The Number One Reason You Should Consider Being a Twenty-First Century Educator
- It’s 2012
I used a cheap 10-port USB hub for a while that cost me around $12. These days, I have a syncing cart that holds up to 32 iPads that costed significantly more. I can’t say that the cart is much better than the USB hub was.
Just make sure that the hub is powered—or you won’t be able to connect more than one or two iPads. Also, I don’t know if your iPads will fit with their cases on, but you should consider getting a dish drying rack to hold them while you are syncing them.
The short answer is to set up an iPad exactly the way that you want it. Put the apps in the right folders and tweak the settings to your heart’s content. Once you have everything the way you want it, create a backup of that iPad using the Apple Configurator and use it to restore the rest of your fleet.
I’m not sure how well this will work for the incremental rollout of apps, but it should get you off the ground while you investigate further.
When we did our first rollout a year ago, the Apple Configurator did not exist. I used it in small batches, but this year is my first major rollout using the tool. I’ll be sure to keep you posted with any and all tricks and tips I pick up along the way!
In Apple Configurator, Mac OS X Server, or even the poorly named iPhone Configuration Utility, you can create configuration profiles. In these profiles, you can set up all of your wireless networks and even some restrictions and other miscellany.
Once you’ve created the profile, you can load it on to the device through Apple Configurator or by downloading it from the web or through email. You’ll need to confirm a few things and it will be loaded in and the settings will be applied. The chicken and the egg with the wireless settings is that if you plan to use the web or email, they need to be online first. That said, you can push out the profiles through the Configurator.
To answer your second question: the only time that you lose access to the camera roll and whatnot is when you flip on supervision. If you choose not to supervise the devices in Apple Configurator, then it’s business as usual.
Dropbox recently added to feature to pull of photos and videos off your iOS device every time it connects. This may be a good option for you because it will allow your to keep a shared folder full of media.
We’re a year deep in our one-to-one iPad project. We’re doubling down next year and expanding our pilot to two grades—a total of over 530 iPads.
My friendly guide to deploying iPads had a lot of great feedback and was reposted a bunch of places, which gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside.
I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of other schools are going to be piloting iPads this year and I thought it would be nice to offer a helping hand. So, I’m willing to do a group discussion about iPads in the classroom for anyone interested. The link above leads to a Google form where you can tell me a little about yourself so I can do the preparatory work necessary to make it a good use of your time and my own.
Morgan Smith for The New York Times:
Now, in studies that threaten to shake the foundation of high-stakes test-based accountability, Mr. Stroup and two other researchers said they believe they have found the reason: a glitch embedded in the DNA of the state exams that, as a result of a statistical method used to assemble them, suggests they are virtually useless at measuring the effects of classroom instruction.
Standards are important. Along those lines, standards-based lesson plan is important. Standards are an agreement about what we, as a society, think that our children should be learning over the course of their education. In addition, I think standards are helpful. They serve as a guideline and the foundation on which to build a solid curriculum.
Granted, all of that above assumes that you’re using educational standards in some kind of even remotely sane manner. More often than not, standards are an excuse to throw out all your textbooks and by brand-new ones.
My wife found herself in an interesting predicament last year. She was asked by her administration to make sure that her math lessons aligned to the new Common Core Standards and clearly document their alignment their lesson plans. That seems reasonable, right? The problem was that she didn’t write those lessons and had no control over whether or not they met the Common Core Standards. They were part of the Everyday Math curriculum that she was mandated to use. The result was that she had to find arbitrary and capricious connections to the new standards to appease her bosses because the textbook publishers had not yet done so. She faced a bad evaluation if she failed to do so.
This is similar to how I feel about the whole college and career readiness shtick. Schools—and therefore, teachers—are assessed on how well they prepare their students for college and the careers of the 21st-century. At the same time, ask any teacher why they don’t embark on more ambitious projects with her students and the first thing that they will tell you is because they have to prepare their kids for the high-stakes state tests. Furthermore, the common core standards—despite their pride—pay only lip service to technology and education.
I don’t think that everyone should be a programmer. But considering Apple and the App Store have created a billion-dollar economy in the midst of an economic recession and the fact that most technology companies are clamoring for talented software engineers, wouldn’t it make sense to include basic programming and web design courses alongside chemistry, history, geometry, and other academic subjects?
The Common Core Standards just ask that technology be included in the curriculum and make no suggestions on what that would look like—especially what it would look like to compare students for the careers of the modern economy. Frankly, it’s irresponsible. How do we have a new set of standards that completely ignore the prospect of at least introducing students to such an in demand field?
Instead, we stymie the integration of technology into education. We disallow students to bring in laptops and handheld devices to aid in their learning despite using them ourselves on a regular basis. The necessity to understand how to complete advanced tasks and solve hard problems using a computer is weaseling his way into every field—not just technology—and it’s important that we be there to help our students build that understanding.
I get asked from time to time whether or not I think Apple cares about the education market. Apple, in specific, comes up because we’re knee deep in implementing a one-to-one iPad pilot in the seventh and eighth grade and also because education was Apple’s thing back in the 1990s.
My answer is yes and no. On one hand, they obviously still care. In his biography, Walter Isaacson described a conversation with Steve Jobs, where he talked specifically about revolutionizing the textbook market. In addition, Apple did have a big event for education last January. At this event they announce partnerships major textbook publishers and—more importantly—released the free iBooks author software to anyone and everyone interested in creating rich, multimedia textbooks for their students. At the same event, they also rolled out a major overhaul of iTunes U. The expanded service allows universities to get a full course materials for interested autodidacts who want to play along from home.
