Tag Archives: ipad summit

The Invisible iPad – My #ettipad Experience


If this event becomes a meeting about how we got rid of power cords, extended battery life, and solved workflow challenges with some neat app, then we fail.

The iPad summit is not about the iPad

With these words, Greg Kulowiec  had me hooked. Since the launch of the iPad in 2010, we have seen a revolutionary transformation in how we create, consume, and communicate. Whether the iPad is an authentic educational tool is not relavant, because

it’s not about the iPad.

Is the automobile an authentic education tool? What about the refrigerator? Revolutionary inventions are not about the invention itself, but whats the invention gives use the ability to do. A truly revolutionary invention should in time become invisible. No longer is it viewed as something special, yet its effects are far reaching. The lightbulb changed the way the world functioned. The world was no longer bound to productivity…

View original post 477 more words

Retroactively Managing an iPad Program

Earlier this week, I had the esteemed pleasure of presenting at the iPad Summit in San Diego, hosted by EdTechTeacher. In addition to live blogging the event, you can see my posts here, I presented on my administrative project “Retroactively Managing an iPad Program: Centralizing an iPad Program that Precedes Policy.” You can see my presenter slides and handouts here.

My presentation was live-blogged by Kate Wilson on the EdTechTeacher Blog. I had a great experience with my peers who shared their own experiences and thoughts on the topic at hand. Now that I’ve had some time to reflect, I wanted to present my subject again here.

I have to admit that mine was not one of the “sexiest” subjects at the Conference. I’m always excited to present on innovation such as digital storytelling (see my post on student documentaries). Still, this type of information is necessary and integral to any type of roll out of iPad program. You must support your teachers effectively, and that includes the behind the scenes nuts and bolts.

The current program that I am in the process of retroactively rolling out evolved by trial and error. As each school’s needs are unique to its circumstances, it is important to understand that the Ransom Everglades School is not a 1:1 school nor are we a BYOD institution. We currently have close to a 1:1 program with our faculty, but students only have access to iPad carts.

Here is the advice that I have for anyone that is planning to retroactively manage an iPad Program

Don’t Do it

Seriously, don’t. It’s a huge headache. This is not a system that you want to try to figure it out as you go. Planning is vital to any successful technology program. There is also not a one size fits all framework for any institution. Ransom Everglades is (nearly) 1:1 for teachers and shared carts for students. However, other schools are only shared carts, 1:1, 1:1 not bring home, 1+1, and a variety of other models. You need to develop a model that works for you institution – its culture, needs, and learning objectives.

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 12.38.49 PM

How did I get here?

One of the great things about the Ransom Everglades School is that if you need something, you will get it. They are all about supporting their faculty. A few years ago, teachers started to acquire iPads, then a cart was purchased, then more iPads for teachers. Before they knew it, Ransom had a full-blown iPad program without a policy in place. My school’s story is not unique. There are a lot of schools that have suddenly found themselves with an iPad program before they have developed an implementation plan. Additionally, the technique for managing a pilot is not the same as one you would use to implement a broader program. As such, what worked at one point with a few iPads may not be feasible going forward. You must develop a system that works for you.

If you are retroactively managing a system or looking to lay one out, here are the basic steps that I recommend:

Step 1: Catalogue

It is important to know the exact number of iPads that you have and exactly what type. There are several models of iPad on the market right now (iPad 2, iPad Air, iPad mini, iPad mini with retina… not including the variations of memory and cellular capabilities). I originally was given a stack of paper records that I converted to a google sheet. I organize this information by:

  • Primary User (who is responsible for the iPad)
  • Serial Number
  • Make/Size/Cellular Capabilities (including provider)
  • Date of acquisition and return

Good record keeping is vital in understanding where you are, what you can do, and where you are going.

