Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Art of Simplicity

The fine art of teaching or of education is simplicity. Students who don’t grasp what we are trying to impart ,  generally because we haven’t broken it down simply enough for them to go “Ah ha” - I get it !”  It is a skill that makes the difference between a good teacher and a great teacher. It also makes the difference in our own learning. Why do we make notes of lectures, talks or conferences we have been to ? It is trying to simplify the information, breaking it down into simple, small chunks of information that we can understand , retain and repeat.
I think this was the true genius of Steve Jobs. He was a brilliant marketer, driver and innovator (and sounds like he was a horrible person to know !) - but I think his true forte was “keeping it simple”. Making items that people just got on and used. I think this has been the real reason for the expanded growth of apple of the last 10 years. The other companies have now seen the light and are trying to outdo them.

If simplicity is the key to productivity and learning - why aren’t we all doing it ? Mainly - because “simplicity” is hard. Ask any author what is the most difficult form of writing - the novel or the short story - and they will unanimously respond - “the short story”. It is hard to make things succinct. It is a complex skill that very few people have. As educators we are always striving for it but not always achieving it. Otherwise every student that left school would be a brilliant, articulate, and well educated young person. We would have no need for outcomes, standards or whatever other international gauge we have to measure student achievements.

Recently I was looking around to do some further study (basically around the IT/ education area). I have an interest in photography and noticed one of the Universities offering a 5 week introductory course to a Masters - that involved Photoshop. I thought I would give this a go. It was done online through a webinar. I thought it would be interesting - as well as getting a feel for what the full course would be like. I have used Photoshop for a number of years now (self taught) and know a reasonable amount of it’s use. The lady who ran the course would present the webinar each Thursday. I don’t doubt her knowledge base. She obviously knew her stuff. But her ability to make it clear to the student left a lot to be desired. I persevered for a few weeks - then gave it a miss. I looked around for another Uni to do my course. I’m not having a shot at the lady who ran the course - but it did strike home to me the need to be able to impart your knowledge clearly, simply - repeating main points - so the student gains knowledge themselves. Even as adults we want the learning blocks broken down to simple, achievable “ah ha” moments.

All this leads to the main point of this post. Recently I came across a short course that exemplifies this aspect fantastically. In fact had me quite excited. I love learning new things - especially in areas that I have no background in. I love history and have a curiosity to things scientific. The tying of these two aspects together, in a format I could understand greatly intrigued me.  
The course I am referring to is called “Big History Project”. It is a course designed by David Christian from Macquarie University. It is a free, online course that tells the story of our Universe and humanity. It combines the best of social studies, humanities and science. It takes about 6- 8 hours to complete the core material and quizzes. It attempts a very complex concept by breaking it down into eight key components. It makes it achievable for to gain new knowledge for both yourself and any students you may teach.

The link is here:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

"What have they done to my song (Pages) Ma ?"

As a long time fan and user of Apple Pages as my preferred word processor I was excited and waited with anticipation for the release of an update. In it's present form it did everything I needed efficiently and eloquently. But it was now over four years since a major update and therefore could use a bit of modernisation and added features.
The release of ios7 and then Mavericks caused a whirlwind of updates, refreshes and patches.
My first experience with the "new" Pages was the iPad.
It look different - more in line with ios7 (to be expected). My usual mode of work was to jump between Pages on the iPad and the computer (saving through iCloud). Worked well- no complaints. Start the basics on the iPad - then jump on the computer for fine tuning, formatting or more complex layouts etc.

