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iPad Screen Time

So, I’ve got kids. 2 girls, 7 & 10. We’re a normal family with normal issues, including the worry about screen-time. I had a good conversation with my girls and we all agreed what was useful for young brains and what was not. I started by comparing how much they created inside the game with how much everything was given to them by the game. In Moshi Monsters Village, for example, we agreed that there was no trick to it, it was just buying or choosing from all the stuff to give to the monsters etc. Nothing in the game was made by my girls.

Proud?

We talked about how amazing they feel when they’ve actually made something or finished a drawing and how much they always want to show me. My girls agreed that they didn’t always get that feeling from the games as much as they did from making real things or even making stuff in Minecraft.

Playing or Making

I told my girls that I would be happy for them to have more iPad time if they were creating things, experimenting or learning new things. We needed to restrict the amount of time gaming as their mum and I could see it having negative impact on our girls’ relationship as they often fought over who’s turn it was or that one would not share access to an iPad. (They don’t have their own at the moment, although that’s just about to change!)

I said we would decide on a total amount of screen time for a day and then decide how much could be spent gaming and how much extra we’d allow if they were making things.

The Minecraft debate

MinecraftThis was a tricky one. Yes, Minecraft is used by millions and seems creative and open-ended but I pointed out that after hours of playing it, the girls rarely rushed to show me their creations and this might have been because they sort of made things up as they went along and never knew when they’d finished. This aspect put it more in the gaming category as they were not yet building planned or team projects. We decided we might change which category Minecraft fell into if they were more organised about what exactly they were going to build and why.

Games

In a previous post, I’ve highlighted the positive effect that comes about from playing puzzle or logic games. I can see at home how calming the right game can be and sitting with my girls trying to conquer levels together is a great experience. Saying that, they do still add to overall screen-time and without having a direct creative output, they seem to add to what seems like a minor iPad addiction. I must admit that this addiction is also seen in the parents to and is common to many families in 2014.

Laying down the Law!

The result of these debates was our collaboratively designed family poster to remind us what we could do on the iPads and for how long. It was difficult for me to consider time-limits on something like reading as this seemed counter-intuitive. But given a free reign on iPad reading time would often mean 20 minutes of gaming followed by 60 minutes of movie making followed by hours of reading resulting in whole evenings looking at the screen and no time conversing with the family. My daughters, of course, have many standard paper books to read and have free reign on those.

Some parents might find it useful so here it is. Note: Making Games is fine!

PLAYING-MAKING-iPadWells

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Safer Schools with Creative Commons

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Teachers and their students are moving more and more online. Kids are blogging their learning as an excellent way to build confidence, reflect and gather feedback. Schools are showcasing the best of their students’ work on their websites.and the educational world is benefiting from a collaborative worldwide connections.

That’s all exciting and positive but we have one important question:
Who owns the material and it’s components when it’s published?

This is where we must all be careful. A quick Google search will find a growing number of cases where people have sought damages for even single images republished on both blogs and social media like Twitter. This link tells the story of a bad photo taken on a phone that was found on Google and used In a blog Post resulting in an $8000 out of court settlement. Every photo is owned by the photographer automatically and if you choose the wrong image you can loose out substantially.

So let’s look at how we should manage this and what schools can to to encourage staff and students to understand and use licensing.

Creative Commons is an organisation that manages and promotes a set of globally recognised licences for original creative works, such as any photo taken. It helps you set up licences for material but also helps you find and use the correct material that is truly ok to use in school work.

When teachers and students produce new material that they will be publishing online they will normally be happy for people to share it but need to be specific about what is and isn’t ok. For example, all my material on my blog is free to use but I I have embedded the license on my home page that notifies people they have to credit me, not make money and repeat my licence on their copy.

Here’s a quick summary of the options for school work.

Creative Commons by @iPadWells

Finding free images and giving credit

field for CCOn the Creative Commons Search Page you can choose from a number of known sites including Google and Flickr and it will automatically apply the sites’ filters to locate related images that are nominated by the owner as ok to use. One permanent rule is that you will always be expected to credit the owner by name and in the case of publishing online, this will imply a link to their profile. I got this image of a wheat field from Flickr (The Youtube for Photos). Flickr is a great site for safe image searching as it has built Creative Commons into the upload process for all photographers.

Here is the Photo Credit to Kevin Lallier

Practice what you preach.

How can schools not only inform but encourage the school community to start using licensing and working safely to avoid being prosecuted?

In New Zealand a number of schools have officially signed up as Creative Commons schools and have Written policies that inform teachers that their classroom material, although owned by the school is free to share with the agreed Creative commons license badges attached. This is a much more relevant and 21st century approach to copyright and sharing. It also helps any school teaching digital citizenship practice what they preach.

