Teacher’s iPad 2015

iPadWells iPadDuring this coming academic year, the iPad will celebrate it’s 5th birthday. I decided to take a look at my own iPad and what systems, apps and activities fill up my school day as an iPad teacher 5 years on. I’ve produced a breakdown of my home screen and realised it can be summarised in 5 points.

  1. Being relevant as a professional
  2. Being relevant to my students
  3. Collaboration with students
  4. Collaboration with teachers
  5. Production of Interactive material.

My teaching emphasises the fact that I’m still a learner and still creative. I overtly discuss this with my students every week and showcase my own productions amongst their various presentations. I also showcase my collaborations with other teachers and the fact that reflecting on my professional life on my blog is important to personal growth.

I’m very proud that creative writing, Music, Art, Media and Coding all have a presence in my iPad teaching. You’ll also notice that each of the major social websites are utilised for different reasons.

I hope it helps some teachers new to professional iPadding. For more information about how I use the apps, use the search facility on the blog.

i4S 2015 iPad

 

POSTER: 20C to 21C Learning

I was asked by Tanya Avrith (@edtechschools) for some graphics to illustrate the new approach to teaching young people in the 21st Century and how the source of information and how we build knowledge has changed. I thought I’d rework them into a poster (as I normally do :-) and post it. Here it is:

I4S-FillingTheVessel-iPadWells

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

New Flipped vs Old Flipped

IPads in classrooms offer such a new learning environment that they demand a shift from the idea of students being passive receivers of learning and demand real engagement and learning ownership by the students themselves. However, even the original 90s design of the Flipped Classroom designed by pioneers like Eric Mazur is still teacher centred. Although students are individually watching the video lessons in their own time and at their own pace and then arrive in class with more specific questions, the approach is still driven by the teacher and focused on the linear course of study that the teacher designs to start at point A, travel through to point Z and then sit an exam in that specific content. This is the Flipped Classroom that receives attacks from teachers as just “lecturing in disguise.”

This original version of Flipped Classroom is an improvement on the one-size-fits-all traditional lecturing but does not encourage students to take full responsibility for their learning. It still demands that every student follow exactly the same linear path through fixed content and pushes the idea that to learn, you must follow your teacher.

This is not how I have Flipped or why I have Flipped.

I have all my teaching of both concepts and skills videoed so the students are free from a linear, fixed path and can get on with exploring larger projects of their own design, knowing everything is there when they might need it. The students work on at least month-long projects, which demand real-world focus and problem-solving. The students design their own projects within criteria that I design that keep expectations high. These projects, for example must be managed in a professional sense.

Quick Example:

If I was an English teacher (from the quality of my writing, you can guess I’m not), I would video my teaching of writing techniques, themes, composition and writing narrative using examples etc. The students would then start writing and publishing online as quickly as possible. They receive informed feedback from their fellow students comparing elements with the examples in my videos. I could then just monitor the discussion both in the classroom and online. I would then point individual students to specific videos based on either their work or feedback, if I felt they didn’t understand an idea or skill. The students could then develop quality literature, poetry and articles and collate the work together in digital books, blogs or even publish to Amazon. This personalised approach makes writing seem more real and meaningful. Teamwork’s also made much more significant when students are in the driving seat.

Removing the traditional class teaching from the process is still important as it frees up time for both teacher and student, allowing everyone to get on with in-depth, creative projects that are driven by personal interests. Any exam or test material is covered by the videos and students can request one-to-one tutorials on lesser-understood topics if needed. My exam results are much improved whilst the students’ class time is much more engaging. I even allow the students to manage their own time and do not demand that they use their Computer Science 50 minute period to work on Computer Science. If they’ve got important physics work to do, they do it. They know when my project deadlines are and stick to them.

Flipped teaching is crucial in giving time back to the students to get on with more creative work but should not be seen as just simply a twist on the traditional teaching model. The student output should be of a high standard and should only reflect an understanding of the videos’ topics, not mirror them exactly. Specifically, no two students should ever produce the same output!

My version of Flipped is not a 20th Century teacher replacement but an opportunity for real 21st Century practice.

