Resource Wiki:

Kathy Schrock... can't go wrong here:

Lists of great apps, by educators, organized to help you find just what you want!:

Apps by Classroom Instruction Strategy. Is this the best way to think about apps?: