A Brief Review of "21st Century Education"


A brief review of a "21st Century Education" In 2007 our Labor government promised a Digital Education Revolution. By December they were sworn in, funds made available and schools entered into a modern and technology rich twenty-first century education. But the very concept behind this title can be ambiguous, and the transition sometimes complicated and overwhelming. In this article I will address key areas which I feel are becoming crucial for a twenty-first century education to succeed.

When I studied audio engineering in the UK I was the last of an analogue generation where I learnt how to slice 2 inch tape. It was, of course an outstanding preface to moving into a digital world where audio objects can be spliced, diced and stretched like an elastic band. The arrival of digital media improved and increased production in so many ways. The general consensus was that this transition brought about substantial improvement. The digital revolution (21st Century Media if you like) was a simple and successful transition.

Learning from our Students

The arrival of the twenty-first Century brought an enormous shift in teaching and learning practices. The more I research the topic the more I feel that my own education (Circa 1990) was un-dynamic and as a result inferior. But further investigation reveals that education in the nineties would have been quite ineffective on the minds of our twenty-first century learners because information is processed so differently by our digital native students. They have grown up in a world where news, entertainment and social networking is thrust to the forefront of their existence. Social pressures exist in a virtual place where comment and participation is as important as a physical presence. Instead of suffering from information overload these Digital Natives have a remarkable way of absorbing, filtering, and consuming huge amounts of information, often simultaneously from different mediums, and at all hours of the day. What is also surprising is even at times of quiet and rest there is a constant need to compulsively reach for a personal "smart" device. To be always connected to an online world is paramount.

Collaboration platforms and the importance of Web 2.0 technologies.

One thing that is clear is that we must lever modern technology to communicate and educate. Students see themselves as part of a global community, one where an audience is always present and sharing is encouraged. For example many of your students will already frequent Youtube, Bebo and Flikr. Discovering and levering these modern technologies to help engage your students is vital. But with so much variety online, locating websites with educational value, which also appeal to your students can be hard.

Recently I have been experimenting with Pinterest.com. The site allows users to pin pictures and videos from anywhere on the internet to their own virtual pin board. It is easy to see the educational potential that this site holds like Wallwisher did before it. Voicethread and Todaysmeet are both worth checking out and in my experience students enjoy using. Youtube have done a great job with their education branch youtube.com/edu, as iTunes have also done with iTunes U. But to expect students to frequent these educational sites is a little tricky.

It is important to first establish a single online platform for collaboration which evolves, where both students and teachers can interact. It is this community that will inspire your students and one where they are familiar. The use of a blog or wiki is a safe forum to plan, document and publish creative work. This ability to collaborate shifts our perspective from oneself to a much wider society. Some schools choose to share a wiki with other schools, sometimes overseas to collect thoughts on subjects like poetry, art and literature. The mixed and varied responses generate unique discussion.

Engaging your students online, and providing an “always on” education.

Wiki's, Blogs and more capable Learning Management Systems (LMS's) like Edmodo have proven invaluable. Local or in-house servers hosting your own wiki platform are also a good solution, albeit expensive (check out Apple Mavericks software). These servers can pull user information from a schools Active Directory listings so set up is streamlined.

Alternatively www.wikispaces.com have a K-12 plan which is very secure, and free.

These wikis are free and ad-free, and you can make them private for extra security for your students. K-12 wikis also come with a User Creator tool that lets you open student accounts in bulk without student email addresses.

Edmodo provides a little more than the others. Being a fully fledged LMS system you can instant message, create polls and quizzes and it all renders beautifully, no matter what device you are using. Students register when they receive a 6-digit pin code from their teacher. Only by using this code can a student create their account. Edmodo has the added benefit of the look and feel of Facebook but in a secure and Ad-free environment.

But doesn't Facebook do all of these things and more?

Facebook offers everything each of the above technologies do and with many additional enhancements. However, Facebook is a social tool specifically designed for recreational social networking. This form of leisure and private affairs has little merit in the classroom. The environment itself is too closely associated with your personal life and unless clear boundaries can be established (and I believe that Facebook will get there in the future) I think this powerful platform should be avoided. Please see www.facebookforeducators.org

Tools of the trade

So 21st Century Education is about collaboration and social platforms, but new digital tools are available which have forced educators to re-asses practices. Audio, and video creation offer artistic expression like never before. These mediums can sound over whelming to some, but with entry level software such as iLife from Apple and Google Apps (check out the Google Apps Marketplace) multimedia creation is a snap.

Video and audio creation

In my experience students take to film editing suites very quickly, others enjoy storyboarding or the script writing process. Both methods help students to understand, reinforce, and review new concepts. Consider the whole process when creating projects for your students. Check out Apple's iMovie or Microsoft's Movie Maker which make editing video very simple. Of course you’ll need to capture footage and these days most personal devices contain cameras. Either a still camera, video camera, high quality or low quality it really doesn't matter. If your school still has a ban on mobile phones on school grounds, it may be time to have a word with the Principal. With the right direction student film projects can help some discover hidden talents and new creative expression for otherwise quiet and reticent students.

Podcasting is used extensively in my school by our Languages department. Feedback from teachers confirms that by allowing students to prepare and record their oral tests (either at home or school) they retain foreign language better. The very process of scripting, recording, editing, and reviewing the audio resulted in better retention of words and sentences.

Digital Multimodal Texts

Multimodal texts incorporate two or more semiotic systems (Linguistic, Visual, Audio, Gestural, and Spatial). Interactive textbooks, webpages, and dance/live performance are all examples of multimodal texts.

The Australian Curriculum emphasises the use of Multimodal Text in both Science and English. Multimodal texts can be delivered via different media and technologies such as word processing and page design, comic books and animations. I recommend trialling some, if not all of the following software tools to start you off.

Get creative and capture your thoughts with Prezi. Use the software to support ideas and illustrate points as students present and discuss with the class. I Can Animate is a stop motion package which is fun and very easy to use. It is a good introduction to Chroma Keying (or Green Screen) too. Comic Life takes students right into the pages of their own comic book story. It is easy to add thought and speech bubbles to your own photographs and pictures. iWeb is an amazing drag and drop (WYSIWYG) website design tool. Perfect for quickly visualising websites and developing navigation between pages (no longer free on the Mac, so you'll need your iLife 09 instal disk). Tag clouds are also a brilliant way of bringing ideas and design together, check out Wordle.

Finding a standard for the electronic book

I had always hoped that laptops and tablets would totally replace the printed textbooks which appear on our student book-list. Instead we have school satchels heavier than ever as publishers and teachers act slowly to adopt a complete syllabus accessible electronically.

The music industry just survived the loss of revenue due to piracy as digital files were shared freely amongst the online community. Due to this education publishers are quite rightly entering the digital realm with much more caution. Unsupervised and incorrect distribution of electronic text could very easily become catastrophic for authors and education professionals who invest years writing and curating textbooks. Ensuring the correct distribution and revenue models has left teachers with a confusing array of options when it comes to finding electronic, interactive books that support their classes.

The result is a myriad of protected formats and platforms offered. For example the Flash Player has been a popular choice for Cambridge who utilise it for their Hotmaths and Cambridge GO solutions, and Macmillan Education for their One Stop Digital. The problem with the Flash Player is Apple refuse to support it in their ever more popular iOS devices.

Forward thinking publishers worth looking at are Jacaranda (jacplus.com.au) and Oxford University (oxforddigital.com.au) who are making great progress with their proprietary but accessible solutions.

Oxford University have a digital solution called ‘obook’. Although initially used in their primary range Oxford now offer their Big Ideas books supporting years 7,8,9, and 10, in English, Maths, History and Science. A quick phone call to Oxford University head office revealed that they are acting quickly to produce material for senior school too. The content includes interactive learning modules and additional focused learning on key ideas. Oxford's obook is compatible with PCs, laptops, iPads, and tablets.

Jacplus is a similar tool for consuming the Jacaranda textbooks available for Australian secondary schools. Jacplus works across all devices too and it houses your Jacaranda electronic textbooks and digital resources together. The textbooks have all the advantages you would expect such as highlighting text, making notes and interactive activities.

Finally, Apple are bringing their own ideas to the table with iBooks and the new iBooks Author software. If you have used the Al Gore app Our Choice (if not check it out via the iOS App Store) then you will know how powerful interactive books can really be. With the free iBooks Author software on the Mac platform Apple are streamlining the creation process and the user experience of the iBook format. The onus is shifting to the teacher to create their own original content with the potential to distribute their work via the iBookstore. If authors and publishers are happy to abide by the strict license agreements, then expect a flood of educational iBooks this year.

All of these solutions are great examples of how publishers can make their texts available on the devices which schools are adopting, maximise on all the benefits of interactive books and maintain the correct revenue owed to them. But is it worth adapting your curriculum to fit with publishers who are supporting a broader range of technologies?

Teaching strategies which engage our Learners

With new technology and so many expressive mediums at hand some traditional teaching practices are becoming redundant. I sometimes sense a feeling of panic wash over certain teachers as discussion about pedagogy and technology meet. My mother for example (a Law teacher) comforts in the knowledge that she'll be retired soon, so it's really not necessary to bring any of the above technologies into her classroom. She, like many other “non-digital” teachers consistently achieve some of the highest student grades in the school. But whether she realises it or not technology has entered her learning environment in a big way. Students themselves are recording, researching and sharing notes from classroom lectures, and not just with pen and paper. My mother is emailing Word documents, one at a time to her students. Not to actively engage in a 21st Century education but to save paper! So small steps, voluntary or not, are being made. Therefore it makes sense that all teachers should at least be made aware of, and consider tech tools which ultimately will save them time and better engage modern students.

Blended Learning

A term used a fair bit recently which simply means to blend technology with traditional teaching practices. Lets take the classic in class lecturing model for example. This consumes valuable classroom time, and may only interest a small minority of students while others get distracted as their eyes wander toward the window. By posting your lectures online using Youtube, and requesting students use their personal computers or even their mobile phones to access your lecture can free up class time for valuable dialogue. It is this physical time spent with your learners where you can discuss surrounding topics and develop a greater understanding of the topic. This strategy is sometimes known as classroom flipping. Teaching which uses online (away from school) discussion and collaborative projects as fuel for in-class discussion and debate.

Challenge Based Learning and Project Based Learning

Both of these practices start with a question or challenge. Generally there is no right or wrong answer, it is in the inquiry, research, processing and presentation process where the learning happens. I think it is important to state that although these methods don't wholly rely on technology, technology does flourish at every stage of the process.

It is widely accepted that there are eight styles of learning: linguistic, musical, and interpersonal to name a few. By allowing students to make their own decisions about how to proceed with a task they will utilise the learning style that best suits them. From here teachers can guide students to take action and solve problems. Students realise that they can make a difference and reach their own potential. The process is extremely rewarding and one which is well documented by teaching staff online. Check out www.bie.org for more.


The integration of technology into the classroom can sometimes feel like a well executed marketing push from the likes of Apple, Google or Microsoft. And I worry that the entertainment/corporate world and the education sectors are clashing a little too much. We have unrealistic and unnecessary expectations that with the plethora of educational applications and a portable device, technology adoption by teachers should be fairly straightforward. I have spent considerable time reviewing Education apps from the "Education" category of the Apple App store. A large proportion of these apps hold as much pedagogical value as a paper weight.

Have no doubt, it is a full time job to deconstruct, analyse and implement not just apps but any of the technologies mentioned in this article. To guide and train teachers in making their own decisions about which technologies to apply, which complement their own teaching strategies is key. Remember, it is about convenience and time saving too, after all that is why the technology is so prevalent. Integrated into your school correctly, and teachers should see an increase in spare time (at least that's what I tell them).

Self Control - assisting students


Do you or your child constantly give into temptation and waste hours on Facebook when you should be working? Let me show you a great little application for OS X which will help you manage your time better and become more productive. This is a good method to help your child/student manage their own time while online. By downloading an application called Self Control you can restrict access to a predefined list of websites for a specified period of time. In turn putting control into the hands of your child/student and teaching them the importance of self regulation. Here's how,

  • Visit http://visitsteve.com/made/selfcontrol/ and download Self Control 1.3.
  • Double click the ‘SelfControl-1.3.zip’ file in your Downloads folder.
  • Drag the SelfControl.app icon into your Applications folder.

  • Double click the icon to launch. You may also want to drag this icon into your dock as a shortcut.
  • Once SelfControl opens Click on the 'Edit Blacklist' button. Here you can add website which you would like to restrict.

  • Alternative you can change the Blacklist to a Whitelist. This will mean that you can only visit the sites listed and no others.
  • Now move the slider to the chosen time starting from 15 minutes to 24 hours and hit the Start button
  • Once started, it can not be undone by the application, by deleting the application, or by restarting the computer – you must wait for the timer to run out.

Now as a parent you can head out for the evening knowing that your child will not be wasting time on social networking sites, and hopefully focused on their homework for a set period of time!

