Sunday, April 29, 2012

Coming this Way Soon-- Lighter Student Bookbags!

Two disappointments related to books have accompanied our 1:1 computing program.  The first is a hopeful fantasy--
Traditional and iPad Kindle app versions of my text.
that books would be pre-loaded onto our laptops or iPads and included with the purchase of the device.  Since traditional textbooks are notoriously expensive, I have never quite understood why one might presume the digital version would be "free". but it is reasonable to hope that something made of bits and bytes would cost less than their print counterparts.

The second disappointment is more grounded in reality-- digital textbooks have to date been unavailable or inferior. The publishers have been incredibly slow to adapt to modernity.  So the students have lugged their books around our school along with a fairly heavy laptop.

The good news is that change is at hand.  The Kindle, Nook and iPad have made digital reading for enjoyment commonplace.  And the number of titles available for these devices has exploded. What's more, consumers pay significantly less for the digital books.  Finally, we are seeing many of our textbooks appear in outstanding digital formats (and for less cost than their print counterparts).  With the iPad, it is easily imaginable that members of the class of 2016 will have significantly lightened those book bags by the time they graduate.

Since we are in the midst of a sea change, a universal standard for texts has not been established.  Parents will discover that some books might be available from Apple, Google, or Amazon, etc.   Consequently, Mercy has resolved to be as helpful as possible under these circumstances.  We are asking teachers to identify all available forms of their books to the the best of their abilities.  Then we will publish this information for parents.  Personally, I have a strong preference for my Kindle texts (which I read on my iPad).  However, teachers like me will not be forcing our preferences on students and parents.  We will give them the information and let them choose.

But, oh, how nice it is to have a choice!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Revolution, iPad, Google, Baseball and More!

Apps Take Position in the Topps Baseball Lineup
On Major League Baseball’s opening day, Topps, the 74-year-old company in a business with roots in the tobacco cards of the 1800s, introduced two apps intended to appeal to a more techcentric youth market.

CEO Larry Page & 7 Amazing Stats about Google
Google launched Gmail in 2004 and now is used by more than 350 million people. Over 5,000 new businesses and educational establishments sign up for Gmail every day.

Photo by Suzanne DeChillo (NYT

10 iPad Photo, Video Apps that Maximize Retina Display
With 3 million new iPads sold (and counting), it looks like Apple's latest version of its tablet computer is a big hit. That's due in large part to the most impressive new feature of the iPad—its high-resolution Retina Display

Amidst a Mobile Revolution in Schools, Will Old Teaching Tactics Work?
People are talking about this being an inflection point,” said Elliot Soloway. Soloway is a professor at the School of Education at the University of Michigan, and a longtime proponent of mobile learning. “It feels like something major is about to happen. It went from a silly idea, to, ‘Of course it’s inevitable.'

H.P. Attempts to Take on Amazon's Cloud Service
Within two months, Hewlett-Packard will offer a large and powerful cloud computing service similar to Amazon Web Services, but with more business-oriented features, according the head of the project.

Apps in Education: 10 Productivity Apps
There are certain apps that just make your day easier. These are apps that I have been using regularly as part of my daily workflow. There is a nice variety of apps here, some are for use at school exclusively others  I like because it gives me the freedom to just come home and continue with my lesson preparation. Have a look and see if any of these might be useful for you.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Unique Professional Development for a Unique School!

I have been researching for Mercy 2.0 since July of '11 and I still have not found a school which matches our educational technology profile. Most schools who are considering the iPad as a 1:1 device (1 device for each student) are going to this model for the first time. Mercy, on the other hand, was a pioneer in 1:1 computing. We have invested several years of experience with technology and it is is already a fundamental feature of our school experience. Consequently, most of the "packaged" presentations and workshops that we might investigate for training are ill-suited to our staff's needs. Nevertheless, our experience has taught us that professional development (PD) is crucial for a successful technology roll-out. Therefore, we are putting investing considerable time and money in customized PD that will position us to be leaders in iPad 1:1 instruction.

I thought members of our community (and visitors!) might be interested in seeing an outline of this plan:

April 2 & 3 - Staff iPads Deployed. Just days after the new iPads were announced by Apple, our technology wizards-- Tom James and Gary Bank -- had devices in the hands of our staff so that they could become acquainted with them at their leisure over Easter Break.

April 17 - Unboxing the iPad Staff members became acquainted with their new iPads with an after school orientation program by Dean Haratsaris from Macprofessionals of Novi .

