Saturday, April 21, 2018

Can I Study the ANZAC Tradition on the iPad

Anzac Day is held on the 25th April and remembers all those that have fallen in battle for Australia and New Zealand. ANZAC stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. They have fought in many famous battles in countless theatres of war and and have been enshrined in both Australian and New Zealand history.

I was interested to see if anyone had developed any apps to showcase the information and subsequent legends that have grown up around the ANZACs. Thankfully there were a range of apps and a number of the apps I did find were developed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) an Australian government organisation. I think because these were developed by the ABC they are distributed for free.

Gallipoli: The First Day: FREE
Explore the events of Gallipoli in a 3D map space. From the first sightings of British Naval ships by Ottoman platoons and the unfolding chaos of the pre-dawn landings, to the ANZAC struggle to make gains in the unforgiving terrain.

WW1: Fromelles and Pozieres: FREE
It’s WW1, and the battles of Fromelles and Pozieres, are raging. Hear the story of these battles narrated by Hugo Weaving while you explore 3D battlefields and trenches to gain an understanding of how WW1 battles were fought.

WW1: Battles of Third Ypres: FREE
It’s WW1, and the battles of Polygon Wood and First Passchendaele, form a key part of the Third Ypres campaign. Hear the story of these battles narrated by Richard Roxburgh, explore 3D battlefields to gain an understanding of events.

WW1: Beersheba: FREE
Anzac history is brought to life in this interactive documentary detailing the Battle of Beersheba and its pivotal role in the Middle Eastern theatre in WW1. Explore the battlefield in 3D and dioramas to gain a rich understanding of these remarkable events in Australian history.

Kokoda VR: FREE
Using real 3D locations and featuring original museum artefacts, historical interviews and videos; witness the famous Kokoda Track campaign of WWII. App comes educational resources linked to content Australian History Curriculum.

Spirit of Anzac Centenary: FREE
Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience tells the story of Australia’s involvement in the First World War. It begins in pre-war Australia, before transporting you to recreated scenes of Gallipoli, the Western Front, Sinai and Palestine.

Nga Tapuwae Gallipoli: FREE
A guide to the battlefields of the Gallipoli Peninsula. Follow in the footsteps of the Anzacs, with interactive trails, audio guides and maps. Explore the history of New Zealand’s involvement at Gallipoli with fully researched historical guides.

Nga Tapuwae Western Front: FREE
A guide covering the Western Front - the Somme. Follow in the footsteps of the Anzacs, with interactive trails, audio guides and maps. Discover landmarks including the Arras tunnels, the Bulford Kiwi, and cemeteries at Tyne Cot and Caterpillar Valley

WW1 Researcher: Australia: $2.99
Explore 6 case studies of people who served in the Australian Army in WW1. The app gives you an idea of what research of a soldier or nurse might look like. Research links and the collection of primary source documents will guide you.

Victoria Cross: FREE
The Victoria Cross tells the story of the heroic deeds of soldiers during WW1. The heroic actions of these soldiers left their mark on history. In recognition they were presented with the most prestigious British and Commonwealth Armed Forces military award: the Victoria Cross.

First World War History for Kids: $2.99
An interactive experience to learn about the origins of WW1, the conflict, life in the trenches, the major battles, air and naval warfare. Historical periods organised thematically and chronologically from the start of the war to the armistice

Remember Them: FREE
The Remembering Them app provides a geo-coded list and historical descriptions of thousands of memorials, museums, shrines, statues, monuments, wartime bases, war graves and other Australian sites that commemorate our wartime history.

I would love t add to this collection if anyone k ow of any other suitable apps.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Implementing a BYOD Program

Making the decision to move a school towards a BYOD model can be fraught with danger. This is especially true if you are using table devices. Unfortunately many people still hold the belief that laptops are for working and iPads are for playing or surfing the net. 

One of the things we always do with schools is to work through a BYOD Support Program. This was developed in consultation with schools and has been revised regularly. The school and the community have to be given an opportunity to say how the implementation model is rolled out. I can not stress enough the importance of giving both parents and staff the opportunity to actively contribute to the BYOD conversation. It should never be the case that the school leadership makes a decision and the community is expected to follow.

Here is the outline of the BYOD Support Program that I run. It is conducted over three intensive workshops with the school BYOD Implementation Team. Each session is conducted 6 weeks apart. This is imperative so surveys can be conducted, decisions can be made, discussion and consultations can take place and information sessions for staff and parents can be held. We also insist that at least one member of the school BYOD Implementation Team must be on the leadership of the school. We find that the most successful schools are those schools were the School Principal is the one driving this pedagogical change.

The most successful rollouts are the ones where schools are really open to honest evaluations of the program. We have seen school significantly change their implementation models and even their devices based on feedback from staff, students and the community.