Parental Controls


Although my preferred method of assisting a student/child is through education and encouraging self regulation there are times when, as a parent/guardian/teacher you may decide to step in. Parental control features are built right into the Mac. As a parent and administrator of the Mac you may choose to manage your child’s use of certain applications, time investment and internet restrictions. Here's how:

  • You must have an Administrators account on the Mac, and the ‘child’ account will be Managed (ie administrator rights removed). If the Macbook is managed by a school IT department you may want to contact them first and ask that they add a parent account for you.
  • Log into the Mac with your new account, being certain that you keep your password private, and head over to your System Preferences/Users & Groups.

  • Be sure to unlock the padlock in the bottom left corner. Select your child's account and check the 'Enable Parental Controls' box. Now click once on the 'Open Parental Controls' button.

  • It is important not to lock down the child account too much as this will render the account almost redundant. You do not need to Use Simple Finder. I would not recommend limiting any applications, however if you wish you may choose to restrict social networking applications like FaceTab, Skype, Microsoft Messenger etc. Check the 'Limit Applications' box and then check the applications you want to allow. To search for an application enter its name in the search field.
  • Notice the 'Logs..' button in the bottom right. It is here where after a few weeks you can view which applications have been used and which websites have been visited. (as I write this my heart goes out to the restricted user..)

  • The Next tab deals with website restrictions. You can limit access to adult websites or you may want to create a 'white list' set of acceptable websites which the user can only access.
  • Nest up is the People tab. Here you can restrict certain emails from contacting the user. However, this only works if the user is using the Mail or iChat application.
  • The Time Limits tab is a very handy tool. Allow the user computer access for just 3 hours a day, make the user account log out at a certain time each school night and a later/earlier time at the weekend.

  • Finally the Other tab deals with profanity in the Dictionary, access to printers, and CD/DVD burning. There is also one last check box which you may want to check; 'Disable changing the password'. This stops the child account from changing their own password.
  • Now that you have set the restriction lets head over to the 'child account' and test our settings.
  • If I launch a restricted application I get the following warning

  • The useful thing here is that should your child require access to this applications you, as an Administrator, can authorise use for 'Allow Once...' or Always Allow'.
  • If I try to access an adult rated internet page I see the following

  • Again if the Administrator is available you may choose to enter your password and lift the restriction temporarily.
These tools are easy to use and can put a lot of control into the hands of the administrator. The most valuable tools here are probably the time restriction tools, enabling the computer to not take over the users life completely. If you notice that your child is constantly playing computer games etc, just use the time restriction tool, thus ensuring that there is time left for family time.

Student support, text to speech


Problem - Student has to read a 5000 word document. Student has a low concentration span and needs assistance. Solution - One click -Text to Speech conversion.

Another Problem - Student collects loads of text while researching a topic and needs to read or scan through many compiled articles quickly.

Another Solution - Text to speech conversion, automatically added to iTunes library for later listening.

OS X has some excellent built in features which can assist students in their studies. One of the most impressive features is the ability to quickly convert paragraphs of text to spoken word and then transfer the spoken word to your iTunes library for later listening, perhaps while commuting to school or exercising in the evening.

Since introducing this feature to a number of students who struggle with their concentration, I have seen them listen to and consume many documents, study articles from wikipedia and even finish entire novels. All of this can be done while on the move too, if you listen back via your iPod.

Where possible it is always best to have the text printed out so that the student can follow the words and make notes if necessary. However as a quick study aid, while surfing the internet and researching - a good technique is to collect many paragraphs on your topic, listen back to it and then make your own notes and observations.

A good technique you can use in class
Ask your students to research their topics by collecting (and referencing) many different internet sources. Once they have compiled different texts, simply convert all the written research to Spoken Track. That evening and while traveling to school the next day listen back to the research, and once in class recite and/or write down what you have remembered from listening to the 'research track'.

Here's how.


  • To move spoken text recordings automatically to iTunes, you must first (click on your desktop once) go to the Finder menu - Services - Services Preferences

  • Ensure that in the Services menu 'Add to Spoken track is enabled'
  • Now go back to you Pages or Safari application and highlight some text.
  • From the application menu choose Services 'Add to iTunes as a spoken word.

  • The processing time may take a few moments depending on how much text you have entered. iTunes will open once complete and the file is ready to drop onto your iPod or iPhone for listening later.
In Lion 10.8 the process is a little simpler
  • Simple highlight your text and right click. The service has already been activated for you. Just select 'Add to iTunes as a Spoken Track'.