Lucy Gray

April 23 & 24. Department PD with Lucy Gray. Lucy will meet with departments separately to discuss how they iPad may enhance their "Workflow". In anticipation of these meetings, Lucy has provided shared documents, so that everyone will be thinking about our conversations before she arrives. (Too often, I think, PD takes the form of an expert presenter attempting to "Wow" a passive audience). This portion of the professional development is a critical attempt to view her visit as an interactive process that will evolve through the end of this school year, into the next, and beyond. Her stay will conclude with an all-staff presentation on Google Apps, a critical component of our Mercy. 2.0. At this point, Lucy will be firing out lots of application features for teachers to explore this summer.

August 23 - iPad and the Curriculum Lucy will be joined by Cheryl Davis,the curriculum and instruction technology specialist for the Acalanes Union High School District. Based on the input our administrative team gives Cheryl, she will customize a presentation that focuses on how the iPad can increase our productively and be leveraged as a remarkable instructional tool. She and Lucy will help us develop a set of workshops for the day that they and some of our more proficient staff members will lead.

Cheryl Davis
Very exciting stuff. Of course this is just a beginning. But we want everyone to know that Mercy 2.0 is first and foremost about education and people, not machines and software.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The iPad Unboxed!

On Tuesday, Staff members became acquainted with their new iPads with an after school orientation an orientation by  Dean Haratsaris from Macprofessionals of Novi.  This was done in anticipation of a more conceptual "workflow" professional development experience that will be conducted next week by Lucy Gray.  

Macprofessionals will be a partner for some MHS training.
Dean covered the following at the session:

The Basics 
  • iPad Hardware: Front/Back/VGA Adapter/USB cable
  • Powering on/off
  • Putting to sleep
  • Opening/Closing Apps
  • Returning home
  • Spotlight
  • Moving apps/Deleting Apps/Organizing Apps into folders
  • Multitasking
  • Orientation Lock
  • Keyboard Overview
  • Cut and Paste
  • Screen Shots

Multitasking Gestures 
  • Pinch to zoom
  • Double tap smart zoom
  • Two fingers zoom
  • Rotate
  • Home button
  • Double tap
  • Slide to right
  • 4 fingers up
  • 4 fingers pinch close
Navigating in Safari 
  • Rotate at any time
  • Rotation lock
  • System preferences to control switch
  • HTML5 vs. Flash
  • is a good example, is HTML5 video
  • Multiple tabs up to 9
  • Bookmarks
  • Box with arrow
  • Add bookmark to Home Screen
General Settings 
  • Navigating and adjusting settings on the iPad thru the General Setting App
If there is time these topics may also be covered:
App store 
  • Settings to sign in
  • Each app checks to see who is signed in when it is launched
  • Syncing apps from computer
  • Copyrighted vs. non
  • Wifi sync
  • Pictures movies music calendar notes
  • Charging while attached
  • Switch cameras upper right
  • Camera roll lower left
  • Options turn on grid
  • Lower right switch to video
  • Camera roll vs. photos section

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Photo posted at Triangle Coalition
As we roll out Mercy 2.0, we are taking the matter of professional development very seriously. Our consultant, Lucy Gray, has made a suggestion that I find very compelling. As we introduce the iPad to our staff, it would be tempting to pull everyone together and show off all the cool new things the gadget can do. I certainly hope that mobile devices continual to our instructional paradigm, but I think it makes sense not to end the year and introduce the device by focusing on all the different things it can do.

Instead, when we begin p.d. in April, Lucy is going to meet with our departments individually in order to discuss their particular questions and issues. In advance of those meetings, she is asking them to consider their standard workflow. In other words, let's first consider how the iPad might integrate to greater advantage in the work that you do on a daily basis.  This does not merely mean that we should find ways to substitute the iPad for our current technology.  In addition, we can ask, how might the iPad enhance instruction and support?  As an administrator, I think that this will be a daily eye-opening experience for some of my colleagues who use desk top computers (I've had the advantage of tooling around on my own person iPad 1 for the school year).

