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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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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10 Things You Need To Know About Bringing iPads into Your Classroom: Tips for iPad Deployment

By Derek May on September 04, 2012   /   Apple Configurator Creation Apps Edmodo EdTech Educreations free apps free creation apps free education apps iBallz iPad iPad Deployment iPad Roll Out iPad Rollout iPad Settings iPads in the Classroom Prezi Restriction Settings Technology in Education Volume Purchasing Program    /   1 Comment








The grants been granted and you're approved to bring iPads into your classroom.  Now what?  Here's 10 tips you need to know about bringing iPads into your classroom!

1. iPads alone won't improve your students' classroom experience or academic achievement 

New technology is only half of the journey to taking student learning to the next level.  The best way to use iPads in a classroom isn't to fit the new technology into the "I have always taught it this way" curriculum, but to rethink the curriculum entirely, redefining your lessons and practice with the new technology in mind.  What are the goals you have for you and your students with the use of iPads?  What can you do in your classroom with these devices that you wouldn't be able to do otherwise?  Keep the answer to these questions in mind as you rethink the way you teach everything, devising new lessons and an entirely new practice.

2. It is the Teacher's responsibility to keep the iPad's usage constructive in the classroom

Make sure there is structure and oversight from you as the teacher to keep iPad usage constructive and not a distraction – this means setting restrictions in the settings, setting rules in the classroom, and applying certain organization within the iPad, such as grouping apps by usage.  It's important that it is clear to the students when the devices are to be used and when screens are to go dark and often a verbal cue (like "screens dark now") is helpful for letting students know when it's time to put the device aside.

3. Password protect, and set settings carefully to have the most control over the device when in students hands

Turn on Passcode Lock in the General menu within Settings.  Next turn Restrictions to On in the same menu and go into Restrictions and turn off Deleting Apps and In-App Purchases, as well as Multiplayer Games and Adding Friends within the Game Center section on the same page.  The latter two is to keep strangers from reaching out to students from the Game Center app.  You can also choose media ratings for Movies, Apps, Music, etc on the Restrictions page.


4. Set-up both Find my iPhone and Find my Friends app for each device to keep track of iPads

Find My iPhone and Find My Friends are essential tools for keeping track of your classroom iPads and should set-up as soon as possible!  Find My iPhone tracks individual devices and allows you to remotely display a message or play a sound on a missing iPad and Find My Friends lets you track all of your classroom devices on a map in realtime!  Both Apps are free will you give you a serious leg up when it comes to keeping track of your iPads.

5. Invest in Only Free Apps in the beginning

It's tempting to load your new iPads up with tons of apps, but it's best to get going with the iPads and test the waters so you have a better idea of the best Apps that will help you use the iPads best in YOUR classroom.

6. Creation Apps > Content Apps

Content apps (apps that have built in content for the students to learn from) are limited and have a hard line standard of what the student can learn from them.  While they are great up to that limit (and there are many excellent ones to choose from), your time and budget is much better spent on open-ended Creation apps, that allow your students to process and present information that they input in new and exciting ways.  We will delve further into Creation apps in a later blog post, but for now check out free apps Educreations, Prezi, and Edmodo to get a feel for what a Creation app is.

7. Many useful Apps come with the iPad right out of the box!

Since we're on the subject of apps, there are a number of great apps that come with the iPad right out of the box.  Reminders (simple reminders and to-do lists), iBooks (and excellent ebook reader with features like search, highlighting, note taking, and bookmarking), Newsstand (a newspaper and magazine app which stores and organizes periodicals), and the Calendar app are extremely useful and should not be forgotten!


8. Purchase Apps through Apple's Volume Purchase Program

This program allows Educational Institutions to purchase apps and books  in volume and distribute them to students, teachers, etc.  Enrolling in the program will also allow you to purchase apps tax-exempt (if your institution is tax-exempt) and access special bulk pricing offers from app developers.

9. Use Apple Configurator to manage your fleet of iPads and keep the data student specific

Apple Configurator is a free app that will help you update, back-up, and install apps on a small fleet of iPads.  This app will save you from the time-killing headache of downloading apps individually on each device and the app is also a great way to synch data on the device with individual user profiles so that students can access all of their data regardless if they're using the same iPad from day to day.

10. Don't forget to budget for headphones, Apps, Charging Carts, and iBallz!

Classroom iPads need accessories to get the job done.  Once you get your new iPads you are going to need a charging cart, headphones, and iBallz to keep your tablets safe from spills and drops!  Don't forget to include those expenses as you budget for your new learning tools.

Bonus tip!

Bringing in new technology to your school classroom is going to be a process of trial and error.  If something doesn’t work, change it up – don’t be afraid to try new lessons and new practices and don't be afraid to ditch them if you don't feel they're working!  Get feedback from your students on their experiences with the iPad and keep refining your new practice as you get the feel for all the possibilities this exciting technology can bring to learning!

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

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