Keyboard shortcuts for OS X


Learn these basic shortcuts to increase your productivity

We have published this set of useful keyboard shortcuts on our 'Apple in the Classroom' section so you can download them and print them off. Although this is not a fully comprehensive list of the OS X shortcuts we feel that Teachers especially would be able to benefit, mainly because they will save you time, lots of time!

So please refer to the list and if you feel that we have missed anything important let us know in the comments section.

⌘ command key - Your are commanding your computer to perform an action.

⌥ option key - You will be presented with options/alternatives.

⌃ control key - A modifier key. Can be used in combination with the above keys.

⇧ shift key - Rarely for shortcut modification, but those that do are worth remembering.


View/Change Application

  • Keep the command key held down while pressing tab.

This allows you to view all of your open applications. You can bring one application to the top of your layer (making it the active application).

Find a file or application quickly

  • command + spacebar.

You will notice the spotlight search open in the top right of your screen. Now type ‘itu’ and hit return. You just launched the iTunes application. Also a great way to find files, email etc.

Finished with an application? Close it!

  • command + Q - Think, I am ‘commanding the computer to Quit’.

Other important commands are:

  • command + S - Save.
  • command + N - New (new email, new document, new Finder window, depending which application you have active).
  • command + P - Print.
  • command + A - Select all (text, images, files etc)
  • command + C - Copy.
  • command + X - Cut selected text to primary clipboard.
  • command + V - Paste clipboard contents.
  • command + Z - Undo.
  • command + H - Hide active application.

Finder specific:

  • command + delete - Delete selected file/folder.
  • command + i - Information, such as file size about selected file/folder.
  • command + option + i - using the option key here is a variation of the above command. Now the information window dynamically changes to reflect the currently selected file.


  • Command + Shift + 3 - Takes a fullscreen screenshot and saves it to your Desktop
  • Command + Shift + 4 - Takes a screenshot of a screen area and saves it to your Desktop
  • Command + Shift + 4 + Space bar + click on window - Takes a screenshot of a certain window.

My personal favourites:

  • command + control + D - Mouse over any word and this key combination will reveal the dictionary definition and thesaurus option.
  • command + T - New tab in a internet browser window.
  • command + K - Cuts to secondary clipboard.
  • command + Y - Pastes secondary clipboard contents.
  • spacebar - Press when any file in selected to preview that picture, document, even movies.
  • option + shift + command + V - Seriously, try this one once and you’ll never stop using it. It will paste text into a document and copy the Paragraph Styles of the document. This one will save you the most time.
  • When viewing menus, such as the  menu hold down the option key - notice that About This Mac changes to System Profiler. This expansion of menu options is common with the option key.

This list may seem like a lot to remember but I can’t recommend enough that you try a few of these. Print out this document, keep it near by and I guarantee that you will save minutes everyday. Those minutes add up and you will be far more productive.

If you have any of your own favorites that are not on this list please contact us at iSupport and we’ll happily add them.


Excluding files from Time Machine backup


Time Machine has to be one of the most useful tools on the Mac. It's one of those options you hope you never have to use, but when you do need it, it becomes invaluable. Under the Time Machine preferences, you do have the option to exclude files & folders. I use this feature when I am storing large files (usually videos), knowing that I either have a backup somewhere else, or only want them on my machine for a short period of time. This helps if you only have a small Time Machine drive, or know you will never need those files/folders again.

To enable this feature, open your Time Machine preferences:







Then click on Options:

And finally add any files or folders you wish to exclude:

Click Save and you are done. Time Machine will now exclude these files & folders from your backups. Your welcome!


Apple support for teachers


At iSupport we have made it easy for teachers who find themselves in an Apple 1:1 environment. If you require a basic introduction to the Apple iLife or iWork suite then head over to our new Apple in the Classroom page. We have created a selection of PDF documents which you can download and use in class. New and old teachers will find our free resources very useful.

Please visit: http://isupport.com.au/apple-in-the-classroom/

We have been contacted by a few people and some requests have been put in for a demo of 'Green Screen in iMovie' and also using a 'wiki or  blog in the classroom'. We will have these documents prepared in the coming weeks - we promise! But please keep the request & comments coming in.

Also we are preparing video guides on the use of the iPad in a learning environment - due out this week. We look forward to seeing you on the site soon!

New Mac or new image? 10 things to consider doing.


