Google Forms with iBooks Author

iBooks Author is an awesome tool for teachers. I was recently sitting with a few ADEs who are math teachers. While they really like the idea of iBooks Author, they are concerned about a few things. One problem is that the Review Widget doesn’t do anything with the data, so it doesn’t work well as tool for assessing students.

A Google search turns up some promising solutions. I found Mike Seyfang’s technique of using Google Forms worked pretty well. I’ve modified it a bit, but the credit should go to him and Jim McKeeth.

Download wdgt file

All you need is this tiny file and a Google Form you would like to embed. This file is actually a special folder with three small files in it, one of which you will need to edit. When you download it, you may be asked to install it to your Dashboard. Cancel this – you don’t want to install anything.

 

Now watch this video to see just how easy is is:

*Please note that this post is a rush-job; there is a group meeting at a conference in a few minutes who may find this useful. I’ll revise with better written instructions ASAP.

Photo Credit: fragility_v2 via Compfight cc

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Typing: iPad vs Computer

Most adults can’t imagine typing anything more than a few words at a time on a virtual keyboard, but with practice, is it really any worse than a traditional keyboard? After getting several requests from teachers to buy keyboards for our iPad 1:1 program, I decided to do a little research project with our elementary students. It’s a simple study with some limitations, but maybe it’s a good place to start when discussing the efficacy of virtual keyboards:

Video Abstract:

Introduction:

As iPads and similar touch-based tablets gain popularity in schools, many express concerns over the efficacy of a virtual keyboard. Many believe that a traditional keyboard is necessary for students to develop typing skills sufficiently. At our school, iPads are used throughout the elementary and students in years 4-6 (grades 3-5) each have his or her own. Several teachers have expressed concern about typing speed and technique, and it has been suggested that external keyboards for the iPads may improve keyboarding development, at least for some students.

This research was designed to answer the following two questions about our students:

  1. Is there a difference in speed between using a keyboard and using a virtual keyboard?
  2. Are some students significantly better at one form of keyboarding than the other?
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1:1 Elementary iPads – Reflecting on the First Months

Everyone knew that the transition from 1:2 laptops to 1:1 iPads would be messy. As the person most obviously responsible for the change, it has been an interesting tactical tightrope to walk: enthusiastically promote the transformative power of the iPads while keeping expectations low as everyone adapts to new opportunities and limitations.

Over the summer, I had lots of time to think about our decision to go 1:1, and by the time the new school-year started, I had come to terms with the idea that this would be a two-year project that would look more like a failure than a success for the first 6-8 months. Nothing in the first two months of school gave me reason to modify my projection, but something started to change in early November. It’s too early to declare victory, but there is already a lot to celebrate.

We’ve certainly made some mistakes and we are still learning what works and what doesn’t. Here are four key things we’ve gotten right:

  • Serious setup
  • Training
  • A new integration model
  • Students leading the way
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iOS App Management

A principal from a neighboring school recently asked for our thoughts on iOS app management, so I have written down some of what we are learning and some of the things we feel are important to consider. We, along with most other schools, are still unsure about what is the best way forward, so we still have more questions than we have answers, but at least we are starting to be able to articulate the questions.

Apple does not currently make their educational Volume Purchase Program available outside of the US. There are some schools (with some sort of US business address) that have been able to get Apple to approve them for a business volume licensing program. This apparently does not include any volume discounts. At a recent tech conference in HK, the regional Apple rep assured a large group of educators that Apple would be rolling out the Volume Purchase Program internationally. (I’ve had the opportunity to speak with high-level Apple reps a few times over the years, so although I’m optimistic, I won’t hold my breath.)

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iPads vs Document Cameras

I sure am glad for competition. We the customers almost always benefit. Where else can that be more true than for educational technology hardware. You know, the stuff: clunky, overpriced, and just plain ugly; The “breakthrough” product to help dyslexic students that now sits in the cupboard because even if someone wanted to use it, they can’t because the special proprietary connection has gone bad.

They’ve gotten better, but just take a stroll through the vendors at ISTE and you will still see a whole lot of junk. Things are changing though, because society as a whole has become much more savvy. People know better now and teachers (and students) won’t put up with it. If you have guessed that I don’t love Smartboards, you’d be correct. They aren’t the worst thing in the world, but it’s hard for me to justify their price. Same goes for document cameras. Teachers love them and they do actually do a good job at one thing. But do we really want to spend that kind of money on something that students will probably never touch?

Speaking of touch, that’s where iPads come in. One of the reasons they are so great for education is that they aren’t designed for education. Instead, they are designed to be amazing, interactive tools that can do just about anything. I know they don’t do everything, but if you had to choose between a document camera with Smartboard and a cart of iPads for the students, which would you choose?

We’ve been in a bit of a battle over classroom budgets over the last month. Teachers must use or loose them. We have some document cameras and several year-levels are pushing to buy sets of them. No doubt they would put them to good use, but is it really the best use of our limited resources? This video is a quick capture of me practicing the demo I will be giving to administrators tomorrow. They may still choose to approve the document camera requests, but at least I’ve still helped advocate for the power of iPads (which we will be getting one way or another).

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