Apple Education

Apple Distinguished Educator Global Institute 2012

It's hard to believe that I have been home from Ireland for almost 2 weeks. Despite a while coming I thought it would be good to sum up what I took away from Cork and the 213 educators who combined to share their experiences of using Apple technologies in education. The event was held in the very beautiful Cork, it was a 4 day event hosted at the luxurious FOTA island resort.

ADE2012 welcome plaque

I follow my ADE colleagues closely online. Reading their blogs, and following their Twitter accounts. On day 1, I was quite overwhelmed at spotting the familiar faces, it was like a who's who of the online TechEd world! I knew that this was a really opportunity to learn from some of the very best!

We were eased into our project work. (Projects which had been discussed for 6 weeks prior to arriving in Cork.) It seemed that Apple wanted the ADE's to enjoy the sights and sounds of Ireland and make good friends with our peers. These friendships were cemented with a visit to the Jameson's Whiskey Distillery, Blarney Castle and the city centres of Kinsale and Cork. We also had a surprise trip to Apple HQ in Ireland (Some aspects of the visit were under a Non-Disclosure agreement, we all felt very privileged).

Great friendships were made, but it was the discussions surrounding education which really inspired me. Below I have summed up some of my notes and plans for the rest of this year.

recording our ade2012 projects

Highlights & Notes

Facilitation As we bound through the second decade of the 21st Century, the role of the teacher is changing, and expectations definitely shifting. It is not reasonable to expect teachers to be proficient with the modern technologies which students are using in the classroom. It is not even necessary for teachers to fully understand how to make a podcast or wiki. An educator does not need to know how to operate an iPad or even a digital camera. If the concept surrounding the functionality and delivery of digital content is understood, the teacher can have the pleasure of facilitating and in many cases learning with the student.

Learning I was fortunate enough to have many conversations with Peter Scott from the Open University. The Open University have been leaders in distance learning for decades. These last few years technology has developed perfectly to suit the remote and asynchronous learning methods of many students. Self paced learning, at any time of the day, and adaptive. These learning environments are more relevant now than they have ever been.

Creating Transformational Content - "The HOW (no longer rocket science) The WHY is as hard as ever" 1. Engage student - Create great looking content. 2. Get them to interact - Great content is nothing unless it is in a context that helps you to learn. 3. Build a supportive framework - organising structure and narrative arc (maybe a website, poster, film and media etc), make your teaching accessible. 4. Give credit where credit is due.

WHY? Challenging difficult issues, answering questions finding solutions. Preparing students to be critical thinkers. An ongoing discussion I think!

My Plans Collaboration is so important. This year I will be leaning on my teaching colleagues and ADE friends to create great content utilising iTunes U course manager. The content will be Professional Learning through Digital Storytelling. After all, this is a field I have an interest in at present.

I want to point you to Angie Harrisons blog. Ang has written a great reflection on the ADE Institute and she has started a useful collection of resources from the week. Also please see Lovey Wymann’s blog for more great resources.

The Echo Smartpen by Livescribe


I'll be honest, my initial thoughts about this "recording pen" were not favourable. The pen seemed cumbersome, appeared a little bit dated, and the idea itself not really necessary. After using the pen for about 4 weeks I have realised how very, very wrong I was.

Upon unpacking the Livescribe box I found 3 main components. The Dot Paper notepad, a micro USB cable and a biro/pen with a little digital screen at the top. I also received a pair of in-ear head phones, which plug into the pen and have tiny microphones embedded on the back of the ear buds. The headphones are an optional extra and have the advantage of stereo spatial awareness when recording.

The included Getting Started Guide is an 8 step process which shows you exactly what to expect from this intelligent digital pen. So what can it do for me and why would I want to use it either in my professional life or at school?

Getting Started The Smartpen should be used with the supplied Dot Paper. This Dot Paper seems to emit instruction to the Smartpen so it knows exactly where it is on the Page. Used in conjunction with the tiny computer in the Smartpen all sorts of wonders can happen. The pen is equipped with a very sensitive microphone. A quick tap with the pen, on the record button (located at the bottom of the Dot Paper) engages the internal hard drive to start recording your session. The audio recording is very cleverly tagged and timed perfectly to your actual note taking.

The Smartpen also records your pen strokes as you create them on the Dot paper. The captured pen strokes can be exported (with the audio) in a PDF document. This is incredibly powerful because not only do you have your notes in physical paper form but you also have a perfect copy of your notes in digital form. I'll explain more about this later.

Lazy Learners? I did have concerns that this pen and its recording capabilities could make for a classroom of lazy learners. Those who thought they could simply record a lecture and not pay attention. However this is not how the pen works in practice. You have to take concise notes, words which act as triggers to remind you of a point. Small details which combine with the audio to paint a full picture upon playback. This full picture is the embodiment of the idea, an idea which students can take and ask further questions or draw conclusions.

As you start to use the smartpen you begin to slightly adapt your note taking methods. For example, I start recording at the beginning of a meeting and make a bullet point every 30 seconds. After the meeting I can recap what was being said as I tap (with the pen) on these bullet points. I hear a very good quality recording of my meeting being played back through the internal speaker on the pen. If I want to skip to what was being said at the last bullet point I just tap the last bullet on the page.