This article is perfect if you have just bought a Mac & you're unsure what to do with your new machine. Network administrators who have to create an 'image' for their company or school will also find this interesting. When you create an image which will be duplicated across 100's of machines in your organisation you need to be sure that you provide a flexible set-up that caters for every possible outcome. All of these points below should be considered when creating a clean start or image.

  1. Run System update from the Apple menu.

  2. Always set the clock so that the dividers : between the numbers flash.

    This quick trick is an easy way to see if the system has encountered an irrecoverable crash. If you're having issues & those dividers are not flashing you will have to hold down the start button until the machine shuts down. You may also wish to display the date.

  3. Remove around 3 gigs of unneeded language files fom your system.

    Monolingual is a great 3rd party tool to do this for if you are not confident doing it manually. I highly recommend monolingual, it is a free download so please check it out.

  4. Screen real estate is vital.

    Ensure that 'automatically hide and show the dock' is selected in the Dock preferences. Keeping the dock out of sight will allow 13" macbook screens to use their full 800 pixel depth all the time.

  5. Enable right click for the mouse.

    There is nothing more annoying then plugging in a mouse only to find that the 'right click' doesn't work.  It is listed as secondary click in the Mouse Preferences.

  6. Do not enable either Spaces or Expose.

    This will only lead to confusion for the user, especially if they are a beginner. Once the user becomes familiar with 'active screen corners' and why expose or Spaces will be beneficial for them allow them to enable these features.

  7. Disable Automatic Login.

    You will find this in the Accounts/Login Options, this is vital for security.

  8. Network Locations!

    Assuming that your organisation runs behind certain proxies you will need to enter those network settings to allow access. Or indeed for home users you may find yourself regularly visiting a location where you are always entering an 802.1x authentication which just don't need when accessing you home network. Create 2 different locations in the network settings menu. You can quickly swap the location from the Apple menu.

  9. Install Firefox.

    Between Fifox & Safari you should be able to render any part of the Internet correctly. Surprisingly the are many tasks which only Fifefox can perform properly online. You'll know when you'll need it.

  10. Downlaod & install Flip for Mac.

    This will allow you to run most .wma & .wmv (normally reserved for Microsoft platforms) files.  You may also want to consider installing VLC player. This way any video formats that QuickTime cannot play should be covered by VLC.

  11. Set your system Language to British or Austaralian English if needed! Check this tutorial for more on the that
  12. Click on the Finder menu & choose Preferences.

    Click the Sidebar menu. If you are just not going to be using the Mobile Me service uncheck the iDisk device.You may wish to further customise the Finder window from here.  For more on the Finder check out this article.

  13. Ensure that PDF documents are opening with Adobe Acrobat Pro (if you have it installed)

    Select a PDF document and press command I. In the information window that opens see that 'Open with' has Adobe Acrobat Pro selected. Then click 'Change all'.

Ok so I listed 13 things not 10! But please do have a look into each one of these points after you purchase a new Mac. And definitely consider all of them before rolling out a new disk image for your organisation. Have I missed anything? Please add your tips below...

The Apple Distinguished Educators Institute 2011


A summery of the ADE Institute 2011 ANZ


The weekend brought together so many different people involved in education in Australia & New Zealand.There were teachers from all walks of life, IT engineers, principals, department officials even a Museum curator. But we also spent our time with an International Camera man, a political correspondent and an Indigenous Knowledge expert to name just a few.

The 4 days were littered with outstanding workshops. Australia's Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes, addressed many issues but most notably the Universal Access options inside OS X. Combine these tools with keyboard shortcuts & folks of zero/low visibility can operate almost all aspects of OS X. This was reinforced by a chap called David Woodbridge who works with Apple evaluating their technology for use by low vision and blind user.

Listening to Pieter De Vries, an internationally recognised cinematographer was amazing. Being able to talk with him for 2 days afterwards was even better. His knowledge and experience were an incredible resource to ta

A very beneficial 45 minutes were spent honing our presentation skills with an expert in public speaking. The same afternoon also saw us creating epub documents and discussing the various ways they can be consumed and what their impact on education may have. Also Keynote, Garageband and Final Cut pro workshops featured heavily. Always headed up by knowledgeable Apple staff who not only lectured and showcased, but also participated in other activities throughout the weekend. This of-course included meal and drinking times, these time slots were where the real ideas were shared and debated.

