What does the data say about our iPad usage at PBAS?

Our school set of 30 iPads are used on a daily basis (almost), certainly every week across R-10 with the majority of regular use being the R-4 students.

In the first 4 weeks of term 2 our class set of iPads has been booked for 40 out of a possible 120 lessons across R-9. On top of this 11 of those lessons have seen multiple classes accessing the iPads at the same time.

As well as how often are they used it is interesting to look at what they are being used for. With the help of the screen time function in the iPads settings I have been able to look at usage over a three day period in week 3 this term.

The screen time function categorises usage into areas like Education, Creativity etc while also tracking individual application usage.

It is great to see that in the categories section Education, Creativity, Productivity and Reading and Reference came out as the top 4 categories while Other, Games and Entertainment were lower down. Even better is that creativity appears in the top two, indicating that the iPads are not just being used for “traditional” schooling activities.

The top 4 categories mentioned combined for just over 11 hours per day across 23 iPads or an average of 28 minutes per iPad per day.

It is important to remember that this data is taken over a very short time period. Use of apps like iMove, Garageband, Scratch, Geoboard and many others not mentioned are specialty apps which get used when the need arises. For example an English task requiring students to video and edit an oral presentation would involve significant use for a short period of the Camera and iMovie apps. Apps like Safari and Literacy Planet which are research and practice based apps are naturally used on a more regular basis.

While this data is very narrow I believe it is a consistant representation of how we have used the iPads since including them as part of our ICT resources in 2013.

Using social media in schools


Social media in schools provides a powerful tool for communicating with parents and students, supporting student learning in the classroom and opening up professional learning opportunities for teachers. From personal experience using social media platforms on a daily/weekly basis to do these things including Facebook, Twitter, Podcasts, You Tube, blogs and closed platforms like Edmodo support us to:

  • bring parents into our classrooms
  • help parents to support their children
  • engage students with content
  • provide reminders and homework tasks
  • answer questions students have when they are working from home
  • join learning networks with like minded people and find new ideas to trial in our classrooms
  • consider opinions of educators that have differing opinions making us think in different ways.

Listen to Professor Stephen Heppell discuss his views on social media in schools.

Professor Stephen Heppell – “One of the most influential academics in the field of technology and education globally”.

Photo Mapo

Photo Mapo is a great app that allows you to incorporate images with a map which shows the part of the world the image was from. The app also allows you to include some text describing the image and or location. There are a wide range of styles/formats to choose from and the app is free. The app allows you to save the image to the iPads camera roll, from here it can be removed easily from the iPad.

Applications for learning and teaching

1. School projects – history/geography. Use Photo Mapo to match an image (man made or natural landmark) with its global position.

2. School camps/sports events – use an image from a school camp in Photo Mapo. A great way to make a newsletter article stand out or add to a report.

3. Students could use an image of themselves (or family members) to show where they live. Students could compare where relatives live around the state, Australia or overseas in relation to other students in the class.

4. Students could prepare a Photo Mapo showing something they did in the holidays and where that was.

5. Use Photo Mapo to design the cover for a book or major project.

6. Art/Science/Maths – find images of famous artists/scientists/mathematicians that are relevant to the content students are learning, include some descriptive text and show where they were born or lived. Print in colour as A3 or A4 posters.

This app enables students to create professional looking images and connects photos with geographical locations allowing for, among other things, discussion around local, state, national and international geography.

Note: Photo Mapo is on the school iPads and the Learn Link internet connection allowed the location function to work when I tested it.

Taking the kids on the Pichi Richi Railway in the school holidays.

Year 5/6/7 Aquatics Camp

Longest river in the world is called River Nile and it stretches up to 6,650 Kilometers or 4135 Miles.

The Empire State Building is a 103-story skyscraper located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street.

Art on the iPad

Our school iPads have two dedicated Art apps, Brushes and Art Set. Both can produce quality art work using a stylus once students are used to how the apps work. This post is not about how the apps work, if you are interested in using them I suggest the best way is for students and teacher to have a play with the app and share that knowledge within your class.

One of the great features of the Brushes app is that it allows the artist to play back how their art work was created. You can press the play button and watch from beginning to end how the art work was constructed. Not only will the students enjoy watching their art work be recreated before their eyes but the opportunity to view how others constructed theirs is a great learning opportunity. Below I have included a video of something I did in Brushes last year when I first played around with the app. Sorry it is a bit shaky I had to play it on the iPad and video it with my iPhone.

I would like to acknowledge @kevinhoneycutt for tweeting the following image which encouraged me to remind you about these two apps and their potential use in the classroom.

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 2.27.38 pm

Compress Video – Save space on your iPad


Here is a great free app called Compress. If you keep video on your iPad or iPhone and want to free up some space without deleting your videos then get this app. There are three levels of compression. The two levels offering the higher quality will compress videos at the following levels (these numbers are taken from a 3 min video compressed on my iPad). 262MB to 115mMB using the 720p quality compression and 262MB to 20MB using the 360p quality compression. The quality drop is minimal and I found it difficult to hear or see any difference between the original and compressed version (both 720p and 360p).

Before using the Compress app I had 8GB of free space on my 32GB iPad. I keep a large amount of video on my iPad including skills video and Just Dance video for PE as well as keeping video in student portfolios as part of student assessment in HPE. This means I am always on the edge of filling up my iPad, particularly towards the end of a semester. So after compressing 17 Just Dance videos (took about 15 minutes) on my iPad I suddenly had an extra 2.2GB of free space. This was using the 720p compression option, had I used the 320p option I would have saved myself 4.5GB plus of space.