Just in this standard use of the pen as an assistant which digitises notes with embedded audio, it holds enormous value for students in the classroom. Especially those students who struggle with internalising facts while they are taking notes (that's probably most of us!). The Smartpen literally offers another dimension for learners to access in order to assimilate a topic. This approach goes one step further to accommodate all learning styles.

What makes it so special? The Smartpen is extremely fast, it is totally reliable and I didn't experience a single glitch or crash while testing the pen over a 4 week period. The Dot Paper acts as an address system for the audio recording, you can adjust playback speed and change the volume of playback all from the paper. But what makes it really special is the expandability of the Smartpen itself and the flexibility of the resulting PDF document. All of these enhanced features become available when you install the Livescribe Desktop software on your Mac or PC.

The Smartpen has a micro USB slot at the top, be sure to download the Livescribe software from connect the pen to a USB slot on your computer. The software displays a progress bar and imports your note sessions from the Pen. Livescribe Desktop is well laid out with your Pages category shown at the top. I was joyed to see images of all my pages displayed in front of me as if I had scanned the documents. Double click a page and it expands to fill the screen. Click on a sentence with your mouse and listen back to the audio captured by the pen at the time of writing. You can even see your own letters dance across the paper, making bold your transparent words as they are being written in time with the audio.

App Store? It is the Applications category and the Livescribe Store which interested me the most. Here you will find third party developed applications which expand the pens functionality. For example a spelling game called SpellingMe which reads aloud a word. You then have to write the word on the Dot Paper and the pen responds with an audible "correct!" and keeps your score as you go.

A very impressive "demo" app preinstalled on the Echo pen called Translator allows me to write a predetermined (suggested from the screen) word and the pen translates that word into one of many languages. It seems like an outstanding idea and great use of the pen, but further investigation reveals that this application will not be developed further anytime soon.

The impression I get surrounding the Applications section is that Livescibe are going to be focusing on what the pen does really well, and that is creating what they have coined "Pencasts".

Pencasts At my school we often experience issues with capturing ideas and sharing that through modern media. We have learnt to use audio recording software to create podcasts. Sometimes teachers make short movies and distribute PDF's via a wiki. But the transition between conception and documentation of that idea, or instruction can be difficult.

The Pencast solution is an extremely simple workflow. This workflow can be used by teachers who want to prepare additional study aids, or more commonly; students recording notes. But often over looked is using Pencasts for assessment. The Languages department for example my set a task where the student writes a sentence and then pronounces that sentence in French or Italian. Marking the assessment is very easy with the different 'Connect' options available.

Transfer Livescribe file to computer

Connect Seeing the pen in practice is quite amazing. A student at my school was testing the Echo pen and asked her Mathematics teacher to explain "one more time" why X=9. Once the equation was broken down and explained on the Dot Paper the student then connected the pen to her computer.

The options available to share notes (with embedded audio) is very powerful. You may choose to upload the notes to your Google docs or Evernote account. In this case the student shared her file to her Facebook wall. Later that day an enhanced PDF file was also doing the rounds between the students via email, and the note was on Facebook, all interactive with the audio included.

Finally the Livescribe software allows you to publish your notes to a community area. From hear you can keep them private or publish a link to them or even share the page publicly between the Livescribe community. It is here where I see a huge amount of scope for teachers to reach their students quickly and easily. (See below for my example of a Pencast hosted at the Livescribe server.)

Value for money The Echo Smartpen will set you back $169. I will be discussing with my Learning Support department that we purchase a few to assist some of our students. We are a laptop 1:1 school, but I feel that some students will prefer to make the Smartpen their first learning aid for the classroom.

Livescribe on the iPad As you add your Pencasts to your account area via your computer, it is easy to view them on the iPad or Android device. Just download the free app and sign into your account. What is very cool is the option to view other peoples Pencasts (which other users have nominated to be public). Here you will find all sorts of interesting Pencasts from Recipes to solving Linear Equations.

Conclusion I was worried at first that I would receive some odd looks while using my new magic pen or that the built in voice might start talking at inopportune times. But what I actually found was a real solution. A way that I could capture important information and have that information relayed back to me in a meaningful way. This pen offered a quick workflow, from the most analog of not taking, to the most diverse of digital mediums. If empowering students and accommodating different learning styles is important than the Echo Pen is a must.

I have made a very brief Pencast. I think the most important thing to remember is that it doesn't have to be perfect!


Or download as a PDF:
[button link="" type="icon" newwindow="yes"] Download my Pencast here.[/button]

Understanding EBooks


Ebook or Electronic Book - An electronic version of a printed book Ebooks hold massive potential for the education sector. I work at a school where we deployed Apple MacBooks to over 1000 students. Almost 3 years later and students still seem to be carrying heavy bags full of additional text books.

Clearly we need to do more to achieve the ideal, paperless school environment. The transition however, has proven to be complicated and in most instances restrictive due to the multiple formats and sometimes Digital Rights Management (DRM).


Ebooks come in many different formats, the most popular being;

  • PDF - Adobe’s own format - widely used across almost all platforms.
  • AZW - The Amazon proprietary format.
  • MOBI - most PDA’s and smart phones use this format.
  • EPUB - Widely used by almost all formats apart from the Amazon Kindle.
  • IBOOKs - Apple exclusive, new format.