Though I am used to going to technology presentations where change is the theme, I think there is a lot to be said for identifying the ways a new tool can improve the familiar. After everyone has had a summer to become acquainted with the device, we will be better positioned to stretch it out and show some bells and whistles when we reconvene in August.  At that point I am imagining that as a collective staff we will be more prepared to reimagining how we deliver and support education with the new iPads.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Quick Takeout from the Drive-thru

"The University of Michigan Athletic Department will paint the FieldTurf at Michigan Stadium with the hashtag #GOBLUE for the upcoming Mott Spring Game . . . . It's believed to be the second time that a collegiate program has painted a hashtag on its football field." -- MGOBLUE.COM

"Progress is a nice word, but change is its motivator and change has enemies." 
- - Robert F. Kennedy

"Companies everywhere are adopting tablets. Forrester Research Inc . . .estimates that about 25% of computers used for work globally are tablets and smartphones, not PCs." -- SHARA TIBKEN, WSJ

 "The authority of those who teach is often an obstacle to those who want to learn." -- Cicero”

"Digital networks antagonize planned information structures. Planned information structures like textbooks and courses simply can’t adapt quickly enough to incorporate network-speed information development."

"You hav 2 disrupt something to move forward. eg Youtube disrupted MTV. 1:1 disrupting teacher as knowledge controller." 
-- tweet by Dorothy Burt

Sunday, April 8, 2012

More Apple Slices!

Creative Commons Photo by U.S.D.A

There is so much news concerning Apple these days that I decided to post another quick round of Apple Slices.

Apple Sold More iOS Devices in 2011 Than Macs in 28 Years
Apple sold more iOS devices (156 million) in 2011 than it sold Macs (122 million) in 28 years of their existence. 
Apple Officially Drops 'Mac' Name from OS X Mountain Lion
Though it still used the 'Mac OS X' naming scheme in press releases, Apple called the new system 'OS X Lion'
Help Me Understand This
This past week, I received the email I knew was coming. The MacBook was dead. As our reps promised, there was an end of life inventory left, but those units were going to go quickly, so anybody who wanted/needed any had to act immediately. Which, for anyone trying to work outside of a budget purchase cycle, is impossible
How to Delete Unwanted iOS apps from iTunes
If you've had an iDevice for more than a few months, however, it's likely you have deleted many needless apps and free trials after trying them out. The problem is that if you delete an app from your iDevice, the app remains listed in iTunes.
Apple Will Require Explicit User Permission to Access Address Book
After the recent mess around apps like Path that were accessing users’ Address Book data without explicit consent, [Apple] has spoken up. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Yes . . . And!

From creative blog
When I attended my first ADE Summer Institute in 2009, Rebecca Stockley, The Improv Lady was one of our first presenters.  She put us through a series of initial exercises that helped serve as ice-breakers.  But one in particular served as a kind of theme through the entire week.  We did some impromptu story-telling where a narrative was begun and then within our small group, one after another of us would append a portion of the story that began with the phrase, "Yes, but . . . "  We followed this with another round of story-telling.  This time each of us added a strand that began with the phrase, "Yes, and . . . ."

The point of the exercise was that change can be perceived in terms of obstacles ("Yes, but . . . .") or for its opportunities ("Yes, and . . . .").   The message resonated very strongly with the ADEs because most of us served as change agents in our schools.  Running into "Yes, buts . . . ." comes with our territory.  The "Yes, and . . . ." concept gave us a verbal jujitsu technique for countering negativity.

Last week, at our Apple Executive Briefing in Chicago, one of our presenters referenced Roberta's exercise.  It was startling to be reminded of it in the context of Mercy 2.0.  As we move from the HP Elitebook to the Apple iPad, I can already hear the "Yes, buts . . . ." as my colleagues worry about what they may lose from the change (like keyboards or familiar software).  On the other had, there is some unprecedented excitement surrounding the adoption of the iPad.  More than a few staff members have already verbalized a "Yes, and!!!".  We'll be designing the "Unboxing" and professional development days in April with the "Yes, but . . . ." attitude in the forefront of our minds.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Unboxing the iPad

As we roll out Mercy 2.0 we are trying to communicate with transparency. We also want to give our community face to face opportunities to learn about and explore our new 1:1 device-- the iPad. We have scheduled some exciting events and activities

Flickr CC photo by ~Brenda Starr~
April 17 - Unboxing the iPad. Any staff members who want to become acquainted with their new iPad will have an opportunity to stay after school for an orientation by Dean Haratsaris from the Professional Group.

April 23 & 24 - iPad and Google Apps professional development for Mercy Staff by Lucy Gray.

May 14 - An evening event at school which will allow current and new families to explore the iPad and place an order through our web site. The Professional Group will also be exhibiting (and selling) optional accessories like keyboards.

Summer 2012 - The IT Team will be providing iPad orientations to students on the designated pick-up dates.

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