Install multiple apps on new school computers with a single click.

Setting up brand new school computers can be a complete drag.  Install, reboot, update and so on... repeat hundreds of times.

These two websites will definitely save you a great deal of time and frustration and are a no brainier when setting up a new PC or Mac.

ninite.com will cover all your Windows applications, and there are plenty to choose from.  Simply select and the auto install package will take care of the rest.

getmacapps  will cover all your OSX installation needs just the same as ninite.  Just as easy too.

Good luck

Has the iPad Peaked in Education?

As we, and I assume many other schools around the world prepare to buy computer resources for 2013 and beyond it is been apparent that 'The must have tool in Education"  for the last 18 months is the iPad.

This comes with good reasoning too as it has refreshed our view of learning technologies and really freed us from the shackles of desktop computing and showed many a fresh alternative to windows.

The question I find myself asking now as we look at three year lease programs is has the iPad Peaked in education?  Barring a few software tweaks and faster processors is this as good as it gets?  The more I speak to others in education and start to look at alternatives I am increasingly seeing that the iPad's future is not as bright as Apple would like to have us think.

For example Last month we had the sales and Education reps come in from Apple Australia and woo our region for a day about 'How the iPad has been  the saviour of education' and that we should not doubt the ingenuity and creativity Apple has been responsible for in changing the direction of technology for the last few years, and furthermore we should not question this continuing in the future.

The problem I found with the barrage of iOS worship from cool guys in black skivvies and T-shirts was that for the first time, nearly everybody in the room had heard it all before.  And some of the statements about the iPad we heard were so desperate to grab our attention I definitely sensed they were shooting the iPad down more than pumping up its tyres.

Statements such as "No one will be carrying wallets by the end of the decade thanks to iOS 6's passbook"  were just plain embarrassing and insulting for anyone who has used it.

The second point for consideration I began to wonder after seeing some educational workshops regarding Garageband and iMovie in the classroom I had seen twice before now is, what is Apple planning for the future in Education?

Next, we got a 10 minute lecture on how brilliant iTunesU is for teachers to create content for their kids to access on their iPads only to be instantly shot down by the fact that in fact teachers cannot currently do this unless you are a lecturer at a University. So it's great but 95 percent of teachers cannot access this.

Just last month Apple released the iPhone 5 and try as you might to upsell how great a phone it actually is at the end of the day it is esentially an iPhone 4 with another row of icons and a faster processor.  It's not the kind of innovation we have become used to from Apple, and I can't see this changing anytime soon as Apple now seem a little hamstrung by an environment they have created.

I don't feel Apple are asleep at the wheel by any stretch of the imagination, it is more of a case they have played 5 years of winning hands in the tech stakes and they are now left holding a number of minor cards, whilst their opposition begin to rollout both similar and even more innovative tech solutions for education around them.  It has happened in every form of industry for decades.

Another point of consideration is the fact the iPad has always had a mixed relationship in education in the sense that kids and teachers loved it because engaged kids and had thousands of great educational apps that could be downloaded and used instantly. But it definitely has it's shortcomings as a genuine enterprise learning tool.

Let's not hide fact the iPad is fatally flawed by its association to the mess that is iTunes and iCloud. It cannot connect to existing 96% of school networks running windows, it cannot print to an enterprise network with any great success and has nothing close to Microsoft Office when you tire of playing math swipe games and actually need something substantial for a presentation, project, want to do some web design or use any of Adobe's creative tools such as Photoshop beyond removing redeye or cropping.

I own an iPad, my wife kids and I love it, but hate what it can't do too and I get the feeling many others are finding this too.

With Windows 8 only days away and a monsoon of both cheap and expensive tablets already available for it.  And the diversity of Microsoft's own surface tablet which at this point appears to do everything an iPad can as well as offer 100 percent functionality of a windows PC too our school regions are beginning to think Windows 8 tablets have a great deal to offer teachers and students over the iPad.

I would love to hear your thoughts about what your schools are doing now and looking into the future when it comes to putting the best piece of hardware in front of our kids to offer the best learning opportunities.

Is Microsoft Surface a better tablet than the iPad for schools?

Yesterday, with minimal fanfare Microsoft introduced the Surface Tablet which is essentially the first product Microsoft has released to directly compete with Apple's iPad.

Yes it may well be three years late, but there is no doubting that 'Surface' is looking to be not just a competitor of the iPad at home, but in an enterprise situation such as schools the surface tablet maye some clear advantages the iPad.