I would also recommend purchasing the most recent version of iPad available with at least 32 GB of storage. Saving 20% upfront by purchasing older hardware (such as the iPad 2) is often belied by costs later when that model becomes obsolete. For example, iPad 2 is 20% cheaper than the iPad Air. However, it is not capable of fully employing the tools of iOS 7. Additionally, it is the next on the chopping block of hardware. It’s had a good life of four years, much longer than I anticipated. However, I suspect that if you invest in 20 iPad 2’s today you will need to replace them in 1-1.5 years from now. Whereas if you invest in iPad Airs, you have a solid 3 years ahead of you (not including loss or damage). Additionally, I would recommend at least 32 GB of memory as you cannot upgrade it on an iPad later.

Step 2: Assess your Needs

Asking important questions will help shape your policy. Schools and individuals (teachers, administration, students, etc)  have different needs and may require different restrictions:

  • Who are your users?
    • Are these iPads for students (if so how old?), Teachers, Staff, Administration?
  • How will they be used?
    • Do you have an objective or are they another tool akin to a laptop?
  • Where will they be used?
    • Will you allow these devices to be taken home or only used at school?
  • Do you multiple policies?
    • Will students have a different policy based on age? Will students have different policies from teachers?
  • Security of devices
    • What security protocols will you require?

Step 3: Examine and Revise Existing Policies

Look at your existing policies that may cover mobile devices. For example, does your school with laptop policy? Often, existing policies will need to be revised to meet the needs of an iPad program. For example, if faculty/staff have traditionally not been able to bring a computing device home, this should be revised as it defeats the purpose to have an iPad if it is tethered to a location. However, every school is different with different needs. For example, it may be feasible for your faculty to bring home their devices but if you are on a shared cart model, this is simple not a viable option.

Loss/ damage is also something you need address in your policy. People lose devices, have them stolen, or drop and break them. It is imperative that you encourage active use of your iPads. You want students and faculty taking them out, using them in interesting settings (such as on an Outward Bound trip) yet you need to balance that with encouraging individuals to take responsibility of it. At Ransom, we employ a 25% replacement policy – this prevents a one time loss/damage from being crippling but ensures that people take ownership of the device. If the iPad was lost/damage in an academic endeavor, this fee can also be waived.

Step 4: Determine End Management

What do you want your user to be able to do? Can they download and install apps? Put their personal videos/pictures on it? Update the iOS? It is important to keep in mind that the less you let your end users do on their device, the more you as administrator would have to do. If staff must come to technology administrator each time they need to update an app or if you have a convoluted process for installing applications, it might not only be a huge drain on your time, but users may feel so walled that they stop using it all together.

You can see the current policy of my school here: Acceptable Use Policy. Please note that this is a “living document” and will likely have more changes in the future. This particular policy is for the teachers who have school issued iPads. Currently students are on a cart model so they do not have the ability to use school iPads outside of a teacher’s presence.

Step 5: Numbers and Record Keeping

It is important to understand the tax implications of an iPad program. Speak to the person at your school or district who is in charge of this (at Ransom, we have a CFO). Keeping meticulous records is necessary for tax exempt status and other school funding programs. If schools are audited you don’t want to suffer a hefty fine or, worse yet, lose your tax exempt status due to poor record keeping.

For purchasing applications, we use the Apple Volume Purchase Program. This way, we do not have to pay taxes on the applications (a nice savings) and for apps that you purchase in bulk for discounts up to 50%. This is also a great way to save funds on apps required for your students and/or faculty. The new Apple Configurator will also allow your institution to retain ownership of the apps if a faculty member or student leaves. However, at Ransom, we have decided that we are going to let our faculty keep their apps as a business perk.

Step 6: Pick your Management System

I highly recommends you choose just one system for simplicity. However, this is not always feasible. For example, at Ransom we use two because of our shared cart system.  For our teacher iPad program we use Meraki. There are hundreds of MDM’s available and the best way to find one is to talk to your peers and your PLN.

Whatever system you choose (and there are many) it should work with your existing infrastructure (taking into consideration internal bandwidth and firewall concerns). This is something to plan out with your network administrator.

Step 7: Draft your Policy

Once you have catalogued all of your devices and determined your school’s vision, it is time to actually draft your policy. Be sure that you address all aspects for a complete policy.