In my school we use Apple technologies. Therefore the following formats are considerations;

Adobe PDF

At present the flexible format of choice is the Adobe PDF. Their format is fine, you can create beautiful page layouts, create complex forms and annotate and collaborate with sticky notes. The Adobe PDF starts to fall short though when you want to add media like audio or video. Your media will be encoded to Flash, rendering the document quite useless for iOS users.

The .ePub format

ePub seemed like a promising choice for a few years. However limitations started to reveal themselves. Ideal document layout was tricky to achieve. I experienced unusual playback of audio objects if you placed too much audio in one document. ePub is still going strong though, it is very flexible because many devices can decode the file type.

iBooks Author

The ‘iBooks textbooks’ format is by far the most visually appealing ebook. iBooks take full advantage of the iOS touch screen. The format has countless enhancements including picture slide shows, 3d object manipulation, video playback and interactive glossary to name just a few. After experiencing these books you will never go back. That is if you fully understand the commitment you are making....


As a teacher, school curriculum decision maker, or writing enthusiast which format should you use?

This is a decision which has so many variables only you will know the answer. With many factors to consider, I will share my opinion considering that I would like to achieve maximum accessibility for my colleagues who use a combination of Apple devices.

How media rich and interactive would you like your book to be?

It seems that the more interactive and media rich the book is, the fewer devices will actually render it correctly.

My opinions and choices

I tend to lean towards PDF documents for professional collaboration with my peers, especially when working with laptop or desktop computers.

In order for me to reach my school community of iPod, iPad and MacBook users I still favour the ePub format. Simply because I know that all devices can access the text.

However, I have had issues creating ePubs with Pages. For this reason I prefer to use an iPad app called Book Creator. Book Creator is a simply way to build my ePub book, but I cannot embed video (although it does handle audio very well).

iBooks Author may initially seem like a restrictive choice to consume and create text. However the format is squarely aimed at the education sector. To assist cognitive learning there is no better tool. The student retains knowledge by listening, watching, reading, and touching information. This experience holds great promise. If you are in a community of iPad users you must investigate the iBooks textbooks further.


Some important considerations with iBooks:

  1. You can only read ‘enhanced’ iBooks from your iPad. By ‘enhanced’ iBooks I mean iBooks created using iBooks Author.
  2. You can only create iBooks on the latest Mac OS, Lion.
  • iBooks textbooks are perfect for creating interactive, media rich books.
  • As a study aid there is no better format for illustrating facts in a meaningful way.
  • You can distribute your book internally to your students and colleagues or you may choose to publish it to the iTunes Bookstore. Its up to you if you want to charge.


Please download my 'Getting started' guide  which supplements my 'Ebooks and iBooks Author for education' teacher training session.

[button link="" type="icon" newwindow="yes"] iBooks in education support document[/button]

Notebooks for Teachers


iSupport are pleased to announce the Notebooks for Teacherssessions. The training days are being hosted at 4 schools here in Perth and have been developed exclusively for teachers who want to utilise the MacBook to assist teaching and learning. Rossmoyne S.H.S - Monday 21st May Ocean Reef SHS - Monday, 28th May Waroona D.H.S - Tuesday, May 29th Applecross SHS - Tuesday 5th June I will be showcasing tried and tested classroom methods which I have found aid in the retention of information and improve the learning environment for modern students. We will also look at collaboration techniques and many time saving tips, keeping you organised, while working efficiently with your Mac. Theses sessions are free for all teaching staff from all Perth schools to attend, so register now by clicking below. [button link="" type="icon" icon="people"] Register Here![/button] [button link="" type="icon" newwindow="yes"] Notebooks for Teachers poster[/button]    

iPad teacher support

Please find below a free resource which will help teachersget familiar with the iPad. The PDF is scaled down from a document with complements my iPad in Education Professional Learning session. Please share amongst your colleagues. [button link="" type="icon" newwindow="yes"] iPad in Education[/button]    

Preparing for iPads


creating an effective and sustainableteaching and learning environment.

  • Enabling our teachers to provide effective pedagogy in the classroom is paramount.
  • Equipping teaching staff with tools to assist in their day to day tasks such as planning, organising and collaborating is also a priority.