So - Pages on ios7 ? Cleaner, flatter lines. Yeah - ok. But I must admit  the new look ios7 doesn't really do anything for me - either way. I neither love it or hate it. It more about any added functions rather than eye candy. Gave the new version a run. Seemed to be just about the same as the old - there may be a couple of added functions I am yet to explore. But - basically I could do the same workflow.
The first hic up came with saving a file - telling me I needed to have Mavericks installed to be able to view the file on my computer. Hello - is a way of forcing us to upgrade to Mavericks quick smart ? At this stage I hadn't upgraded to Mavericks - just waiting for the rush to die down. I also thought - this can't be right. Started Pages on the laptop to find out. Sure enough - the same file I was working on the iPad - wouldn't open on the laptop.
Therefore I have to have Mavericks to be able to go to and throw. I don't mind the upgrade - Mavericks sounded like a good upgrade - but what about the difference with Pages. Heaps ! A very different beast indeed. Similar look to the ios7 version. It will only update when you have installed Mavericks.
I won't go into all the differences between Pages 5 and Pages 09 (there are plenty of more detailed posts  about it ) - but a few I find I need regularly have been removed. Inserting file path for example. I use a number of different computers and storage spots - therefore being able to indicate a file path in the document saves me hours of searching for a file. You can still use the 09 version on Mavericks (it is still  on your computer) - but it won't sync with iCloud. Only the new version will.
Instead of Pages becoming a Word Processor that has added functions to compete with the heavy weights (which it already did well - in my opinion) - it has been dumbed down to make it nearly the same as what you can do on your iPhone. Easy - yes ! But apple needs to realise that most people use their iPads and computers in different ways. The ability to cross from one to another (iPad to computer) is handy, generally do something that is not as easy on the other platform. Therefore we don't mind a slightly different (but generally more powerful) version.
I haven't played in any great detail - so I need to check exactly how it will ultimately affect my workflow. I will report back on that one. But my initial reaction is that apple has passed up on an opportunity to make a great program into an even greater one.
Oh - what have they done to my Pages Ma ?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Travel, work and an iphone- doable ?

How practical is it to do work while you travel using an iphone ?

