Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Apple Teacher Program in South Africa

Apple Teacher Program

As an Apple Professional Learning Specialist, I was very excited to hear that Apple had finally launched their online Teacher Training program in South Africa. I think that recognising teachers who are confident in using technology in the classroom is vital. When teachers know they are rewarded for their expertise, they are more likely to invest the time and energy into developing themselves. 

The Google Certified Teacher program has been available for quite some time, and Microsoft also has its Online Education Portal where teachers can register and take free courses to improve their skills. Both of these have their benefits, but if you're an iPad house then Apple's offering just makes sense. It also has the added benefit of breaking down the Certification into 8 "badges" which you can take one at a time, as opposed to Google's 3-hour long exam!

I run daily sessions with my teachers and we have started working through the Apple Teacher Program in small groups of 3 or 4. I find this works very well; better than simply giving them the link to the online resources and hoping that they would just go about their business and follow the program at their own pace. There are obviously some people who would be comfortable with this self-paced approach and might even prefer it, but for the most part teachers are busy people and having a dedicated time set aside for development makes it so much easier. They also enjoy working next to others and learning together - the social aspect of learning can not be underestimated!

I must also applaud Apple for the effort they put into developing the material. I often have to write my own course material to fit the needs of the people I train, but so far the Apple resources have proven amazing and I only use my own iPad to demonstrate what I want them to do - the rest is taken directly from appleteacher.apple.com.

To get started, you have to sign in to the website using your AppleID. You must use your personal ID for this - a Managed ID issued by your school will not work. From the outset, you get to choose if you want to focus on iPad or Mac, and then you progress through earning badges in different categories. To earn a badge, you have to achieve 80% in a short 5 question quiz about the section. Once you have completed all 8 badges, you earn your Apple Teacher Certificate. Even adults like to achieve success, and seeing teachers earn their first badge and the sense of pride that goes along with it is refreshing!

Some of the terminology in the quiz may prove to be little tricky but do not let this put you off. I have had teachers get an answer wrong because they did not understand the proper names of things, even though they knew how to accomplish the given task. If you fail a section, you can always try again!

If you haven’t yet considered introducing this in your school, I encourage you to have a look for yourself. You won't be disappointed!


Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Schools: Why tech projects fail

Appy Hour @Rustenburg Girls' High

1. Insufficient/ineffective teacher training

When asked what the most important factor is when considering a technology project in a school, my answer would have to be to employ someone like me! As arrogant as that may sound, I argued recently that teachers are the most important people in a school. Equipping them with the skills they need to be successful when embracing new ways of teaching (because let’s be honest - for it to work properly there would have to be some changes to the way in which lessons are taught) is essential if you want your tech project to be a success. Yes, you can make use of 3rd party providers like education resellers (who generally have amazing trainers!) but how often are you actually going to get them into your school? When are you going to slot it into the timetable?

Having someone on staff who is on-hand to deliver regular training (timetabled if possible!) is the best way to give your teachers access to the support they need. Working with technology is a lot like learning a new language - you need to do a little bit, often.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Training Teachers vs Teaching Kids

So as the title suggests, this is going to be a comparison post.

I divide my time between coaching teachers on how to incorporate technology into their lessons and showing students how to use the technology to get the most out of their learning. This also serves the purpose of letting the teachers "get on with the teaching" without also having to be the experts when it comes to the technology.

But the differences between the two are enormous! If you imagine having to teach some grade 8 students how to make a video to demonstrate their understanding of a topic vs showing teachers the same platform (ie Clips on iOS) I am sure you would know that these are two VERY different sessions!

I have broken the differences down into a few key points:

Sunday, 27 January 2019

iPad rollout in school - pitfalls and successes PART 2

In the last post I started to mention some of the things we did well and not-so-well in our roll-out of iPads to about 200 students. Well, here's some more!

Straight off the bat, I must say that one of the best decisions we made was to...

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

iPad rollout in school - pitfalls and successes PART 1

So the week finally arrived. What has seemed like years in the making is upon us and I have to say that it has been a busy one!

What I'd like to do in today's post is to start to highlight some of the mistakes we made, as well as give some tips on how to ensure your rollout is as smooth as possible - things we will do again next time around and things we will do differently. There is so much to cover that it might be the first post of many, so watch this space!

We have chosen to go with Zuludesk as our Mobile Device Management system and,

Sunday, 6 January 2019

What should I buy?

A question I am faced with on a regular basis is one regarding an upgrade to a personal device.

"What laptop should I get?" OR  "I need a new phone - any advice?"

Well - as much as this is not part of my official job spec, it is something I LOVE to do - nothing better than spending someone else's money!

So - if you have any questions regarding whether to get that latest iPhone (and help Apple out of their financial dilemma!)  or which new laptop to buy for your child going off to college - drop me a line and I'll try my best to help!

See you guys later!

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Saturday, 15 December 2018

MDM's - love or hate them?

With the country's teachers all going on holiday last week, I was looking forward to some much-deserved rest. BUT...

Next week we have to onboard all our new iPads in preparation for our rollout in January. We have decided to change from Apple's own Profile Manager (which we currently use to manage our relatively small fleet of devices) to Zuludesk. This will be a new experience for all of us and we are both nervous and excited to experiment with what it has to offer.

We are also making up our minds about what to do regarding our setup for Apple Classroom - do we want teachers to have more control and create their own (ad-hoc) classes or do we want to make it simple for them that when they log on they already have all their classes created with students enrolled and ready to go?

All of this relies heavily on your MDM solution. I am sure to do a write-up of my experience with Zuludesk once I have been using it for a while.

Fraser Speirs did a great write up on developments in Apple Classroom that explains some of what to expect, but it is always daunting when dealing with things like this!

I have been having quite a lot of difficulty in trying to get all of our students data uploaded and synced to Apple School Manager, but this is more of an issue with getting the right data out of our school management system. I think we have finally got it working, but it is still a work in progress...

I am sure to check in before Christmas and keep you posted on how we get on!

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