  • Management Policy
  • Security
  • Configuration/Usability
  • App Purchase Procedure
  • Cellular Subscriptions
  • Record Keeping
  • Replacement/Retirement

In terms of replacement/retirement you can usually anticipate a 3, perhaps 4, year cycle on iPads (not including loss or damage).

Step 8: Introduce to your community

When introducing your policy to your community, it is important to address the community as a whole. You may wish to do this in one, all school meeting, or over several meetings which includes faculty/staff, students, and even parents. Many people are concerned about privacy on their devices. To assuage concern, I actually pull up the system and show them my iPad on it.  I also try to answer their questions about why we are “monitoring” their devices, emphasizing tax implications, keeping an eye on school owned devices, and ensuring security.

Even if you are very proactive, some individuals will push back, especially if they are used to looser procedures. Keep the conversations going, be consistent, and even offer enticements for them to stay on the system. At Ransom, we offer some pretty cool, free apps!

Step 9: Be Open to Feedback

Even if you believe you have covered all of your bases, there will always be issues that crop up. Keep your door open to discussion with faculty about their needs and facilitating their teaching. If a teacher brings a concern to you, do not dismiss it. Rather, be willing to listen, consider, and even pilot a solution!

Topics with No “Clean” Solution

In developing my policy, I still have not found a clear solution to all of my issues. For example:

  • In App Purchases
    • They are becoming more popular & cannot be purchased with VPP
    • We currently reimburse for these.
  • Subscription Services (e.g. New York Times)
    • Again, these are very popular and cannot be purchased with VPP.
  • MDMs are easily removed
    • The Apple Configurator is better at locking this down but not all systems do.

At the end of the day, the system should reflect the needs, values, and vision of your school. Whatever policy you adopt, ensure that you consistently go back and tweak it, address concerns as they arise, and tweak your policy as necessary.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions for me, please be sure to drop me a note!

Drawp for School: Unleashing Students’ Creativity

Drawp Sharing Screen Shot

Drawp Sharing Screen Shot

The next session I’m attending is given by an alumna of my institution, Ransom Everglades School, Ana Albir. She is presenting on the iPad Application, Drawp (Free). Drawp for School is an app that has been in development for seven months and drawn out of the previous app, Drawp for Families ($4.99).

The nice feature of Drawp is that it allows young children to share content without the need of an email address (an issue for students under 13 years old).

Why Drawp?

Students like to share their work and the ubiquity of tablets makes a new arena of creation and sharing. A drawing or project on an iPad can’t easily be sent home at the end of the day. Additionally, getting content off of a tablet and distributing it to a teacher can be problematic (especially if schools don’t have email addresses for those particular students or a cloud based solution such as Google Drive). Additionally, in the export process you often lose the ability to edit content. With a 1:1 environment, this can often be fine. However, if you’re in a shared cart model (as many schools are) then you lose the ability to give lengthier assignments that include the revision process (a key element in projects). These necessary processes, then, mean that technology “gets in the way” of learning. The objective of Drawp is to get rid of the impediments and facilitate learning.

Drawp with "voice stickers" attached.

Drawp with “voice stickers” attached.

So Drawp is a creativity tool, with a built-in sharing platform, and an automatic workflow management system for teachers. Drawp integrates with Google Drive, DropBox, and the camera roll. You can then annotate and even attach “voice stickers.” The Voice Stickers are my favorite feature as they allow you to record audio and attach it to a specific part of the image. Additionally, everything created on Drawp is backed up on Drawp’s cloud servers. It’s automatically saved and not dependent on the iPad’s local memory. If you have a system that wipes iPads after each use or can’t guarantee students the same iPad (both consistent issues on shared iPad cart models), the content is there and doesn’t have to be reloaded. Also, it’s fully editable! Very cool. If a student wants to share content with a family member, it can go as a text message to the parents. It’s important to note that sharing is asynchronous, so students cannot collaborate live. This may be something that comes in the future. However, the developer may add synchronous sharing in the future.

