Loopy Case – Review.

Loopy Case for iPhone 7 plus

When it comes to iPhone cases I am pretty difficult to please. I like protective covers but the also have to be light and well they can’t be ugly! Having had the snap-on hard back cases in the past I have avoided them since cracking the screen of my iPhone 5. When it came to my iPhone 6 I resorted to the full coverage 360 type covers and found them great so when I upgraded to an iPhone 7 plus late last year I automatically ordered the same type of covers.

Well….I don’t know what it is with them and the 7 plus but I cracked two covers in the space of two weeks so had to go shopping for something else. Looking for my typical light protective, stylish type cover I stumbled across Loopy cases and they had all that.  IThey were colorful and protective and the loop feature came with the promise of ‘no more drops’.  They were also originally funded through Kickstarter like a lot of great products. What more did I need? So I ordered one and waited. ….patiently!

Now the shipping did take a couple of weeks but I received updates from the Loopy team along the way. The case arrives in a nice little bag and came with a personalised note from the creators. It’s the little things that count!

When I first tried out the case I did wonder whether I would like it. The loop was a little further down that I would have liked so my first impressions were that this would never work but I was proved wrong. Less than 24 hours later and  I love my case. I don’t know how I ever did without it. It’s great for selfies, for out and about, it’s already received a lot of positive comments from others and they were right ‘no more drops’. Yep my phone hasn’t dropped and I find it’s also a lot more comfortable to hold.

I am definitely a Loopy case convert. I got the purple one but think I might have to get the turquoise one too now. When you pay out so much for a phone you don’t want cracked screens and with Loopy cases this is no longer a worry.

Oh and if you reached it this far they also sent me discount codes for friends. So if you are interested in getting a case and would like 15% off then drop me a tweet at @mircwalsh and I will send you the code.

Check out Loopycase for more info.

Loopy Cases | StoptheDrop™ from Loopy Cases on Vimeo.

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Octagon 4D+ apps and cards review

This week I was lucky to be able to try out the Octagon 4D set of apps and cards. As a massive fan of augmented reality I was eager to try these after spotting them at #BETT2017.

Shipping only took a couple of days and there was a good deal if you ordered the full set of cards.

The set I got included Dinosaurs, Space, occupation, and animal themed cards. The animal cards also featured the letters A-7 so would be perfect in a pre-K classroom.

The cards came with a great selection. The dinosaur pack includes lots of different types of dinosaurs and each card features interesting facts, interactivity and audio features. The animal pack was pretty good with some of the cards interacting with food such as the monkey who eats bananas if you put the two cards together.

My favourite set is the occupation set which features a set of jobs again lettered A-Z and each of them have different interactivity features. The X-Ray technician is probably my favourite.

Although I don’t teach K12 or Pre-K the cards were also a big hit with my class of adults who used the cards as inspiration to create some of their own AR card ideas.

Cards can be bought online from Octagon Studio. 

Some of the cards in the series.

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#BETT2017

I hadn’t been to BETT since 2015 and back then I was left feeling a little overwhelmed by the whole thing. There were an awful lot of attendance apps that year and I recall very little else!

Not having been there in 2016 I decided to attend again this year and really enjoyed the trip. There were a lot of virtual reality, augmented reality and coding based stall and products so I was immediately drawn in.

I picked up some great tips and explored some great new coding accessories. One of my favourite new finds is Marty the Robot who even took the time to shake my hand.

There was a lot of great representation from big tech companies like Google, Microsoft and of course Apple but it was also a great platform for new startups. One being Tip Tap Tap which I had heard about during completing my MA in E-Learning last year but it was great to see it in ‘real life’.

As always I came home bursting with ideas and while my bank account isn’t deep enough to fund a lot of them others like Meetoo will definitely be making an appearance in my classroom in the very near future.

Selection of what was found at #BETT2017

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Everyone Can Code with iWish and FET

This week we had the privilege of welcoming in a group of TY students to Apple RTC Cork for a morning of coding. The week was organised as part of iWish During the morning the students took part in a lot of different activities including,

  1. The Swift Playgrounds Hour of Code
  2. Coding with Osmo
  3. Coding with Sphero.
  4. Game-Design with Bloxels
  5. Augmented reality with Quiver
  6. Virtual Reality with ThingLink.

Throughout the morning the students discussed ideas they had for creating their own apps and a little bit of practice with Swift and I am sure there will be no stopping them.

 

 

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My top 10 assessment apps.

Preparing for an iPad 1:1 classroom means trying to decide what apps to use. I have tried loads, some great, some awful and some I can see myself using for years to come. Below are my top 10 apps (in no particular order).

1. Socrative – iOS, web-based and free. Quiz based app

2. Verso – iOS, web-based and free. Great for peer reviews.

3. Adobe Spark – iOS, web-based and free. Great for video creation.

4. Genial.ly – web-based. Good for creating interactive CVs or posters.

5.  Seesaw – iOS, web-based. Great for student portfolios.

6. Padlet – iOS, web-based, free. Great for brainstorming.

7. Noteshelf – iOS. Note-taking app.

8. iTunes U – iOS. Portfolios, assessment hand-in.

9. Kahoot – iOS and web-based. Free. Quiz based app.

10. Post-it plus. iOS. Free. Brainstorming and note taking.

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Ten years with the iPhone

So this week marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of the iPhone and it’s time to reflect on how this has transformed the way we communicate so below are the top 10 ways it has changed the way I communicate. I didn’t get my first iPhone until September 2009 and it was an iPhone 3 but have had iPhones ever since and have recently upgraded to the iPhone 7 plus.