I have just returned from a 6 week trip to Borneo (Sarawak, Sabah) and Cambodia. It was my first time of travelling with any form of technology. Previously I have thought the beauty of travel was to get away from being contactable! My - how things have changed.
So - what did I take ? Not much really. But, as my wife was travelling with me I  will explain the set up that was used by both of us and why.
On a previous trip to Borneo (2008) we took a group of people with AETA ( Asia EducationTeachersAssociation) to Borneo. One of the group broke their ankle - we therefore purchased a cheap mobile phone to be able to arrange insurence, hospital, ecatuation flights etc. We therefore decided a mobile phone would be necessary on this trip.
I proceeded to ensure my iPhone (3Gs) was unlocked. Yeah - I know - an old model - but many of us neither have the money or the need to continually upgrade. I wasn't a high phone user. Ring me and you will get a 2 minute conversation and I didn't use it for much else. The idea was to get a Malaysian sim to give us emergency contact as well as data.
My wife was taking her iPad 2. She teaches Indonesian and was going to continue contact with her class through an Edmodo classroom she had set up for this purpose. It was only the wifi model but we figured that wifi was fairly extensive now and we could tether it to the phone for the more obscure locations. We really didn't want to be carrying 2 full size iPads and 2 phones - so it was one of each.
How practical did it work out - and what sort of uses did we put them to?
I set up the iPhone with a Malysian sim - so I had phone contact with the outside world as well as Internet connection. I started using my phone in ways I had never used before. Because all travel documents are now digital I had 3 main storage areas. My email ( with a folder called "travel" ) for any emails related to the trip. Evernote and Google drive, where copies of documents, hotel receipts, flights etc were kept.
The day to day use of the iPhone was mainly to check email. I could do this easily at most hotels ( using wifi). My phone at home, as I mentioned, is a fairly simple affair. But I did download a few apps that I found useful. Malaysian Airlines has an app that allowed me to keep up to date with flight times, changes and my eticketing. An app for currency conversion. Trip Advisor - for other people's opinion of things. Even a guide book in iBooks - not very satisfactory on the small screen.
I used Edmodo to check on my own class, as well as make a few postings. Handy on the phone but a very cut down version and not overly useful - other than checking posts and making a post. Edmodo on the ipad, however, much more useful. My wife used the ipad for postings, assignments and grading in Edmodo.
To give visual support to postings the iPhone was used as a camera. The size of the phone was more suitable for using on the street than the full size ipad. I would take photos on the iPhone, put them into photo stream and they could be picked up by the ipad. An interesting observation we made on this trip was the amount of people we observed using an ipad as a daytime camera. Not to mention the number of people using phones - which is not surprising considering the quality of some of the phone cameras.
Elephants on the river bank: A photo from the iphone - from a boat on the Kinabatangan River central Sabah (Borneo)
I also used the phone to record audio and video which was emailed to others. Not good quality - but basic enough. I at times listened to music that I had stored on the phone. Not often - as the battery life was fairly limited.
The main document programs I used were Evernote, Pages and Google drive. I tended to jump around a little - from one program to another - trying to find what worked best. Pages tends to be my favoured word processor on mac and ipad. With the iphone, it also showed up to be the smoothest. Out of the three - it was the only one who could do tables on the iphone. I tend to use tables a lot within documents - so this was a plus.
I was using this for a while until I discovered I had accidentally deleted a section of my document. In Pages on the iPhone - there was no version or undo function. This did create an issue for me.
Because I had a lot of the travel documents (pdf's, emails and notes ) in Evernote, I decided I would give it a go for general use. It worked well. If fact I kept a general travel diary in Evernote. I like Evernote for it's simplicity and functions such as hyperlinks, voice memo's and reminders. But I hadn't really used it as a working journal. It worked well- but also it didn't have any version or undo function. Although the ipad/computer version has tables - the iphone version does not. Still - I perserved  with it - and it worked ok.
I also use Google Drive ( and of course Google Docs). As you can see I am a little all over the place as far as work flow. The iPhone version of Google Docs (document)  won't give you tables but you do at least can select spreadsheet - so that is a bonus. Although a simpler version than the ipad or computer Google docs - they worked out fairly well. Like Evernote I had a number of documents stored in Google drive - from pdf's of visas, travel information etc. It has the advantage of storing all types of files - PDF, Pages, doc etc. I ended up starting and doing most of this blog in Google Docs.
As you can see I tended to jump from one to the other ( Evernote, Pages, Google Drive). Which one was best on the iPhone?  Although none of them had an undo function ( and I mean where you have accidentally deleted something and want it back) - at least with Google Docs, you could open the web version and select a past version of your document. I'm sure this will also be available with the new web based iWorks as well. But at the moment I found Google Docs the best.
The more I used the iPhone - the easier it became. But it still was not as easy as using the ipad. Typing on the iPhone was slow, cumbersome and painful. Obviously they are not designed for this but with apps being customised for the phone - there must be a lot of people doing it.
My conclusion after 6 weeks ? The iPhone is usable in a pinch. I was surprised at how quickly I could use it towards the end. The apps are all cut down versions ( naturally! ) and miss some useful functions but are at least useable. The touch pad is not a good size for any extended typing. The worst thing about it - the battery life ! Having to charge every night ! Sometimes during the day. When you are using the phone for typing, web browsing etc it is surprising how quickly the battery drains. I also noticed that heat seemed to drain the battery even more quickly. These are roles the ipad is designed for and handles well. What about the phone as a phone ? I must admit I only made a few local calls. No overseas ones. We ended up using FaceTime ( on the ipad) to talk to people back in Australia. With wifi available in most places this worked extremely well.
My end thoughts. Next time I would definitely invest in an ipad mini. It is the perfect compromise size  - without having program's cut down further. Although Google Docs, Evernote, Pages, Evernote are cut down versions from the computer versions, the ipad ones are fully usable and much more pleasant to use. The ipad mini is a smaller size with full size features and programs. The iphone - too small, apps cut down even further and battery life that is near on impossible for this sort of use.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Few Apps for School and General Use

Sometimes to help organisation and keeping things together I will made a document to throw everything into. I have a document that I started ( a while ago) to make observations about apps and their potential use. It started off as a class list but has started to evolve into something different. It is a work in progress and one that gets neglected for a while and then returned to. So my apologise for broken links or incomplete sections.
I have included it here as a pdf link as well as an ePub for those who wish.

The Woodbutcher's Guide to Apps  (pdf)

The Woodbutcher's Guide to Apps (epub)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Need to re-assess: The DPD of Education.

