App Development with Swift.

I first learnt about Swift in 2014 and having had some initial exposure to it, it seemed like an easier version of other programming languages I had already used. Back then it was very early days and not really in the hands of the non-developer so I forgot about it for a while until it suddenly resurfaced at  WWDC 2016.

WWDC 2016 was really the start of something new and exciting. The launch of Swift Playgrounds meant that Swift was now in the hands of everyone from 10-year-old Yuma Soerianto to 81-year-old Masako Wakamiya who both went on to release apps within the year.

Swift Playgrounds truly meant that Everyone Can Code and I enjoyed running playground workshops throughout the 2016/2017 school year. Working in Further Education though there was always that thought in the back of my mind that I would have to move beyond playgrounds and into the scary stuff. The scary stuff meaning the ‘real’ code as some would see it as several including colleagues just didn’t believe that it could really be that easy and didn’t believe that my students could code.

Luckily for me Apple expanded their selection of resources to accompany Swift and Playgrounds and the latest additions in April meant that these resources were finally relevant in FE and I could move outside the safety zone of playgrounds (even though I really wanted to stay there!). There was still that fear though of what if after all this I really didn’t know how to do it. However, a workshop in June gave me hands on experience and since then there’s been no stopping me.

Initially, I found Xcode to be a little daunting but the interface once I navigated around it was really intuitive and the resources were easy to follow. Going through the resources lesson by lesson I was able to follow the progress and write my own code. I may not have my own App yet but watch this space…..

For Swift Resources for Primary Schools visit here 

For Swift Resources for Secondary Schools visit here 

For Swift Resources for Further Ed and Higher Ed visit here

 

Hands-on with Happy by Tuniversity.

Tuniversity recently released their iBook featuring Pharrel Williams song Happy. This iBook guides readers through the processes of composing Happy in Garageband.

Having never used or even heard of Tuniversity before I wasn’t sure how good this resource would be but for €5.99 I figured it would be worth the try.  The 79 pages of the book bring you through the composing process. What I really liked about this is the book doesn’t just immediately jump into the how but also explains the why. By figuring out why you might like to compose a song like this will open up readers and students minds to composing their own songs at a later stage. Another feature that I really like is that the Garageband files and not only this but you get the Live Loops file and also the tracks so whether you use tracks or live loops or both you can find your own way to follow these lessons.

While being released at the end of the school year meant limited time to try this out I did manage to squeeze it into one class before finishing up and the reaction was great. Quite often when using Garageband in class there can be difficulty connecting with students who just want to be able to see what the finished project looks like and don’t want to go through the steps of composing all the tracks. Well, these files are perfect for this and also a song that students will know. Students can then take these tracks and break down the composition and in a way reverse-engineer their own tracks.

Packed with videos and interactivity the book is one where the 79 pages fly by and before you know it you have your track. The structure of the lessons are clear and engaging and definitely fun.

I am looking forward to seeing what else Tuniversity come up with and hope that their collection grows in the very near future.

To buy the book visit here 

Hands-on with Apple Clips.

Released over Easter break Apple Clips was just a week too late to integrate into my full-time classes but just in time to integrate into my summer class and because the summer class was just 10 weeks long I figured I would integrate Clips as much as I could.

So for anyone that had never heard of it Clips is a simple video making app launched by Apple. While I use the word simple there that shouldn’t be misinterpreted for basic because it is beyond basic. Putting this into perspective in the past this 10-week course used to feature the likes of Final Cut or apps like Animoto…well with Clips we didn’t need either this year.
Using a combination of simple effects, photos, videos, text and music videos take just minutes to create. The fact that they can be created so fast means more time could be spent gathering the pictures and videos.

Throughout the course students had to create a Clips video featuring the college exhibition and also a Clip featuring the city. While these were literally just the basic Clips I required I found the classes creativity surpassed this and I got to see it used to create stories and fun animations.
Take a look at some of their examples below.

To download Apple Clips visit here 

A quick animation by Nathan using a water bottle and emojis.


Short story animation by Nathan.

Slow motion with Clips by Kay


Promotion by Emmett



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.

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.

Course 2 – Creating a Class Blog.

Below is the second of a set of 8 courses that feature both on this blog and also over on The EDtech Portal.

These screencasts will talk you through how to create a class blog.

For a full list of available courses check out our list here

Note: If you want certification for this course you can take it over on The EDtech Portal. Upon completing the course activities you will receive a certificate and there are also lots of opportunities to engage with other course takers. If not you can just watch the screencasts in the playlist below.

Course 1 – Create an iBook in iBooks Author course.

Below is the first of a set of 8 courses that feature both on this blog and also over on The EDtech Portal.

These screencasts will talk you through how to create a simple iBook for use in a classroom.

