One Device to Teach Them All: iPad Required for Tennessee Students

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Webb School, a private school in Knoxville, Tennessee ,is requiring an iPad for all students in grades 4-12 starting in the Fall of the 2011-2012 school year. This bold requirement makes Webb stand out as a leaders in Wired Educator’s initiative, “An iPad in Every Classroom.”

The ease of use, the ‘instant’ on, lower costs, and the ability to easily have access to technology whenever and wherever they need it are making iPads more and more desirable in schools.

Webb hopes to use the iPads to replace their text books in time, and will be leasing the iPads for $20 a month to defray costs to parents over time. It’s a $200 for year or $20 over ten months.   Interesting that the iPad specifically is named as a requirement, much like schools make requirements of models of calculators and texts. Good for them.

Webb is looking at this as actually a long term savings for both parents and school. The iPads will travel with the students.  If they can actually use them as texts and portable computers it would simplify much, including back problems from overloaded backpacks.

One device to teach them all. I love the possibilities of requiring iPads. I love the $20 a month fee.  I love the idea of digital texts on the iPad.

While the school is advancing with technology hardware, their view of social networking is traditional.  It plans to block Facebook and Twitter.  Hopefully they will see the value of opening up social networking in the future.

Webb School is not alone

We will be looking at Webb, and other schools that are making similar integrations with the iPad in their classrooms, for future updates to our An iPad in Every Classroom Initiative.

“Once I explored it, I was really excited, because there are things we can do better on this than we can on a paper text,” said Elli Shellist, an English teacher at the school according to NBC affiliate television station KLPC.

Wired Educator founded and supports the iPad in Every Classroom Initiative. Tell us your iPad in education story.

Solar Walk Now for Mac and Now at Mac App Store

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Vito Technology, the Apple Design Awards 2010 winner, introduces Solar Walk for Mac, a 3D Solar System model application that is now available on the Mac App Store. This app is designed to explore not only the Solar System, but also the whole Galaxy. Among other features are real-time trajectories of  the most interesting artificial Earth’s satellites, your current position marker, the biggest cities on the globe, and the points of interests on Mars, Venus, and the Moon. The app starts the educational movie collection with the first video “Solar System Planets’ Size Comparison”.

The greatest and most impressive feature of this app is the availability to explore the whole of the Milky Way Galaxy and see where the Solar System is. Users can zoom in and zoom out to turn the Solar System and the galaxy in any direction.

Other features allow you to discover in greater details our won planet. The Solar Walk developers have chosen 10 of the most interesting artificial satellites of the Earth, so that users will be able to find them and follow their trajectories in real-time. This new version also shows the names of the biggest cities on the globe.

Solar Walk brings us closer to the Moon, Mars, and Venus where we can find named points of interest on their surfaces. You can catch someone’s imagination naming craters of Mars or Venus, or just study astronomy with your kids. Some of those names can really get your imagination going and make astronomy good fun to study.

This app includes the first movie of a series of app generated videos. The movie presents a comparison of Solar System objects’ size from smallest to largest showing their size tin relation to the Sun and includes Pluto (whether you like it or not :-)

Solar Walk features:

3D SOLAR SYSTEM: availability of stereo view to get an unique and impressive stereoscopic experience at absolutely different level.

SATELLITES: 10 Earth satellites trajectories.

GALAXY VIEW: expanded view of the Solar System and the Milky Way Galaxy.

MOVIE: the 1st educational movie “Solar System Planets’ Size Comparison”.

 

 

Price: $ 2.99

About Vito Technology

Since it entered the mobile software market in 2001 Vito Technology Inc. has developed an impressive portfolio of products for Windows mobile. The latest Vito endeavour includes iPhone and Web 2.0 software development. VITO Technology have won Apple Design Awards 2010 with its Star Walk for iPad. Copyright (C) 2010 Vito Technology Inc. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPod and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.