I would love to know what else you think we should include in the Support Program and what has been the biggest plus for your communities when they have moved to a BYOD Model.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Why would I buy my child a tablet device for school?

In my job I often get asked by schools to participate in their BYOD Parent Information Nights. These can be interesting events depending on the amount of preparation that has gone on with the school community. 

I sometimes find that the school has not clearly articulated the reasons, uses and evaluation of a proposed BYOD program. Sometimes the school can not articulate it themselves. This can be problematic when we are asking parents to fork out 100's of dollars for a device.

In a attempt to support schools I produced the document below. I know it is lengthy but it has not necessarily been written to be distributed to all parents. What it does do is inform the conversation between a school and it's community about why it might be important to have a conversation about students owned devices and the benefits of these devices to their learning.

Click on the image to read the full document

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Apps to Create Beautiful Colour Palettes

I was originally a Visual Arts teacher and spent many hours working with students to finalise colour schemes for particular artworks. It is amazing how the colour combinations can change a work and help to create an emotional response. Combining colours is not an easy task for many people. Although they may have the technical skills to create beautiful artworks students sometimes struggle pulling the work together successfully because of poor palette choices. Here are a number of apps to help in your creative endeavours whether it be painting, design, web building or creating images for the web.

Coolors: $2.99
Coolors is the color scheme generator just by tapping on the screen. Type in your colors to get good matching color combinations instantly. Browse thousands of popular palettes made by other cool creatives and then save your favorite or copy, export or send via email. Use by more than 500,000 users

Adobe Colour CC: Free - In app purchases
Turn photos into color palettes, patterns, type and shapes. With just a tap on your mobile screen, you can transform what you see into creative building blocks for all your designs. Make dynamic and customizable color palettes to use with all professional Adobe Image apps.

ColorDot: $0.99
Colordot is a color picker for humans. It's intuitive, fast, and beautiful. Allows you to build palettes with a swipe of your finger or use your camera to capture colors from the world around you. Colordot is perfect for students, teachers, web developers, illustrators, designers... anyone who loves color!

PANTONE Studio: Free - In app purchases
Use PANTONE color, to build color palettes consisting of up to five colors by selecting from color guides or to take a photo and use the color picker to build a custom palette. Extract colors from images your phone or Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram accounts

My Palettes: FREE
MyPalettes is a simple and user-friendly application that allow you to create your own color palettes from photos. Features include access to 600+ color palettes and their details so you can both capture color and show its HEX. Design your own palette and share it with friends.

IC Colour Palettes: $1.99
Create color swatches for Photoshop, iColorama and Metabrush. Pick the colors directly from images or use the scheme creator for generating your own palettes. Use the color wheel for creating palettes based on complementary, monochromatic, triads  and other color theory schemes.

Colour Viewfinder: Free - In app purchases
The Colour Viewfinder app will turn your photos into awesome color palettes generated in real time on the camera view. Pick any photo from your collection and customise the results with multiple creative layouts. Add RGB color information and share with others.

Palettes: Free - In app purchases
Palettes is a powerful productivity tool for creating and maintaining color palettes. Now you can create a color palette anywhere at anytime. Grab colors from a photograph, a website, or add colors using any one of 5 color models. You may create and store any number of palettes.

Coloresque: $0.99
Coloresque is a handy essential for everyone who works with colors. It's a simple yet powerful tool for color inspiration, creation, identification and modification. Just with a single tap, Coloresque can show and name any one of over 16 million possible colors.

Palette Cam: FREE
Palette is a tool for designers and artists, used to create unique color palettes from the inspiration all around you. Use your camera, or saved photos to create beautiful color palettes. Browse the inspiration page, an endless supply of great photos ready to be turned into colorful palettes.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Apple vs Google = ?

We have seen a lot of discussion recently about the Apple and Google presence in the education space. There have been many impassioned pleas from different sectors about iPads vs Chromebooks but I have never really understood the notion that a school has to move towards a particular brand of technology or one type of device. 

We often see arguments about the educational merits of a particular brand. People promote Apple because it allows for greater creativity, other push forward Chromebooks because they give the students access to the Google suite of educational tools or another group who talk about Microsoft and how important it is that students will be across tools that they will be expected to use in the workplace.


This is not my experience. When devices are provided and students are aware of the limitation of each of the devices then they chose the right device for the task at hand. You and I would never limit ourselves to one device in the workplace. We would choose the device that is best suited to the task at hand. I might be lucky but I am currently provided a phone, a tablet and a laptop. These are tools of the trade in the environment where I work. I know this is not always the case but I am in eLearning so it makes sense that I have access to the technology. My point is - shouldn’t we create a situation in the classroom that mimics real workplaces and then hand the responsibility back to the students about deciding which device is best for completing a particular task.