CC policy

The teachers are then applying Creative Commons, discussing copyright and students can see the licenses on a daily basis. This helps prepare the whole school community for a rapidly changing online world where the legal ramifications are being automated by companies and people need to be prepared.

Understanding what is and isn;t ok is a crucial skill for all to learn and I hope this information helps schools get more confident with publishing material online.

Here’s a Slideshow I used when talking through this on TeachTechPlay in October 2014.

… and here’s me presenting (in a hurried fashion) the first half of it:

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Why App Smash?

i4S - APPSMASHING.001 Inspired by the last #1to1iPadChat , I thought it was time to post on the world craze that is App Smashing. The term App Smash was coined by the great Greg Kulowiec (@gregkulowiec) from EdTech Teacher fame. It is a hot topic in EdTech and obviously has its own Hashtag – #AppSmash.

What is an App Smash?

Content created in one app transferred to and enhanced by a second app and sometimes third. Preferably the final product is then published to the web – remember, digital presence is the new résumé (CV).

Reasons to App Smash:

  1. It demands creative thinking
  2. It demands more from the technology (value for money)
  3. It turns the issue of not having a ‘wonder app’ into a positive
  4. It removes any restrictions to take a topic as far as it can be taken.
  5. It often results in more engaging learning products
  6. It’s a fun challenge for ‘digital natives’

Key rules for successful App Smashing:

  1. Use the Camera Roll as your main conduit between apps
  2. Leave the app choice to the students
  3. Have a list of apps capable of smashing content together (See below)

Key Apps when App Smashing:

i4S - APPSMASHING.005

Examples I’ve used:

SMASH 1:

Comics Head + Explain Everything + Youtube = Thinglink This creates an online interactive poster that launches extra content using hotspots. i4S - APPSMASHING.002

SMASH 2:

Garageband + Soundcloud + iTunes = Student radio show Give your students a voice and experience great digital citizenship with running a radio show. i4S - APPSMASHING.003

SMASH 3:

Camera or iMovie or iMotionHD + Pages or Pic Collage = Aurasma Posters Make video creations more accessible to other students using Aurasma posters that come to life on the classroom wall ! i4S - APPSMASHING.004 For more examples check out Greg’s excellent presentation from last year’s EdTechTeacher Summit.

Watch me here chatting about App Smashing

I had the amazing privilege of being the first guest on Courtney Pepe’s show “The App Smashing Chronicles”. It was a great chat full of ideas. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIiaCMjXmnE

Final thought

The challenge of app smashing keeps students on their toes and can increase collaboration between them. It adds a layer of creative problem-solving and also can lead to competition around out-smashing each other. The key when encouraging App Smashing is to make very clear the assessment criteria and ensure the students know that the final products will be judged on their effectiveness to prove their level of understanding and not just in their technical wizardry. Keep an eye on Twitter using the Hashtag #AppSmash for other ideas and apps too.

Other links:

http://www.edudemic.com/app-smashing-education/ http://edtechteacher.org/blog/?p=2191

The Power of Comics

Comic Heads10Comic apps are an important addition to any student’s learning armoury and I know that many classrooms are already engaged with them but I wanted to:

  1. study the various uses for them in general education and
  2. focus on a specific example app that takes things a little further than the others.

Alongside the obvious use in creative narrative writing, the comic format can be utilised by many areas of study. Anything we do in life can be seen as a narrative and the comic is a great way to both summarise and reflect on any experience.

Why do they work with kids?

It is tempting to think that whether you like it or not, a combination of the internet, TV, Computer games and mobile devices has made the current young people heavily rely on visual presentation and images in general. But this is not a new phenomenon. As Mr SAMR has highlighted, humans have always found the most success and progress when tools allowed for visual representation and story telling. They have also always had a desire and practical need for using visuals before text.

graphic novels

Only for young kids? … No.

If you haven’t noticed, graphic novels have hit the mainstream and are being discussed as having considerable positive effects on teenage engagement and ability in reading. This is also feeding onto them reading standard novels in greater numbers too. Here’s a nice panel discussion of that very topic:

Just for English and creative writing class? … No.

Here’s a list of ideas I’ve discussed with teachers in schools:

Students enjoy using the comic format for :

  1. Recording science experiments with photos and reflecting on processes within each comic frame;
  2. Storyboarding media studies projects from short films;
  3. Recording the process and decision-making during project-based-learning;
  4. Explaining Historical events with the thoughts of key characters as they took place;
  5. Recording the design process behind product, fabric, and food productions;
  6. A good way for teachers to move away from front-of-class presentation and have the students engage with content individually.

