5 Tips for Better Managing iPad Memory – from TeachThought

iPad_storage

Like many others, you may be experiencing the squeeze of the 16GB storage capacity of your iPad. Here’s an article from TeachThought.com with some good tips about how to manage the limited resource that is your iPad’s memory.

5 Tips for Better Managing iPad Memory” – from TeachThought.com

Let’s Talk About Bandwidth…

By this time I’m sure that we’ve all experienced the reality of bandwidth limitations at BLS. If you don’t know, “bandwidth” is the measure of the flow of internet data to our campus. It is the size of the “pipe” through which the stream of the internet flows.

BandwidthThere is a very real limit on the size of the pipe that connects BLS to the internet. IT uses some sophisticated hardware and software to help mitigate the effects of that limit and to ensure that our critical systems (like the phones) stay functional, but in the end there is only so much that can be done. When we use up all the available bandwidth, our experience of using the internet will suffer.

Several individuals have asked why we don’t have more bandwidth available. It would seem that increasing the size of our pipe (aka the amount of bandwidth) would be a simple fix for this problem. Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case. The reality of the way that the internet works is that we use all the available bandwidth almost the entire school day. If we were to increase the available bandwidth, we would very quickly use up all of that as well. We use what is available. There was a very clear picture of this truth on Monday. That day, the juniors and seniors were off-campus, and the freshmen and sophomores were participating in service activities. No one in the high school was using the internet in any significant way. All of the bandwidth of BLS was at the disposal of the middle and elementary schools, which have significantly fewer internet-connected devices. And yet, tests showed that we still used the maximum bandwidth the entire day!

The other limiting factor in this is simple economics. Our geographic location makes increasing bandwidth very expensive. There just isn’t a lot of internet infrastructure coming this far up Monticello Road, and there aren’t any businesses past us that would make expansion worthwhile for the telecommunications providers. That means the cost of any improvements must be financed by us.

So what does this mean for us? Well, for starters, it means that IT is doing a great job of managing the limited bandwidth resources that we have so that the effects go largely unnoticed. Even though we use all available bandwidth almost all the time, most users do not notice this very often unless they are trying some particularly bandwidth-heavy task like streaming video.

The second, important implication for us is that we need to think creatively about how we use the internet. General web surfing uses very little bandwidth. Even streaming audio has a small bandwidth footprint. It is streaming video that is the main culprit for issues we may encounter. Think about the design of your class and how you can best face this reality to minimize problems. I am not saying that you should never have anyone streaming video. I am saying that if you can download a video ahead of time you should. If you can’t, be prepared for the possibility that it doesn’t work. Also, think about efficiency. If you want everyone to see the same video, show it on the TV or screen instead of having everyone stream it to his or her iPad. And, of course, always be mindful of whether your students are on task. Non-instructional videos aren’t just distracting in your classroom… they may also be causing a problem in the class next door!

Finally, please don’t see this as an attempt to shut you up if you are one of those who has reported a problem. If you experience a drop in connectivity, it is still important that you report those incidents to the helpdesk. It is important that we have a record of these events when they occur. If the problem you are experiencing is not caused by bandwidth limitations, helpdesk staff will work to correct whatever they can. Just be prepared that if it is, there may not be anything that they can do about it.

If you have other questions about this, or if you would like help with how to accomplish your curricular goals in light of these things, please let me know. I want to make sure that you are equipped with all of the knowledge and tools that you need to be successful in your job!

Student Collaboration on an iPad

Collaboration is a buzzword in our school these days. With the introduction of iPads to our classes, the challenge is to find ways for students to collaborate using the iPads. Greg Kulowiec from EdTechTeacher has posted an excellent video that highlights six different ways you can have students work together on the iPad. He highlights several apps, including some paid apps that we do not have on our iPads, but take a few minutes to check out what he does with the ones we do use – particularly Notability, Google Drive, and iMovie!

You can also read the full blog post at the EdTechTeacher site.

Another Great Update for the Google Drive App

There was a big update for the Google Drive app for iOS today. The last update gave us the ability to create and edit word processing documents in the app, manage sharing, and upload pictures and video. This time we got:

  • Create and edit spreadsheets within the app (including realtime collaboration on shared spreadsheets)
  • Upload any filetype from other apps using “Open in…”
  • Manage file uploads

These are all great improvements, but the biggest change in my opinion is the “Open in…” feature. I tried it out and found that I could create a document in Pages and then upload that document in .pages format to my Google Drive. Once there, I can share that document with another user, who can then download and view the work in Pages on his iPad or Mac! I was also able to upload a large Keynote file in the .key format.

The upshot of all this is that now we have a way to share all sorts of filetypes without resorting to email (and the limitations that brings). For example, I can have a student create a great Keynote presentation and then turn it in via Google Drive without worrying that the file is too big to attach to an email.

Google has really improved their Drive app in the last few months to make it an excellent option for use on the iOS platform. What features would you like to see them add next? Let us know in the comments!

