Posts Tagged Post-pc

Parent-Teacher conference via Skype

imageEven though we are a Japanese high school, we attract returning students who have grown up outside Japan. In the case of one student this year, her parents live in Australia as she is schooling in Japan.

To allow the home room teachers have a proper parent-teacher conference, we were able to take advantage of our limited Wi-Fi and iPads to make the conference work and connect the two sides with Skype.

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This day in Ed. Tech

In the late morning classes, one senior teacher was using an iPad as he wirelessly connected to a projector via AppleTV in order to demonstrate to students how to understand UNHCR country profiles as part of their Model United Nations training. As he gave a tour of the profiles, students used their smart phones to view the web pages being shown. On the other side of the room, an exchange student who does not have a smart phone was issued a school iPad connected to the room’s WiFi system for the activity.

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iPad student check-outs

It’s a great feeling to know that students are finding our small number of iPads useful. This past week, students of our UNESCO club have been borrowing an iPad to make a slideshow of their activities to be shown at a school assembly next week.

Students are using Microsoft’s Powerpoint App (I know, Keynote is better, but it’s a matter of student understanding) connected to an office OneDrive account. Even though we only have one wifi router in the school, the router is strong enough to reach most classrooms, allowing the students to save their work without the threat of it being erased when the iPad is used for other purposes.

Overall, students were able to engage both the iPad and Powerpoint app without any teacher intervention, demonstrating the ease of use (and usefulness) of having iPads available for use.

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An oldie but a goodie: iWebKit

A web app framework allows anyone with little to no programing knowledge to create a website that is designed specifically for smartphone and tablet devices. There are a few out on the internet to choose from, depending a lot on your own taste and what you want to achieve with the web app.

In 2016, the Kansai High School Model United Nations is looking to implement a web app that can be used by participants to receive announcements and other information pertaining to the day-to-day activities.

To prepare this web app, I chose an oldie but a goldie. iWebKit was introduced to me by a fellow Apple Distinguished Educator while we were working together in an iOS integrated school a few years ago. iWebKit has not been updated in the last 5 years or so, but its simple UI and ease of use makes it a choice for me. There is also the nostalgia of the original iOS interface.

For this web app, we will be integrating Twitter for live announcements, Google Drive to access needed documents, Google Calendar to display the days’ events, and Google Sites to allow group editing of MUN draft resolutions.

I am a big Apple fanatic, but being able for a project like this to work on other mobile devices is crucial. iWebkit has been doing just fine with that.

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A Day of Tech in Multiple Classes

Continuing to record the use of tech in the classroom, I had the privilege today to assist two teachers in tech use, aside from my own use.

  1. Teacher A being given an iPad to be used as a debate timer using the app Presentation Timer, as well as a video player. This was his first use of an iPad in the classroom.
  2. Another teacher was given our electronic blackboard projector to show and demonstrate how to fill in forms for the students’ preparation for an abroad school trip coming up in February.
  3. Myself, placing a number of audio speeches on 3 iPads for students in small groups to listen to while practicing the preparation of a debate summary speech.

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iPads for assisting in international exchange office

IMG_2332Our International Exchange Office were assisting potential exchange students in their application for admissions into schools throughout Victoria, B.C., Canada. As the application was only available online, we found our iPads to be a valuable tool for not only ease of use, but also gave our International Exchange officer the flexibility to move around and assist students, all while using an Apple TV to project and example application. The setup also allowed students to easily move around and assist each other.

For as simple as an application process may be, the mobility of the iPads (lack of computer desks, wires, and the like) made the process much more simple.

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Students vote, prefer small groups to whole class in video-watching activities

I started off my 2015 listening workshop class using the traditional approach of a class watching a video on the big screen and completing appropriate work. Last week, I broke them into small groups to watch videos on a group iPad while completing appropriate work.

I then asked in an informal manner which setting they prefer, and all who replied voted for the small groups. I would agree. I find the larger class to be very passive when everyone is sharing a big screen. As is the manner, students face forward, mouths shut, while their teacher lectures. However, when they are broken into smaller groups, interaction occurs, and the work seems to become more enjoyable.

