Not All Designers Wear Fedoras: A Lesson in Design Thinking

By Derek May on May 08, 2013   /   1:1 cue Design Thinking EdTech education technology Educators iBallz iPad Deployment iPad Rollout iPadEd mlearning mobile learning    /   0 Comments


At the most recent CUE Rock Star Teacher Camp I was listening in on a group of teachers from St. Rose school in Paso Robles, CA. They are considering a 1:1 program and debating the merits of various devices. I started a 1:1 Ubermix Netbook program at my school and have realized more than a few hiccups on the road to implementation. I jumped in the St. Rose discussion and asked how they plan on using the devices. Much like my own experience they were starting with the device and not the pedagogy.

I’ve found our 1:1 program to be a game-changer, that is if you allow it to be. Some teachers choose to use devices in the classroom to digitally tear down the classroom walls, others develop more controls to corral their students. I used to think that to allow more creativity in the class I needed to be hands-off and allow the students to roam with loads of freedom. I found that offering that much freedom to my students was unfair. They have come from traditional classrooms where the teachers stand and deliver while the students consume. To offer the opportunity to develop my student’s creativity I needed to help them with the process. I turned to Design Thinking.

I’ve always been afraid of the term Design Thinking as I considered myself a teacher, not a designer. Designers have style, wear fedoras and pointy shoes. It took some time for me to tear down my preconceptions and accept the fact that all teachers are designers and I want my students to be designers as well. Teachers are designers as they develop student experience and classroom atmosphere. It’s a daily process that shapes your student’s learning and advancement towards their unrealized potential. Design Thinking is a simple process. The first step is understanding the problem. We can better understand the problem through observation, questioning and listening. For the St. Rose folks the problem might be how to best utilize the device they adopt for their 1:1 program. For me it was how do I best help my students, develop their creativity, tap into their natural excitement for learning and in general make everyday like summer camp. We can better understand the problem through observation, questioning and listening.

As we understand the problem we diverge our thinking to develop lots of possible solutions. The key is to encourage wild ideas. Interview people, ask opinions and most importantly do not be attached to any one solution. This isn’t about you, it’s about the user. After you have wild ideas you hone in on one that seems workable. Build it. Use it. Test it. Reflect, redesign, rebuild and try again. This step could continue ad infinitum, and it does as everyday we are designing student learning experiences. Every year we have new students who need us to tear down our pedagogy and rebuild. It’s an exciting process that most of us were never aware is inherently written in a teacher’s job description. It’s tough being a teacher, but your students need you.

I’ve used Design Thinking with my students as they design a project to help a classmate learn a subject. They interview asking questions like “What ways have helped you learn in the past?” “What do you like to do outside of school?” “What were some of your most memorable projects in the past?” Students begin to design a project to help their classmates while asking questions and honing their work to best suit their classmates needs. Try Design Thinking, you’ll find it to be a powerful tool in your toolbox.
Contact me I like to help:
@cscottsy -twitter
cscottsy@gmail.com

My bio:
Chris, father of 3 boys, is a full time history teacher who has introduced and developed several technology programs within his district. His student-lead Geek Squad built and maintains the technology resources within his district including the K-1 Open Source computer lab. Chris proposed and has successfully implemented a 1:1 netbook program that uses Open Source software, making a cost-effective and easily manageable program. He loves using Design Thinking, Scrum in the class and seeing his students love learning. Besides being a History and Technology teacher, he’s currently the President of Santa Barbara CUE, a Google Teacher Academy UK 2012 grad and a CK-12 Champion. He regularly presents at conferences on technology and classroom culture. Most recently he has built a MinecraftEDU server to offer his students freedom to explore, build and collaborate.