With the fast changing world of technology the way we approach our teaching changes. It also causes a change in emphasis. I remember a time teachers thought they needed to show children how to use a mouse or how to type (unfortunately there are still some of these teachers around). Today - it is a different world. I have already done a posting about how the iPhone changed our view of computing. I think the big change there was it de-mystified computing, made it personal, easy, task centered. The ongoing effort was what caused a change in the Educational approach. Cloud based, touch based and personal devices made teachers re-assess what they were teaching and how they were using technology. Suddenly you didn't have to worry about teaching HOW to use the technology ( the kids have always been ahead of you on this game), but how to utilize it for effective pedagogy. It became an exciting time for both teachers and students ( including their parents - because they could related to this technology). Sure- early adapters have made some mistakes, but they have paved an incredible path in a very short time. All of this has happened in less than 5 years ! This is incredible speed in education. 
 It is probably time for us to regroup. I think the next wave of innovation will be a littler slower to impact on Education. Google glass comes to mind. Radical innovation - but a few issues to work around before it will be adapted for wide education use, mainly around privacy. I can see this one needed a little working around before it becomes widely used in education.
Now we have time to “breath” - we need to re-assess what is around us. We have a myriad  of tables/touch devices being released trying to break into the market that the iPad created. Sometimes with misleading information.
 I recently sat through a talk by a Microsoft educator who certainly presented misguiding information to a room full of educators and education leaders. While trying to convince the room of the educational benefits of his product, he displayed some very inaccurate knowledge around ipads. Most of the room who were new to the educational uses of touch devices certainly lapped it up.  The static design of ibooks , can flip a page - not interactive. He obviously hasn’t seen the interactive books that a lot of teachers (and companies) have made. Or used iBook Author to construct his own. The aspect of iTunes U to set courses. He thought it served best as a personal device (true) that was passive (not creative) and could not be utilized in education. I think he must have been asleep in the Microsoft office for the past 3 years ! He totally missed the video, audio, music, creative aspect that could be shared by Apple TV or  cloud hosting services. His main thrust was the ability to run MS Office. Sorry to inform you -we have already worked around that one and MS Office is not the giant it once was. Even the NSW Department of Education is dumping MS Office and going to Google Docs. He  went into a session on “Project Based Learning”. Good - but many others (including Apple) have been doing this for more than 7 years now. I think it is a fabulous method of learning - but be aware when people are passing it off as something original or new. There has been a lot of research and information regarding this approach under a variety of names (Challenge Based Learning, Community Learning, Project Based Learning, Life Centered Learning and so on).
So with the scramble by other companies to “get a slice of the pie” we have to be a little careful of what information we are being given and by whom. Many “theorists” and “product leaders” are simply trying to cram, what we did on a computer 6 years ago, onto a touch device - without any change in educational thinking or pedagogy.  
For the innovators : 
Technology has reached a temporary plateau  , we got memorized by the shiny ( when the iPad & iPhone came out - saw the potential but didn't quite have it figured out. We are now finally talking pedagogy. 
 A side affect of the “personal devices” boom is the aspect of wifi and the need to be always connected. In our homes, businesses and schools -this is becoming the norm. Computer banks in our Libraries are being re-thought. Everything is now cloud based. The internet is bigger than ever. For some, the internet is the “only” thing. Personally I feel this is the reason that Google have grown so massively in the last 3 years.  
Regardless of what technology we are using there are three main aspects that are raising their head and need to be incorporated into our teaching approach. I call them the DPD of education.

The first one is Discrimination :- discrimination of information. Our students live in a world where anyone can post information (and do)- regardless of how accurate it is. For many this is the only  information they go to. Our students use of social media has empowered them to post their own information on the net but they often don’t make the connection between their own postings and the possibly totally inaccurate postings of others. Wikipedia has become the default (often only) encyclopedia. We must educate our students to save them from the “I read it in the paper so it must be true” type thinking that our parents grew up with. Paper books at least had a process before being finally released. Not necessary always accurate but a number of people read and checked them before release. Not so with the internet. Therefore one of the 21st century learning skills we have to instill in our students is one of critical analysis. Being able to evaluate and discriminate between information. 

