Latest Teaching Ideas

The Latest in Tech, Tools and Toys for Teachers.  Lesson Plans, Classroom resources and ideas for busy teachers.  iPad Apps and Android Apps for teachers and students.

Microsoft offer Office 365 to all students for free

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Microsoft have been losing students left right an centre over the last couple of years as they walked away from Office and Windows in droves for alternatives such as iPads, Google Apps and Chromebooks. 

However today Microsoft have announced that students worldwide will gain access to a full version of it's very impressive and to be totally honest the best available productivity suite for free.

This is a great offer which will initially be available to US students but released worldwide in the near future.

Full details can be found here.  Now go and get it.

Photoshop coming to Chromebooks

Today Google and Adobe Announced Photoshop will be coming to Chromebooks and Chrome browsers on Windows and Mac platforms via a streaming service.   This will essentially mean there will be no need to install gigabytes of software which is currently required to run this premium image editing software and industry standard for over two decades.

A couple of caveats before you get too excited.  First off it will be released to US only creative cloud customers initially as a trial.

And secondly we cannot find any evidence of what this product will inevitably look and run like.  For example anyone who has used Photoshop on the iPad and on a PC will attest to the fact that the iPad version has about one percent of the functionality of the full desktop version.

This is an interesting move in many ways as software like this is the reason why people still spend thousands on computers as opposed to a three hundred dollar Chromebook.

More information can be found here and we shall keep you posted as information becomes available.

Huge upgrade to Google Drive for Education

Today is a great day for Google Apps for Education users as Google Drive just got a whole lot bigger and better.

Today Google brought Google Apps for Education completely in line with Google Apps for Business by providing these three really practical upgrades completely free for all education users.

  • Unlimited storage: No more worrying about how much space you have left or about which user needs more gigabytes. Drive for Education supports individual files up to 5TB in size and will be available in coming weeks. 
  • Vault: Google Apps Vault, our solution for search and discovery for compliance needs, will be coming free to all Apps for Education users by the end of the year. 
  • Enhanced Auditing: Reporting and auditing tools and an Audit API easily let you see the activity of a file, are also on the way. 

As always Google ensures all teachers and students work created and stored on drive is their own.  Is not data mined and filled with advertising.

This has to be be one of the biggest upgrades to Drive we have seen since it's launch and it really opens the doors for schools to move entire servers to the cloud for free now as the 30Gb size limitation has been removed. 

You may wish to take a look at our guidelines around migrating your server to the cloud and just disregard the pricing structure for more storage which is now redundant.

These three releases are all scheduled before the end of the year and will be warmly welcomed.

The best iPad covers for students, teachers and schools

The iPad is almost almost a must have device in any modern classroom.  Whether they are being used in a one to one environment or shared amongst a class of students and teachers.

One thing that is too frequently overlooked and quite often skimped on is the purchasing of a good quality cover that will see out a good number of years of service and virtually come out of it's case in as good of condition as the day you purchased it. 

This is not an unrealistic expectation as the iPad itself is a very strong device with next to no moving parts that will cause you problems provided you buy a good quality case and use common sense along the way.

What is the likelihood of an iPad breaking without a cover?

The short answer is quite high in schools.  You might get lucky for a while especially if it doesn't stray too far from the couch and carpet... But if you use your iPad on areas with hard flooring such as tiles, hardwood or concrete surfaces it is not so much a case of if, but when?  Especially when they are being used by kids the majority of the time.

What is the most common way to break an iPad?

Take it from me.  I have seen thousands of these things in classrooms and homes and heard a similar horror story from nearly almost every school.  iPads can break a number of ways but the most common way is when they are dropped on a their corner onto a hard surface...  Screen cracked...  And that will set you back around $100 to get that fixed.  It is important that you know this fact because it should be your number one consideration when purchasing a case.

Should I buy one of those cool Apple Magnetic Fold up cases?

Definitely not.  I would go as far as to say these are the most impractical case for a student on the market as they offer zero protection to the edges of the iPad when dropped.  They get grubby fast and don't offer much versatility in the way you can position your iPad.  Steer well clear of this one.  It is like wearing a T-Shirt and shorts for protection in a motorbike accident.

Do I need those plastic film screen protectors?

Whilst some people prefer to have these, they are not so necessary on newer iPads as the screens have improved over time.  A good case should cover you but for an extra couple of dollars you can up the ante further.

What should I pay for a good quality cover?

Essentially anything over $50 is a rip off in my eyes unless you are getting a good quality Bluetooth Keyboard built in.  You shouldn't have great expectations of a $5 cover protecting your $500 new iPad.  Between $15 - $40 is a reasonable expectation and today we will be working within those parameters.

Which one should I get then?

You literally have thousands to choose form if you trawl the net, and you could drive yourself insane doing this.  Today we are going to break this down to three highly popular and battle proven covers that have been on the market long enough to prove their worth in classrooms.

Let's take a look.

The Ultimate All Rounder - Fintie Apple iPad Air Case

Okay so this is the biggest seller on Amazon that ticks all of our boxes.  It's a great price for one coming in at under under $20.   It offers plenty of versatility in the way it can be positioned and has a range of protective features all round such as softened edges, leather full bound case and it is not too intrusive on the screen to cause the user frustration. 

Plenty of colors to choose from for personalization too.  This would be a very smart investment for any student, classroom or school and they have been around for a number of years with great reviews.

 

The Super Tough iPad Case Winner - Kensington SafeGrip Rugged Carry Case.

So whilst there are many options in this field you need to remember that the iPad needs to be used as a teaching and learning tool and not as just some indestructible object to be thrown against walls.  Which this will handle might i add.

This cover is ideal for a group of prep, kinder or special needs students who need a handle, extreme protection and durability. 

The best keyboard - Durable Case combo New Trent Airbender 3.0 New iPad Air Case

The Airbender 3.0 is my current iPad cover and I can personally attest to the quality of it's build and good looks.  The wireless Keyboard makes the iPad far more versatile for older students and offers plenty of options in the way it can be positioned.

So there you have it.  Three worthy considerations for your next iPad in the classroom.  Even if you don't choose one of these be sure to take note of our safety advice and let us know of any success stories and disasters you may have had with iPads and covers.