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All About the EdCamp Phenomenon

By Alex Marketing for iBallz on May 02, 2013   /   barcamp bill selak edcamp iBallz okc edcamp unconference    /   0 Comments

 

The EdCamp phenomenon has been gathering an immense amount of momentum recently.  EdCamps are free "unconferences" focused on professional development for educators. Based off of BarCamp,  this self-organized user generated learning session model was first used by hackers and other computer enthusiasts interested in open source software and anarchy, though the model eventually bled into the mainstream corporate computer world.  EdCamps are free and the sessions held during the conference (which frequently focus on Ed Tech) are participant taught, submitted via index card on a scheduling board each morning to make the day's schedule.

For more information on EdCamps, check out the EdCamp site but to really get a feel for what EdCamps are all about, check out this short video made by Ed Tech educator extraordinaire Bill Selak about the EdCamp experience.  Bill co-organizes EdCampSFBAYEdCampOCLA, and  EdCampLA - who better to let you know what the phenomenon is all about!



We've gotten a chance to work with a few EdCamps (check out iBallz at the Oklahoma City EdCamp at the bottom of the post!), but we know many of you out there organize and attend these events - we would love to hear from you!

Send us your EdCamp stories at alexandra@iballz.info to post on the blog and we'll give the ten best post writers a free set of iBallz so you can keep your tablet protected at the next "unconference".
Note: This offer applies to all of our international camp goers as well, as we'd love to hear their unique experiences at EdCamps.  Unfortunately, we can only offer free shipping to US recipients.


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Is an iPad or an Android Tablet Best for Your Classroom?

By Alex Marketing for iBallz on April 17, 2013   /   Android Apple Apple vs Android Blackberry Drop Protection Educators Free Apps Google Nexus iBallz iFan iPad iPad Deployment Microsoft Tablet Tablet Drop Protection Tablets in the classroom universal USA Today    /   0 Comments

 

Here at iBallz we're huge iPad fans - after all we thought up our legendary drop protection on the day the iPad was announced!  Check out our posts on iPad Deployment and a list of free iPad apps for educators earlier on our blog.

Despite being inspired by the birth of the iPad, we certainly don't play favorites - after all we fit on almost any tablet on the market, be it iPad, Android, Blackberry or Microsoft - you name it!  Not sure whether Apple or Android is right for you?  Check out this informative rundown of the differences between the two in this article by USA Today Educate aimed at students: http://www.usatodayeducate.com/staging/index.php/opinion/opinion-which-works-best-for-students-apple-or-android-tablets

Already made up your mind?  Are you an iFan or an Android devotee?  Let us know in the comments below!


And don't forget to keep in touch with iBallz by "liking" us on Facebook and following us on Twitter!

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iBallz On The Road!

By Derek May on November 09, 2012   /   Acorn Media Bill Selak Camper Crywolf cue cue blog cue fall cue fall conference DEN design thinking Discovery Education Network EdApps EdTech EdTech Team Education Apps education technology elearning fall cue flipclass flipped classroom Google Apps for Education Google Apps for Education Summit Google Nexus Google tablet iBallz iPad iPadEd iPads in the Classroom Mark McWhinnie Microsoft mlearning napa Nexus 7 Nexus 7 Tablet OC Tech Fest OCDE Orange County Department of Education Samy's camera Surface tablet Technology in Education twitter twitter for teachers    /   0 Comments


It’s a new school year with new students, new challenges, and maybe even a little new technology!  Right after you settle into the new term but before you settle in for the holiday season comes a bevvy of Ed camps, conferences, and summits.  We were fortunate enough to get to jump in on a few here in California and had a blast meeting all the movers and shakers in Education Technology.

First we hit the Google Apps for Education summit in SF, which got us very inspired about apps!  Google really has a lot to offer educators and students.   Since the conference we have been working with the EdTech Team (http://www.edtechteam.com), recently supporting their donation of Google Nexus 7 tablets to classrooms.  More info at 


Additionally in SF we attended and sponsored the integratEd SF conference.  At the conference we got to attend group sessions on BYOD program implementation, using social media to engage students and parents, and an amazing iPad 101 workshop presented by Mark McWhinnie (www.markmcwhinnie.com).