Taking it to the next level. Which app?

comics headI thought I’d mention one app as it works well with all ages and especially caters for the older kids looking at producing more professional graphic novel level material.

The app I like the most is Comics Head. It is the Explain Everything of comic apps. It has every option imaginable, whilst being easy to use and publish with.

You can:

  • Choose between blank layouts and completed templates
  • Add images from any source or draw from scratch
  • Move and rotate anything instantly
  • Choose from a massive library of characters and objects.
  • Full suite of editing tools.
  • Crop to various shapes
  • Save comics as templates for others;
  • Share to Social media and save directly to Google Drive;
  • Fine tune and refine elements to professional standard

comic2.001 comic2.002

For the students who get serious about comics or to give every option needed when recording/teaching a process or event, Comics Head is great fun to use and hasn’t the restrictions of other comic apps.

Many teachers would benefit from opening up to the use of comics as a format that definitely engages students in dealing with any kind of content.

Happy story telling!

Why iPad 4 Schools [Poster]

Decision Making?

If you need something short and sharp to convince decision makers on why it should be iPad and not an alternative, this poster might help. Laptops and Chromebooks make excellent business tools for those writing documents, sending emails and using Skype (not available for Chromebook) but for creative options in schools, it still has to be iPad.

iPad 4 Schools Poster

Bring schools to life with Aurasma app

The Magic of Bringing Information to life.

AurasmaI’m assuming you’ve seen at least one of the eight Harry Potter films. In the films, one everyday magical experience is that photos are always moving as if they were video screens, even though they are ‘printed’ on paper. Newspaper photos act out the news event as film too, whilst you walk down the road reading. It seems so magical and yet, like so many things these days , there’s an app for that!

The Aurasma App (free) allows you to create what’s known as Augmented Reality (Real life with extra info added)

Here’s a great intro into the world of Augmented Reality.

And here’s Aurasma’s own demo video of it in action:

Before I take you though how to make your own, let’s look at the potential uses for learning.

Lets start with possible posters on the walls around your school or classroom that come to life and

  1. welcome visitors and introduce the school.
  2. animate mathematical problems being solved.
  3. explain how to use school equipment (useful in my technology or science classrooms)
  4. bring famous people from history to life with students acting out their most famous moments or words.
  5. explain famous paintings on demand
  6. introduce apps with demos of students using them.

What about the school newsletters? Every photo could be the first frame of a video and showcase performances and sporting moments.

What about worksheets or project introduction sheets that come to life and guide the students through the process.

The possibilities are endless! The idea that all those posters that have been unnoticed on classroom walls for decades could now offer a real interactive experience on demand is really exciting!

Getting started with your first “Auras”

Below is a step-by-step guide but here are the essentials:

  1. Record a video using the iPad’s Camera or animation app like iMotionHD.
  2. Pause the video on the first frame to grab a screenshot of it for the poster
  3. Make a poster using your screenshot and add words, titles and the Aurasma logo to indicate it being interactive but also to make the poster’s layout unique enough to be recognised by the app.
  4. Run through the process in the guide below of adding the video to Aurasma and taking a photo of your finished poster as the ‘trigger’ image.
  5. When finished, name your aura and add it to a class / school channel within you free Aurasma account. This will make it public for the students to subscribe to in their Aurasma apps and so interact with all the posters in the class / school.

I will have a fun 2014 with this app. Here’s the guide: (PNG links to PDF)

School Aurasma

And thanks to Serena Davies (@serenadavies1), here’s the info in Welsh!….

School Aurasma-Welsh

Making iPad Kids think big

I teach a unit to Years 7s and 8s on digital citizenship that centres on the theme of respecting yourself and others when online and using mobile devices. The opening lesson of this focusses on respecting themselves as people who can make a difference, especially with devices like the iPad and the new services online. I run through a series of examples where teenagers have made themselves successful primarily by having an “I can” approach to life.

I don’t like to focus on money making but it certainly grabs their attention.
Here’s a summary of the sort of things I discuss: (The icons are links)

NUTSHELL_IPAD_CAREER

1. WRITE A BLOG
All a kid needs to take over the world is an email! This is a simple idea but when you explain that blogging (WordPress or Blogger)on their favourite topic (Even if it’s Clash of Clans!), dividing up the topic into areas, such as tools, skills, strategies, training. Then writing for 1/2 an hour, twice a week on a new idea or lesson for your readers can make you a world name in your chosen area. I even use myself as an example!