Some of these reasons have been listed below that might make you want to seriously reconsider your next purchase of hardware for your school.

1:  Flexibility - The Surface tablet is both a standalone tablet exactly like the ipad with a beautiful screen, camera and tens of thousands of apps; essentially all the features of it's competitor but it is also a 100 percent operational windows 8 PC without any limitations of a desktop or notebook.  This is the first ever do everything tablet.  And to further enhance the experience Microsoft has built in a full keyboard and mouse into the case of the Surface tablet.  - Every box Ticked.

2:  Printing:  Yes it prints, to any printer remember it's also a windows Based PC.  It can Print without any need for AirPrint or the like.

3:  Fully networkable:  Surface can log into any windows based network with the exact same functionality of a desktop or mobile PC. 

4:  Microsoft Office:  Not a scaled back or mobile version but the complete version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Onenote, Outlook and the works.

5:  Flash:  As great as HTML 5 is.  Flash is still one of the webs greatest technologies and is still being improved and enhanced.  All of your old flash sites will work as well as the new HTML 5 format too.

3 Solutions to getting your iPad on Interactive Whiteboard

It confounds me how many schools I see that promote themselves as heavy and intelligent users of iPads in the classroom yet totally overlook the process of using their iPad on their interactive white board effectively. 

Having your iPad on on the IWB opens up a multitude of learning opportunities when you can share a 9 inch screen on a 60 inch board to students.

Hopefully, this guide will explain the options available to schools in simple terms to teachers that will suit a range of budgets and existing technologies.

Option 1 - iPad to VGA Adapter:  Cheap, Easy, Reliable but forget your mobility.

A Simple iPad to VGA converter will connect to any existing VGA projector where you currently plug in your smart board computer.  It is extremely reliable, cheap but the real downside is that you have to use your iPad with a clumsy VGA cable plugged into it which essentially kills the portability of the iPad.

The sound is still left to come out of your iPad which is generally not a big deal.

This is agreat starting point, and below are some iPad to VGA converters to choose from if this is the solution for you. 

   

Option 2:  Apple TV and Airplay Mirroing: 

This is by far the best solution for reliability, ease of use and practicality in the classroom but it does come at a bit of an expense.

Before we go any further we need to know what Airplay mirroring is and how it works

To put it very simply Airplay Mirroring does two things.  Firstly  it either Mirrors your iPad screen (or audio for that matter) perfectly to your TV or PC.  It does this minimal lag or delay, and actually works really well, and I have one.

Airplay also has a secondary cool feature in which it generates a picture from your iPad on a TV or projector that is related to what you are doing on your screen but not a mirror of your screen.  A totally separate image.

For Example if you are doing a presentation and reading notes directly from your iPad, it will generate the images for the presentation and send them to the projector or TV without the need for another program to run it.  Pretty cool stuff eh?

So now that we know this and how brilliant Airplay is you probably want to rush out and buy an Apple TV unit to do all this great stuff but stop....

Nearly 90 percent of all interactive white boards are configured to work with a VGA input only and an Apple TV unit is HDMI only.  So if you are fortunate and have easy access to your TV or  projectors HDMI input then you are good to proceed with just the Apple TV unit.

if you have a standard VGA connector you will need to buy an adapter and an Apple TV unit which can add up.  All of products are available below.

 

Option 3 - Windows Media Center Airplay Mirroring:  Free, Wireless and works most of the time

Can I just say straight off the bat that Windows Media Center Airplay Mirroring is not for those that want complete simplicity or reliability.  Get yourself one of the previous options if that is you.

WMC Airplay is a Mirroring device for your iPad that involves installing a program on your windows 7 based PC.  It works well but is not quite a complete Apple TV solution.

It is definitely worth a shot though and better than the old VGA connector if you are prepared to tinker a little.

Below is a video explaining how it works and you can access the download of the tool here.

So, there are three tride and tested options.  And yes I am well aware there are others whcih I have not used personally, so if you have I'd love to hear about them.

How the iPad is changing Education

I came accross this article from readwriteweb.com today and it is worth reading.

The iPad may only be two years old, but it's already begun to change many things. Reading is one of them. Work is another. It is selling like crazy, but it will be some time before most of the people you know own a tablet.

The market for this type of device may only be in its infancy, but it's already becoming clear how it will revolutionize certain aspects our lives. Education is a huge one, as recent developments have demonstrated.

In January, Apple made good on its late CEO's vision to enter the digital textbook market with the launch of iBooks 2 and the iBooks Author production tool for e-books. That early effort was met with mixed reactions. While some were excited to see Apple move into a space that's ripe for disruption, others pointed out the inherent limitations in Apple's model, which for starters, will be cost-prohibitive for many school districts.

