Tuesday, June 17, 2014

iPad Hieroglyphics

Over the past few years I have facilitated a number of iPad workshops with teachers from across the country.  One observation that I have made is that when anyone (not just teachers) are new to iPads (or any device), they have a difficult time deciphering the meaning of the icons that appear consistently throughout apps.  While experienced users intuitively recognize the purpose of these icons, newer users often don't realize the messages that these icons are providing when they appear within an app.

In preparing for a recent iPad workshop, I was discussing the idea with Shawn McCusker (@shawnmccusker) and as the end of the day, I noticed that he had drawn these images on the chalk board as a reminder to his participants.

iPad Hieroglyphics from Shawn McCusker's EdTechTeacher iPad workshop in Chicago.

We quickly described the images as iPad Hieroglyphics, easily deciphered by the initiated and difficult to interpret by those new to the platform.  In an effort to make the idea a bit more permanent, I have created a ThingLink below that explains each icon and provides a few examples of how it is used in various applications.  My hope is that the image below can provide a base foundation for newer iPad users to understand how to navigate within and between applications.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Class eBook X iPad X Creative Book Builder

In a recent workshop with an outstanding group of teacher from the Acalanes School District where we were exploring collaborative capabilities with iPads, we worked through a process of created a collaborative eBook with Creative Book Builder and Google Drive.

The challenge at the end of the workshop was to have everyone create a short chapter for our collaborative eBook where they would archive one way in which they have either used, would like to use or are planning to use iPads with their students.

Everyone had to create three elements for their contribution:
1. Text explanation of their idea
2. Image / Graphic to explain the idea
3. Video / screencast to further explain their concept

The process is outlined below

Google Form - I collected everyone's Google Drive address with a Google form.  I typically employed this process as a classroom teacher early on in the school year as to have all of my student's address on one spreadsheet all year.

Google Drive Folder - I then created a Collaborative Book folder in Google Drive and shared it with everyone in the workshop with editing status.

Creative Book Builder - Participants created their mini-eBooks in Creative Book Builder and exported their ePub file to Google Drive.  Once uploaded to Drive, everyone moved their contribution to the collaborative Drive folder.

Creating a Collaborative eBook - One by one, everyone can download the ePub files to their iPads from Google Drive to Creative Book Builder.  Once all of the chapters are downloaded to Creative Book Builder, there is an option to select the books and merge them into one file within the app.

Exporting to Google Drive

Merging in Creative Book Builder

iBookstore - The final process would be to publish the ePub file for others to read.  There are a number of options here that include Google Drive, Dropbox, Box and even the iBookstore through iTunes Producer.

Classroom Implications: The same process outlined above could be used in the classroom to have students create collaborative unit eBooks, course review books or MGPs (Massive Group Projects...is that even a term?)
If $ is a concern for purchasing apps.  Students could always use the free version of Book Creator to make their chapter (be sure to have everyone create in the same aspect ration) and the teacher could download and merge with the paid version of Book Creator.

No Tech X Fist or Five

Years ago I wrote this post, No Technology Just Good Old Rock, Paper, Scissors.  It continues to be one of the most popular posts on my blog...that is about technology integration.  I can't say I'm surprised.

Inspired by the impact of that simple game to simulate economic systems, I thought i would share another non-technology gem that I have been using with increased frequently in nearly every technology workshop that I have been facilitating recently.

Fist or Five...

I was first exposed to this concept by +Shawn McCusker (@shawnmccusker) when we had our 9th grade world studies students debating responsibility for the Holocaust via Skype & a Posterous blog as guided by this United States Holocaust Memorial Museum document. (the Posterous blog became of a victim of the internet and Posterous shutting down.)

During the debate, Shawn turned to his students and asked "Fist or Five" for a question we were discussing via Skype.  His students immediately threw up a certain number of fingers to indicate their stance on an issue.  I was intrigued with such a simple approach to checking in on understanding, agreement, confusion, master, or anything that can fit into this fist to five scale.

I immediately became a fan, used it in my classroom often and now use it in nearly every workshop.

My approach to Fist or Five: 

1. After we explore a new tool, approach or concept to integrating technology I do a technology comfort level check-in.

Fist = this app, web tool or concept makes me very uncomfortable / nervous
5 = I have mastered this idea & could teach this to my colleagues

2. I then ask what is the likelihood of using this app, tool, concept or approach in their classrooms

Fist = Not going to happen, this isn't a good fit at all
5 = I would leave this workshop right now and use this with my students if I could!

To add one more layer to this approach, throughout workshops I like to have participants use Evernote as a method to archive and compile their ideas from the day.  I also like to build in reflection time, where everyone will create a new note about this recently explored topic and archive their ideas, concerns, tips to remember as well as reflective discussion.  After both Fist or Five questions, I like to ask participants to discuss their ideas with one another and add those thoughts to their note.  I have found from experience and feedback that the non-technology check-ins throughout the workshop gives participants time to slow down and think about the tools, be honest with regards to their comfort and interest and hear from one another about potential classroom implications.