It also allows more teaching moments for individual students as I can walk around and answer questions.

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QuickVoice for voice recording

IMG_0637-1A simple, free app for iPad, QuickVoice, allowed our students to record a short mock-radio infomercial about the effects of Malaria and how to prevent infection. As student groups came up to record, the rest of the class closed their eyes to pretend they were listening to the radio.

The recording I felt pushed the students to perform at a higher level than what they might have done given a slight rise in anxiety, but still doing so in front of classmates made the experience enjoyable.

QuickVoice® Recorder By nFinity Inc.

We also used a rather inexpensive Monaural Microphone from audio-technica.

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Breaking down the barrier, one brick at a time.

Japan for the part is conservative. They value their traditions, and they value their customs. Teachers especially, develop a keen sense of being the lecturer. She speaks, you listen. She writes notes on the board, you copy. No questions asked, literally. And so it with that, trying to introduce different means of interaction, different teaching methods, or different ideologies can be quite a hassle. While much of the world is searching for new, innovated, cost-cutting ways of educating our children, most educators in Japan will reply, “the chalk and black works perfectly fine.” So, it is fascinating and exciting when a Japanese teacher agrees to give something new a shot.

IMG_2260Last week, one of our social studies teachers wanted to show a powerpoint slideshow, so I had asked if he would be willing to give the iPad a try. He agreed, and we spent a few minutes making sure he was familiar with using a touch screen, something, up until then, had never used. We connected the iPad to an Apple TV, and he gave his brief lecture. The most fascinating aspect was not of my colleague using the iPad, but the students’ reaction to him using it. After getting over the shock of him using an iPad, they began encouraging him, and even assisting in swiping to the next slide and annotating.

The students were amused, but more importantly, they remained intrigued at the presentation. My colleague at the end joked about it being his first time, but commented that the experience was good.

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Kids are not as tech savvy as we might seem… Or just a different kind of tech?

Much like riding a bicycle, when learning, you have to start somewhere. This past week I have been preparing students for a winter homework assignment that is to be done at home over the winter vacation, using both Edmodo and Google Drive. I was expecting students to be excited and even somewhat relieved that they could use a computer or their mobile device to do homework, rather than spend hours writing it out on paper. The reality, however, was that most students have very little experience using computers, some of whom did not have any Internet accessible device at home. Watching these high school students use computers as we were signing them up for the services was astounding. Despite the lack of typing skills, students just did not want to touch the things. Checking email, typing in a URL, or even understanding the difference between right and left clicking a mouse were all foreign skills to many of them. They we frustrated, lost, and even a little scared with using the computers. I saw similar expressions when using the iPads and iPods for the first time, but after a few class sessions, students seem to be comfortable with them; but at the same time, these are still fairly new devices, and in Japan are still seen as some what of a luxury to have them, but a personal computer? Whether it be a Mac or a Windows machine, the computer has been around long enough to become a standard commodity… Or has it? Japan, despite being seen as a techno hub, still is very traditional in how business is handled, especially in education. Students are so used to paper, and expect teachers to guide them through all their work. Cell phones and other mobile devices are seen as distractions, and are even banned in many schools (mine included).

One of the ICT instructors at my school informed me that most students just don’t use email, because they have apps like Line, which is Japan’s answer to Skype. I use this app as well. Thinking about its workings, users don’t need to know how to type on a qwerty keyboard, how to send and receive email, how to enter URLs, or how to move from one tab to another. In fact, most mobile apps don’t require anyone to know how to use a computer. So then it’s not that the students don’t have access to Internet accessible devices, but rather that the devices they have don’t allow them to see the Internet the way I saw it growing up in the .com bubble. The GUI has changed, how the Internet is accessed has developed past the entering of a URL, and the traditional qwerty keyboard is going the way of the typewriter.

We have entered into a post-PC era.

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