You can spark their interest by explaining that A) Millions of kids around the world will be looking for a Kid’s perspective on the topic and B) Once they have readers, Google Adsense will bring home the money!

2. RUN A YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Making videos on the iPad is easy and uploading them to Youtube is a single button click! Again best on a single topic, kids can video their own information or lessons and build a following. Children always prefer watching their peers more than adults and learning is more effective and fun. This gives any student a potential audience of subscribers for their chosen topic. One girl in my class started a child’s channel on horse riding! Popular channels will be approached by Youtube to add adverts and the money might start rolling in!
Example (50,000 views a video!):

3. eBOOK YOUR STORY OR KNOWLEDGE 

Free publishing is the new thing and opens new opportunities to young people to make money from their writing and imagination. Amazon are now publishing free plus many others like Lulu.com. I find kids are happy to write on the iPad and should not be encouraged to think that their works wouldn’t be published or enjoyed by a large audience. Here’s 2 case studies: 1. Teenage Author 2. Young Author. If you make an informative non-fiction iBook then Apple will publish it but you’ll need to make it on a Mac computer with iBooks Author.
Example:

4. SHOWCASE YOUR FILMS

In a previous post I covered the idea that students should learn the 3 or 4 basic film production techniques including multiple angled camera work and foley sound production. With a little film making knowledge, the iPad really is the only thing you need and there are more and more film festivals mentioning the use of iPhone and iPad film makers, including famous directors. Obviously the films can be uploaded to Youtube or even better Vimeo (The thinking person’s Youtube) for more exposure.

5. GET ON AND MAKE THAT ALBUM

I have singers, rappers, guitarists, pianists and drummers throughout my classes and they hold their iPads often without seriously considering that recording with Garageband could lead to big things. There are now crowd-funding sites and Justin Bieber was discovered singing into a Youtube camera.

INTERNATIONAL PROMOTION

Another issue I cover in this lesson and in general is appreciating the number of people on the internet. I like to point out that if 0.0001% of the internet buy your product for $1, that’s $5 Million! International promotion used to cost millions and was certainly only available through agencies. Now, social media makes promoting your products easy and even finding your target audience is easy.  I recommend new accounts for communicating with the world as a professional separate to their personal accounts.

SUMMARY

It really is just a mindset I feel I must instil in my students to appreciate that the age barriers that once existed no longer do. The iPad is all they need to conquer the world and why not start today!

Kid thinking big Example 3: (Programmer)

How to make iPad kids film better

camera ipadIt’s about time I add another post about my actual teaching practice and how my kids use iPads. One set of iPad skills that interests all the kids and gives them something fun to do is professional film making tricks. This would work well with students from the age of 10 to 16.

The lesson is divided in 2 :

  1. Sound (Sound effects / Dubbing / voiceovers)
  2. Camera work (Steady-cam / multi views per moment)

The requirements in general are that at least one student in 4 has the iMovie app or equivalent (There are free movie editing apps but they sometimes limit to 30 seconds export – check the App store).

I then take them through some remarkable facts in film making that they might never have considered. This gives them a new understanding about exactly what they see and hear on the screen.

STEP 1: SOUND

Foley – Dubbing – Voiceover

One of the difficulties when filming with iPads is that the microphone is too small and too far from the actor or subject to record it properly. First I show this Youtube clip that amazes the kids by explaining that no sound they’ve ever heard on TV or film is made by the things you are looking at. Every footstep, every bang, every animal noise is made after the filming has taken place. The extreme moment is the leather clothing noise as Russell Crow turns around – all added afterwards! I also explain that most voice is also added afterwards and dubbed over by the same actors.

The Art of noise making is called Foley, which you will see in the credits of every film. The Dubbing of their own voice challenges the students to be precise and, as I’ve found, take the process seriously to get the timing right (it’s done well by about half the students).Dubbing and voice overs using iMovie also solves the practical problems of both outside noise and also background classroom noise when filming inside. The students film themselves saying the lines in the appropriate location and then find a quiet area elsewhere to record the lines more clearly. Having clear dialogue makes kids films much more watchable.

STEP 2: CONTINUITY & MULTI CAMERA

The idea that 60 seconds of hollywood film can take more than a week of production and then more time in post production also amazes kids. I have a Keynote slide where a counter on the slide counts the camera angle changes in 25 seconds and ends at 12! My students have learnt to really tell the story of any 10 seconds. Even with one iPad between 4, the students have learnt to rerecord every moment from the required angel to tell the story visually. Example: “A student walks towards a door and opens it.” This took 4 recordings from 4 angles and included a close-up of the hand gripping the handle! Close-ups are important to emphasise. The total filming time took 4 minutes and editing took 5 minutes, the finished shot takes 5 seconds! … But the kids love it and are proud of the professional look to the film. The video below is a good video on continuity errors in Star Wars. The length of time it takes to make the shortest of moments means that objects in the shot often get accidentally moved or forgotten in some of the various camera takes. Unfortunately I have to skip over the video’s first example as it’s not actually a continuity error but just bad acting!

