Thursday, April 17, 2014

How Spritz Reader Might Change Learning

If you have not already seen the Spritz reader, you should check it out here:  and here:

Although this technology is still in it's infancy, it works to change significantly how we read.  If you have read any of my blog posts, you know that I am all about using technology to do things that were just not possible before.  This is definitely something that does just that.

Reading is something that we spend a good amount of time learning in school.  We learn all the proper skills needed to do it correctly.  What we didn't know was how much time we waste moving our eyes.  What this application does is focus your eye on one spot while feeding you the information.  Through this process you are able to read much faster than you ever could before.  I believe personally that it comes with greater accuracy as well.

Tracking issues have always been a problem with school students.  There are many methods out there to help students with this issue.  We utilize rulers and fingers, templates that isolate words and software applications that track our eyes and attempt to help us follow along with the page.  Many students still struggle with reading, because following lines on a page is not an easily mastered skill and sometimes it goes against how we are wired.

What impact this new idea in reading will have on education?  Too early for me to tell, but I believe that it will be impactful to a large number of students out there that struggle with reading and focusing.  I believe potentially that students with ADD will be able to read more content in a shorter time, helping them keep pace, while not forcing them into hours or sitting still.  Students that can't track a page well, will be able to read content without being frustrated, or having to re-read sections for understanding.  It might even level the playing field between book worms that naturally feel comfortable reading, and those students that don't seem to have the skill natively.  Books simply might become more accessible for everybody.  This could really be a tool that bridges the gap in reading skills and makes it more accessible for everybody.

The big question is this:  Testing will require students to read the old fashioned way.  Will testing ever be able to keep up with the technology that is allowing students to be so successful in school, while not meeting the standards on tests?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

App Smashing and Using iPads in the Classroom (Quick Guide)

Many schools that have adopted one-one tablet technology struggle with the pre-requisite skills associated with moving files from app to app.  This process is now called App Smashing, and when you learn how to use it to your advantage, it really does make things nice and simple.  Workflow is king and the easier it is to distribute content, create solutions, and then store that information for feedback, the more success you will have in the digital classroom.

In the following example, I will be demonstrating how to utilize iTunes U, Various Apps, and Google Drive together for a smooth classroom workflow.  iTunes U will be our method of distribution, Apps will provide the ability to complete work, and Google Drive will be our method of collection. (These training videos take into account that you already know how to set up courses in iTunes University.  If you do not, please refer to the iTunes U training for more information.

Getting Started:

First you will need to set up your Google Drive folders.  We will be using Google Drive as our method of collection.  We want to make the process simple by first having the students create a folder that they will share with their teacher, and then by organizing those folders from the teacher account.  The key takeaway from this is that you will want a common naming system.  The following videos explain this process:

Next Steps:

Now that we have created our folders on Google Drive, we are ready to complete our work and turn it into our file for a grade.  In our examples we are going to take a PDF worksheet, annotate that document and submit it into our Google Drive folder that we established in the earlier videos.  The next example uses a software application that creates an image that we then will submit to our Google Drive for grading.  And our final example demonstrates using a quiz from iBooks as a way to get feedback from a student.  This final example also demonstrates creative ways to utilize the built in features of the tablet to create content for distribution.

First example:  Taking a PDF assignment from iTunes U, opening it up using the requested application, completing the worksheet, and turning it in using Google Drive.

Second example: Using iTunes U to request that the students create a drawing, using an app to complete the drawing process, and then turning in the drawing using Google Drive.  The key to this video is that the drawing application requires that the file be first turned into an image before it can be uploaded to Google Drive.

Third example:  iTunes U is used to request that a test is taken in an iBooks epub book.  This book is opened and the test is completed.  The test results need to be submitted to the teacher using Google Drive, but there is no clear cut way to accomplish this.  Using the screen capture option on the iPad an image is created and then submitted for a grade on Google Drive.

All of these training videos and more are part of an iTunes U course that can be found by going to the following address on your iPad device.  In this course you will find other materials on creating iTunes U content, and more ways to App Smash your way to a successful classroom.