Literacy in Auburn Botanical Gardens

Spot the people who failed literacy.

It’s no wonder that kids are defiant in classrooms when their adult role-models are doing stuff like this. Teach kids morals.



iPads – general questions

This is a followup post to my post on the iPad. Both Q&As have been derived from my personal experience with the iPad and an interest of technology in general, with implications for teachers.

General iPad questions
Should I invest in an iPad? That is something 21st century teachers ask.

There are many other tablet computers out there so why recommend the iPad?
There are many answers to this question so lets list the advantages of the iPad over competitors:

It’s simple
Apple is notorious for making their devices somewhat limited and simple, but that is the key to their success. The iPad only has one main button which is the home button and it means that every iPad functions identically and anyone knowing how to use theirs would know how to use (and possibly fix) yours as well.

The ecosystem is huge
As a result of the runaway success Apple has made with their iPad, there are literally thousands of accessories such as covers, audio and video docks, connectivity options with cars, homes and services. Of course the applications are the stars of the iPad and thus Apple’s own AppStore is particularly huge – just check out all the number of apps (and at good quality at that) that are especially formatted to fit and work with the iPad. Which leads us to the next point.

The software advantage
The iPad operates on iOS whereas those other tablets run either a tablet edition of Windows, or Android. Software developers (i.e. people who make apps) seem to prefer making software for the iPad because it’s easier. If there are more dedicated developers to iOS then there’s more apps produced for iPad. And same goes with finding education apps that are specific to the Australian schooling curriculum.

If you have an iPad with ‘retina’ display, most developers would be scrambling to make sure their apps are most up-to-date ensuring that extra attention to detail and visual finesse lacking in other tablet solutions.

Is iTunes a prerequisite for my iPad?
No, you can set up your iPad on the go and never need to plug it into your computer for file downloads, especially if you have the right tools and knowhow. However, iTunes is actually the easiest way to move your existing files and videos to and fro the iPad (including non-Apple apps), as well as managing your home folder, etc.

Multiple device connectivity (syncing)
Being organised is a fundamental attribute all teachers should possess. If your wondering how to share information across the devices you have, read on.

I have an iPhone. Can I port and sync my email, notes and photos onto the iPad?
Yes, if you use the same Apple ID and have signed up to iCloud. Bonus points if you have Mac and Mountain Lion installed because notes sync across the computer as well.

But I have an Android phone. Can this still be done?
Yes, and I’ve personally done it. Although your iPad has an option to tie your Google/Gmail account across, any updates made to the address book (contacts) or calendar on either your Android phone or iPad will not be reflected upon each corresponding device. I don’t know why there is this limitation but I bet it has many users scratching your head.

Here’s the trick: You have to add an ‘Exchange’ account on your iPad then add your Google account credentials. Do some research regarding this, then test to see if it works. Also, make sure your phone contacts are saved under your Google account (it will be the form of your email address), and not simply ‘phone’, as unintuitive as that sounds.

What if I have a PC?
Yes, although some iCloud features are unsupported.

Because I have an iPad, I should get an iPhone, right?
It depends. I personally have an Android phone (Samsung Galaxy S2) and I’ve had success making sure my calendars and stuff carry across both devices automatically. Your milage might differ. One thing to note is that all purchased apps on the iPhone can be installed onto the iPad, and vice versa (if that app is not made for iPad only), whereas you’d have to purchase the same software again on the Android,

What’s all this I hear about ‘jailbroken’ iPads and is it safe?
I have not tried it, but there’s heaps of information on the Internet regarding the processes involved. If in doubt, don’t do it.

Did you post that last post on the iPad?
Yes, I did, and this post as well.

Feel free to post any more questions in the comments section and I may slowly answer them in this post.

iPads – all teachers should have one

(there will be an ongoing series of posts regarding iPads in education – this is the first of many articles to come)

iPads. You see them everywhere, used by pretty much all sorts of people; business users are checking the Sydney Morning Herald on the train; a child whimsey painting the next digital masterpiece; university students glued to the ominous glow of their screens as they don’t write lecture notes; cats swatting virtual flies. You’ve seen the Apple ads.

At university, my mathematics tutor demonstrates the practical uses of her own iPad in the classroom. She shows us a drawing app tailored for a lesson regarding shape recognition through real world objects – students annotate the photos live. Another app allows students to write their working out of math problems on the screen and have it play back the process as both the writing and their voices can be recorded. There are apps on formula, quizzes of multiplication, groups of and problem solving. And that’s just on the subject of maths. This tutor speaks out of passion – she’s not trying to sell the iPad, she simply recognises good teaching tools and utilises them to their full potential. As for the iPad it happens to be a very versatile tool.

During my time as a practicing teacher, I have already used mine to do the following:
– Take photos of students’ works then as a class critique their work in a constructive way with the photos;
– Read interactive stories complete with video, animation and sound;
– Play some YouTube clips and view photos with ease, including zooming in and out;
– Record video and play them back;
– Use specific education apps to teach about certain concepts (musical note recognition, handwriting)

And what I would love to do in the future is to teach simple mechanics of physics via Angry Birds 😉

There are of course personal benefits of owning an iPad but as you can see, the purchase can easily justify it for your ‘professional educational needs’. As far as the ATO is concerned, your iPad equates to a laptop which means you can claim it as a tax deduction.

I’ll close with a Sydney Morning Herald link regarding successful iPad trials in a Sydney Public School.



The South Island of New Zealand

As I am getting back to the routines of a university student, I stop and reflect on my recent trip to ‘the land of the long white cloud’, aka Aotearoa, aka New Zealand. You can follow me by viewing my best nature shots, conveniently uploaded online (click the title above).


I’m kidding myself – I stopped not to reflect, but to gravitate away from research for my primary English essay. Procrastination is key to success (or it should be!) Let that be a lesson for you, future uni students!


In tradition to Internet rituals, I have added a ‘first’ comment to my blog. If you can call this a blog. It’s more of an outpouring of information that I find useful to share to the world – teaching tips I’ve personally discovered and how technology can be used in the classroom for getting students ‘on-task’. Actually I learnt in one of my lectures that to get student’s ‘in-task’ is the greater goal – think intrinsic motivation. Man, if every student had this motivation when completing their work, I won’t have to shell out on rewards.

But I digress, this is a blog. I hope someone gets something out of it.

Now who’s going to be the first commenter to post ‘first’ in response to this post?