At my school we have a successful MacBook 1:1 environment. We utilise Apple wikis, podcasting, iMovies and iTunes to access a multitude of media. But we have also, perhaps unknowingly invested into "Apple Technologies", their mantra and as some describe it "Walled Garden". But this should not cause too much alarm as it is this very model that has seen Apple grow to be the most admired, loved (and surprisingly) trusted company in the world. But just as learning areas invest in a variety of different textbook publishers, and teachers choose different literature to compliment different curricula, it may be wise to proceed with caution. Transformation of teaching. My school has continued to support and invest in Apple laptops, we have achieved a successful integration into the school and after almost 3 years teachers operate them very well. But it goes a little further than operation. Teachers understand that video and audio creation assist in retention of information. The research and enquiry process has evolved entirely. Round the clock learning, higher order thinking and global collaboration are intertwined into the classroom. We are demonstrating a transformation of teaching and learning. This transformation is vital. To simply substitute or augment technology into the school or workforce does not fully realise your investment. (ref SAMR model.) But we must look forward, to ensure both teaching progress and economically sound progress.... Or perhaps we should look the way Apple are looking, because if we have trusted them this far with our technology choices do we continue down their garden path to a metaphoric Zen Garden? The iPad works in education. If we took Apple's advice I'm certain that every student would be equipped with an iPad and a MacBook. This is not realistic (discussion for another post), even if the deal is sweetened with an easy finance program. But have no doubt that Apple's presence in education is legitimate. Their alliance with 100's of top universities around the world who continuously build resources for iTunes U is evidence of the educational research and learning infrastructures built in the last 7 years. The ADE program ensures communication and mutual progress. Two Vital iPad advantages over the MacBook. 1. The strength of a touch interface and the very model of App design and distribution has placed the iPad in a unique position. You cannot get the majority of content on a MacBook that makes the iPad so unique. And you cannot internalise learning so deeply as you can when touch enables the deep immersion of learning as found on the iPad. Greg O'Connor from Spectronics spoke to me recently and asked the question "Did dyslexia exist before Gutenberg printed his first books in 1440?". Why now are some students categorised by modern literacy disadvantages? Greg now believes that the iPad has bridged this gap. "It has completely removed the obstacles faced by some learners". Because of the intuitive touch, speak and define functions learners with a variety of disabilities are one step nearer to participating in a single tiered education. But what is the real trump card that the iPad holds? What will we miss out on if we don't come along for the ride? The answer is iBooks. 2. A proprietary electronic text format that Apple are enticing book publishers (and education publishers) to adopt. An easy way to illustrate the importance of this is to ask you to imagine a world where iBooks is to book purchasing as iTunes has come to music consumption. And the only way to consume these books is on an iPad, this makes for a good business model. This transition will take some time, say 2-3 years. The iBook format for education will be incredible (think of the app Our Choice). Plus teachers can easily produce their own iBooks to be shared locally or globally. Conclusion All of the foundations are coming together well for Apple. But there are still some critical considerations. Which curriculum specific books will be available? How can the school effectively manage/monitor 100's of devices? Will App distribution be ok? Can we print with our printers? Will the wireless network be durable enough? Can we collaborate with wikis? Evaluation and development process. Only our teaching staff can truly indicate the pedagogical value of the iPad. I have prepared a PD session to up-skill teachers so that they are confident integrating the iPad into the classroom. The session also recommends an evaluation process of apps. I would encourage staff to participate. Contact me on

Great resources for educators who flip


As a teacher in this digital age there has never been such a wealth of free and relevant resources available.

Just yesterday 2 exciting pieces of educational news was announced:

1. TED launched a new channel on YouTube yesterday. This will be an extremely valuable resource for teachers. Check out the youtube link below.
"A permanent initiative, TED-Ed harnesses the talent of the world's best teachers and visualizers, extending great lessons beyond a single classroom to anyone with internet access."
2. Also, the Khan Academy released an app for the iPad. Another invaluable place for reputable content. Download from the App Store on your iPad and sign in with your Google or Facebook details. KhanAcademy
"Learn almost anything for free
With a library of over 3,000 videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and 315 practice exercises, we're on a mission to help you learn what you want, when you want, at your own pace."

I am beginning to find this app as useful as the iTunes U resource. In fact, because I can read every single line spoken of every single video on the Khan Academy app I actually prefer this platform. The app also allows students to download the videos so not having internet connection at home is no longer a problem.

This incredible collection of teaching videos and written narrative allows for teachers to flip the classroom like never before. In an ideal world I would like to see teachers preparing their own videos, podcasts and iBooks. But with time constraints this isn't realistic.

The Khan Academy and the Ted-Ed YouTube channel is making things so much easier for teachers! "Watch this 12 minute video for homework, watch it while on the bus or in the bath!" it doesn't matter where or when anymore. But what does matter is the discussion in class, the reinforcement and comprehension and the retention of learning.

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 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, 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 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

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 ( and Oxford University ( 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 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).

Control Z


Putting control into the parents hands.

Control is something which I feel parents are losing a lot of when their child comes home from school with a shiny new computer. I often imagine the groans from some parents as they realise that years of disciplined upbringing, routine and careful social selection is certain to come undone.

Those of us using a windows computer will also know that ‘control Z’ simply means undo. Just a quick key combination which has been around for decades that can retract the most horrific of mistakes. Perhaps a doodle in photoshop undone or a passive aggressive paragraph removed from an email. This safety net in recent years has been invaluable for almost all of us.

I will show you how you can re-gain control of your child's online activities. You will be able to restrict, snoop and discover all sorts of perhaps, unsavoury details using 2 fairly simple methods.


Guides for parents - as seen in Scribe Magazine.

  • Click here for a guide on how you can use Parental Controls built into your Mac.
  • Click here for assistance with Self Control, it allows for self exclusion from certain websites for a period of time while a visual clock counts down.


Putting control into the childs hands.

Throughout our lives, we all exercise self-control. In doing so we resist temptation, meet deadlines and follow direction. It is an essential skill for becoming successful and one that should be defined and internalised in our children's education.

The reward for self regulating is an immense sense of achievement. That feeling of marking items off a check list, completing assignments and homework tasks is one of huge satisfaction. Instead of rewarding students for such achievements make it known that they are using their self-control to make themselves feel good.