The second one is fairly straight forward but essential with younger students especially. That of Plagiarism: we have to teach the aspect of creating your own points of view - not cut and paste. I know that this is a major issue with University students - but most Uni’s have checks on this. But it now becoming a major issue with our younger students. It is so easy to cut and paste. Often in language that the average 10 year old couldn’t possibly understand. I’m not only referring to words here - but images and sound as well. Younger students feel that there is so much information,photos, sounds out there that they are up for grabs - they can use it as they wish. 

The third one is Digital Noise. There are so many distractions from the task we need to focus on , it never gets accomplished. This is a problem for all of us, regardless of age. But one we have to assist our students with. One thing about always being connected is the fact we are distracted by - “I’ll just check my email, what is the weather tomorrow ?, I looked at that website for information - oh I saw a news bulletin about the death of Chrissy Amphlett-  I’ll just YouTube a few of the old Divinyls songs “. Before we know it 2 hours have gone by and I have done nothing on my original task. Many claim that younger students can multi-task and keep focussed. I disagree with this. I think they are affected by Digital Noise just like the rest of us. We need to assist them with the skills to cut through all this to be able to accomplish what they set out to do. I try to encourage my own students to use the “reader” function in Safari - which just brings up the web article (minus all the adds, connections etc). 

These three skills I see as essential for helping our students make productive sense of 21st century learning. 
Discrimination: critical analysis of information.
Plagiarism: using original wording, media and therefore thought.
Digital Noise: cut through the distractions- staying focussed on the important tasks. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


One of the major complaints about the ipad is "What about running office ?" Or the question "When is Microsoft going to release an Office app for the ipad?  After all you can get the OneNote app ! “ With the release of it's own tablet - "The  Surface"- I can't see Microsoft being in any hurry to do so. 
So - what are the alternatives if you live in a Microsoft environment but want to use an ipad  ? Well - there are more alternatives than most people realise. There are many apps that will now do the job if you really need it. The satisfaction of using them is highly varied and I will start by saying they are not as smooth or satisfactory as using iWorks (Pages,Keynote, Excel), which  are specifically made for the ipad. 
I am not going to do a review of all apps - but simply mention a few that I have personally used and the one I feel is best.

The first is an app called Cloud On. Like most of the apps of this type they are based around Cloud based storage. CloudOn can connect to your dropbox, SkyDrive, Google Drive for any cloud storage you have. You can edit any Word, PowerPoint and Excel document saved in your linked storage. You can also make new documents in the Office format. 
When you open, or start a Word document you are presented with a full blown version of Word. 
I haven't really found much that isn't there. Anyone needing Office on the move -this will do the trick. The interface is rather "grainy" and jagged but the functions are there. You cannot print but can email documents. It has a clip art function but you don't have access to your ipad photo app ( which is generally a default with most ipad apps - if you are editing work documents this may not be an issue.) Can be a bit laggy , especially on larger documents. Seeing the app is free - a fairly good app.

The next one is  SmartOffice 2 . It can make Word Excel PowerPoint documents in the doc or docx  form. It even has some built in templates. Again - this one links to your cloud based storage. But I was only able to find links to DropBox, Google Drive and Box. If you use any other you may be out of luck.
The interface I found rather limited. Although you can edit and create Office documents the  interface wasn't anything familiar to Office. It certainly didn't have the features of CloudOn.  May suit many - as you are probably not going to try complex formatting on the ipad , leaving that for the computer. I also found formatting rather tricky and annoying. If you want to highlight a word or phrase for formatting, you needed to tap a number of times. It always seemed hit and miss. It costs $9.99.

QuickOffice Pro HD is another app that will handle Office files. It links to most cloud based storage. It is now owned by Google but I don't know what that will mean in the future. It handles all doc and docx formats. Costs $20.99 and seems to work effectively although a number of people have reported bugs - especially in Excel. 

