Feel free to join the Ning site even if you can’t attend.
The above is just exploring the possibilities- of the app Strip Designer - it has amazing functionality for the price (£1.79). Schools only have to buy one copy and sync to as many devices as they own. We have got to the point now where we think software is expensive if it’s more than £2.00!
This week the class are about to start a new project about the sea, habitats and food chains. We have tried to support the existing scheme of work with the Touch. In some ways it is time consuming researching and accessing the appropriate content. iTunes can become a kind of mini teacher dashboard or VLE that can be customised. These are some of the things we’ve done.
- introduced video content the BBC Blue Planet for research - the pupils made the connection that they could screen shot the video content to collect “cool and awesome” pictures ( their words not ours!).
- bookmarked all the websites that are in the scheme of work. These are set up in Safari on the host computer and then “mirrored” when synced to the iPods. For younger pupils this does save time enabling them to access the key sites without typing in complex urls
- explored some games that might help develop ideas about food chains King fish and Pocket Fish (the latter being a tamagotchi like virtual fish). There needs to be some kind of teacher database where apps especially games and their “lateral” use can be documented.
We also had to breakages this week that are worth mentioning. One iPod was dropped see picture above and the screen is cracked. It is still fully functional. It didn’t have a protective case. This is because the Parat sync device doesn’t have gaps wide enough to accept the Touches with cases on. This is a major design issue that needs to be thought through. Also the second breakage is that one of the charging connections in the Parat seems to have failed. We’ll update on how we get on with that. At £849.00 we are expecting it will be repaired for free.
That’s all for this week - this link shows a great tutorial by American handheld learning evangelist Tony Vincent. Bear with the delivery, he does give a great multi app demo of creativity of on the Touch.
One final Link to Tony presenting at the HHL2009.
The Touch isn’t a device that lends itself to use from the front of the classroom. It’s real strength lies in providing access to data while pupils work independently. There are times though when instructions need to be delivered from the front, so this week we started to use the visualiser with the Touch. Above you can see the pupil’s working with teaching staff. This has made demonstrating/teaching with the Touch much easier.
At the beginning of the week the pupils worked with secondary NQT’s at the CLC. The idea was to show the NQT’s that secondary schools need to prepare for increasingly sophisticated IT users. The Friezland pupils still have 2/3 years before starting secondary school and demonstrated some weather and temperature research activities that they had carried out at school.
A few reflections whilst watching the pupils working this week -
- Some pupils are using two thumbs and others their index fingers. In a rapidly changing world what should teachers be advising? Does it matter? It did appear that the two thumb approach seemed to more productive for some pupils.
- Games - many ICT learning experiences for young learners are wrapped up in games. We’ve been using a range of free and 59p games. Most of the games for the Touch are not designed specifically for the classroom but some apps like Pop Maths and Broken Calculator have proved popular for Maths. The challenge is finding the time to experiment, but it is fun exploring!
- Managing the activities on the Touch - Because the device is small and crammed with apps, it is easy to be “off task”. Using iTunes to manage/load the Touches we are now looking at fine tuning the syncing so that staff can load only the apps and content that they need for specific projects. If this was a laptop/desktop computer this would involve a technician wiping and re-imaging the devices. With the Touch, the teacher can do this with a docking station. It could even be done over a lunchtime simply by selecting the appropriate apps and content in iTunes.
Here’s short clip from the classroom this week. The pupils worked created finger paint portraits using the free app Doodle Buddy. They quickly figured out that they could share a paint document and co-create, paint etc. They have also been experimenting with “bumping” files to one another. Bump is a free piece of software that allows the pupil to literally bump or shake the iPod to transfer a file to another iPod! This helps them collaborate and get organised for group/paired work.
Viewing on Touch or iPhone try this link
This week we have been finger painting on the iPod Touches. The 2 apps that we have used have been iPaint (59p) and Doodle Buddy (Free).
Both apps are easy to use and the Touch obviously lends itself to finger painting and smudging on screen. Both applications allow for deleting and rubbing out as well as changing the size of the brush/pen. Doodle Buddy appeared to be the app the pupils found most accessible. Some pupils even discovered that you could “share” co-construct a doodle across the wifi network. The “doodlers” could share the same image on their separate screens. We’ll try and upload a video demonstrating this. Sharing a doodle creates interesting opportunities for sharing ideas.
Whilst working, one of the pupils received an email from relatives in France. The fact that this could be picked up and shared in class without having to go to a dedicated ICT space made it fun and spontaneous.
See Friezland primary’s take on iPod Touch project: http://bit.ly/iGtLr
Here is a scrapbook image of some of the activities today.
1. Some of the year 4 pupils experimented with “Bumping”. Bump is a free app that enables one pupil to “pass” a file from one Touch to another (wirelessly). Pupils were taking screen shots of web images and saving them to the photo album. These were then shared, by selecting the file in Bump and then simply “bumping” the hands that are holding the two iPods. Pupils soon found that shaking the Touch at the same time in Bump would also work. We didn’t test this in anger with all 28 pupils at the same ( but we will explore this later). Sharing files like this is fun and physical. The Touch vibrates as it receives the request to share.
