Saturday, December 21, 2013

Weekly post (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Weekly post (weekly)

    • Option 2: Create a bookmark on iPad Safari's bookmark bar using the following as web address
    • Option 2: Create a bookmark on iPad Safari's bookmark bar using the following as web address

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Weekly post (weekly)

  • Did you know the original Google storage was housed in Lego bricks? #HappyBirthdayGoogle

    tags: HappyBirthdayGoogle

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Weekly post (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Weekly post (weekly)

    • Cloudon pros
      Looks like Microsoft office suite
      Can tie in to google docs for storage, etc

      Cloudon cons
      Slow, sluggish, small, difficult to work with
      Requires Internet

      Pages pros
      Very easy to use
      Lots of editing options
      Easy access to camera roll
      Easy to copy and paste
      Does not require Internet
      Easy hyperlinks.

      Pages cons
      No comments for markups
      Cannot have multiple editors
      Cannot access docs from home without iPad

      Skydrive pros
      Easy to insert pics, links, charts
      Looks like ms office
      Has excel
      Has PowerPoint
      Nice photo editing/formatting
      Workflow very nice

      Skydrive cons
      Can't paste
      Cumbersome, clunky
      Requires Internet

      Google drive pros
      Easy to share

      Google drive cons
      Not user friendly
      No pictures, no tables, no hyperlinks

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Weekly post (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Weekly post (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

An "Office" challenge on the ipads

I'm very lucky to be able to teach a graduate level course on iPads in Education. I'm currently working with a wonderful group of teachers in the central PA area (IU8).

Today we had a showdown between some "Office" apps. Now, before you start, I know that it's not fair to compare the ipad to a laptop. It's different. It's not about how it's the same as a laptop. It's the very difference that's important. I get it. But, at the middle and high school levels, at SOME point, the students will have to write something, turn it in to the teacher to be 'corrected/graded' and have it returned to them. In a one to one setting, there is no escaping this - or shame on us if that's NOT the case.

So, in today's class we broke out in groups of 4, with each person in the group taking one of the main contenders: Pages, CloudOn, Google Drive, and Skydrive. ( via Safari). They were asked to perform the following tasks, which I felt were very basic tasks and not an unreasonable expectation of a word processor.

The Challenge:

Type some text - How does it handle spelling errors?
    • What formatting options do you have? Can you add a comment?
    • How do you control margins?
  • Make a hyperlink - Can it be done easily? (Take a phrase, like 'Go here', and link it to
  • Paste some text from another app (From a webpage or even a Note)
  • Add a photo
    • What formatting options do you have?
    • How easy is it to add an image?
    • Can you add an image from the camera?
  • Can you add a table?
    • How easy is it to modify the table?
  • Share it with yourself (as the teacher)
    • Must it be shared via email?
    • Can the document be shared with another potential editor?
    • Does it have dropbox support? What other options does it have? (What formats are supported?)
  • Can you "correct" it and get it back to the student?
    • What annotation options do you have?
    • Is this method satisfactory to you - if you have 100 students doing the same thing?
  • How would this app work in a shared ipad environment vs 1:1?
  • Which app does more to advance teaching and learning?
  • Share your findings with the group.

So, first of all, are those unreasonable feature requests? If you say yes, please tell me in the comments WHY you think those are unreasonable. Format options, hyperlinks, adding photos (from the built in camera, too), and a table. Surely those can't be asking too much.

And the challenge to continue the experiment from 'student to teacher and back.' Isn't that a fair test? Isn't it important to know that the workflow is manageable? And, isn't it also fair to ask them to consider how it would work in a shared cart environment? This is a grad course, after all. We're exploring the options.

I'll post the rough draft of the pros and cons from our followup discussion in a moment, but let me say up front, that these results are NOT uncommon. I've taught this course seven times before this, and it's been the same each time. Granted, the apps have improved, but only in one case did it improve enough to make a difference in the standing.

First, the results as I wrote them down as they offered them, then a couple comments.

Results of the Office Challenge

Pages pros

Familiar feel (very ipad friendly)

Easily adjusted margins

Great spell check

Text wrap around images

Easy bar graphs

Access to camera roll

No internet connection needed (important for some students)

Can save in multiple formats

Pages cons


Must Email to teacher (can't share)

No comments, making markups difficult

No collaborators. Very unfortunate in 2013

Meant for one person. Won't function well in a cart situation

Cloudon cons

Must reload when switching apps- very slow!

Poor image handling

No collaborators - meant for one person

Requires Internet

Pixelated and hard on the eyes

Cloudon pros

Annotations are available making markups easier

Looks like ms word, so familiar to many

Nice interface with Dropbox

Can open and create ppts

Google drive pros

Collaborative editing. 
Simply share with another person. 
Real-time editing. Ie: no email needed

Streamlines workflow
Can see, in real time, edits of other authors

Google drive cons

No camera roll access

Very limited formatting options.

Requires Internet - problem for some students

Very limited functionality

No images

no tables
No hyperlinks pros

Has powerpoint

Has Excel

Has One note - excellent for note taking

Access to camera roll
Sharing via email or collaborators allowing synchronous editing
Can insert comments
Many options for sharing - privacy

Nice formatting options - especially with images

Skydrive cons

Requires Internet - problem for some students

Not as good as using laptop

Can't move images -at least, not that we could see

Can't modify tables - or not that we could find

We also talked about using Dropbox to submit documents to the teacher. While it's possible for students to read the reports submitted buy others and the paraphrase to get credit, one person thought that at least that person was reading -something that might not be done otherwise.