The last one I only became aware of recently. Although I am sure a lot of people have been aware of it for ages. It comes from Microsoft themselves ( so one expects it to be the best at handling Office files). This one is Office Web Apps. This one is a bit tricky in a way. It is web based (it is not Office 365) and links to your Skydrive. It is not the Skydrive app but accessed through a web interface. Once you have logged in, you have your total Skydrive ( Mail,People, Calendar and Skydrive ). In Skydrive you have access to any document you have saved there ( I use it for saving other documents besides Office files). 
You can edit and create new documents - Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote and Excel Survey. It has an interface like Office 2010 with the ribbon. It isn't the full program but they have done a dam good job of including the common features that you are going to use most (it's a fact that 90% of Office users use only 10% of its functions). It includes a connection to your photo app as well as clip art. 
You can create hyperlinks. It saves back to Skydrive. You can share your file with someone else for joint editing.  You can only edit a document in your Skydrive folder - therefore any existing files would need to be saved to it. You can only upload from your camera roll. A work around would be to open where the file is - say DropBox, select "Open in ... ", select "Skydrive App".  Save in Skydrive app. Then open the Web interface and your file will be there. Convoluted I know - but a way around it if you have files stored all over the place. A very good way of working with Office docs if you really must use Microsoft. Best of all - it's free.
Links directly to SkyDrive. All your files are accessible.
Has most of the main features of a basic office suite
Will save back directly to SkyDrive. Good for people who are worried about getting documents off the iPad to use on a windows computer.
If you are using this web based app ( can't think of an appropriate word - because it's not really an app) - on a win machine with office installed it will edit in the full ( computer ) version of Office but save back to SkyDrive.

Can't copy and paste to another document or app.
Selection of text not as smooth as Pages.
Being Web based - not as fast or as smooth as Pages
The Office 2010 type ribbon interface gets in the way, You lose some screen space. You can minimise it - but most people operating in Office with it showing.Also operating in a browser you have browser tool bar in the way.
Being web based - may have some difficulties with some school servers (maybe proxy settings ? - not sure).

The bottom line ? Quite frankly iWorks still remains the smoothest and most satisfying experience of the lot. Also you can save each to the corresponding MS Office format ( Pages to Word, KeyNote to PowerPoint, Numbers to Excel). Probably for most - this is sufficient.
   But, if you really need to use the Microsoft format - it is really hard to go past MS own Web Based Apps.    Chances are you are already using Skydrive and it integrates nicely with it. More accurately it is part of the web based Skydrive. My second choice (although it looks horrible - was probably designed for the iphone) would go to CloudOn. Again - free. I haven’t taken cost into it - I just feel these two would suit my personal needs best.

This is only a look at 4 (5 if you include iWorks -which can save in the format) apps capable of editing and saving in MS - be aware there are many others I haven’t looked at. I have tried to limit it to programs I have personally used.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Years Resolutions. Will we keep them ?