I have spoken with many students about their online social habits, interestingly enough each pupil is remarkably open & honest. Some have given me a snapshot of their computers and indicated that their daily routine is full of distractions (mainly with pop up windows and other notifications). In every instance it feels as though the student is looking for a solution and assistance to combat time wasted on Facebook. Playing the victim maybe, but it is clear that most want help.

The truth is that we simply cannot micro manage each Macbook, mobile phone or tablet device, in the home or at school. As these devices get smaller and even more personal the challenge is to ensure that the student is experienced enough to do the right thing and implement some basic strategies;

Switch off the Wi-Fi connection. I often do this if I need to concentrate fully on the task at hand. Even as I write this my internet connection is switched off. This ensures that I will not be distracted by any emails or other work/social commitments. At least for 30 minutes I can simply word process.

Set a countdown timer. Another great technique which is often implemented in the classroom is simply a count down clock. This is known as ‘Time Boxing’ where by your attention is completely focused on a task for the chosen period of time. So even if you set your virtual egg timer for just 20 minutes, students can get really productive knowing that they can reward themselves with a status update on Facebook.

Keep the computer in a shared home space. It’s an old one but possibly the best advice I can give. Certainly while your child is just getting used to the internet, and social networking. Try to give your child tips on how they can avoid distractions, get work done and ultimately shut down the computer. You may also want to consider make the bedroom a screen free zone, this includes mobile phones too.

Take time out. If you are simply flitting around between the same websites and not making progress, shut down the computer. Often research and ideas flow better with a pen and paper in the library. Also outdoor activities should take priority. Research from the Heart Foundation suggests that children need at least 60 minutes (and up to several hours) of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.


“Procrastinating is the art of keeping up with yesterday and avoiding today”

- Wayne Dyer

The teaching direction of 21st century schooling has a focus on equipping our students with the knowledge to conduct themselves responsibly online and the positive effects are evident. The majority of Australian teenagers which I have spoken with receive outstanding guidance and support from their schools. I feel that the roll out of modern devices in education has been a huge success so far, but the journey is just beginning and is one where we are all learning.

It is a great privilege for students to have access to leading technology which provides significant educational value. By using any of the tips outlined above we can provide virtual driving lessons and prepare teenagers for a future where the use of technology is unavoidable.

Top 50 Educational Apps of 2011


I have compiled a list of the apps which I have used and highly recommend as "tools in the classroom". Used under supervision of a great teacher, these apps can provide a solid foundation to some outstanding lessons. I suggest that as a teacher you take just 2 or 3 relevant apps, and really deconstruct them. Evaluate how they might compliment your lesson plans. It is all to easy to get overwhelmed at the choice available on the App Store.


New apps for the Australian classroom

  1. Four Corners 50 Years - Australian Broadcasting Corporation Celebrate 50 Years of Four Corners... with more than seventy hours of content available, this is a unique archive of Australia’s current affairs history.
  2. Asialink - DreamWalk Mobile Asialink is Australia's leading centre for the promotion of public understanding of the countries of Asia and of Australia's role in the region. This app features the Asialink Essays - a series of monthly essays written by leading commentators who explore key issues in Australia's engagement with Asia.
  3. MyEnvironment - Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities Find the Australian environmental places that make up your neighbourhood or area of interest
  4. Constitution of Australia - UNILEX® This free app contains the full text of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (The Constitution), as well as hundreds of links to case law references on the AustLII website (internet connection required). With great features like full text search, keyword highlighting, and email, this app aims to be a highly useful and educationally rich companion guide to the study and practice of Australian Constitutional Law.
  5. Please Touch The Exhibit - icity2r mobile Celebrate Melbourne Museum’s tenth birthday and rediscover, explore and share some of Melbourne Museum’s most iconic stories.


My favourite apps

  1. WolframAlpha - Wolfram Alpha LLC
  2. SimplePhysics - Andrew Garrison
  3. Al Gore – Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis - Push Pop Press, Inc.
  4. Prezi Viewer - Prezi Inc.
  5. Explain Everything - MorrisCooke


Developers to check out for 2012

  1. - Educational Math Apps
  2. - Handy reference apps across many subjects.
  3. Oxford University Press ELT - eBooks of famous stories with illustrations.


The complete list of my top 50 education apps of 2011

  1. 3D Brain FREE
  2. AsiaLink FREE
  3. BrainPOP FREE
  4. Calculator ++ FREE
  5. Cell Structure 1.99
  6. Chicktionary 1.99
  7. Clickview Player FREE
  8. Composer FREE
  9. Constitution of Australia FREE
  10. Dropbox FREE
  11. Evernote FREE
  12. Explain Everything 2.99
  13. Four Corners FREE
  14. Gallery FREE
  15. GarageBand 5.49
  16. Gibson L&M Guitar (iPhone) FREE
  17. Google Earth FREE
  18. Grammar Up 5.49
  19. Guardian Eyewitness FREE
  20. Hiragana 0.99
  21. History Maps FREE
  22. iBooks FREE
  23. iMovie 5.49
  24. J-ENesis FREE
  25. Keynote 10.49
  26. Kindle FREE
  27. Learn Chess FREE
  28. Mathemagics 0.99
  29. Monarchy The Definitive Guide 1.99
  30. Moxie HD 1.99
  31. Multiplication - iDevBooks 4.49
  32. MyEnvironment FREE
  34. Our Choice 5.49
  35. Pages 10.49
  36. PEEK Evernote FREE
  37. PleaseTouch FREE
  38. Popplet Lite FREE
  39. Prezi Viewer FREE
  40. QRReader FREE
  41. Shakespeare FREE
  42. SIB (Shakespeare in Bits) Romeo and Juliet 5.49
  43. Simple Physics 0.99
  44. Simplex Spell 1 0.99
  45. Star Walk 2.99
  46. TED FREE
  47. Voice Thread FREE
  48. Whiteboard FREE
  49. Whiteboard Splashtop 20.99
  50. Wolfram Alpha 2.99