STEP 3: ALLOWING FOR TIME AND APPS

Sometimes a group might not have an editing app or you might not have the time for editing, so I also give a lesson in allowing for the limitations of filming with just a mobile device like an iPad, particularly when filming outside or in a classroom with noise. Using the diagram below, I explain that relying on the dialogue of the actors/presenters being picked up by the iPad’s microphone is not realistic and it’s best to narrate the events that are filmed. To allow for time, this narration can be done live during the performance, directly into the iPad’s microphone by another student works well in covering your topic.

iPad filming-live narration

SUMMARY: THEY HAVE FUN, LEARN & EDUCATE THEIR PEERS!

I was genuinely surprised by how much the kids took these techniques seriously and enjoyed the process. The students that started to add every noise imaginable and / or rerecorded until their dubbing was perfect made their videos clearer and more educational to other students I was showing them to. The topic they are filming about is the real educational target and having good sound and good visual story yelling is crucial to the learning.

School resources with Mac’s Pages.

The most common question I get on Twitter is “How do you create your graphics?”

The answer is: lots of practice with Pages / Keynote, both having the same tools. These tools are much more useful and intuitive than those in either Microsoft Word or Powerpoint. I’ve recorded this 20 minute video (did it quickly for a colleague, so sorry if I don’t perform particularly well!)

Kids have higher expectations these days and now that they can view my worksheets and docs electronically, full colour and design is not the issue it was when considering photocopying.

The video runs through the usual key tools I use to gloss up school worksheets etc, which are also the tools I use for the graphics.

These include:

  1. Image Cropping / Colourising / rotating / transparency / wrapping
  2. Text columns / styles / sizing / wrapping
  3. Table styling / sizing / settings
  4. Graphs styles / setting / data

Please contact me with any further questions:

True learning is creative! … iPad, please!

The iPad empowers students to create products within any subject context, physical space and even on the move. This is why the iPad is so important in transforming education into a genuine learning experience, not a knowledge absorption space. This well known Ken Robinson video has, for a while, indicated the importance of creative process in learning. Creating is important because during the process of creating something new, a student is:

  1. the owner of that process
  2. fully immersed in the experience
  3. genuinely engaged
  4. driven by and personally connected to the learning objectives

Under these four circumstances, you create truly life-long learners, who are intrinsically motivated by their own demands and ideas.

 (picture via @gcouros)

Common misconception 1:
“My subject’s not creative”

Many teachers do not see creative process as part of their subject. The factory based education system used throughout the 20th century, isolated subjects as disconnected silos of information and creativity was removed from most of these study areas and confined specifically to the arts subjects only. This is not how the real world operates and creative thoughts and processes are demanded in most, if not all industries. All subject areas within schools (while those areas still exist), must harness both the students’ genuine will to create and the iPads power to enable this in so many forms and under so many circumstances.

Common misconception 2:
“I can’t grade & compare different creative output styles”

What exactly does grading do for a student? It gives them a record of how they compare with their classmates or even national year-group. What does this positioning mean? … nothing! The minute you leave school you will be working and competing with different groups of people of various ages and your grade comparison becomes meaningless immediately. Yes, you looked amazing in your school when up against your fellow students  performing standardised tests, but now you’re suddenly struggling against people from different backgrounds and may even look quiet incompetent.

Students also become distracted from their learning when focusing purely on their grade comparison with their friends. This removes any interest in learning for the sake of bettering oneself and even engagement with the objective of the tasks. Students take shortcuts and do anything that would increase the grade regardless of the impact it might have on truly understanding concepts or not. Students also find it very difficult, if they can do it at all, to articulate what an A or a B means. The grades themselves are arbitrary and mean nothing in terms of personal achievement and only make the lower grade achievers give up on learning anything.

This UK BBC documentary, The Classroom Experiment, covered many common traditional teaching habits that actually do harm rather than good in education, including grades:

A shifting agenda

An increasing number of educators are agreeing that:

  1. Personal creative processes should replace fixed content delivery and
  2. meaningful comments from both peers and teachers should replace meaningless grades

The iPad is both a personal creative device and a great tool for collaboration and documenting discussion. This is the basis on why and roughly how schools should push forward with 1-to-1 iPad integration.