The iPad: An Obvious Use Case for Education

In a way, Apple didn't enter the education market. Rather, it followed its customers there. By the time iBooks 2 landed in the App Store, many people had already seen the potential the iPad has to change education. A growing number of college students have, on their own accord,

Click here to view the entire article.

Apple unveil their vision of Education

With the iPad out now for nearly three years now and already in the hands of millions of teachers and students around the globe their seemed to be a clear void in the purpose for bringing them into a classroom.  This was of course beyond a range of useful apps targeted at specific areas of the curriculum such as some of the ones we have identified in the past.

There was no real connection between the teacher, student and the iPad that was intended by apple to actually enhance teaching and learning. 

Today in New York, Apple went some way to addressing that and will surely start a frenzy of digital publishing to meet their vision as outlined below by introducing three new and / or improved products for the iPad. 

Here is the official and quite corny promo video for all of these products fro Apple with a breakdown of each below it.

 

iBooks 2

Beyond being that annoying icon on your iPad that you could never put into another folder and iBooks had never really been a great success for Apple who had dominated music and apps because most people who wanted to read an e-book would do so on a kindle which had a monstrous catalogue, much cheaper price point and genuine battery life.

Apple's solution to this was quite innovative as per usual and that is to reinvent the e-book for today's students.  An e-book will look a text book from the 1950's up against some of the example texts Apple have created which you can see below.

This was probably what every company in the world wanted to do with e-books already but didn't already have hundreds of millions of devices in users hands and billions in the bank to develop and refince e-books. 

iBooks 2 looks amazing is packed with multilayered, text images and data which is always up to date with the press of a button and offers students the ability to take notes, images and information and use it as they desire.

Take a look at it here.

 

iTunes U

iTunes U builds on iBooks but also incorporates Apples own learning management system where teachers, professors, publishers can not only publish great content but also set tasks, projects, lectures and link to any area of the web to develop a purpose for the iPad. 

iTunes U now offers a syllabus, teacher bio and a course description and overview. You can get assignments here, bringing you to specific parts of your textbook. you can also keep tabs on homework and course material, and highlight and take notes on texts.

 

iBooks Authoring Tool

This is the kicker from Apple that will really accelerate the growth of this platform and make paper and pulp publishers totally rethink what they are doing.  iBooks Author looks to be ( As I have not yet trialled it - I will access it shortly and let you know my thoughts ) a beautiful drop and drag, WYSIWYG publishing tool to turn that 5 kg door stop book on human anatomy into a 21st century text book kids will be excited to open again.  Once again it simplifies the publishing process in the same manner Garageband and iMovie did ten years ago with audio and video.  Take a look below.

Obviously there are many questions still to be answered in the real world about iPad's and education and their worthiness on a book list which we will explore in greater detail in future but there is now after three years a clear commitment, business plan and opportunity for Educational publishers to deliver curriculum like never before.

 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on Apple's latest keynote and quest for world domination.

Steve Jobs - A lifelong Learner and Educator

Nothing much to say here that hasn't already been said.  Steve Job's contribution to education was one that cannot be understated and we thank him for that.  Below is a video that youmight like to use with your students to learn a little bit more about the man behind the fruit company who was full of amazing ideas that cahnged the way we communicate.

 

Top 5 Computer Self Help Sites

Sometimes things just go wrong with your computer and you might face a lengthy or expensive wait to get a supposed 'expert' to find the source of the problem.  Fortunately there are a few sites on the web that will help you out of your problems whether it be a an annoying niggle or a complete meltdown.

Computerhope is a great starting point to actually find out what your problem is and then go most of the way to fixing it if your problem is simple.  This is a Windows on only site covering all Microsoft O/S's from Windows 95 through to Windows 7.

Yes Apple Computers do break down too believe it or not and luckily Apple have a comprehensive help site available here to find a solution to your problem.

Many problems are simply annoyances rather than major issues then you need to visitannoyances.org to get fast answers to your problems via forums.

To actually watch someone fix common PC problems then you need to visit the eHowTech channel at Youtube.  This also has a range of tweaking videos to improve performance.

Last but not least and in my opinion the best is just good old Google - just be specific about your problem when you type it in the search box and your solution is never far away.  I have never found a computer problem yet that no one else has actually suffered and written something about.

Remember also that a computer problem is not a problem until you have rebooted and it still persists.