2. This is the Parat Sync dock. It weighs in (cost wise) at £800+. The window ledge location was for display/photo purposes only (we hasten to add).
There was some “umming and er….ing” about justifying the cost of this. However, when we started doing the sums, in terms of time taken to manage 30 odd cables being connected to USB hubs and then syncing to an iTunes account, the cost in tech time was high - Almost like disassembling a server, switch and client machines and then putting all back together again everyday. It’s a clean and robust solution. It is very easy to use. Hopefully the price will come down in the future. It also has 2 auxillary USB ports wich enabled us to sync more than 20 Touches in one go. We’ll write more about the Parat as we go on.
3. Today we made some sound recordings, using the built in Memo Recorder app. The picture is the stacked up headphone cases - something else to manage! The pupils had been desperate to explore voice recording. We’ve opted for the Apple headphones with built in microphones. Again combining the mic with the headphones simplifies the whole process. These are “in ear” headphones and so for hygene’s sake, each pupil has a dedicated pair. The pupils created little name tag with stickers for for the head phones; these are being stored in the pupils own personal trays alongside books and pencil cases. The headphones come with 3 sizes of ear buds and in a few cases we had to swap buds out for smaller sizes.
4. Recording - Here youcan see a pupil making a voice recording. Despite the position of the mic being on the headphone cable many of the pupils still spoke into the mic “graphic” on the Touch. Some of the older pupils set up short interviews where they positioned the mic closer to the interviewee (smart). Some of the yr3 pupils are very young and they were fascinated to hear their own recorded voices, possibly in some cases for the first time. This was a great experience for us never mind the class! It is also possible trim/”top and tail” the recordings which is a great introduction to audio editing.
We also set up email using the First Class app. First Class is the tool that binds much of the LA’s communications, so having this work, really does connect the learners to a safe learning community. It means that they can email research carried out on the Touch back to their own pupil account. There’s a lot of stuff in the FC app that they won’t use, but connectivity with other computers/laptops at school and at home is a crucial aspect to this project.
Pupils will be writing up reviews of their iPod Touch experiences and publishing them over the next few days.
Every now and then the media jump on the “negative effects of technology” band wagon. This piece raises the issues of young people becoming technology junkies and the creation of a generation of short attention spans.
There have been quite a few responses on-line this a really good one…
In terms of our project, there is a fascinating tension between the careful pencil marks of early learners and the instant gratification of touching a screen that responds. This mix of the physical and the virtual needs to explored and understood.
What we did in class today
Today we rolled out 28 iPod Touches so the ratio was almost 1:1. The pupils (a mix of year 3/4) were given a task to research 2 countries in each continent, find the capital cities and then find out how hot it was in those cities. The pupils had a work sheet (see pictures), basically this was a google style research task.
What we observed
- Some younger less able pupils had forgotten how to navigate around the Touch and how to use the web browser. More able and to an extent older year 4’s had very little problem picking up from last week.
- Typing was slow for some but this more to do with literacy and typing than the Touch’s interface.
- Some pupils struggled with their finger ends to control the Touch. They were trying to use their finger nails as opposed to finger tips.
- Unsurprisingly those with weaker literacy skills were challenged and conceptually the task may have been quite a tall order for the younger pupils.
- More able and older pupils were visibly engaged and quite excited by idea of finding out the weather conditions across the world.
- Although each pupil had a work sheet created by their teacher, they tended to work in pairs and share information.
- The use of hand held devices meant the pupils would wander around and share findings. They were not fixed to a wired computer or even a lap top. So the dynamics of the room were a lot less formal. They weren’t given instructions not to move. They were keen/excited to share.
- It was hard at times to keep an eye on the some pupils who inevitably wandered off task.
- There was a high degree of focus over the 1 hour.
- The teaching staff liked the immediacy of access to information. They didn’t have to waste time decamping to the ICT room.
- A couple of the iPods had not been charged properly and the pupils sat and worked with them being powered over USB from the one PC in the room.
Well it’s an organic thing, so the pupils will be making charts to track the temperatures across various cities.
We are hoping to sort out the following challenges…
- Many apps that rely on data passing to and fro, through the Local Authority filter don’t seem to work. This maybe a matter of “white-listing” the sources, but as it’s not simply a website/url this is more challenging for a classroom teacher to fix.
- We still haven’t sorted out email. Email is the preferred method for moving sound recordings back to a computer for editing.
- We are also looking now at adding the First Class app for emailing/collaboration and hopefully the Studywiz app when the latest version of the VLE is rolled out over half term.
- Finally managing the iPods -At the moment this is being managed by 7 Port USB hubs. These need to be attached not only to the mains for power but also to a computer. The computer doesn’t need to be the one that hosts the content. It doesn’t even need to have iTunes installed, it just works and enables the iPods to charge.
We are looking at an expensive option £899 (ouch) for charging and docking, but we’ll explore this as it happens.