Purchase and Download http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/solar-walk-for-mac-3d-solar/id413570629?mt=12

Product Page

http://vitotechnology.com/solar-walk.html

Media Kit

http://vitotechnology.com/manual_/pdf/solarwalk_mediakit.pdf

Screenshots

http://www.flickr.com/photos/starwalk/sets/72157625139620323/

Icon

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5201/5279195075_1d15ff4814_z.jpg

Video demo of Solar Walk.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5_K8OQI9Go

 

Google Unveils Body Browser: A Google Earth Experience for the Human Body

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Google has just launched Google Body Browser.  It offers a Google Earth experience for the human body. Using HTML5, Google Body Browser allows the user to explore and learn about the human body through detailed 3D layering.

Body Browser only works with certain web browsers. (e.g. Chrome at the present time, and yet unreleased, aka beta versions, of Safari and Firefox.) Users can zoom in and pan around using controls identical to Google Earth and Google Maps. Navigation is intuitive and the graphics are designed to impress.

The project is not complete, in fact, it is still in the mid stages at Google Labs. More enhancements and features on the way.

You can check out this impressive educational wonder at: http://bodybrowser.googlelabs.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teachers, Turn Your iPad into a Wireless Whiteboard! (For Free!)

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Wired Educator’s Initiative: An iPad in Every Classroom

Qrayon, LLC has unleashed four very cool apps that allow you to turn your iPad a wireless whiteboard.  Look for Air Sketch Free (Yep, it’s free) in the iTunes Store, or its more powerful, big brother, that is loaded with more tools and capabilities, Air Sketch ($7.99), a sister app, Stickyboard (Free) which offers the same wireless whiteboard abilities with an endless stack of colorful sticky notes, and finally Air Projector ($0.99) which allows the projecting of PDFs and photos from your iPod Touch or iPhone.

All of the apps are designed to work with a computer connected to the same local network as your iPad. You open the app on the iPad and the specified URL from an HTML5 enabled browser on your computer. You will be able to project the image through your computer, and you can see you sketches, diagrams, notes, and sticky notes in real-time without installing any additional software. You can even share your your work to another iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch or via meeting software like iChat or WebEx.

The free version of Air Sketch has only basic diagrams and the full edition includes lots of diagrams and tools, as well as the the ability wirelessly project and annotate pictures.

Here are some free promotional codes to the first readers of this post. Enjoy! (Here are 3 download codes for Air Projector: HXHWTREPL7H9, MWRTRXW7AKMN, PWWN93NX779M, and here are some for Air Sketch. Again, for the first readers of this post to gobble up. EYRLMMLJ4JFW, 66LKJJTLFWK9, YPPYARKR9PEL. Go get’em.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

This app is approved for Wired Educator’s Initiative: An iPad in Every Classroom

Wired Educator believes the iPad is powerful tool in the classroom for students and teachers. We are constantly looking for ways to best utilize the iPad in the classroom.  Tell us how you are using it.

Students Learn While Riding this Magic School Bus

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Computerized Math and Science instruction is being offered via ceiling-mounted computer screens on long school bus rides in Hector, Arkansas. The Hector School District, located in the heart of the Ozark National Forest, is teaming up with Vanderbilt University’s Aspirnaut Program to provide this first of its kind program to their students.

The program plans to take advantage of long school bus rides that these rural students undertake each day, and transform their school bus into a mobile learning environment. Students average more than two hours each day aboard the bus resulting in over ten hours of possible extra learning each week.  (Can you say captive audience?) Sixty percent of the students in Hector School District are located in the Ozark National Forest, and seventy-five percent qualify for a reduced lunch.

Programing is sent to five ceiling-mounted computer screens with varying content. Younger students sit in the front and view PBS shows, while older students sit near the back and take in PBS, Discovery Channel, Smithsonian Institute and NASA programming. The content is altered daily.

This could become a trend as more smaller districts across the country are forced to consolidate, and commuting becomes longer and longer.

An Arkansas bus driver commented that the high school students still like their iPods better.

