Forecasting the weather with Sphero Edu and SPRK+

For this, you will need the Sphero Edu app as well as a Sphero or SPRK+
This activity will demonstrate how you can use loops, functions, colours and sound to code a weather forecast.

Each weather type is a separate function an example of which can be seen below.

The full activity can be downloaded from here 

The Learning Games Project & App

The Learning Games project was an ERASMUS funded project which examined the use of gamification in education. The focus was to develop an App that would allow for gamification in all classrooms from secondary to university level.

The project had partners from Spain, Germany, Ireland, Hungary and Turkey. I was lucky to be part of this project and to attend some of the planning meetings. Our college was responsible for the website design which I helped develop while in Hungary and I also gave a presentation on gamification to the partner schools and students.

The final application is both teacher and student based which each playing a significant role in the testing and development of the app. Involving students meant that the app would be developed according to their needs and would hopefully be more engaging for them to use as a result.

BETA versions of the App were released in June 2017 with a public releasing following in October.

The software application, called “Classquest” was successfully completed and is now available free of charge on both google play and the apple store.

The application was nominated in the top ten gamification software products in this years European Gamification Awards and the regional Educational administration in Asturias Spain have indicated that they would like to further develop the application into the future.

Download Classquest here. 

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. – 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.