English and Digital Literacy


Free Teaching Resources. Throughout the digital revolution there has always been one consistent feature of every desktop and laptop ever made... The keyboard. And I don’t think our qwerty layout is going anywhere.


English Literacy is obviously a teaching priority. Learning correct spelling, punctuation, grammar and handwriting are schooling “101’s”. But there has never before been such focus on digital literacy.

Learning how to hand address a letter with attention to your word spacing (Tracking) and word height (Leading) was something I remember spending hours studying in junior school. So why do we assume that student can just transfer these skills when using a PC or indeed iPad? And using an Apple style template is not enough for me.



Being able to create a text document is surely high on the list of our Digital Literacy 101, right? Basic understanding of bullets and indents are essential for constructing an efficiently produced email, wiki or blog entry. Paragraph styles are always referenced in any HTML coding. These basic skills deserve to be featured with greater prominence in the curriculum.


So to support such an effort I have created you a Pages Essentials document. Please download it from the "Apple in the Classroom" tab in the menu at Here you will find what I consider to be essential features of the creating a text document.

An Apple Dilemma


Macbook or iPad for my school?

This is a fresh debate. And one where the question should perhaps be ‘laptop or tablet device?’. Another question which i’m certain has echoed around many a principals office is ‘should we engage in a personal digital education at all?’

It only seems like yesterday when we were trying our hardest to banish all mobile phones from the school grounds and now we find ourselves equipping kids with even more powerful, ever decreasing in size communication devices.

Tablet computers are an all round seductive device. The package itself is small but heavy, reminiscent of an expensive christmas gift. It is tied in a beautiful silk bow which unravels itself to reveal glossy glass and polished aluminium. The rich and vivid colours of the display ooze quality and class. “This is where education should be! How can we possibly go wrong with each child equipped with one of these things? I mean they can hold every book ever made, right?”

I am going to assume that you are at the stage of ‘We want a 1:1 environment’ and I am also going to focus on the Apple Macbook and iPad. I aim to share with you my first hand experiences so that you might make a decision between OS X or iOS.

OS X or iOS?

Don’t worry I am not about to start discussing the benefits of an ARM processor over an Intel chip. OS refers to the Operating System, the platform if you like which really provides the user experience. OS X is the MacBook operating system and iOS refers to the iPad platform, and it is here where you are truly making your decision.

Recently a principal from a developing school here in Australia approached me asking for my opinion. He said to me;

“We are in a fortunate position where we chose not to jump 2 years ago into a fleet  of Apple notebooks. Now we can wisely invest into providing a 1:1 iPad environment into our school”

Adamant in the fact that by A, not acting 2 years ago was the right thing to do and that B, the iPad was beyond any doubt the right way to proceed surprised me a little. With a completely unknown track record the decision to go with an iPad is often one which has already been made after fore-mentioned disrobing of the alluring device and not after extensive trial or research.

After all OS X had been in development for over 8 years. With the likes of Microsoft Office, industry standard design tools from the Adobe suite and full access to online technologies such as Flash we knew where we stood. This platform offered a truly flexible learning environment, as a teacher we could pick and choose media and content which complemented our syllabus as we chose to teach it. Not restricted by Apps as vetted by Apple staff.

OS X has proven itself to be an outstanding study partner. The Macbook offers sturdy design and a long battery life. Certainly in my experience students take well to the iLife suite. Podcasting, and movie making is a snap for most. It is a platform which I am an ardent fan of, one which prepares the students properly for careers where word processing and spreadsheet manipulation is essential. Learning on a Mac teaches other basic computer skills such as file handling and touch typing. Without these skills we are simply not preparing students properly for a digital future ahead of them.

My discussion with the curious principal continued. We crooned over the features and portability of the iPad, the medium to low price tag and the ‘third dimension’ of its touch screen. Eventually our conversation developed further into the integration of the device into classrooms and into the hands of teachers.

Classroom trials of the iPad have been met with mixed responses. In terms of an ebook reader it certainly shines. Finding the correct ebooks however has been difficult. But this is changing. Teacher attitudes have also began to shift and I think there is a clear focus on content creation from the school itself. Creating PDF documents, and interactive iBooks is now a very simple task. Getting those digital formats onto the iPad is also becoming simpler, sought of.

That Syncing feeling.

The iPad, in anything but a 1:1 consumer situation is very difficult.

For years I didn’t believe that ‘syncing’ was actually a word. That was until I became a proud owner of an iPhone and entered the Apple eco-system. Syncing isn’t a word that normal people use. It is a slang term which now represents the painful mine field of multiple Apple ID’s and mysterious windows asking you if its ok to “Erase and Sync?”.