Wired Educator’s View: It certainly can’t hurt. I’m surprised some corporate advertising agency has tried this before and snuck in a few commercials like the Channel ONE programming across the country.  The key is of course content.  I think it would be most effective if the teachers in the district made customized video podcasts of lessons the students are actually working on and mixed it in there as well. I have seen computer screens on mass transportation systems in big cities. Wondering if students aren’t already watching enough as it is. Let’s hear from the students and see some statistics.

 

Star Walk is #1 in Education Apps for a Reason!

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[Contest: Wired Educator is giving away FREE codes for Star Walk.  Yes! We are giving away three iPhone/iPod Touch redeemable codes, and two iPad app codes. The codes must be redeemed by November 10 or they will expire. So you better respond quickly.  Here's what you need to do: Follow us on Twitter here and ReTweet our Star Walk post, Like us on Facebook here, and leave a comment on this post telling us what you will do with your free copy of Star Walk.  That's easy. The best person who follows, likes, and comments WINS!]

Star Walk is the number one app in the Education category in iTunes and one of the all time best apps for both the iPad and iPhone for a reason; it’s awesome.

Star Walk is more than just an amazing educational app that teaches you about the night sky. It’s the coolest app in the iTunes store.  Star Walk fully utilizes the complete capabilities of the touchscreen, location detection, compass and accelerometers to give you an experience like no other.

When you fire up the app it pinpoints not only your exact location but where your iPad is in relation to the night sky. Holding the iPad out in front of you, with super cool celestial music playing in the background, the app orients itself to give you a full explanation of nearly all you see. It’s as if the night sky has been labeled for you and more information is available at a single touch. As you move the iPad around the sky, the screen smoothly keeps up with exactly what you see in real time. It’s amazing the first time, and every time afterward too.

More than 9000 stars, planets, constellations, and messiers are discoverable in this powerful and fun app. 

Some extra features include Time Machine, which allows you to view the night sky over a multiple year period. Sky Live offers a view of the moon’s phases, the rising times of the Sun, Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter, and Venus.  You are also presented with a Picture of the Day that gives you access to an amazing gallery of space imagery.  Star Walk is like a portable planetarium.

Star Walk is actually a great reason to own an iPad. It’s $4.99 in the app store, or free if you win our contest.

I am a Literature teacher and found some really cool ways to use it in a recent mythology unit.

This is a must-have app.  You will thank me.

Wired Educator gives Sky Walk an easy “A+”. (Teacher’s Pet.)

Adobe Store Discounts Software for Teachers and Students

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Great news for teachers and students! The Adobe Store cuts up to 80% off student and teacher editions of its software. (Windows & Macintosh)

Discounted titles include: Creative Suite 5 (pictured), Lightroom, Acrobat X Pro, and more.  Free Skullcandy headphones included.

Teachers and students will be required to submit proof of eligibility prior to shipment of your order. Click here for more information.