My personal favourite part was talking “top secret stuff” with 3 Apple software developers, one of whom had worked on the iOS operating system. All the Apple employers were incredibly generous with their time. One in particular allowed me to quiz him for over an hour on the behaviour of Android, iOS and Windows Phone 7. If there was ever a time to get an insight into the thought that goes into the creation of a new platform this was it. Thank you Marcus for your tips and extending your knowledge and even contact details to me incase I had ‘any other questions or interesting thought.

All of these incredible talks & workshops, intertwined with fellow educators, most of whom became great friends, made for a remarkable weekend. Although I never really looked at this whole process as being a form of ‘Professional Development’ (and those 2 words were never included in any of the documentation) I must say I do feel some what developed.

What now?

Leading the change - there is no doubt that the next 6 - 12 months will see a device revolution in the classroom. Whether that be a Google platform an Apple platform or an HP platform. It doesn’t really matter which technology is used but we must first win over the support of our colleagues because it is in their hands in the classroom. If we can’t deliver the correct vision a long time before we deliver the actual product then the transition will be slow & counter productive.


The Finder, an introduction

This tutorial covers the absolute basics with a fundamental part of your Mac. I recommend that you check this article out as it could be the most important tip of them all! Think of the Finder as your window into OS X (Operating System 10). The Finder is an application which runs constantly. It’s fair to say that the Finder is your desktop image and the files/folders which reside on your desktop. The Finder also handles your trash.

But most importantly the Finder is the Finder window.

  1. Click once on your desktop, this activates the Finder. You will notice that the ‘Finder’ menu is displayed in the top left. Notice in the menu you have Finder Preferences, another clue that this is just another application
  2. Press command-N. This is a shortcut think of N for New.
  3. Now we can see our Finder window.

Familiarise yourself with this Finder window.


  1. There are 4 different ways that you can navigate the Finder. My personal preference is the column view, I always recommend this to students and teachers as it makes most logical sense to me. Now control-click the Finder window and choose Show View Options. Check always open in column view.
  2. Control-click on the title of your Finder window. This displays the absolute location with your computer.
  3. Always store your personal files within your own Home Folder. If you ever migrate to a new Mac or need to grab all your personal files quickly you’ll be glad you did! Your iTunes music collection and your iPhoto picture collection are kept safely in your Home Folder, as are your emails no matter which client you use.
  4. Notice your Desktop Folder in your Home Folder. Also notice the Applications Folder. Its empty right! That’s ok, your system has another Applications Folder stored right at the top level of your Macintosh HD. That way more than 1 user can share the same applications on the Mac. Sometimes you might want to install an application in your own Home Folder/Applications, that way the Application is private and exclusively yours.


My Finder window is small! Its missing the Sidebar!

  1. If you cannot see the whole Finder window just click the top right grey button. This will reveal or hide the sidebar.
  2. Also control-click the sidebar itself. Open Sidebar preferences. Here you can customise the look and feel of the Finder. Don’t use the ‘Search For’ smart folders? Get rid of them here.


How do I create and colour folders?


  1. To create a folder simply control-click in the location you need the folder to be. Choose new folder. Right click that folder and select a label colour.
  2. In the Finder Preferences you can also change the name of the folder labels.


Organise files with Smart Folders

Smart Folders allows you to organise files which have something in common.

  1. Select File>New Smart Folder.
  2. Now type a search criteria in the search field. In my example I’ve typed isupport.
  3. If I save this search and attach it to the sidebar, even new files that I save in any location on my hard drive will be added to this folder. Its worth noting though the files are not duplicated into this folder, you can simply see the original file from this new location.


Launching applications and finding files with Spotlight

Spotlight is an extremely powerful search tool for your Mac. Use it just once to launch an application and you’ll begin to realise how this feature can save you stacks of time.

  1. Press the command and space bar keys. You’ll notice Spotlight is activated in the top right of your screen.
  2. Type the letters ‘ITU’. You’ll see the top hit highlighted in blue is iTunes.
  3. Hit return and iTunes launches.

If you are servicing another persons Mac or need to open a Utility you don’t often use, Spotlight is an extremely quick alternative to scanning through the Application folder. Try it a few times and i’m sure you’ll be hooked!



  1. Select a file or folder anywhere on your Mac and press the space bar.

This works with spreadsheets, pdf's, even presentation files. What a time saver!


I hope that you found these simple notes helpful. If you get your head around the Finder early on and organise and structure your file system from early on, it will seriously pay off in the future.