Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Four Approaches to Getting Content OFF Elementary Students' iPads - No Email, No Problem, Part 2

This is a guest post from Beth Holland at which has been an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers for the last year.

As I wrote in Three Approaches for Getting Content to Elementary Students' iPads - No Email, No Problem, a major challenge of working with iPad is actually working with iPad. Unlike a computer, iPad does not function as well in a shared environment because of the challenges of workflow - getting content on and off of the devices. The lack of email, coupled with the Terms of Service that preclude those under the age of 13 from having a cloud storage account, further complicate the problem. In my first post, I outlined three potential approaches for distributing content to students without using email or logins. However the next challenge is to get the work that students create back OFF of iPad.

iPad Workflow
It is critical to create a plan for getting work OFF of iPads before beginning a project as it may impact the tool(s) and app(s) that you choose.

Approach #1 - Cloud Storage

Much like getting work to students via Cloud Storage, it is also possible to get work OFF iPad as well. More and more apps recognize that workflow is a challenge and have added Drive, Dropbox, Box, or Evernote as options to their action menu (the arrow coming out of the box). For students to share work back with their teachers, they could send it to a shared folder within that cloud service. For example, a student creates a screencast with Explain Everything and then sends their project to Dropbox for either their peers or the teacher to see.
Cloud Storage + Camera Roll = more options
Some apps may not share directly to a cloud storage option. In that case, do not underestimate the value of first saving to the Camera Roll. Whether a student takes a screen capture of their work, saving it to the camera roll, or exports a photo or video from another app such as Skitch, Animoto, or PageSend, once in the camera roll more options exist.

Dropbox has an option to automatically upload content stored in the camera roll to an account. This could be a simple way for students to easily share their work with you or the class. It is also possible to upload images and video to Google Drive from the Drive app. In Evernote, images - but not video - from the Camera Roll can even be added to notes.

With whichever cloud you choose, in order for students to share work, the app needs to be installed and logged into an account. Though this provides a relatively easy solution, two issues still exist. First, if all students use the same account, it is possible for them to accidentally delete another students' work. Second, it does skirt some of the Terms of Service with regard to students under 13 using the app.

Approach #2 - Email

All apps have one trait in common: the ability to share by email. Some apps may attach a file to an email while others may share a link. However, it is one of the easiest ways to get work OFF iPad. Suggesting email may seem counterintuitive as most elementary students do not have their own account; however, a school could put a single account on each iPad that allows students to send OUT. In fact, the students don't even need to know the email address.
Send to Gmail
Hundreds of projects flooding your inbox may sound like a logistical nightmare. I once worked with a teacher who created a separate homework Gmail account just for student assignments. This way, she not only avoided an inbox flood, but could also leverage the labels and filters inherent to Gmail.

Imagine directing a student to share their screencast by email. You provide instructions that the subject line of the email include their name as well as the title of the project. Not only does this begin to model email etiquette, but it also enables you to create custom filters on the Gmail account to automatically label based on the subject line. In fact, a project could then be curated into both the students personal label as well as one for the specific project.
Send to Evernote
Every Evernote account has its own email address. This means that students could email work directly to a teacher's Evernote account rather than an inbox. More specifically, if a teacher has created a set of notebooks in advance for either individual students or projects, then the student could email directly to that notebook. The tutorial below shows the mechanics of finding your Evernote email address and sending to a notebook.

An unintended consequence of sending to Evernote is that teachers can have their students support the curation of their own portfolios. In addition to storing the digital learning artifacts that students create, Evernote can also hold audio recording of their thoughts, as well as photos of what they create in the physical world, and even the teacher's typed notes about the learning process.

Approach #3 - Use a Learning Management System

While a Learning Management System (LMS) is a great tool for disseminating content to students, because of the lack of file structure inherent to iPad, it is not always the best solution for collecting back work created by students. Two FREE systems that work well for closing the loop in elementary classrooms are Edmodo and Schoology - though they do require that each student have an account.

With Edmodo, anything in the Camera Roll can be uploaded and added to assignments or notes which can then either be "turned in" or shared. Schoology, on the other hand, includes the ability to submit projects from almost any app. The video below from Jennie Magiera provides a great walk-through of workflow with Schoology.

