Saturday, September 1, 2012

Information Management in an iPad 1:1 Environment

Managing the quantity of student data quickly becomes overwhelming when implementing a 1:1 iPad program.  Typically, the focus is on app selection and integration of the technology into classroom practices and the topic of information management is frequently overlooked.  This neglect often leaves teachers with with the inability to view student created content with ease and with full email inboxes that quickly become overwhelming.

There are a few ways we've managed to ease this burden.
  1. Evernote Premium accounts for teachers, Evernote Free accounts for students.
  2. Dropbox accounts
  3. Annotation apps
  4. Classroom Management System (CMS) like Wikispaces
  5. YouTube accounts (either teacher or student)
  6. Student Blogs as portfolios / Netvibes for monitoring
Evernote premium allows a user to create an unlimited number of notebooks and share them with free Evernote subscribers.  We use Evernote like this: 
A teacher creates a notebook for each student and both the student and teacher can contribute new notes to that notebook.  Think of the notebook as a folder and the new notes as a document.  The shared notebook feature allows both teacher and student to add content to a notebook at any given time and though not as seamless as the desktop version of Google Docs, Evernote quickly becomes a close second in that it gives student and teacher the ability to work on one version of a document.
The note feature of Evernote has word processing features with the added abilities of including audio and other media including web content.
Lastly, many apps are beginning to integrate with Evernote meaning that after content is created or viewed, a user can easily end the content to an Evernote notebook.
Dropbox accounts allow a user to upload and access documents easily on an iPad.  Once a document is uploaded to Dropbox a user can open it in a variety of apps on the iPad.  Dropbox also allows a user to easily create a link to a document or to the entire folder.  This link can be posted on a CMS like Wikispaces and another user can click on the link using their iPad, and either complete a direct download by choosing an application to open the file or downloading it to their personal dropbox account.  And, like Evernote, more and more apps are beginning to integrate nicely with Dropbox.  Soon, maybe everyone will play together nicely.
To learn more about using dropbox to share files visit my recent post.

Annotation apps are essential if you are uploading PDF documents to the iPad.  These apps let a user download the document onto their device and easily annotate the document.  I like neu.Annotate+PDF for students.  It's cheap, $0.99 and works great.

A CMS is essential.  My favorite is Wikispaces, but whether you use Blackboard, Moodle, Edmodo or wikispaces is irrelevant.  A teacher needs to have a platform for collaboration, communication and delivery of content and ideas.  At our school we use the Wikispaces Private Label, a secure wiki environment which allows for the creation of unlimited wikis with a similar domain.  Wikispaces is rumored to be working on an iPad app, which, if it happens, will allow make the process of creating, collaborating, accessing and communicating with content even easier.

YouTube accounts make disseminating video content a breeze.  Unless your students are creating small and short video clips, the option to email video content becomes mute.  The files are simply to large to email and personally, I don't want my inbox filled with student content.  Many video creation apps offer the "Send to YouTube" option.  For students old enough to have a YouTube account, this isn't a problem.  For students in the younger grades, we created an additional google account for each teacher.  This is the account the teacher shares with students for the purpose of uploading video content.  It's not used for much of anything else.  After a student creates a video, they send it to their personal, or teachers, YouTube account and then provide the link on their student blog, Evernote notebook, or wikispace page.  

Student Portfolio - A place for the student to personalize their learning journey is essential.  Each student creates a school blog in which they record this journey.  Our younger students use Edublogs, our older students use Blogger.  This gives them the opportunity to work in both platforms though we may revisit this next year.  Apps like Blogpress and Blogsy allow for easy post creating and editing, including the uploading of media content to blogs.
Teachers can easily monitor student blogs by using a feed page like Netvibes

Finally, as you are choosing apps for the iPad, look for those that integrate with DropBox and Evernote.

We are in year 2 of a 1:1 iPad implementation and we are still learning.  I'd love to hear from those of you who have innovative ways to access and share created content using iOS devices.

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  1. The apps you are talking about are great and makes iPad really a comprehensive tool. Have you ever thought also integrating a physical keyboard to iPad as well?

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