It is almost the first task which an administrator of 2 or more iPads in a classroom situation will need to do. How difficult can this be? I’m perfectly happy to purchase a school license, can’t I just double click the install file?

For months I researched this topic, trying to find a fix which doesn’t break the 35 page long App Store T&C’s. There are a few convoluted solutions involving distribution of gift cards or iTunes credit, but why is it that Apple make everything so simple but this is so complex? And i’m still not sure how ethical it is that every student must exchange their personal details with Apple for an Apple ID.

There does seem to be a solution coming via ‘App Store Volume Purchasing’ but for the moment we must wait.

Apple have also answered many device management questions and using the right set of tools it is possible to lock down an iPad and restrict access to certain components. (such as the camera or the Safari internet browser). So with the right implementation shared devices in a school may work well.

With the tight control of Apples Apps and personal ID’s it all feels a little overwhelming. Never before on a Windows machine or OS X did it all feel so difficult, however playing by Apple’s rules might have some very positive impacts on education...

Pedagogical Values

A sand-boxed user experience is the first thing that hit me when I used the iPad. This meant that apart from the clock and battery indicator there were no other distractions when I was using an App. There is no cluttered desktop behind floating windows or header icons vying for my attention. So I was focused on the task at hand. This is a highly under rated feature and one which comes into its own in the classroom.

Multi-tasking for a modern student is when they are typing 3 essays at once while researching online, updating Facebook and streaming a video. Now you just cannot do all of these things simultaneously on the iPad. And that is a good thing for teachers trying to maintain a single focus in class.

It is for this reason that the iPad is truly chameleon like. It is a scientific calculator for a science period. It is an atlas for another and a musical keyboard for another. On the way home the iPad becomes a magazine and at night your bedtime book.

The way in which information is provided and accessed is revolutionary on the iPad. ‘Our Choice’ is an application developed with Al Gore as narrator. It is the most encapsulating, interactive digital book available, and the content is incredible. The touch screen is used beautifully to allow the user to engage fully with examples of solar power and wind density throughout America. It uses the built in microphone as another way in which the student can engage with the content. Just in this app alone I think a teacher could guide a student through an entire term of Society and Environment studies.

Gallery is an application which presents over 1100 pictures from the National Gallery in London. The collection of pictures can be sorted by date or artist. With the ability to pinch, zoom and study the pictures it has outstanding value in the art class.

The entire works of Shakespeare downloaded in minutes for free. Bram Stoker, Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde to name just a few are all free via the Ebook reader. Quickly my initial thoughts that this device was better suited for junior school students learning their ABC were proved wrong.

As I evaluate the many geography & history apps I gasp in disappointment that I didn’t have access to such interactive maps and animated detail when I was a student.

Indeed any science teacher would drool at the classroom support provided for learning the periodic table or even studying astronomy through the touch screen which literally brings the skies to life.

Never before has such a repository of information been available to assist teacher and student. The App Store is just starting to take shape. In the years to come one can only imagine the ingenious forms that apps will take as developers and educators continue to out trump each other.

The iPad has been equipped with an exceptionally powerful processor. It is equipped with three-axis gyro sensor as well as an accelerometer, and light sensor. It also has a built in digital compass and 2 cameras. What does this all mean? It means that the hardware is capable of so much more. The software development will never be hindered by lacking hardware. The journey is just beginning, the future a bright beacon of LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology. IPS technology? i’m not sure either but I do have faith that this investment might be the right one.


Undoubtedly the iPad in education is finding its feet. The Macbook will, for the time being continue to be a safe choice, especially in its latest incarnation, the MacBook Air.

My recent findings have concluded that the iPad is a superior form for accessing data and assisting in student consumption/learning. However I have found the creation of original content on the iPad to be not as fast or dynamic when compared to the Macbook. Although I am certain that youth today will take to the screen keyboard and pinch-pull zooming etc very quickly. It is of course possible to use external bluetooth keyboards, but I personally feel that this defeats the point a little.

After extensive experience with year 7 - 12 students and observing the ways that they are using their personal MacBooks, it seems clear to me that the majority of time is spent on internet browsing/research and word processing.

Adobe Photoshop is used extensively. The note taking software Inspiration and media creation tools iMovie and Garageband seem to be the next biggest use of students time, (closely followed by gaming and social networking). Most of these applications are easily substituted with counterparts on the iPad.

The school computer labs were, I thought becoming a thing of the past. But the idea of a lab existing along side an iPad 1:1 environment is a practice which would work well. It is here that you may choose to conduct Photoshop training. You may also choose to have a ‘Pro’ suite set up allowing students to learn film editing or 3D research for example. It is these labs that enable the student to experience conventional desktop computing and also skills such as touch typing.

I would not like to be in the position where I am tearing the MacBook from the hands of tech savvy students to replace them with iPads. But to be able to join my students in what can only be described as a journey of immersive learning where almost limitless resources are just a tap away is an opportunity too good to miss out on.

Apple have consistently listened to and addressed issues raised from the education sector. I am anticipating that the arrival of the App Store Volume Purchasing for education in Australia will be the final part of the jig-saw. Combine this with a carefully planned deployment and iOS 5 arriving this summer and the iPad is looking like a good choice.