Approach #4 - Leverage the Web

Let's assume that it is not possible to install cloud services, assign email accounts to iPads, or leverage an LMS. It is still possible to get student creations OFF of iPad with selective choices of apps. Some of the best apps for elementary students - ScreenChomp, Educreations, Fotobabble, Animoto, Croak.It to name a few - all create web links for completed projects.
Create Class Accounts
One of the great features of apps such as Educreations is that all of the iPads can be logged in to a single teacher's account. As soon as a student completes and saves a screencast, it automatically appears on the web - complete with a link and an embed code for future sharing. As demonstrated by Carrie Booth's kindergarten students last fall, it is possible for even the youngest students to learn how to save to a class account.

Links & Google Forms
Some apps, such as ScreenChomp and Croak.It, automatically generate links, but how do you then curate them into one place? A simple solution could be to create a "turn it in" or "share your project" form. This could be a single form, maybe even added to the home screen of every iPad, that may just ask for the students' name and a link that could be copy & pasted. If the resulting spreadsheet is viewable by all students, it also becomes an easy platform for them to experience each other's creations.

No Single Solution

Once again, a single solution to the workflow dilemma does not exist. Planning, testing, and experimenting are critical to coming up with the best possible options for your students to be able to access content on iPad and then share their creations.

To learn more about iPad Workflow, EdTechTeacher is offering iPad Classroom as well as Advanced iPad sessions this summer in Atlanta, Chicago, and Boston.

Upload Your Own PDFs and EPUBs to Google Play Books

This post was updated on December 4, 2014 to reflect the change to Google Play Books for iPad. 

This evening Google announced a great update to Google Play Books. You can now upload your own PDFs and EPUB files to Google Play Books. Upload your files and you can read them on your iPad or Android device with the Google Play Books app (click here for iOS app, click here for Android app). When you upload your files you will be able to bookmark, highlight, and the dictionary tools just like you can with any other book in the Google Books app. Directions for uploading files to Google Play Books are included below.

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Applications for Education
Students could use the new upload option to add study guides and notes to Google Play Books to take them anywhere in a digital format.

If you're looking for a tool to create EPUB documents, I recommend taking a look at dotEPUB.

Google Play for Education Promises What Teachers Have Wanted from Android

Cross-posted from Android 4 Schools

While I was busy leading a day of learning about iPad apps at Bridgton Academy Google announced a new service that could make Android tablets a stronger challenger to iPads in education. Google Play for Education (not live yet) promises the features that many of us have wanted for a long time.

Google Play for Education will be an app store designed specifically for teachers and students. Developers will be able to submit their apps this summer. Some selected developers announced at I/O include NASA and PBS. The best part of Google Play for Education will be the ability for teachers (or administrators) to purchase apps and push them out to all of the devices in their schools. If the entire school is too big of a group, the option to create smaller groups of devices will be available too. Teachers will also be able to use Google Play for Education to push video and documents out to all of the devices in a group.

One thing to keep in mind about pushing apps and videos to Android devices through Google Play for Education is that all of the devices will have to be part of a Google Group created through Google Apps.

H/Ts to The Next Web, Venture Beat, and Android Central

A New Version of Google Maps Is Coming Soon to a Browser Near You

The annual Google I/O conference started today. This is the event at which Google announces a slew of updates and new offerings. One of the announcements that grabbed my attention was the launch of a new version of Google Maps.

For students and teachers the most notable aspect of the new version is a streamlined integration of Street View and 3D Earth View imagery. The new version of Google Maps will have an image carousel that you can open at the bottom of your screen. That carousel will allow you to quickly zoom to a Street View or Earth View complete with 3D imagery. This appears to eliminate the need for the Google Earth Browser Plug-in if you're using Chrome.

One of the new features of Maps that Google is touting most highly is improved discovery of places of interest near locations that you click on the map. Another new feature is the option to compare routes between places based upon the mode of transportation you intend to use.

The new version of Google Maps is still in beta. You can register for an invitation to be a beta user here. Learn more about the new Google Maps in the video below.

Update: TechCrunch posted an informative video featuring a live walk-through of the new Google Maps.