Teacher Workflow

Teacher Workflow

You can also type information embedded via metadata so that it doesn’t cover up the drawing. Students can use this feature to explain their drawing or to receive feedback from peers or teachers. The teacher dashboard is well organized and easy to navigate. It is sorted by class, assignment, and student. This is a nice feature for workflow! Using the teacher dashboard, they can type a comment that will be available immediately to the student. Additionally, the teacher can see what students are sharing with others. This is key to ensure appropriate behavior between students as well as to keep an eye on what they are sharing outside (note that students can only share with their approved sharing list). Additionally, teachers can see progressive data. So if a student shares something inappropriate and then deletes it, you can still see a thumbnail image of it.

In addition to using the set “coloring books” included, you can import your own content. This is great because it means that it moves beyond a coloring app. Chemistry teachers can import the periodic table, geography teachers can include maps of Europe, etc. Because it works with Camera Roll, DropBox, and Google Drive, you can import a variety of content. Right now content is limited to images but they anticipate rolling out PDF compatibility shortly.

To encourage educational objectives, Drawp includes Common Core tips, as well as provides flexible lesson plans for a variety of grade levels and subject. It also seems to be a good tool for blended learning environments.

Ana also highlights that the app is continuing to evolve. In the next four months they will be rolling out an online platform for lessons, an Android compatible App, the ability to export interactive media to blogs, as well as a book creation platform. If you want to play with the app, and download it by February 15 you get unlimited classes for one year ($99 value). After that there are various subscription levels. You can download the app here.

iPad Summit Keynote: Mimi Ito

The Keynote Speaker for Day 2 of the iPad Summit is Mimi Ito, Ph.D., a cultural anthropologist with the University of California at Irvine. Her focus is on the changing relationship of youth and new media. I have been following her work for some time, so it’s exciting to be able to see her speak in person! You can see a lot of her work published at Connected Learning.

Mimi argues that we’re at a tipping point in education: we are culturally ready for a student centered, engaged, and social form of learning that thrives in a digital world. We have an unprecedented readiness for this transition in the main stream community. In addition to observing students and children, Mimi is also the mother of two children. This gives her a unique perspective as both an outsider and invested insider.

Mimi starts out by discussing Minecraft, a hugely popular gaming platform. Minecraft has entered schools via various student initiatives. It has evolved in schools in interesting and innovative ways; promoting student self directed learning and exploration.

How can young people make the most of today’s abundance of information and social connection? – Mimi Ito

Courtesy of Wikimedia commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia commons

The world outside of our classrooms has transformed and evolved, but our schools are taking some time to adapt to these changes. Our educational system evolved in an era of textbooks and chalk boards. Now we live in a world with stronger connections both inside and outside of traditional school learning.

While this vision of learning has been with us for a while, technology has enabled us to implement new methods of teaching learning (project based, student centered, and connected). While these changes may not be easy, we have those tools and opportunities to make changes in our schools and classrooms.

Mimi emphasizes the fact that children are readers. In fact, kids are more likely to read than adults! They aren’t just reading tweets, but longer content. Additionally, they are writers.

“Everyone can be a writer – technology isn’t killing our ability to write, it’s reviving it.” – Andrea Lundsford.

In fact, the writing rate has exploded and  the quality of writing has not decreased! Students do know the difference between texting and writing academically.

Other things are changing drastically, especially in terms of media engagement. Additionally, may of them are “multi-tasking” their screen time. Games, additionally, is the entertainment form of the day across gender and age. This is how we engage with one another and entertain ourselves today. Additionally, children are always connected now with access to mobile phones (especially smart phones). Peer to peer communication dominates in the mobile arena.

So what happens when these media connected kids walk into a classroom? The world around the classroom has experienced a massive cultural shift that isn’t reflected in the classroom. This poses a number of unique challenges for educators and educational institutions. Mimi polls the room about our opinions of the role of connectedness in the classroom – most of us are cautiously optimistic!

The fact is that modern technologies have various effects depending on digital practices, the population, and individual dispositions of children. As teachers, it means that it is our job to shape their use and direction, and not allow them to solely evolve on their own. The Connected Learning network and model is her and her community’s research environment and explores how to move forward.

