Friday, 13 September 2019

Apple Event - with a surprise!



So like a true tech junkie I was glued to my screen earlier this week to watch the much anticipated Apple Event. Everyone already knew most of what was to know about the latest iPhone 11, but what did come as a surprise to most people was the early announcement of a new iPad (7th Generation). iPads usually get their own event in October (and we will probably still see new iPad Pro's at this event next month) but they announced their entry-level iPad as a separate event.

So, how is it? 

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Strategy for change 2019



Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend and present at the annual Strategy for Change Event held by Digicape. This is always an interesting day and yesterday didn't disappoint.

It is fascinating to mix with other like-minded teaching professionals and hear from them what their specific needs are. Every school is different and what works for a big, privately funded school won't necessarily be the right solution for a small school that relies on government funding. Principals and other school leaders often ask me what and how we do what we do and this is what makes introducing technology into the classroom such an interesting field. There is a solution for everyone! I guess it is navigating the minefield of options and making the right decisions that is the tricky part.

Whether it is rolling out the latest and greatest iPad (new announcement should be coming September 10th) in a 1-1 programme or just buying your first few chrome books, the initial decision is often what paves the way forward. Once you invest in something, you need to commit to it and throw your weight behind it.

My advice would be to get in touch with someone like myself who can assist in at least pointing you in the right direction!

Friday, 2 August 2019

6 Misconceptions About Passwords You Might Have


Guest Post by Techwarn


Do you take a cursory glance at your phone only for it to be unlocked as fast as possible, all thanks to the new facial unlock technology shipping with smartphones today? As a tech teacher who’s in touch with the most forefront development in the industry, you might think that password technology is heading out the door soon.
You might be surprised to find out that passwords are actually still one of the most secure options out there, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, and that is just one of the common myths. 
Here are a few more password misconceptions that might shock you a bit. If it’s insightful, bring them into the classroom with you. Although cybersecurity is not the most interesting aspect of tech education, it’s extremely crucial nonetheless.

1 Passwords are not secure

There is no better place to start than here.

Friday, 26 July 2019

Tweet your Instagram pictures as full images and not links



Using the amazing service IFTTT it is possible to set up some automated tasks that run in the background without you ever having to pay attention to it. You set it up once and let it do its thing in the background. Amazing.

I use IFTTT quite often to help me with tasks such as duplicating events across calendars, automatically replying to tweets, etc. But I think my favourite feature would be sharing Instagram posts to Twitter as the actual image instead of just the link to the Instagram post. Who wants to open a link? We just wanna see your picture! Let me show you how...

First, you need to create an account on IFTTT.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

iPadOS / iOS 13



I went into the office during my holidays to install the public beta of iPadOS on the test iPad I keep around and had an initial play with it. Since then I have upgraded to Beta 2 and already there have been some nice improvements. So far my initial impressions are that there seems to be quite a few nice additions - I had been reading about them for the past few weeks but it was quite nice to finally get my hands dirty and test it for myself.

I think one of the best features is the new floating keyboard - you can detach the keyboard by pinching it with 2 fingers and then move a smaller version anywhere on the screen. You can also use glide typing in this mode, and for an old school Android guy, this is truly a welcome addition.

I am also looking forward to seeing how the new SMB integration will work in the files app. So far, it seems as though you would need your IT department's help to set all this up initially. For a school that has a lot of Windows machines and uses Office on desktops, this would be quite a welcome addition I'm sure.

At this point though, I can't say that I would be rushing to install it on all our iPad devices as soon as it is released sometime in September, but as it matures and little bugs are ironed out, I am sure it will be a nice step up.

Friday, 21 June 2019

iPads in class: A review


We started our rollout of just under 200 iPads in January and thought it was about time to touch base and reflect on what we have achieved thus far. Let's take a look!

The start

But first, some background. We took the decision to start with teachers before students. I covered the reasons behind this in more detail in the "most important people in a school post, but in short, we felt the need to properly train and equip our teachers before we unleashed the beast of students with devices!

Each teacher was given a 10.5" iPad Pro with an Apple pencil and Smart Keyboard - literally the best device we could provide. We went through some initial testing and decided on the iPad as our device of choice (you can read about it here).

Teachers also come to me for dedicated timetabled Tech Training once a fortnight. This gives me the opportunity to touch base with them and support them on their journey of becoming more tech-savvy and taking risks in their classroom to create rich and engaging learning experiences (I don't mind if you get a little sick at the sound of that, I did as I'm typing it!).

Phase 2

Friday, 14 June 2019

Cape Town Google Summit 2019


Excited to be in a room full of teachers who are clearly very passionate about what they do!




The day started with a great keynote by Chris Betcher (@betchaboy) who really inspired everyone to reconsider the role of technology in teaching. He highlighted a few key points, but something that I really enjoyed was:

If you want students to perform you have to 

  1. Give them something to care about
  2. Give them the tools they need
  3. Give them choices
  4. Get out of their way

 Just take a minute to reflect on this and how you do this in your own classroom.


An Edtechteam Summit allows you to choose the sessions that you want to attend, so there is literally something for everyone. I decided to attend a session hosted by @dylanlangheim on how they have integrated coding into their curriculum, something that is becoming commonplace and an absolute necessity. If you haven't thought about how to bring this into your own school, I recommend you look into it ASAP.

Some useful places to start would be code.org, or Tynker or even Scratch.

I'll check back in later!

In the next session with Chris Bletcher (@bletchyboy) ...



Wednesday, 5 June 2019

iPadOS for Education - will it be any good?




Like a proper tech guy, I spent the majority of Monday evening watching the live stream of Apple's WWDC event.

I watched Tim Cook announce the latest developments in new software as well as one notable new piece of hardware. I just heard today that the top spec'd Mac Pro would set you back over R500,000...yikes! Also, did someone say cheese?



But let’s talk about iPadOS!

It’s about time that Apple realises the iPad is a unique piece of hardware that sits somewhere between a fully fledged computer and a phone. The touch interface means that it lends itself more to a mobile operating system, hence iOS having been the choice thus far. But the announcement that the iPad would get its own dedicated OS is a good thing.

So out of all the features announced, which ones will have the greatest impact for us teachers in the classroom? Let’s have a look.

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!

yay

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!

Bitmoji Image

@techteachersa