Unlisted Youtube


Uploading video to Youtube is nothing new. It's the quickest, and probably most simplest way to share video with the world. It works on pretty much all devices, and is supported across all operating systems. Unfortunately, school rules prohibits you from sending video out to the internet without parental permission. In my last school, I was prohibited from uploading anything to Youtube because of this, as it was seen to be a full 'public' forum with no privacy. What I never quite understood however, was why we were allowed to post student photos out to the intranet or shared drives on the network, with no parental permission at all. This may not be a true form of 'public', however there was still a lot of people with full read/write/copy access to these photos and no way to prevent them sending these on further.

I then discovered Youtube's ability to post videos as 'unlisted', which essentially means it's removed from all search engines. The video becomes accessible via a link only, which can be distributed via email or embedded into a website. This video now takes on the same form as a photo, with it having as much security as text in an email or a photo on a private network. Schools can use the benefits of Youtube, without compromising students privacy and safety.

In short: Posting a video to Youtube in a school IS possible if you enable 'unlisted', thus eliminating it from search engines and making it available only to people who have the link.

More information can be found here

Google in Education


Why we can no longer ignore what Google are bringing to the table for educational institutes.

Google are providing a complete solution for schools which has every base covered.

Wireless networking, complete collaboration, power, stability, security and back-up.


Each computer in your fleet can be managed seamlessly from a single online administrator account. Updates are automatic (you’ll never even know that they are happening) and security is a tight as you need with new ‘tab sandboxing’.

The main concept to get your head around is that pretty much all of your work lives on-line. So if you are word processing, number crunching or even working on a presentation every step is performed inside a browser window. Or Google Chrome to be precise. And don’t underestimate the functionality of the applications available to you. You can video edit, podcast produce & create extremely complex and powerful spreadsheets or presentations.

There are many, many other advantages when it comes to going with Googles' new cloud experience.

Email, (or instant message, even video call!)

Using Gmail... but this doesn’t mean having a email address. Your can still continue to use the schools domain address. Using Gmail email account servers also means every user in your institution can have 7.2GBs of storage and you can send emails up to 20mb in size. Each email inbox can be personalised with the school logo. The mailbox also offers ‘Labs’. These are like tiny email Apps which include common tasks such as ‘Undo Send‘ and immediate language translation from any language to English and vice-versa. The email inbox also contains the ability to send instant messages to your colleagues who are online as well as instant video chat.

The email inbox begins to act a little more like your personal intranet system. You can easily see all of the documents which you are working on, you can share them with individuals, staff groups, or classes. Working in real time on the same document with a colleague is easy - even multiple colleagues.

The Google Calendar

Most people are familiar with the power and flexibility of the Google Calendar. Overlaying multiple calendars into one view is a snap, sharing calendars  and sending notes to calendar owners is also simple. I have also found that the sharing of Google calendars across different platforms (iCal, XML or HTML) is extremely stable, so you can publish straight to your website and have limitless subscribers. Perfect for a school environment!

But the experience is so much richer than just that.

The Google Apps Marketplace

Welcome to the largest collection of apps designed specifically to function inside Google Chrome. These apps can be installed by your administrator and made available to all of the users within your domain. Many apps have the ability to access data from your contact list or calendar accounts. Communication, project management and design apps are extremely popular. The focus with these apps is to strengthen collaboration which I think is the true strength behind Google.

Google’s new Education category on the Apps Marketplace is an online repository filled with learning management system (LMS) software, web-based grade books, and other content that can be shared among an entire school district or college campus with the click of a button.

iSupport’s top 3 favourite Education Apps


1. Thinkwave - A fast and reliable online student information system that is easy-to-use and quick to deploy.

  • Import students from Google Apps.
  • Log in with Google Apps usernames.
  • Collect grades and attendance online.
  • Generate report cards and transcripts.
  • Upload handouts online. Collect homework from students online.
  • Integrated gradebooks for teachers.
  • Grades online for students and parents.

2. Stupeflix Studio: Easy video creation

  • select a video template .
  • fill the template with pictures, video clips, soundtracks.
  • rearrange, fine-tune, preview.
  • export your video on YouTube, Facebook, or download the file.

3. Aviary Design Suite for Education

Free design tools and templates to create, modify and share images, presentations, audio tracks, podcasts & more. Classrooms can collaborate on multimedia projects. Works directly in Google Docs.

  • Create Logos, Presentation Slides, Yearbook Pages
  • Retouch photos, Make Web Templates & Icons
  • Develop Podcasts, Remix Audio & More

The Chromebook

Pick up a Chromebook, any Chromebook and you can pick up from where you left off. This flexibility is a huge advantage for students and administrators in a school or college. Your valuable data is never lost and you really don’t even have to think about it.

And if you opt for a 3G model Chromebook, you don’t even need to instal a wireless network into your building... But this begs the question, are Google just a little bit ahead of the game? With 3G networks and even broadband networks, Australia certainly has a long way to go. This device relies heavily upon an always on connection, at home and at school.

So what about pricing? Well the in the U.S. you are looking at around $20 per unit per month. Minimum 3 year contract.

For more updates on the impact of Google in our Australian market, watch this space.

Google Apps for education - link -


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:

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!

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.