Friday, November 21, 2014

iPads and your files in a multiuser environment

iPads are super awesome devices. They have a reputation for being content consumption devices, but they are serious content creation devices, too. Expect students to use them to create powerful content. From their inception, iPads were designed as personal devices. They are typically used by single individuals in a 'single user', personal way or by students in a one to one school with an iPad program like the junior high's. Users typically take pictures, capture video, load apps, subscribe to content, game, learn and enjoy the iPad experience without a lot of worry about someone else picking up their iPad and accessing personal information or worse, deleting important content.

 EWG is deploying some iPads in a multiuser environment where that 'personal device' paradigm doesn't exist. Here's a scenario that is about to replay over and over. A student or teacher might sign out an iPad from the library or lab, create content through a really powerful program such as Explain Everything, or capture video and images for use in a digital story. At the end of a block, the student or teacher returns the iPad to the cart. The very next block, or perhaps the next day, another learner signs out the same iPad. Where does the first user's content end up? Is it stuck on the iPad? What prevents the second or any subsequent user from accidentally - or maliciously - deleting great content? How can the loss of users' content and angry students and teachers be prevented?

Google Drive to the rescue. You can use Google Drive to quickly and easily backup the vast majority of your iPad content. It takes a few seconds to sign in, a few seconds (ok, a few minutes for gigantic projects) to send content to drive, and a few seconds to sign out of Google Drive. Before you start a project with your students on shared, multiuser iPads, please familiarize yourself (practice) and your students with the steps to send projects to Google Drive. You'll be happier, your students will be happier, and we'll have pulled a fast one on the tech gremlins.

An additional bonus of backing up iPad content to Google Drive makes it possible for a wide array of devices to access the content. For example, students might capture video and images with iPads for a sueded video project, and then edit the video on their Chromebooks or on an iMac in the television studio. And, many other iPad apps will let you backup content directly to Google Drive.

The video below provides a brief demonstration of how to sign in to and sign out of Google Drive on an iPad. Sending photos taken with the iPad to your Google Drive is also shown, and is representative of the process one might use with other iPad apps.

Monday, November 17, 2014

WeVideo Impresses

Two years ago when first dabbling with WeVideo, a browser based, online video editor, I walked away from the experience thoroughly unimpressed. WeVideo was slow, clunky, and frustrating. During the last few weeks, I had the chance to work with or observe students, some from grade 6 and some from grade 12, as they edited video projects using WeVideo. What a difference a two years makes! WeVideo is a fairly responsive video editor that left me pleasantly surprised.

Make no mistake, WeVideo will not currently replace Premiere, Sony Vegas, Final Cut, or consumer grade video editors like iMovie. But it does fill a niche with fairly powerful tools, and a responsive interface. I particularly like the way WeVideo removes "Tech" from the video making process and integrates with tons of social media resources.  It seems that whatever media format gets thrown its way, WeVideo assimilates it, and works with it. Students can start a project at school, and pick up right where they left off on a machine at home, library, or friend's house. Happily, the "save and backup your work" song doesn't need to be sung during the last ten minutes of every class.

If you lack access to dedicated workstations with locally installed video editors,-Chromebooks come to mind-  and if you are looking for a free tool to empower students in digital storytelling activities, consider WeVideo. It may impress you, too.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

Marc Hamlin, here. I've been using a neat trick that Mr. Searle showed me. It involves using our archaic ExamView Pro test banks and Google Drive to administer formative and summative assessments to students.

What you'll need:

  • ExamView installed on your Macbook Air
  • Or
  • A VirtualBox installation on your Macbook Air and...
  • A virtual appliance running Windows XP 
You might not have either of those elements listed above, but see either myself or Mr. Searle and we can help you get those pieces installed. It's easy, and nothing to shy away from.

Once you have those pieces in place, fire up your Windows XP installation, then find the EV Pro program and open it as you normally would and create a test or quiz. Then, watch the video below.

NOTE: When you try to view this video from within the walls of the EWG campus, you may be met with the prohibition that you cannot view this video because YouTube is in Safety Mode. You may have to go into your settings and de-select Safe Mode.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Aspen Videos

Recently, a colleague asked for the whereabouts of the Aspen gradebook videos we created a few years ago. Since the videos were created through and hosted on resources that required Java to run, watching the videos on various devices was a major hassle, and on some devices like Chromebooks, downright impossible. Over the last few weeks, I converted the videos to a format that works on Youtube so viewers should be able to watch them on any device. Keep in mind that some of the videos are three or four years old. Menu options and things to click on may have changed or been revised. However, the gist of each video is still reasonably relevant. Links to the videos are listed below, in no particular order.