  1. The ability to communicate with friends all over the world through iMessage.
  2.  Using iOS devices in my classroom have transformed media design and development.
  3. Being able to keep in touch with others on the go.
  4. Having Siri and being able to get instant answers to questions.
  5. Having iOS devices led me to apply to be an Apple Distinguished Educator which transformed my PD and skills.
  6. iOS devices have turned me into a published author of multi-touch books.
  7. The camera on the iPhone 7 plus has released me from the heavy DSRL kit I used to carry around.
  8. How else would I have a cat called Siri!
  9. Accessibility settings have made everyday life and learning accessible for everyone
  10. Without iOS devices there wouldn’t be iTunes U which gave me an entry to a career in education.

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Computer Science Week 2016.

Computer Science week came along fast again this year and students were looking forward to it again. In 2015 we mainly relied on The Hour of Code website. This year, however, there was a chance to re-plan the week to include the introduction of Swift Playgrounds and so we mostly relied on this. I ran a few different classes, one for my students, one for teachers who wanted to teach code and one for students from a local K12 school. Below are details of how the whole process was scheduled. All in all the activities went well and everyone took to Swift really fast.

Group 1. Tomar Trust.                                                                                                                                         This group were from a local secondary school and came in for a few hours to do some coding and tech workshops.                                                                                                                                                     To start of the workshops, the students all complete the Swift Hour of Code activity. After that we had rotating groups of different coding and STEM activities. In these groups, students were introduced to Coding through Sphero and Osmo. They were also introduced to Virtual Reality through Theta 360 and Augmented Reality through Quiver app.

Group 2. Class group.                                                                                                                                                  When completing the computer science week activities with my own class we dedicated 2 classes (8 hours) to the activities which meant that we were able to delve a little deeper into the coding activities. In addition to exploring the Hour of Code activity in Swift, students also had the chance to complete the Learn to Code 1 Activity. Students worked through this at their own pace and most managed to complete all activities.

Group 3. Apple RTC Cork Everyone Can Code.                                                                                           The third group of the week was a group of teachers who signed up to our Swift Everyone Can Code course at Apple RTC Cork. During this two-hour workshop, the teachers were introduced to Swift as well as Osmo and Sphero. Each of the teachers completed the Swift Hour of Code Activity. After this we had discussions about how they could integrate Swift and coding into their curriculums.

New Directions students who completed the Swift Hour of Code.

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Finding #mywhy

In November I attended the ADE Vision and Impact event in London. This was a meet up of Apple Distinguished Educators from across the UK, Ireland and Russia.

During this time we were challenged to find ‘our why’. Why are we here, why do we do what we do, and why we want to make a difference.
This was a bit of a challenge at first but really helped me focus on why I do what I do and helped me realise why I do it. While at times I was questioning ultimately it helped me refocus and feel more confident in what I do.

We were asked to provide a few slides as well as write a 6 word story and finally we were asked to compose a 30 second intro about our why. Below a few of the slides I created that illustrate my 6 word stories.

We were also asked to pinpoint all the various ways we can make an impact from within our school communities to regionally, nationally and finally globally. This again was a useful way of reinforcing the idea of why you do what you do.

Finally, I completed my video using Adobe Spark and some of the images I created. I decided to use this app as it is fast to create a video and it would also keep the idea simple.

All in all the weekend was a great one and sometimes it is just good to take a step back and ask yourself why you do what you do.

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The EDtech Portal

The EDtech Portal was established in 2016 as part of a project I was completing for my MA in E-Learning Design and Development at CIT.
The aim of this project was to create e-learning content and so I created a platform which features free learning courses for teachers. Course content ranges from getting started with coding in the classroom to getting started with digital assessments.
Upon completion of each course,  the teacher will be rewarded with a certificate. There are also opportunities to engage with other teachers through the inbuilt forum on the platform.

To get started with The EDtech Portal you can visit the site here or sign up for each of the courses below.

1. Authoring digital books. 
2. Creating a class blog
3. Using social media in the classroom
4. Getting started with digital assessments
5. Creating e-portfolios with your class
6. Mobile film-making
7. Getting started with Virtual Reality 
8. Coding in the classroom

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Creating a virtual reality city tour.


I’ve been interested in virtual reality for quite a while and learning it bit by bit but this year decided to full embrace it and use it in the classroom. One of the first projects created with it was 360 Cork. A project which uses 360 images of Cork with added pinpoints using ThingLink 360.

How it was created.
Step 1.
The first thing to do was to get the 360 images. I was lucky to have a Theta 360 to use and so took off on an adventure around the city using the camera to capture images from key locations in Cork including Cork City Gaol, The English Market and Patrick’s Street. The biggest challenge on this particular day was to beat the weather as it had rained for the previous 10 days and I knew it was going to rain that day too but luckily it held off for most of the trip. This entire process of capturing the city took about 4 hours.

Step 2.
Once I had my main 360 photos the next step was to upload them to ThingLink 360. From here I was able to build a menu to connect my locations and insert multimedia features like video, images of historical Cork and interesting facts. This process was pretty intuitive for a beginner and only took a couple of hours to complete.

How it was shared.
In September Cork Culture night was taking place and so I figured it would be the perfect time to showcase this project.  On the night of the event, we hosted it at Apple RTC Cork based in St. John’s Central College.

Feedback from the project.
The project received some amazing feedback on the night from kids who tried to find me in every location (one challenge when capturing 360 photos is to hide yourself in the shot). Other feedback was received from some of the older attendees who got all nostalgic and said it was lovely to see the comparison of the city they remembered with modern cork. I also received a lot of requests to capture other areas of the city. I will work on these in the future.

Link to the final project                                                                                                                         (Compatible with VR headsets as well as desktop and mobile devices)                                                         You can visit the final project here. 

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