A 21C Teacher in a 20C School

I teach to the exam. There, I’ve said it!  After all, doesn’t everyone smile when the student gets an A grade? Isn’t graduating what’s life’s all about?
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But what does A mean?
It means that when given:

  1. An exam date;
  2. A fixed list of topics and themes;
  3. Last minute, panicked revision;
  4. A table and paper in a large silent hall;  ..the student can perform! Wow!

Thank God, life outside schools and every workplace is both silent, organised in straight rows and has no technology beyond the pencil! Thank God working life only means working alone within fixed boundaries. ….Oh that’s right, it’s not. And many of these A grade students prove to be useless when given any creative challenge in a real workplace scenario, something universities and employers complain about. Fortunately most develop many skills outside school that allow them to cope.

Solution: Make the exam the side-project

One joy of working in this crappy system of 20th Century factory education is that now with the Internet and video I can record each of my full-year courses’ exam lessons into about 4 hours! Yes, 4 hours and yes, it’s the full course of teaching! See this for details.

The direct teaching of the exam is now outside the classroom. I can ask them to complete an amount of the course by a certain date and check this with traditional assessment while they spend all the class time working on a related project of their choosing and design. If there’s a practical element to the course then all projects and time can be based on this practical work, within the context of a real-world scenario.

These projects can be long, the whole year for all I care! They can also work in groups if it suits. As long as the project is engaging for the student and they take real ownership over it. They should also set their own check points to monitor their own progress. Ownership, creativity and variety is what the iPad does best. Hopefully the project connects directly with the outside world directly. I like to pitch the possibility of making money in any area using the internet. For example, any student can publish a book for free.

Examples: (Off the top of my head)

  1. Biology: Produce a set of videos covering the relevant experiments to compile in an ebook to sell online.
  2. Geography: Film a documentary on the local geography for the school to use.
  3. Computing: Make $million with your first iPad app!!! (I heard the “Pocket Whip” app was making $30,000 a week and it doesn’t do much!)
  4. Mathematics: Learn how to produce a website of embedded web-based Maths tools that your peers need for the course you’re all doing.
  5. English: Publish a short story on Amazon that contains the same themes as X.

Conclusion

The important thing is that they are engaged in your subject and see the exam as an unfortunate extra rather than the whole reason for school. If they need to learn how to do something during their project, they find it themselves on the internet  (this is what they should do, it’s what we do!) or if the teacher can help then great, as the teacher now has time to work one-to-one!

What is true mobile independent learning?

5 teaching classics I won’t be using next year. 

1. Classroom Projection

Have you ever been to the cinema to watch a kids movie? A multi-million dollar Hollywood budget is not enough to keep every eye on the screen! So why would I bother to use this form of delivery with 30 teenagers? If they all need to see something then like “real” people do in the “real” world, I issue the link and they watch in their own time. Independent learners find it frustrating to be told to stop their schedule for something. Dropbox sharing and Twitter/Facebook Groups have replaced the need for me to project anything except, ironically Hollywood Film clips (copyright) but many can be found on Youtube and your school system might stream video files to the mobile devices…maybe? I don’t use film clips.

2. Homework

Homework is proven to damage family life but really there’s no such thing for mobile learners who manage their own work schedule. My results have been much better and of higher quality since I offered “Flexitime” to all my students. Learning objectives are set and a timeframe issued, end of story. Students enjoy the freedom and feel far more obligation to get the work done. It is now after all their work, not mine.

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3. Worksheets

One-size-fits-all content delivery allows for no creative thought and makes no sense in a mobile world where information is everywhere, anytime. Worksheets as a control mechanism also only made sense in the factory model of education in the 20th century. If the content of 6 worksheets can be covered in a 3 minute documentary, directed and written by the students then…worksheets…really?

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4. Textbooks

RestrictIng and not conducive to either creative or collaborative thought and process so….no textbooks. All school material is available online, so no need for them either.
Online, It’s also often more recent, relevant and entertaining too.

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5. Whole Class discussion / teaching

Talking content or concept to a whole class never includes or engages everyone in the room regardless of class age, intellect of character so ….no. All content delivery done through Flipped classroom setup to ensure 24/7 availability. I already have students watching lesson videos at midnight because…”that’s the way I roll, sir!” A discussion should be meaningful and to be so, needs to be with a small groups or one-to-one only. Flipping the classroom immediately gives the teacher and student a more meaningful learning environment.
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I have discussed these ideas with colleagues and often when they try to argue, for example, that class discussion can work, we do eventually have to agree that there’s always one not listening and to say that most benefit is just not good enough. We are not employed to teach “most” of the students. In general, the overall idea that because we were bored and controlled at school, then current young people will be ok just isn’t going to work. Lets all start to learn and collaborate in the ‘real’ world we actually live in.