“The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” – Mimi Ito

One of the first elements of Mimi’s and her group’s study is that parents and other adults view these activities as a distraction from learning – even if they see that these have value for themselves. So there is a gap that we need to mediate for in and out of school opportunities for learning. We have to deal with this in our every day practice in

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

schools. Additionally, young people are learning a tremendous amount from their online participation and interaction. Some of this learning was friendship driven (Facebook and Text Messaging) and interest driven (what do you want to learn, what are your interests and hobbies). The platforms change (remember Live Journal and MySpace?) but the interactions and objectives are the same; gaining community and building expertise. So peer groups at school are not always the best place for students to build and foster their interests.

Online communities especially help students with outsider interests! One student, “Maria” (name changed), was a 17 year old student that was starting college. She was very interested in WWE (World Women’s Wrestling Entertaining). Her friends and family teased her, so she didn’t communicate this interest with them. However, she found an online community where she was about to write about her passion for more than four years and build her writing skills. She gained a strong online following and was able to expand her influence. Those skills also transferred over to the school newspaper and ultimately “Maria” pursued a career in technical writing. So the abilities that “Maria” developed in her fantasy community transferred over to the “real world” and ultimately her career. So while “fan fiction” may seem frivolous, the reality is that the skills built in this passion driven learning is transferable. This is the core of “connected learning,” using peer and community support that a student has and then linking/connecting that learning into the spaces of opportunity that build positive futures for children. This will ultimately serve students best in the world that we live in, a connected, fast paced environment. These are important underlying skills and dispositions to foster.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

However, in the real world, we need to recognize that these experiences are not the norm. They are reliant on teachers being forward thinking and helping students to navigate these lines. Additionally, we are living in a world with increasing economic inequity – which translates over to access to connected learning resources. You can view the changing enrichment expenditures and its impact on children via the research of Duncan and Murnane here. We are seeing a gap between the children of the wealthy and the poor in terms of access to out of school learning. In addition to hurting under privileged children academically, it also adds increased stress on privileged students who are now exceedingly pressured at all times to perform.

In addition to traditional media, we see greater access to open learning via tools like MOOCs and outlets such as Khan Academy. You can see Justin Reich’s critiques of some of these movements in his article, “We were Promised Jetpacks and we got Lectures.” It’s also important to note that people overestimate the short term impact and underestimate the long term impact. MOOCs have had a significant drop off because they were not immediately and measurably successful. However, we’ve just gotten started! We have yet to see the long term impact of these models.

Meet Learners Where They Area

We have an abundance of access to content. This means that we can legitimately meet young people where they are. We have the opportunity to truly diversify for our students. We are in an era where schools cannot financially support a myriad of options. The online world opens up these avenues to us. Mimi’s research works on investigating students’ interests and how that drives learning. How can we mine these social and student driven avenues and harness it for academic learning? How can we translate a Harry Potter chapter to a University community? How can we use these tools to attract young women and traditionally “non-geeky” communities? Gamification is a great example of meeting kids where they are and building a curriculum on how students learn communally.

Tap the Power of Peer-to-Peer Learning

The goal is to realize the mission of learning on a stage wider than the classroom and connected to the broader world. The online world offers a new set of tools to

English Language & Usage Stack on Stack Exchange

English Language & Usage Stack on Stack Exchange

make that happen, especially through the power of social media. Online anyone can be a peer, mentor, or student. While this can create credibility problems, of which we should be mindful, it also presents a great deal of opportunity. While some avenues are not traditionally academic, there are some dedicated learning avenues. All in all, it’s about the skills and the learning.

Build Connected Maker Spaces

The maker culture is a huge new movement picking up speed both within and outside of the academic community! 3D printing has brought new opportunities to individuals in previously unimaginable realm! There are numerous environments set up dedicated to maker culture, the White House has even announced its first ever Maker’s Faire! These cultures exist both in the “real world” as well as online environments.

Seek Recognition in the Wider World

We also have the opportunity to share content out! This is controversial among parents as well as schools. However, it cannot be denied that when students are permitted to take their work to a broader community,  they have a greater investment in the product. Kids are motivated by an audience and it can be transformative for their own identities. The Quest to Learn organization encourages a public forum in which students can share their work. However, there are numerous online environments in which students can share their performance and projects. Metrics of achievement via tools like Top Coder reinforce skills and motivate improvement. Displaying achievements and abilities online is going to become more and more prominent, the more we can prepare students for it the better they will be positioned in the future.