I work with schools moving to a BYOD environment and the ones that get the best results have a range of devices available to the students. One school I have worked with, suggested to their community tablets for the device for students but has then provided 6 laptops and 6 Chromebooks in the rooms for the students when they need them.

I have been in the classroom when students working in small groups quickly discuss the nature of the task and the most appropriate device choice. This is the type of independent and students led learning that I believe we should be developing in our schools. Give the students a voice and a choice. The very fact that they are discussing the nature of the task prior to commencing it means that they have already started to deconstruct the different components of the task itself and are evaluating that type of appropriate tools or apps at their disposal to complete them.

I love the fact that if the students decide to make a movie they can grab the iPad, collectively negotiate the script, film and edit the footage and then insert graphics, voice overs, music and credits in iMovie to create a professional looking product.

Equally if they want to create a Google Form to collect data they can edit the document collaborative, share it via email and collate the data in graphs and pie charts before sharing back the result to participants.

These choices do not need to be an either or decision. This is an adult construct, one where you and I have preferences because of our skills level or the device we are most comfortable with. I bet your students do not see it this way. They did not learn to use computers on a particular platform, they use them all, interchangeably and without hesitation. They really do not delineate between Apple, Google or Microsoft but rather between what each of the tools on offers deliver and how well they will meet the needs of the task.

Once again I am reminded that often it is I who needs to get out of the way to allow my students to learn best. So the next time you are involved in a discussion about whether your school should go Apple or Google why not ask the question - Why not both?

Monday, April 16, 2018

10 Fun Apps for Learning About Fractions

Fractions are like times tables, they are an integral part of every student’s basic maths education. I have always found that children who have a basic grasp of fractions quickly convert theses concepts when introduced to decimals and percentages. It is a fantastic moment when you see a child make the connection between the concepts of fractions, decimals and percentages. Sometimes it just takes someone to lay it out visually for them to see the explicit links between ¼, 0.25 and 25%. Here are some apps for guiding your students through the idea of fractions. Find one that appeals to them and step through it with them. This will give them a good grounding for future mathematical concepts.

Slice Fractions $5.99
Slice Fractions has been developed with quality graphics and a sophisticated interface. Based around clearing a path for a woolly mammoth, it is intuitive and develops good conceptual awareness. Designed for students to have fun but still situated within a pedagogically sound environment.

Pizza Fractions:
Ranked a top 100 iPad education app in the US in 2015 Pizza Fractions is a game based learning app designed to develop fractions skills from grades 2-5. In the pizzeria your child masters the concept of naming simple fractions. An approachable environment that develops confidence in a child’s ability to label fractions.

Squebbles Fractions:
The Squeebles want to enter the Cake Making Contest but the Maths Monster has stolen all their ingredients and their entry tokens. Students have to help the Squeebles win back their ingredients by working through the four fractions mini-games. They can then make cakes from over 100 ingredients and enter them into the contest!

Fractions by Braincamp:
Fractions by Brainingcamp has everything you need for learning about fractions. It has a sequential order to the concepts with an introduction section as well as equivalent fractions, common denominator as well as adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing fractions. I like that the lessons come with visuals and audio narration.

Fraction Basics:
Fraction Basics is a video app that teaches kids the core concepts of fractions in 12 computer-animated, visually interactive videos. The app is designed to help children easily navigate the app to access just the lesson they need to tackle at the time. I like this because kids can come back to videos again and again for explanations.

Fruity Fractions:
Fruity Fractions allows kids to solve challenges and unlock the story of Quip the hungry parrot. Solve fraction problems correctly and the parrots receive tropical treats. I like the structured learning pathway and engaging problem solving aspect of this app. It really is a case of kids having fun and learning fractions without realising.

Jungle Fractions:
Not only is Jungle Fractions easy to use but it has beautiful graphics to illustrate concepts. The interface uses animal faces that smile and roar in a fun jungle theme. I like that the app tracks progress scores and supports multi-users. This means multiple kids in the classroom can have their details and scores tracked over time to monitor progress.

Zap Zap Fractions:
Kids learn the basics of fractions in a quick, visually-interactive and engaging way. With each new fractions lesson learnt, students are given a mission: to build parts of a spaceship. As students solve each question, they navigate their fully-constructed spaceship through the galaxy while zapping away asteroids.

Fractions by the Maths Learning Centre:
Fractions lets students use a bar or circle to represent, compare, and perform operations with fractions. They can reveal or hide numeric labels as needed and superimpose fractions upon each other to compare fractions or see equal parts. Not a bad app at all for the visual learners in your group.

Visual Fractions Decimal and Percentages:
This app allows a child to make the connection between the concepts of fractions, decimals and percentages, highlighting the explicit link between ¼, 0.25 and 25%. There are no games or quizzes. The purpose of the app is to build conceptual understanding between the links to decimals and percentages.