Next we hit the road to beautiful Napa for the CUE Fall Conference, which we helped sponsor.  We towed the iBallz camper up north and set up shop in the courtyard of the beautiful American Canyon High School.  What incredible facilities!  The school is beautiful and pristine, complete with a field of solar panels guarded by a friendly group of sheep which came right up to greet us.  At the conference we got to hear workshops on everything from Twitter for Teachers by the ultra informative Bill Selak and we learned all about Design Thinking and it’s many problem solving applications.  We were amazed by all the creative educators at the conference, fearlessly experimenting with new and innovative models of teaching!

We then headed down to Orange County for the OC Tech Fest and boy were we in good company.  We demonstrated our wares at the Orange County Department of Education alongside Microsoft, Crywolf, Acorn Media, Samy’s Camera and more.  Microsoft recently came out with their new Surface tablet and iBallz is a perfect fit!  The festival was hosted by our friend Randy from the Discovery Education Network – if you haven’t checked out DEN, they are an incredible community of educators nationwide, a club of teachers who help each other learn and grow.  We’re a big fan of DEN here at iBallz!



Many thanks to all the EdTech conference organizers!  Keep in touch with iBallz for more tips on tablet education - Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter




 

 

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Top Note Taking Apps, Organized by the Feature You're Looking For

By Derek May on October 12, 2012   /   apps for disabilities aspergers autism EdApps EdTech Education Apps elearning Evernote flipclass free apps free education apps iBallz iPad iPad organization iPadEd iPads in the Classroom mlearning Notability note taking apps note taking apps for iPad organizing app Paperport Notes Pinterest Simplenote Sound Note SoundNote SpringPad    /   0 Comments

The most ubiquitously popular of the bunch: Evernote – Free – The most well known of the bunch, Evernote allows you to capture text notes, audio recordings, photos, and web clips and arrange them into neatly organized notebooks.  Evernote offers a host of organizing features, including tagging notes with keywords and notebooks can be synced and accessed through an iPhone, iPad, or desktop app, or through their site.  This app is great for those that want a scrapbook feel (great for bringing in information from a variety of sources) with high organization.

Most robust free app for taking lecture notes: Paperport Notes – Free – This great free note taking app allows you to annotate over imported documents or documents from the web, type or write freehand notes, highlight sections, and most notably dictate notes to text.  You can sync notes with Dropbox, Box.net, and other apps for easy access and sharing – not bad at all for a free app!

The most visually pleasing layout: SpringPad – Free – Pitched as an Evernote-meets-Pinterest app, SpringPad gives you much of the functions of Evernote with the visually oriented layout of Pinterest.  SpringPad lets you add photos, to-do lists, links, locations and more to board-like notebooks via a button on your browser or manually through their iPhone and iPad apps or web portal.  You can share specific notebooks with other people or add them as co-creators, allowing you to share content on a specific subject to a specific person rather than the whole shebang.  The app also has loads of other robust functions (for example if you import a location, it adds details like address and open hours), and is great for allowing teachers to share robust informational content with students, or for student paper and project collaboration, but would fall flat for students attempting to use it as a means for lecture notes.

The best inexpensive app for recording lectures while taking notes: Notability – $.99 – The most standout function of this app is that it allows you to record audio and take notes via handwriting or typing simultaneously – great for recording a lecture while taking notes.  Notes can be organized by subject or category and exported and synced through Dropbox.

The best app for recording audio while taking notes period: SoundNote - $4.99 – A hefty price by app standards, SoundNote takes the audio recording function to the next level.  This app not only allows you to record audio while you take notes, but you can click on a piece of text and replay the audio that was recorded while it was written.  Oh if I had only had this while I was in school!  Autistic, Asperger’s, and other special needs students find this app particularly useful.

For those that like to keep it simple: Simplenote - Free – As the name suggests, this is a very simple, unobtrusive, user friendly notetaking app, with well working basic functions.  Only drawback here is that notes can only be exported as email text.

Keep in touch with iBallz for more tips on tablet education Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter


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