There are many different ways to experiment with the online and connected learning environments and no doubt many of them will come and go. Mimi  has listed just a few examples of connected learning but ultimately it’s not about particular technologies and techniques, but about reconnecting to effective and powerful learning and teaching. So while there isn’t a specific tool, we do need to enable students to connect with people in the outside community (however that may look). If we  see opportunities for students to connect their outside experiences and passions to their educational realm, that is success.

DIY Genius Bar: Embracing Student Leadership

The next talk I’m attending is the “DIY Genius Bar: Embracing Student Leadership” by Sara Chai, Alicia Johal, and Marielle Venturino. I have seen some versions of student help desks in action and am always excited about the potential of getting more students involved in educational technology and investing in their school’s resources.

The first thing that Sara, Alicia, and Marielle do is demonstrate their DIY Genius Bar Website. They plan to do their whole presentation from the website itself. Cool! So what is the Genius Bar? They rolled out iPads to students and staff with very little training and support. The biggest problems that they were having were “tier 1” support: passwords, how to open a document, etc.

Apple Genius Bar, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Apple Genius Bar, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Sara states that she knew she had a lot of students and not a lot of support staff. So she began to look towards the students for help. They modeled their Genius Bar after the Apple model. The students work at the “Genius Bar” during lunchtime, usually about a shift a week. There is a dedicated time in the school day as well as a dedicated location. They are also assigned a staff member to connect with to help one on one if they need it.

In their role as “geniuses,” students help teachers to get acquainted and familiar with their new devices and equipment. The students serve as an extra resource to the faculty. They provided the students handbooks and even “branded” them with t-shirts. I love the idea of letting them team up in a community! They also brought with them some students to talk about hwy the Genius Bar is so important to their school! I love hearing about the value from students themselves.

Sergio shared that he felt that the Genius Bar was helpful for teachers and students to use the iPad. He generally gets requests for password resets (been there!). Sergio also uses screen casting apps (like Educreations) to make videos that demonstrate how to do various tasks on their iPads. Dang it, I think he’s stealing my Flipped PD idea! Another student shared the fact that he is consistently asked for help with resetting passwords or how to do various tasks on the iPad. In addition to hands on support, sometimes they make videos to help people understand how to use their passwords.

The ladies tell us that this is still a work in process for them, they have learned from some mistakes and moving forward. Next year, they anticipate it will be an optional advisory for students. Space and funding are the primary concerns for moving forward with this project.

This does change the relationship between student and teacher – especially if and when students are better at technology than you are! They are building this project in conjunction with an iPad program building in the classroom. They also hope that this project will help students to get internships and jobs as they have already demonstrated hands-on leadership in their school.

They also highlighted the fact that what they did at their school would not necessarily work on all campuses. You must make it fit in your environment. To get stated, they held info sessions and reached out to students they felt were responsible and would be able to reach out to the community. What was awesome is that they chose students who may not necessarily have had “great grades” (they required a 2.5+ GPA) and even had a few that did not have solid english skills. However, they knew that this experience would help them to build their social and communications kills (including language).

After they selected the students, they worked to get the students into their advisories. Students would then work with teachers in a 1:1 environment to provide them the highest level of support. They began with about 50 students per campus. The initial start was a bit rocky as not all of the students had the proper tools and they struggled in finding a place and time to meet. However, as they got into a rhythm, the program began to pick up momentum and they have more students and more individuals seeking help. The students are in charge of managing their own teams (for creating “tip sheets” and videos). So the students themselves have to take ownership and responsibility of their position. Here’s a great video that the students drafted to advertise a room change:

And another great one that a student made to emphasize proper care for the iPad:

Sara finishes up by talking about how much she learned from her students in this project and experience. The students, staff, and teachers use them as a consistent resource to help them with their iPads.