I wonder how others have integrated non-technology check-ins in their classroom or instructional routine...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The iPad Ideas Book

Thank you to everyone who downloaded, tweeted, retweeted and shared the iPad Ideas Book.  To date, there have been over 600 downloads which is far beyond what I expected.  Based on the positive feedback I have already begun work on The iPad Ideas Book Volume 2!

If you haven't downloaded yet, please click below to be directed to the iBookstore.

NOTE: If you can't access to this in the iBookstore (not available in your country) click on the link below to download the ePub file from Dropbox.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Show Your Work X iPad Ideas Book X Process

I recently published the iPad Ideas Book to the iBookstore...now to the post:

On a recent flight to Buffalo, on a recommendation from Amy Burvall (@amyburvall) I started reading Austin Kleon's Show Your Work  I don't remember the tweet exactly, but I recall that Amy shared something along the lines of..."This is the best book about education that isn't about education." I didn't have much choice but to read.  Halfway into the book I stopped reading, popped open my iPad and had to start writing this post. Grab of copy of Show Your Work and you will quickly understand why.

About the iPad Ideas Book: Process & Product

The origins of the iPad Ideas Book...I had been meaning to create some sort of visual and inspirational text to using iPads for quite some time, but every time I sat down to write I found that the text that I started generating didn't quite capture the ideas as clearly as I had hoped. I sat on the project for at least a year with little progress. Inspired by a few visuals that I had seen through my learning network, mainly those created by Brad Ovenell-Carter (@braddo) through his sketchnoting process, I realized that an inspirational book about using iPads had to be completely visual.

The Process...I made all of my visuals in Explain Everything. While the ability to record is the most powerful function of this tool, I bypass the ability to record and find myself using it to create visuals more often than creating screencasts.

I first made a template slide in Explain Everything with the various font styles, sizes and colors. This would allow me to work quickly and efficiently when inspiration struck to create a new idea. With the template created, I would duplicate the template slide whenever I was ready to create a new visual.

I do some of my best thinking in the car and when I really started cranking on this book when was I would open up Evernote on my phone on a long early morning drive to a workshop and use the voice to text function to quickly ramble off a few ideas into a note. Later, when I arrived home and had a few moments to create, I had my ideas archived and ready to pull from.

Over the series of a few nights I slowly compiled the visuals in Explain Everything. Throughout the process I was sharing the one page visuals with my network on twitter. 
Sharing for two reasons: 

One: I wanted to see if there was any actual interest in the ideas and visuals that I was creating.

Two: I wanted to contribute back to a community of poeple that had given me so many helpful ideas along the way. What I found to be absolutely surprising were the number of favorite and retweets of these images, I never anticipated the response from my community.

Once compiled in Explain Everything, I new I wanted to ultimately turn it into a free eBook that would be distributed through the iBookstore. I also wanted to create the entire product exclusively on an iPad. Admittedly, I had to use my MacBook to upload the final product to the iBookstore, but that is only because iTunes Producer doesn't allow for uploads via an iPad.

Compiling the eBook...I used Book Creator to compile all of the visuals in the book. At first I was using the export as image option from Explain Everything and then pulling in those images from the camera roll into Book Creator. However, on a tip from Explain Everything creator Reshan Richards (@reshanrichards) I recorded a few seconds on each slide, used the golden play button to then play back to the entire screencast and took screenshots of each visual. Apparently, an iPad screenshot is of better image quality than the image export option...thanks for the tip Reshan.

With the improved resolution screencast images captured, I began compiling in Book Creator...

Once I was done creating the book (this consisted of little more than importing pictures onto individual pages from the camera roll), I was ready to export off of the iPad. I selected Google Drive as the export destination. I then downloaded the file on my MacBook for an eventual upload to iTunes Producer for submission to the iBookstore.

I have never published to the iBookstore and wanted to go through the entire process.  I actually found the process of waiting for approval to be rewarding, it took about two weeks.  Being so used to being able to instantly publish, I found the wait and uncertainty to be refreshing.

I found a renewed energy to blog and write this post after reading just the first half of Kleon's Show Your Work.  One of my early take aways, that I have believed in for quite some time, back to my classroom days at Plymouth South with Katrina Kennett (@katrinakennett) was to consider the process, not just the product.  While I'm proud of the final product that was created & shared, I found the process of creating and of creating this post to be just as rewarding.  Further, as Kleon so clearly states:

"It sounds a little extreme, but in this day and age, if your work isn't online, it doesn't exist."

The post is inspired by my early and partial reading of Show Your Work.  While I typically share any final product that I have worked on, I haven't lately shared a process of creation.  This was my process.  The final book didn't suddenly appear.  It was messy, frustrating, rewarding and ultimately part of what we should all do...show our work.