Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Moving Work On & Off iPads

We are figuring out Dropbox!
Using Dropbox on "community" ipads has it's challenges, but it seems well worth the time.  Our current method of using Dropbox requires a person to log in/link and log out/unlink on each device.  Since our iPads rotate grade levels monthly, each teacher in the rotation can login Dropbox once (per rotation) for their set of devices.  It would be nice to have a tool like ARD (remote desktop) for mass control - but I digress.

The only exception is when the Art Teacher uses the iPads during the rotation and wants to use the same Dropbox app.  The Art Teacher and Classroom Teachers will need to communicate and agree on a plan for logging in and out of Dropbox.

For lower grades (kindergarten thru 3rd), the teacher does the login for each device.  For older students (4th/5th), we have a "generic" Dropbox login they use - which spreads out the workload and offers the students experience.

The Dropbox app is loaded onto our computers and each iOS device.  We've discovered we can log in to different Dropbox accounts on one iPad at the same time using different access points.  For example, a teacher can log in to the Dropbox app while a student logs in/links to a different account on the Explain Everything app.  We like that flexibility.

We're using Dropbox as an option for moving student work off the ipads.  It's great for sharing larger media projects that would otherwise overload or hit email limits.  We love the Explain Everything app and frequently use the movie output feature.  Dropbox is the best tool we've found to move this type of media output off the iPad.  The app has a Dropbox link (in preferences) so it's quite handy.

We retrieve the uploaded Dropbox contents using dropbox.com instead of syncing to the computer.  For whatever reason (firewall?, managed user accounts?) the computer sync is not a viable option with a class set of iPads all uploading at once.  The uploads appear on Dropbox.com almost in the blink of an eye - Love it!

eMail is so EASY-
The other method we use to move work off the iPads is email.  It's so easy for students of any age to find and use that universal "share box with arrow".  Our teacher's emails are loaded into contacts so they appear in pop-up lists.  Students only have to type 2 or 3 letters to get a reduced pick list.  This is so helpful for the kindergarteners who don't "speak" keyboarding, let alone know all their letters.

Originally we used the iphone config to access our entire district contact list.  That pick list was too large! and most of those names were unnecessary for our iPad needs.  Plus, the larger the name pool the more typing is required to narrow the pick list.  So we changed to a short list of critical contacts which were entered into a Mac Address Book and now happily resides on an iCloud.

Screen Shots
Don't underestimate what you can capture and share via the Screen Shot on the iPad.  We have some free apps that don't offer email options but are still great tools.  Screen shot let's us capture the result and send it to teacher!

An Interesting Thought
I was remarking to my Principal how we just had the 2nd graders activate their google email accounts and send an email to their teacher.  It's part of the curriculum they are studying about letter writing.  The lesson went so well we were able to complete the initial login and activate the account then logout and practice logging in again twice!  They wrote the teacher a simple email of two to five sentences with appropriate salutations and closings.  All within an hour lesson time.

When we attempted to activate google accounts with our 4th/5th graders in the first week of school (August) we did not have the same level of success.  Google is new to us this year, so the logins are different and quite long.  These students did not have the benefit of "context" sessions; we just brought them in to activate the accounts.

What was the difference?  Timing (start of year vs January)?  Context and background lessons in the classroom first (2nd grade had them but others didn't).

My Principal wonders if the 2nd Graders had the benefit of iPhones in the stroller.  (See this a lot!)  It gave me pause to wonder if 2 or 3 years of age difference could be a part of the equation right now.

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