Students learn leadership and customer service skills in this project. They build confidence and invest in their school community. They teach one another and their teachers! They feel empowered and invested in their own community and their educational environment.

Student Digital Portfolios: Redefining Assessment with iPads & Google Apps

The first session of day two that I am attending is “Student Digital Portfolios: Redefining Assessment with iPads and Google Apps” by Holly Clark. You can view the slides from her presentation here.

Holly highlights the fact that we have to think forward and progressively, “Are you Blockbuster or are you Netflix?” While people originally thought that mailing movies to you was “crazy,” ten years later Blockbuster is now dead.

Disruptive innovation isn’t just for businesses, it’s something that we can, and in fact should, be doing in education! Traditional models are dinosaurs and leaving students behind in the real world! With digital content and tools, we can learn so much more about our students and their families.

Holly began to implement Digital Portfolios as a means for students to reflect on their work and experiences with their educational material. So often we learn it and move on – you are directed by the curriculum or the textbook. With iPads and digital work, students were able to create at new levels and retain it (well, except when IT would take it and wipe it).

Digital Student Portfolios = Digital Citizenship

When people hear “digital citizenship” then think “cyber-bullying.” We need to change that. Digital citizenship is about understanding how to navigate, interact, and communicate online. When students take their work and curate it, then populate it on the internet, they learn that nothing is private and that their online presence can be incredibly powerful (in positive and negative ways).

Controlling your online presence is important. If you don’t put up content about yourself, someone else will. What do you want online, that documentary you made for class or a silly picture from college that someone tagged you in from Facebook?Online curation also requires that you think about how you present yourself; this includes not only content, but fonts, colors, presence. This is about selling yourself and building your online presence.

Digital Footprints

By encouraging students to populate their online presence through intentionality, we encourage them to think about what they put online and how that can direct their future. Here is a great project that student put online about California Missions:

This is a student that, at a very young age, is learning how to cultivate and foster a positive online presence. We need to ensure that this content is housed somewhere so that not only do students retain ownership, but so that it is enduring.

3 Types of Student Portfolios

There are three categories of student portfolios: process (This records the steps you took in building a project), showcase (This is showing off your final work), and a hybrid model (a combination of the process and final project showcase).

Holly advocates a hybrid model as it records the process and allows students to show off their final projects. Additionally, it allows students to reflect on their learning experience. Holly also highlights that when creating portfolios, you must keep several considerations in mind:

  • Who Owns?
  • Who Curates?
  • Who Organizes?
  • Where Does it Live?

Holly uses Google Drive to collect and store content (text, images, videos, and more). You can store content on the camera roll and then upload it to Google Drive. Then students organized the content and published to a Google Site.

Holly Clark

Holly Clark

If you would like to see a teacher using Explain Everything on the iPad to help students collect, curate, and reflect on work check out this short video by David Malone:

Holly highlights that this type of rich information can demonstrate to teachers and parents a child’s educational growth throughout the year. Capturing a student’s voice is important to record their experience; we need to hear it in order to better assess them. It’s powerful information.


The reflection piece is probably the most important. Holly uses a Google Form that she links to the assignment. Using Google Forms means that all of the content is in one place (not in separate folders). If you use Google Apps, then you know how important workflow is to maintaining sanity!! Holly recommends that you keep the form simple, because if it is too detailed then students can get easily overwhelmed and you won’t get the information that you want.


When students publish their content, they need to ensure that it looks nice. It should be professional, not have outrageous fonts/colors (pink background and green font!!), and attract people to their content. Holly encourages this by providing the student some basic templates to reign in some of their creative tendencies. As students get older and more mature, then they will have the skills for leaning towards a more professional presentation on their own.

Holly’s student portfolios include the child’s reflection, subjects, and a showcase of their work. This not only highlights their growth but allows them to show off some of the content that they are most proud of. Students take ownership of these pieces – they are proud of what they showing off to the world.

With publication, there is also the debate of whether or not content should be public. Schools, parents, and students have a strong opinion in terms of safety and exposure. Holly encourages discussing with parents and sharing with them the importance of Digital Footprints and an online presence.

There are other tools that we can include as they develop. Another great tool to explore is Touch Cast.