With the ending of the old (2012) and the start of the new (2013) , everybody discusses what they are going to attempt to do in “education”. The reason I put it in quotation marks is because - although we are talking education - for the purpose of this blog - I am referring to education with a technology bent or using technology to achieve my aims in education.
I want to be better organised this year ( don't we all ! ) and use technology more efficiently. 
I have mentioned a few program's that I tend to favour but this year I want to take this even further. 
So what am I planning ? 
This year I hope to utilise Evernote a lot more productively. I already use this for my private use and have it installed on all my devices. I use the web clipping function for clipping articles I read, putting them into related Notebooks ( mac shortcuts, educational theory, ipad use etc). The email function to send things directly to Evernote and so on. 
Inside my Evernote  - for classroom use, I have set up a Notebook for each student labelling them with the students name. I have one large Notebook called "Year 5 2013". Inside this one I have a Notebook for each student labelled with their name ( Fred Smith etc). This is where I will keep records on my students. One note will be for monitoring ( any observed behaviours, meeting with parents, health issues). Other notes will be per subject, where I will have work samples and observations.  Therefore an English note will contain an example of their book work, photographed using my phone or ipad - whether it be handwriting or grammar (because the program is on all devices it will go directly to that students folder. You don't have to save it elsewhere and move it).  They can email work samples from the computer and I can attach them. Over the semester I will build up enough samples and observations to make report writing easier. The killer feature - all in the one place.  
The other aspect I have done is to set up each student with their own account. Because cloud based solutions are a legal nightmare for students under 13 ( in other words - all Primary School students) I sent a note home to parents explaining what I hoped to achieve and asking permission to set up accounts for the students. This will be followed up by a parent information evening in the first weeks of term. I contacted Evernote and teachers are able to set up accounts ( with parent permission). I chose the free accounts for this as I am not totally sure how this aspect will pan out over the year. I asked permission from parents before the holidays (and all agreed) and will have them set up before he new school year starts. Probably the biggest educational push here is going to be “organisation” . Teaching the students have to organise Notebooks and keep subjects in order. 
I have used Edmodo for the past 2 years and it has replaced my class website/blog. For those who don’t know it - it is a virtual classroom facebook type program (available on all platforms). My aim is to use this more efficiently. I hope to be better organised on assignments and quizzes. The beauty of Edmodo is that it keeps tack on students scores -so you can build up a record for report time. If a student submits an assignment, you can mark and comment on it within Edmodo. Last year I found the students submittted their assignments in different forms. Word (can comment in Edmodo)  Pages, (cant ) and PDF (can). My aim this year is that all students will submit their assignments in PDF form. Therefore they can use any platform and Edmodo can read it. I am also going to set up a sub class for an extension group (something I didn’t have before). Students enjoy the facebook/blog aspect of Edmodo (it is totally closed by the way - no one can see in - therefore safe and don’t need parent permission. Although you can give parents a code to view what their children are doing). Although I won’t limit their posts - I will clean them out one a month - just so it doesn’t get too cluttered. 
I run an “iPad User Group” for educators in my district. We have a wiki for information and resources - but it tended to get cluttered, disorganised and a general “dogs breakfast”. I will examine the possibility of setting up an Edmodo classroom for our group. Some groups use it for teacher PD but I’m not 100% sure I will carry this through.

On a more creative note (so it doesn’t appear it’s all about grades, scores and assessments) - I plan to set up an “Internet TV channel”. Sounds grand - doesn’t it ? Last year we purchased a green screen and lights. The two mac classes have flip videos and tripods. The idea is that the students will be able to give news reports, show projects being worked on etc. The editing will be done in iMovie (both macs and ipads). A channel will be set up on YouTube and linked to the school website. This will be totally students work. To make it “doable” I am only think of maybe three postings a term. Otherwise it becomes a headache and doesn’t get done at all. 

We have already started using Apple TV’s (ATV) in some classes. It appears to be ok but with a few minor hitches. The advantage of the ATV is that you can show anything on ipads or macs. I need to follow through with this to ensure that every student can immediately show their work from their laptop. I will post more about this at a later stage.

iBooks Author and iTunes U. This year I need to get serious regarding iBook author. This is  such a fantastic program that I really haven’t fully explored and followed through with (laziness , time - I can give a thousand excuses). It is a fantastic way of presenting a unit of work combining reading, pictures, quizzes - I do really need to follow through. I also want the students to have a go at iBook Author to construct their own texts. My class have produced ebooks for the younger classes through Pages. The younger students view them  on the ipads. iBook Author (which I have installed on all their macs) can take this to a much more interesting level. I want to experiment with iTunes U as well. Maybe a unit of work that can be repeated in following years or shared with others. 
I am basically setting up my delivery to be usable on both computer and ipad. The reason is that we are finishing our 3 year cycle with the mac laptops. Do we replace them for the senior class or go with ipads ? I am hoping to trial a class of one on one ipads later this year. In the meantime we have 15 ipads which I can borrow from the Infant classes so I can experiment. 

I continue to do most of my planning and day book through Growly Notes  .I still wish they would make an ipad version - I really love this program and use it a lot !  I may introduce this to the students for their macs. 

These are just a few of my New Year Resolutions regarding Technology in Education. I have only mentioned a few, with the aim of, hopefully, carrying them out. One of the bug bears we all have as teachers - is over planning ! Or not carrying through with ideas. I am hoping that these will all come to fruition.

What are your New Year resolutions ?