A Breath of Fresh Air: A Review of the New MacBook Air by Chris Hamady

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A Breath of Fresh “Air.”
After a two year wait, my dreams of an ultra-portable Macintosh notebook have finally been answered. Enter the 11 inch MacBook Air! At just 2.3 pounds, this computer manufactured from a solid piece of aluminum really lives up to its name.
I bought this computer from the Ann Arbor Briarwood Apple store to replace a 15 inch MacBook Pro that I take to and from work, as well as a 13 inch MacBook that I travel with to do presentations. Both of these computers are fantastic in their own right, but the weight of them tends to wear one down after walking for tens of minutes through airports or across long parking lots.
My day to day needs are fairly complex but shouldn’t be hampered even by the specs of the entry level MacBook Air:
  • Mac OS X 10.6.4
  • iLife ’11
  • 1.4 GHz Core 2 Duo processor
  • 2 GB SDRAM
  • 64 GB Flash Storage
  • NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics with 256MB shared SDRAM
  • 11.6 inch LED-backlit glossy widescreen
  • Two USB 2.0 ports
  • One Mini DisplayPort
  • Headphone jack with support for iPhone-type headphones/mic
  • Integrated omnidirectional microphone
I use my laptop day to day to:
  • Use productivity tools (word processing, presentations, spreadsheets)
  • Browse the web
  • Check email
  • Use Apple Remote Desktop to remotely administer computers and servers
  • iChat (video conference and IM) with colleagues, friends and family
  • Do light video editing and simple graphic design
  • Do podcasting
  • Watch gobs of streaming video in both H.264 and Flash formats
The first thing I did when arriving at the Apple store was ask the salesperson if he would mind installing Adobe’s Flash Player on the display model. He was very courteous and agreed to do so after checking with one of his superiors. Once installed, I loaded up the Blender open source movie, Sintel, in 1080p via YouTube and was blown away by: 1. how quickly the movie began to play 2. how smoothly and flawlessly the MacBook Air delivered this incredible video experience in full screen to the viewer.
I wanted to see if this was just an anomaly of the Apple store having a fast internet connection. I clicked on the icon for iMovie and was flabbergasted to see iMovie instantly open up with a number of video projects loaded into it. My only explanation for the incredible performance of this computer is that the solid state drive feeds the processor in a much more efficient manner than a mechanical hard drive can. I’m really only just now starting to realize the performance bottleneck that we have all been hampered with when using hard drives based upon spinning platters of data and moving read/write heads.
I have yet to do anything on this computer where the experience has felt slower or less productive than when using my 2.66 GHz MacBook Pro but I’m sure that applications and tasks requiring a lot of processing horsepower would be severely limited on a machine based on such a modest processor speed.
So far I’ve tested and confirmed excellent performance with:
  • All of the iLife ’11 apps
  • Firefox
  • Safari
  • Mail
  • Netflix/Silverlight
  • YouTube/Adobe Flash player
  • Open Office
  • iChat
  • FaceTime for Mac
The 11.6 inch screen of this new MacBook is just the right size. When sitting with the computer on my lap in my living room chair, the MacBook Air’s screen has a larger viewable perspective than the 52 inch television 6 feet in front of me. Clearly this is “large enough” to work comfortably on. Now that I’m officially “middle-aged,” and my vision is beginning to change, I did however, have to bump all of the default font sizes up one or two points in both the OS and my apps. Not a big deal as far as I am concerned.
The keyboard feels identical to the size and response that one would get from using the Apple wireless bluetooth keyboard. I typed this review on it with ease and did not encounter any difficulties.
Lastly, since the Air does not have an optical drive, it does not ship with a restore DVD. It includes a tiny USB stick that contains all of the software that ships on the computer should you need to reinstall it. Simply insert the USB stick into one of the two USB ports on the computer, reboot holding down the “C” key on the computer keyboard, and you will soon see the familiar Mac OS X installer. By switching away from the old “remote DVD or CD sharing” manner of reinstallation, Apple might attract more “first time” computer buyers who do not currently have a computer in their home.
If you are in the market for a new ultra portable laptop, do yourself a favor and check out the new 11 inch MacBook Air at an Apple store near you. Try it out and then lift it up off of the counter. You will see for yourself why Apple calls it “Air.”
CH

Taking Attendance With Technology

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Taking attendance is important.  I was told early in my teaching career, by an unforgettable assistant principal, that it’s the most important thing I do all day. My first few years of teaching I sent my attendance down to the office on a piece of paper.  Those days are over. Today I would like to review some ways to use technology to help you with the first thing you do each school day, and perhaps, most important. As teachers we certainly want our students to become independent, but we also need to verify. Technology can help us achieve both.

Web-Based Attendance: Our district uses a web-based grade book and attendance register called Progress Book. I like it. I still use some of the various methods below so the students can participate and I always verify before I hit send.  I like that it tells me if it is a student’s birthday and other extra info.

SmartBoard: By far my favorite attendance method.  I have a list of my students on the board and they scratch their name off as they enter.  It’s big. It’s bright. It’s fun to cross your name off.  I have a friend that made a check out box and individual sliders per student.  Pretty nice setup.  I take a look, verbally verify and enter my attendance.

iPad, Ipod Touch, and iPhone: I’m always looking for ways to use my iPad and students love to touch them.  Why not create a simple name checklist and have them check themselves present each morning.  You could have the iPad stationed somewhere in the classroom like a kiosk and then verify before entering attendance yourself. Is there an app for this? But of course.