At the same time, if you compare Apple over the last decade to the 1990s, it’s clear that they’ve lost some of that fire and passion for the education market. I should point out, that I think that this has nothing to do with the return of Steve Jobs to Apple. NeXT, Steve’s company while in exile from Apple, was exclusively focused on the education market. And part of the reason Mac OS X is so easy to manage in a school environment is because it is based off of the NeXTStep operating system.
My argument is that it’s not that Apple doesn’t care about education as much anymore; it’s that education doesn’t care about integrating technology as much. In the 90s, very few people had computers at home. You went to university computer lab or used the Mac in your classroom if you needed to use a computer. Getting computers into the classroom was a way for Apple to expose students to their potential. Now, the opposite is true. Most adults have exclusive access to a least one computer at their workplace and many have access to more than one. Adult as well as students carry computers in their pocket with them on a day-to-day basis.
The situation is much more dismal in schools. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (2010), the ratio of students to computers in the classroom in 2009—the most recent year that data was available for—was 5.3 to 1. In addition, even if students do have powerful computers in their pockets, most school district policy forbids them from using them in their schools.
Apple sells more devices through just one of their New York City retail stores in a month than they sell to the entire year to the New York City Department of Education—the nation’s largest school district—an entire year. In addition, most large school districts are known for being notoriously hard to work with. To this day, the New York City Department of Education still has not found a way to allow its schools and teachers purchase apps for school-owned iOS devices. Word on the street is that they’re demanding their own App Store despite the fact that Apple has Volume Purchasing Program in place.
The point is this: if Apple or any other technology company wants to get their devices into the hands of the artists, scientists, writers, thinkers, and creators of tomorrow, then going through the education market is the absolute least efficient way of doing that. Why cut through the red tape when you can bypass the middleman? There needs to be a shift in our priorities. And there needs to be a drastic reduction in the amount of bureaucracy involved in deploying technology in schools.
This is important, because while a lot of students and families have computers at home, a lot more don’t. For those that do, is not uncommon for that one computer to be shared by the entire family. Part of the point of schools, is to provide an equitable opportunity and access to education and part of an education in the 21st century is to be able to use and solve hard problems with the tools of 21st-century. And until that happens for all students, we’re doing them a disservice.
Mat Honan, a writer at Gizmodo, was hacked. It started with his iCloud account. From there, the ne’er-do-well was able to retrieve Mat’s Gmail password. That’s when the proverbial poop really began to hit the fan. Riddle me this: every time you click on “Forgot Password,” where does is your password sent? In most cases, it’s sent to your email account—and that’s the problem. If a jerkface gets access to your email account, they can pretty much go where ever they want from there. This includes any of your social media accounts and possibly even your bank account. Bad news bears.
A lot of other really crappy stuff happened to Mat. Some of it, he brought upon himself (e.g. a seven character password, no back-ups of his data). By and large, the biggest issue is that he was shut out of the central hub of his very existence: his primary email account. If Mat had access to his email, he would have been able to regain control of his digital life. Dear reader, I care and I don’t want this to happen to you. Let’s have the “two-step verification” talk.
Some popular services, like Facebook and Gmail, offer something known as two-step verification. Basically, what this does is confirm that you’re really you before allowing you to log into the service. In the case of both Facebook as well as Gmail, the way that this is done is by sending you a text message with a secret code and asking you to verify that code before letting you log into the service from an unfamiliar computer. If Mat had the service turned on, the scoundrel that broke into his account, would have never been able to access his Gmail. From there, Mat would’ve been able to change the password to his eye caught account and stop all these devices from being wiped out. Furthermore, the upstanding citizen—who took it upon himself to request Mat’s Twitter password to be sent to his Gmail account—would never have been able to recover it. Mat’s day would still been sullied, but not nearly to the same extent.
If you have two-step verification turned on for any service that offers it, you’re just waiting for trouble—and don’t worry, over a long enough timeline, trouble find you. Below, is a quick guide to turning on two-step verification and Gmail.
The way to look at it is like this: the chances of you getting hacked our admittedly pretty small. But in the unlikely event that you do get hacked, the severity of what can happen out weighs the hassle involved in occasionally having to type in a 6 digit code that you received on the phone that’s probably in your pocket. On top of that, it’s one of those weird things—like backing up your data—that only seems important when you find yourself in a sticky situation that you could’ve prevented if you’d only been a little bit more careful.
So again—and I repeat this because it bares repeating—do me a favor, and turn onto step verification on your e-mail at the very least. If you use an e-mail provider that doesn’t offer two-step verification, consider switching to one that does. It’s not worth losing all your data, having to contact support at every service you’ve ever logged into, sitting on hold with all of your banks, and all the other hassles that come along with identity theft.
In an environment where skilled programmers are hard to come by, LivingSocial decided to train their own. Earlier this year, the company launched the Hungry Academy. Twenty-four budding programmers were recruited and paid a living wage to train with them and learn how to program. To everyone’s surprise—the company as well as students—no one dropped out over the 5 months. In fact, all 24 participants were offered jobs with LivingSocial.
The Hungry Academy is interesting for a few reasons. First of all, it once again highlights how badly skilled programmers are needed in the current economy. Frankly, it’s ridiculous that for all the talk of college and career readiness, there is little to no emphasis in learning even the fundamentals of software engineering. Secondly, it shows that if you find people who are interested and dedicated, these are skills that can be taught in a short period of time.
But apparently, it’s more important that we teach her students how to fill in bubbles on a standardized state exam. That participate in the modern economy.
Rene Ritchie at iMore has been frighteningly accurate about these things as of late.
Alongside Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, Apple quietly rolled out the ability for K-12 educators to create iTunes U courses last Wednesday. The catch is that your students need to have an Apple ID in order to enroll the course.
Fraser Speirs has the skinny on how to get around that.