The nice thing about digital portfolios and online tools is that they are constantly evolving. We need to ensure that we are adaptable and flexible going forward.

How to Move Forward

Start Small

  • Collect everything you can into Google Drive
  • Then make a goal to do one project a grading period
  • Have students reflect using Google Forms
  • Have students publish using Google Sites

As you improve, you can expand to more sophisticated projects and bigger steps. What’s important is that you build at a comfortable pace with an objective and goal in mind.

Getting Meta: Augmented Media for Creativity & Critical Thinking

The last session that I’m attending is “Getting Meta: Augmented Media for Creativity & Critical Thinking” with Amy Burvall. You can explore the topic and join in the conversation by joining her G+ community. Her community includes the slides as well as a list of activities.

Word Cloud of my Facebook activity.

Word Cloud of my Facebook activity.

One of the most prominent terms that we hear today is “meta” – metadata, metacognition, etc. Meta means “above, beyond, or about.” Amy wants to explore different ways to get students to “get meta” with their projects. Meta is very powerful and gives us a broader idea of what is happening in the world an dour lives. For example, go to Wolfram Alpha and type in “Facebook Report.” You can learn more than you ever wanted to know about your Facebook page.

The nice think about the social media and digital world that we live in, is that it is a living medium. We can update and change it, hyperlink it and look to other sources, and continuously build and make more rich. Unlike text, nothing is static anymore. We can make our text come to life with our own hyper textual elements. This also allows students to have layers to work and ultimately, more meaty.

A way that we can effectively share and organize is to tag (or hashtag) information. Hashtags have evolved from basic information, e.g. #ettipad, and can be more nuanced, like #sorrynotsorry. We have a lot of information out in the world that we need to keep it from being “messy.” We want it meta, but not messy.

Image from OVER

Image from OVER

We also are a visual group, and so image based communication is becoming more and more relevent. Check out OVER by Potluck. It allows you to overlay text on your images.

Another great tool is Thinglink. I’ve used Thinglink to have my students create interactive images. You can see that lesson here. Amy is showing us a wonderful example of student making sketch notes with Thinglink. By using a single account, it can help produce a product from Groupthink (what have we as a group concluded?).

Another tool that Amy uses is Listicles (see Wired’s Article: “5 Reasons why Listicles Are Here to Stay“). Listicles are list format articles that can help us to reflect and process broader content. By analoguing content and then digitally manipulating it can provide a broader tactile and meta experience! Meta experiences with students should be about process, product, and reflection. It should not be about a firm, end product but a meaty, living document. It’s about being conceptual and non-linear.

A great tool for creating a non-linear presentation is Projeqt. It allows you to embed live content: blogs, tweets, maps, etc. Here’s an example.

Another great tool of mixing up “Pop Up Videos” and Mystery Science Theatre 3000 is Mozilla Popcorn Maker. This allows student content to more engaging and draw on multiple elements. Here’s a great example, by the way – you can manipulate the Google Maps in Real Time! Embedded, real time data. Wow!!

So students can take existing content, modify it, remix, and make it even better. Wow, talk about some cool tools.

Another great project that Amy employs uses Ted Ed. However, instead of the teacher flipping the lesson she has the students do it. TouchCast is an app available solely for the iPad. It allows users to create interactive videos. This is a real game changer for the iPad, it’s really amazing. You can put it on YouTube but it won’t have all of the interactive features. It’s a new tool but I can’t wait to play with it even more.

Another great tool that she highlights is SoundCloud. It’s a collaborative voice recording tool and you can tag sound elements. For example, if you’re teaching a language class you can touch and comment on a portion that a student is mispronouncing.

So how do we get our students from a “Lean Back” culture into “Lean Forward.” Amy does this by using social media and socratic circles. You can do this with Back Channeling (via Twitter or Today’s Meet). If you are doing this publicly, you should include a class hashtag. She uses #tokkailua. It’s about shifting it from comments to conversation.

There are a number of tools that we can use for students to make meta data. It’s about finding effective tools and employing them. Amy has a tons of resources and examples in her G+ Community.