RFID Chips: I don’t recommend this one.  Northern Arizona University is taking attendance using proximity scanners to verify RFID chips in students identification cards.  The system knows if you are there and the university penalizes you if you are not, or don’t have your ID with you.  Students and privacy advocates are outraged.

Clickers: I haven’t tried this one yet, but it looks easy enough to set up.  My only problem is with the Smart Response System students have to log in, etc. and that seems like a lot to do when there are easier methods. Now if the system went ahead and sent the count to the office, or if I was using the clickers at the start of the period, I would be more willing to utilize this technology for attendance.

Biometric Attendance Readers: Imagine students entering the classroom and using their fingerprint or an eye scanner to register their attendance. They exist, but I don’t personally know any schools that use them yet. I read about  The Don Estridge High Tech Middle School, in Boca Raton, Florida installing hand-measuring biometric technology in their cafeteria, library and  medical office (For nurses dispensing medicine) and in each classroom to take attendance. The biometric system is fast and accurate.

Worldwide sales of biometric technology are expected to grow from $2.1 billion in 2006 to $5.7 billion by 2010, says Philip Youn, an IBG senior consultant. However, privacy rights organizations have raised concerns and have questioned how safe biometric data is from hackers. But educators interviewed say they have run into few objections from parents.

Robot Teacher’s Aide: Sadly, we aren’t there yet.

Wired Educator’s advice: Yes!  Use technology for attendance. Keep it simple.  Verify.

Please: Send us your technology attendance taking ideas.

OmniGraffle for the iPad

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OmniGraffle for the iPad is a great application teachers can use to create quick but professional looking charts and diagrams, and just about anything you can dream up, for use in the educational setting.  It’s incredibly easy to use and the products you able to create are absolutely stellar.  In fact, I do not know of another program on the iPad that makes my documents look this good.

Before I continue with my complete review of OmniGraffle, and it is an absolutely fantastic app to have in your educational toolbox, I want to immediately address its biggest drawback; OmniGraffle is a premium app with a premium price tag.  It sells for $49.99.

The iPad is quickly becoming my tool of choice in the classroom.  It just feels right in my hands as I teach. I make lots of charts and graphs, and hang-ups for the room, so OmniGraffle is an important tool.  I like that I can manipulate the diagrams and charts with my fingers and create great looking documents with ease. OmniGraffle is easy to use. It has a huge directory shapes and stencils to use in creating your diagram, or you can freehand what you directly onto your screen.  You can touch and drag on the computer to connect objects, and what I really appreciate is, once they are joined, they stay joined as you organize your document.  The ‘Lay Out Now’ feature helps you get started immediately when you fire up the app, and the smart guides and alignment tools make organizing your charts and documents a breeze.  There are plenty of themes, colors, and styles built-in, but you can also easily design your own. Need to rotate a box? Yep, multitouch is the easiest way to go and this app really utilizes all of the iPad’s features well.

Like PhotoShop and other premium apps, there is something for every level of user. If you care to create higher level documents you can work with layers, and text wrap around shapes. Adding shadows and blur effects are also easy.

OmniGraffle just works so well.  You don’t have to do much planning or thinking.  Just jump in and start designing. The interface, tools, and process is so intuitive and easy to work with, that making professional looking documents for your classroom is actually fun.  You can begin with something as simple as a seating chart, worksheets for groups and projects, or make a professional chart or diagram to share with an audience.  It’s all here.  You won’t need multiple apps to finish this project.

I’ve included a short introductory video of OmniGraffle below that barely scratches the surface of what you can do:

Grade: Wired Educator Grades OmniGraffle an “A” but cautions buyers of the Ivy League price tag. Do you get what you pay for? Wired Educator says, “Yes!” but please make certain you’ll use it enough to get your money’s worth.

Comments: The app has been updated for better performance and enhanced features. We would love to see a demo or lite version of the app for educators to test, and educator’s price.

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