Did you know that if you do a Google image search for "iPad" and "Hammer" you will get a bunch of pictures of MC Hammer? Me neither!

Thoughts from Boston (other than “I don’t like snow anymore”)

I discovered that I don’t like it when it snows sideways!

I was fortunate enough to spend three days this week in Boston attending the first EdTechTeacher iPad Summit, held on the campus of Harvard Medical School. This was a fantastic time of learning and discussion with great presenters and thought-provoking questions. It was also an opportunity for me to experience my first “Nor’easter” – an experience I could have done without! I had never experienced snow that was parallel to the ground. I also did not know what it felt like to be a human snowdrift. I can now check both of those items off my bucket list.

I will be sharing quite a bit of what I heard with you through this blog over the next several days, but I wanted to start with a thought that was shared by Justin Reich (Co-founder of EdTechTeacher) on his blog before the conference ever began:

If you meet an iPad on the way, smash it.

This, of course, is a statement designed to grab your attention. It is also an important point about how we use iPads. In his post (to which you can find a link below) Justin discusses how we must guard against turning our attention to the “what” — iPads and apps and systems and tricks — at the expense of the more important question: “Why.” As we move forward in this new paradigm of school in a 1-to-1 program, we must remember that the idea is for every student to have an iPad, not for every iPad to have a student. The main thing is still the teaching and learning. The iPad is a tool that we are using at this particular point in time and space. It is a fantastic tool, to be sure, but it won’t last forever. Our attention must be squarely focused on the things that will.

So, take a moment to read Justin’s post yourself and then come back here and leave a comment. How are things going in your classroom? Do you struggle with losing sight of the students for all the iPads? Do you forget that there are iPads in the room? Could your class function exactly the same if we took away all the iPads today? I look forward to your thoughts!

If You Meet an iPad on the Way, Smash It — Justin Reich, EdTech Researcher

New in iOS 6 – Lock an iPad into one app

When Apple releases a new version of their operating systems, they never come with a user’s manual. We (the users) are expected to figure this stuff out as we go. In the case of iOS 6, they boast of over 200 new features, most of which are not specifically spelled out.

One exciting new feature for teachers is something called “Guided Access.” This feature allows you to lock an iPad so that it is “stuck” in one app only. You can do this on-the-fly, and can lock the iPad into any app of your choosing. Once the feature is turned on, it is a simple thing to engage and then turn off when you’re done. For a complete explanation of this feature and how to employ it, check out this post from the OS X Daily blog.

Enable “Kid Mode” on iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch

How Ed Tech Is Like Betamax – from Edudemic

In this article from the Edudemic blog, Beth Holland & Shawn McCusker compare the iPad movement and Ed Tech in general to the rise and fall of the Betamax format for VCR’s in the 80’s. Its a great read with excellent reminders about remembering the Big Picture as we dive into this iPad adventure.

How Education Technology Is Like Betamax – from Edudemic

Turn In Video Assignments with Google Drive for iOS

One of the more challenging tasks for teachers and students using iPads has been the issue of how students can turn in video assignments to a teacher. The initial solution that we offered was to have the student upload his finished work to YouTube so that the teacher could view it there. However, this solution is not without problems – most notably privacy concerns and the requirement that students be at least 13 years old to create a YouTube account.

A New Way to Share

With the publishing of the Google Drive app for iOS, we now have a very simple and powerful way for students to turn in video assignments that eliminates the age and privacy concerns mentioned above. The basic workflow with this method is:

  1. Create video in iMovie (or another app)
  2. Export finalized video to the Camera Roll
  3. Use the Google Drive app to upload the video to the student’s drive
  4. Share the video with the teacher

The Details

The first step in this process is to create the video. This can be done in iMovie or any other video tool on the iPad. Once the project is complete, send it to the Cameral Roll. In iMovie this is done by tapping the share icon and then selecting Camera Roll. The exact location of the share button may vary in other apps, but the basic process should be the same. Next select the export size – be careful that you don’t make your video so large that you run out of storage!

Once the video has been added to the Camera Roll, the next step is to open the Google Drive app. I am assuming here that you’ve already installed the app and have entered your account credentials. Once the app is open, tap the “+” button at the top of the screen. You will see several options to add items to your drive, with the third being “Upload Photo or Video.”

When you tap this option, you will be prompted to select a photo or video. Tap on the video that you just created and you will see it begin to upload. This may take a while depending on the size of the file, but it will continue even after the device goes to sleep.
After the upload is completed you will see your video in the list of files. Tap the arrow icon to the right of the file name to open the Details panel, which includes options for sharing. Tap the plus icon in the “Who has access” pane and type the full email address of the person you want to share with. If needed, you can even share with several people. Tap the “Add” button and the process is complete!

Final Thoughts

As you can see, this is a great method for sharing video without running into some of the headaches associated with using YouTube. It keeps your video private and allows you specific control over who can view your file. It also avoids problems due to file size limits in email and age limits on YouTube accounts.

So what do you think? Any suggestions to improve the process? Is there a problem we’re missing here? Let us know in the comments section!