Note: If you want certification for this course you can take it over on The EDtech Portal. Upon completing the course activities you will receive a certificate and there are also lots of opportunities to engage with other course takers. If not you can just watch the screencasts in the playlist below.

For a full list of available courses check out our list here

Creating multi-touch books with students.

Teaching a digital media course has been an endless exciting journey of app exploration. The module is so vague you can make most apps work and change the content around depending on an individual class group.
As part of the module descriptor there is an option for students to create iBooks/eBooks. For the first couple of years I avoided this simply because the tech wasn’t available for us to easily create this. However, this past year students have created iBooks using Book Creator and/or iBooks Author and they really enjoyed it. They even suggested that I run a course that is solely based on iBooks creation. Hopefully their requests can become a reality this year.

For their assignments, I allow them to create books on literally anything they want to. This has resulted in a wide range of books being created from a student who created a wonderful tribute book to his grandfather which included a poem and song and short story, a student who created a vegan cookbook and then to a student who created a kids book about a dinosaur his imaginary character encountered on his travels.

Creating books gives students to opportunity to explore their creativity. Students who before would have never written a story and many who came in with the attitude of ‘I hate creative writing’ simply because it was never fun before.

This coming year there will be more of a focus on Book authoring. Into this we will encorporate Six Word Stories and Nanowrimo

The apps and sites we will use are listed below.

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Using iTunes U courses to create multimedia CV portfolios for educators

Ok so I don’t know about the rest of you but I have an tons of different content that I have created over the last number of years.

When going to job interviews or talking to people a CV is great but sometimes it doesn’t really do enough to show off us ‘creative types’.

At the EMEIA institute I spoke about how my students create eportfolios to showcase their work and I thought why don’t we do the same?

I have an upcoming interview during which I may be asked for literally anything I have done over the last few years so it got me thinking. Yes of course it is all on my laptop but it’s not all in one place and how about I do what my students are doing an structure it within a course.

So that is exactly what I have done (well I’m still working on it!)

I gave myself a basic outline as demonstrated below. This can obviously vary depending on someones background.

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Taking a little bit of a closer look into a section this is how I decided to showcase my iBooks. They would of course all be pre-downloaded before going into an interview.

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You can also have sub sections. For example the ADE section. Within each section I can put in the relevant multimedia content.

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It is also good if you did some research papers or a MA or Degree. For mine I was able to put in the briefs we were given in my MA and attach my reports.

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Obviously it is a private course but I found the structure lends itself perfectly to someone who may have lots of content in various places. Another advantage being if the interview isn’t face to face or if there is some online engagement beforehand you can send the person your course.

Also because of having that little space to type you can easily explain what content is. Something that can’t be done as easily when naming files on a computer.

ADE Institute 2015 EMEIA Reflection

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So another institute down and what a great one it was!

I was honoured to be able to attend this one as an alumni and really enjoyed it. I loved being a board member and all the things we had to do.

It was great being able to share my story in the showcase on Monday am grateful for every single person who talked to me after in person or online. Thank you!

Sharing my experience of iTunes U in the workshop was also great. iTunes U has been such a massive part of my life and career for the past four years and it is great to be able to introduce this and all the amazing things it can do. I hope others will consider introducing iTunes U in their colleges and if anyone needs help I am only a PM or email away.

Managing the Sphero section in the STEM playground was also great. I love Sphero and am lucky to have some in my class and I hope everyone had a chance to enjoy playing with them in the playground. (apologies to those who came at the very end when a lot of the Spheros had died!) I also learnt that I really suck at assembling lego robots! Sorry!

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Being abe to greet ADEs at registration was also a fantastic opportunity to meet new people. I hope everyone has updated their profiles now!

I have to say a massive thank you to my fellow board members. We are so incredibly lucky to have such a great hard working group and I really hope we get to work together again soon #bestboardever!

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Every year I try to bring something home from institute. The first year it was paperless classrooms, then eportfolios. This year what really hit me was the positivity that everyone had. So many of us are alone in our schools and struggling to justify our use of technology to our schools leaders but together at institute we are amongst family, people who know and understand what we are doing and people who give us that reassurance that we are actually doing something right. So this year as well as a few great ideas I picked up I want to bring that home. It is not always easy when there are job cuts and budget cuts but this year I want my classroom and my college to be a happier place to work. Thank you to the ADE community for being so enthusiastic and positive everyone is truly amazing.

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I was also impressed by my PLN this year. Such an amazing group of people who are working hard to train teachers. I wish I had such teachers when I was in college! They have a fantastic group project lined up that I am very excited to see.

I am also excited about my community engagement project. It is an amazing opportunity to put my skills to good use and help my community. Thank you to whoever came up with that idea.

Finally a massive thanks to the Apple Team. None of this would be possible without the hard work of everyone who made this happen. Enjoy Singapore and then some rest.

Remember the world is our classroom and we can reach out for help from fellow experts making anything possible!