IPad = Flipped Classroom Made Easy

Yes, the Flipped Classroom (Video lessons watched before class time) is a fashionable topic but whilst there’s still chalk-and-talk together with standardised testing I feel I must continue to push it. And no, it’s not just chalk-and-talk in disguise. It creates a whole new learning environment for the student.

I haven’t taught a whole class for 6 months! All my teaching is now one-to-one and not surprisingly, my grades are soaring. In the classroom I only teach individual students the specific points they highlight as unclear after watching the video lesson and I monitor progress on the projects they’ve designed to prove understanding of the content. This I’ve done within a traditional exam-based school structure and have students who are not focused on grades but more on what they can best do with their time at school, especially now that the time is very much theirs not mine.

Flipping my classroom has changed my career. My job’s more fun, the students are happier and scores in the tests, I unfortunately still have to dish out, improved vastly and immediately. Although, be prepared for the students to be slow to adapt to the autonomy of running their own time, it might take 3 or 4 weeks to get fully engaged with managing their own education!

Why should all teachers flip their classroom?

Online videos should replace all whole-class teaching because:

  1. Not every student listens to teachers when surrounded by distractions
  2. Students understand at differing levels when lessons are one-offs
  3. Some students need the teaching at a different pace (both faster or slower) to what’s delivered in the classroom. (Solution: Pause and rewind video)
  4. Students generally concentrate when watching a video on their own.
  5. Some students miss the lesson in question and would never ask a teacher to repeat a lesson.
  6. Teachers moan about time pressure and this returns all lesson time to tasks and one-to-one follow-up (I’ve now got so much time, I’m not sure what to do with it!)
  7. Autonomy is returned to the student who can watch the lesson when it best suits their own schedule (teachers rarely allow for all the other commitments in a student’s life)
  8. Even whole-class ‘discussion’ (as apposed to teaching) excludes the shy, the bored, the under-prepared students.
  9. The iPad whiteboard allows for paused-recording-setup, meaning all the teacher’s time writing, typing, finding images, drawing diagrams, loading web pages & even thinking is removed from the final lesson and everything in the video seemingly appears on-demand. (I’ve reduced one annual course’s content delivery to under 4 hours!!!)
  10. With the teaching online, my students discuss amongst themselves in the online class forum, adding comments both in and outside the classroom, often solving each other’s issues without my input. My students are free to watch it at home or in class but can also use all the class time to prove understanding in a way that’s personally interesting to them. I set understanding goals but the output is all down to them.
  11. One-to-one explanation is superior to reading large amounts of written text and is more successful with the majority of these Generation Y and Z students. Some teacher’s have told me they’ve “Flipped” already because they ask the students to read the textbook for homework. That’s just not the same and the teacher in question still does chalk-and-talk because he’s not confident the students fully understand from the prior reading!

So here’s my workflow for those who are interested

WHAT’S NEEDED?

1. YouTube account (stores the videos with controlled access)

2. Explain Everything (iPad app for recording iPad screen as Whiteboard – it’s the best of this type of app available – See bottom of page)

3. A Learning Management System (needs to announce videos to class and allow for commenting / forum – I use Facebook groups with my senior students -see my Help Docs for FB setup)

STEP 1: Online Account setup

Having a google/gmail account does automatically give you a YouTube account but you have to login to YouTube specifically to activate the video storage. So first login to YouTube using a Google (Gmail) account using a browser like Safari/Chrome/Firefox.
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STEP 2: Recording a lesson

Now open the Explain Everything app.

Have a practice with Explain Everything. There are some features that take a bit of getting used to, such as:

  1. the pen marks become objects when you click on another tool and must then be deleted as a whole rather than rubbed out which you can only do whilst still drawing.
  2. Teach using a number of slides (like PowerPoint) as each slide is stored as a separate part of the recording meaning you can return to the lesson and re-record just slide 3, for example, if it’s reported as not being very clear. Then upload the video again with all the slides stitched together.
  3. Get used to hitting the Pause button. If you can’t think how best to say something, need a picture or need to draw something then Pause!
  4. Don’t worry too much about it being perfect. The students like the little mistakes so have a bit of fun!