And, we talked about not being able to return graded papers via dropbox. We really worked through the workflow issue.

So - The final vote?

Well, those who worked with Pages really liked it. But - we felt that it was really meant for an individual and therefore would have problems in a shared cart setting. Plus, in today's world, what a shame it is to have a word processor that does not allow for multiple editors.

NOBODY liked Google drive. NOT ONE. It's lack of formatting options, and lack of access to the camera roll (and the camera) were non-starters. Do you mean that we can't take a picture of our lab experiment and add it to our writeup about it? #fail

CloudOn was just FAR too slow. That, coupled with the lack of multiple editors, also made it a loser. In fact, in all the (now eight) sections I've had, a scant hand full have chosen it. But, that was before the changes to Skydrive.

Skydrive won. (Accessing it via safari at Prior to this latest revision, skydrive would finish BELOW last place. It was awful. Folks would stop testing it. Now, it seems to be the winner. It seemed to allow us to do more, format more, AND it managed the workflow by allowing the student to share the documents with the teacher. No dropbox issues. No email issues.

I will admit that I guided the conversation, asking questions like, "Yes, but in today's world, is it OK to have a word processor that doesn't allow for multiple, synchronous editors?" And, "But, requiring an internet connection means that some students won't be able to use it at home." Or, "Are we sacrificing features (especially in the case of Google Drive) just so we can have an ipad?" Or, "Do you mean that I can't use this ipad to write up a report and expect it to access the camera?"

Yes, I did pose questions that had them thinking about the pros and cons. And, I'll have to wait and see how they report back on which app they would choose. But, from the discussion, Skydrive (maybe tied with Pages) won. Google Drive finished dead last!

Surprised? I'd LOVE to hear your comments.

Weekly post (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Weekly post (weekly)

  • "TimelineJS is a web based timeline creator, that in my opinion is the best timeline creation tool on the web.  What I like most about this platform is that the creation process takes place in a google form.  There is a template that can be downloaded from the TimelineJS site that is automatically pulled into a users Google Drive account.  With the recent update to the Google Drive app for the iPad, this document can now be edited collaboratively. "

    tags: timelines

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Weekly post (weekly)

  • Beirut: Israel conducted a rare airstrike on a military target inside Syria, foreign officials and Syrian state TV said on Wednesday, amid fears President Bashar Assad's regime is providing weapons to the Islamic militant group Hezbollah.

    tags: Syria

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, January 11, 2013

NOBODY Can Afford This

I recently spent about 45 minutes talking with a teacher in a PA district who has almost completely lost her love for teaching. Why? The filtering rules in the district are slowly ruining her.

It's not a rich district, but it's far above the average. It's in the town of a highly respected college, so the children of many faculty members attend. It's also a bedroom community for folks who don't want to live in the nearby cities. They don't want for technology, at least in terms of the numbers of devices available. But, unless their use is judged by the use of Microsoft Word, then it's a total failure.

Google Docs is BLOCKED. No one will say exactly why, it just is. The district didn't join the state-wide WAN, so they don't have access to Discovery Streaming or the Safari Montage system on the WAN. All wikis are blocked. All blogs are blocked. Even a silly site like Voki is blocked. Youtube is blocked for all. Twitter is blocked. Diigo and Delicious are blocked. They have a moodle server, but student accounts are so poorly managed that few teachers bother to try to use it. It's far more trouble than it's worth. Work tickets take weeks to resolve, even though there are fewer than 2700 students in the entire district.

The (new) tech director was never an educator (as if that needed to be said) and has made life impossible for the staff who want to become more relevant with their teaching styles. Most now just ignore the technology. 

They do well on the PSSA's and always make AYP. A very high percentage will attend and graduate from a four year college. It would be easy, then, to push the status quo.

But, I would argue that they cannot afford this person who has made these filtering decisions. They are graduating over 200 students a year and sending them off to try to compete in this world without ever having experienced collaborating in a Google Doc, or building a wiki with another class. They've never been able to experience twitter as a learning tool. They've never been able to write for an audience of more than one, their teacher.

The students cannot afford to be cheated out of world class education as they are now. They will be attending college with students who CAN use those tools and who know when to use them. They will be competing with other students who know how to follow twitter hashtags to find meaningful information that is current up to the second. They will be a step behind everyone else and through no fault of their own. Some students will be starting off college with a portfolio of relevant bookmarks that they've saved in Diigo or Delicious. Not these students. Others will know how to set up a twitter hashtag for a class so that they can all study and share together. Not these students. And we could go on and on.

The parents cannot afford to have the education of their children stifled so severely, either. They have paid their fair share of taxes and will be paying a lot of money to put their children through college, yet their children will be starting off at this disadvantage. I HAVE to believe that if they knew how restricted their students were that they would be appalled. Certainly they SHOULD be appalled. They cannot afford to have their tax dollars spend in a manner so contrary to the needs of their children.

This NATION cannot afford that person, either. We need creative thinkers who CAN collaborate, and who CAN use today's tools to learn and share and build. We're not going to solve the problems of this country by blocking out the world from our schools.

NOBODY can afford that person. Somebody in that district MUST stand up and say, "This is NOT the vision for education that we want for our children. Either open this up and provide the PD that we need to fulfill our vision, or we will find someone else who WILL!"

And that shouldn't wait another day. There's too much at stake. Would YOU want YOUR children to spend another day in a school like that?