There’s a few more things, so have a play.

STEP 3: Uploading the lesson

When you’ve finished the last slide in a lesson hit the Camera button in the bottom right-hand corner of Explain Everything and select Youtube.

Login using your Google account.

Name your lesson using a system like “YEAR/GRADE – TERM/SEMESTER – COURSE – TOPIC”. This will make organising videos with YouTube account easier later on.

Choose “Unlisted” to keep some control over who sees your lesson. DO NOT choose “Private” as this demands the student have a Google account and you have to individually grant each account access to the lesson!

STEP 4: Publishing to students

Once uploaded, click the button to “Copy link to Clipboard” and move to your LMS course page to paste the link for your students to access. (I use Facebook with most my seniors)

STEP 5: Your new classroom

Now consider a small number of tasks the students could attempt (if they can’t think of a project) to prove they understand the video or a number of videos. Examples include: making 3 minute documentaries, animations, even their own “better” Explain Everything video! These products can then also be posted on the LMS for peer review.

It’s amazing how easy tests become when the students have been this connected and autonomous with the content. These videos are then available all year and of course very useful revision the night before the test!

Should I use the ShowMe or EduCreations app to do the same thing?

My answer is No! There are a number of apps like these that send the videos to only their website for storage. They are hoping to become the one-stop video sites for education. The issue is that Youtube is known by all and accessible by all. Believe it or not, both the apps websites use Flash (unplayable on the iPad normally) and all students need the app to see the videos on their mobile device. Youtube means you retain control of who sees it, you know everyone can see it and this will require no further technical setup or app awareness.

It keeps things more simple and you can also just keep the lesson as a MP4 file on your computer. Another option not available on the other apps.

EduGeeks & Dinosaurs attack the Flipped Classroom

For many reading this, the Flipped classroom is a newish idea with possibilities. For a number of EduGeeks it’s passe and uncool to talk about and for the traditional dinosaurs, it’s miss-read as something they’ve been doing for 20 years. In fact, it is still an important first step into 21st Century teaching and as long as it remains just a first step, I wish the EduGeeks & Dinosaurs would stop attacking it.

The simplified view is:

  1. Record lessons as videos to post online
  2. Students watch videos for homework
  3. Students do homework tasks (confirm understanding) in the classroom.


But here’s a better list of what really can happen:

  1. The video lessons are available to watch whenever (classroom or home). I use the iPad app “Explain Everything” to make the videos (see apps);
  2. A forum is setup to discuss each video, post questions to the group or teacher and colaborate in general 24/7;
  3. Teaching becomes one-to-one in class based on the forum activity;
  4. Now the lessons are free of full-class teaching, more demanding tasks are set over a number of lessons (with a deadline and objectives) that allow students to prove various understandings in any appropriate way that suits;
  5. If it suits the topic, teams are organised to bring together different talents in the group;
  6. Enough tablets or computers in the class allow for a wide variety of products / output;
  7. Evidence can be videos/documentaries, animations, comics, interactive ebooks (I find all of these more effective than asking for presentations/keynotes);
  8. The final evidence is then posted to the class forum to allow for peer review. This has been proven to improve the quality of student work;
  9. Work and learning is done at the individual pace of each student and at a time that best suits;
  10. I even allow students to study other subjects’ material in my lesson if it makes more sense to do so. (Students, unfortunately still have standardised tests for other subjects in the next period);
  11. Students appreciate the ownership they have of their learning and my job’s a lot more fun;

This isn’t quite the full dream of 21st Century learning. It is normally based on set content rather than allowing students to base their inquiries on more recent and relevant material for the world they live in now, but it’s a bloody good start! Any teacher should be commended for making the first steps towards student-centred learning within the confines of their probably traditional school structure, rather than dismissed as either susceptible to fads or even ‘old-hat!’ (bloody EduGeeks!)

For more info, visit the various sites on the subject you”ll find with a Google search or try the #flipclass discussion on Twitter.