Note: Video over a certain length (10 minutes from what I can gather) cannot be compressed by the app without the app trimming your video which is not practical.

My main use for this app will be compressing instructional YouTube video and video for student portfolios.

Thanks to @mrKampen who shared a blog post on his iteachPE blog explaining the Compress app.

How has technology changed the way we learn?

Here are the Power Point and videos from our student free day session between recess and lunch. I hope that the staff who were unable to be there on Monday will have a look.

If you are really interested in finding out more about what Will Richardson has to say click here to visit his blog. His book Why School? which is available to download is also an excellent read.

How do I use my iPad/iPhone to make my job easier?

 There are a range of ways that I use my iPad to help in my role as a teacher. I cannot think of a device that has had a bigger impact on the way I work and learn as a teacher.

Calendar  app

I no longer have a paper diary. The Calendar app allows me to put in my timetable, notes for lessons, set reminders and then access this calendar across multiple devices including my iPad, iPhone and online if my iPad/iPhone are not available.

SkyDrive, Drop Box, Google Drive apps

Using these apps on my iPad gives me access to my files on a mobile device. No longer do I need my lap top with me to work on Word, Excel or PowerPoint presentation. Cloud based storage is convenient and to a large degree free! I have 3 accounts providing me with a total of 14GB of free storage. This is not huge but certainly allows me to manage my work documents and important information that I access on a regular basis. Being able to move documents from these apps into other apps on the iPad including Pages, Keynote and Quick Office Pro and then back again is an excellent function.

Educreations and Explain Everything apps

These white board apps allow me to create presentations to upload to the Internet or capture lessons live. Capturing lessons live then uploading them for students who were absent for that lesson is very useful. By giving students the links to these they can revisit information or catch up on information they missed. They are also good tools for students to create on.

iCabMobile app

This app is web browser and allows me to download video directly to my iPad. Unfortunately it no longer does it from You Tube (Apple won’t allow it) but it does from pretty much any other site using HTML5 video including sites like Daily Motion and Vimeo. This has short cut a process of downloading video on my laptop, putting it into a folder and syncing that folder to my iPad. The types of videos that I download are generally skills based to use in apps like Ubersense and Coaches Eye.

Easy Portfolio, Easy Assessment and Attendance apps

All of my attendance is done on the iPad and emailed so that the school can keep it on file. The ‘Easy’ apps allow me to have digital portfolios for each of my students which include video, photos, notes, urls, audio and documents. I can also create rubrics which can easily be used on the spot during lessons which allow me to attach notes, photo and video to those rubrics. Having all my students assessment data in one place is very useful.

Twitter/Facebook apps

These are technically things that can be done without an iPhone or iPad. Would I use them as effectively or as much without an iPad? The answer is no. As with many things the iPad makes them easier, quicker and more efficient. The portability of the iPad for a start means I have it with me all the time.

I use Facebook to communicate with my Stage 1 and Stage 2 PE classes. I provide resources from documents to videos, reminders about due dates, change of plans regarding prac and theory lessons, students can upload drafts of work and I can send it back to them the same way and it allows students to pose questions they are stuck on when doing hwk or leading into a test or exam.

I use Twitter for professional development. I have said it before in other posts and I’ll say it again – It is the best ongoing training and development that I get! I follow just over 400 educators.. The ideas and resources that are shared on Twitter are enormous. You follow who you want so that the information you get relates to topics you are interested in. For example a high percentage of the people I follow around the world are PE teachers, they provide me with thoughts and ideas on pedagogy and resources that I never would have considered had I not connected with them.

Class Dojo app

Class Dojo is a behaviour tracking app. You create your classes then enter your behaviours (positive & negative) that you want to monitor. This does not have to be the traditional behaviours like being on task, getting changed for PE, helping set up equipment etc. It could be that a JP teacher wants to track how a student forms letters, it could help you track any behaviour or skill! I use it with all my classes R-10 to track student behaviour but I have not used it to its full potential just yet. The data can be emailed to parents (or any email address you put in). Currently I am thinking of emailing it directly to my older students so they can see the type of data I am keeping on them. For the younger students it will help inform my discussions with them as well as their parents. It does need an internet connection to work and all data is uploaded to an online teacher account. I use my iPhone in PE as this is the only internet connection I have on the oval or in the hall. The phone is also excellent because of its size, it allows me to enter data quickly and then put it back in my pocket.

Note: The creation of classes and behaviours is done online in a teacher account on a PC (cannot be done on the iPad app). The iPad app is then used to collect the data during a lesson.

Music app

This app on allows me to stream music wirelessly in the hall from my iPad and iPhone through the Apple TV. I use music in the JP classes to initiate the beginning and end of some activities. To be able to do this while with the students and not have to run back to the stereo everytime I want to start or stop the music is excellent.

Notes app

This app allows me to take notes in staff meetings and at training and development days. I can keep the notes in the app or email them off the iPad.

Contacts app

This is not new as mobile phones have always had contact lists. However having my contact list on my phone and synced to my iPad is great.

Camera app/Dropvox app

Recording work samples and student learning through images, audio or video is a powerful way to help teachers assess students and ultimately provide more effective feedback about learning. I also use the camera and iMovie to create video to share with parents what is happening in their child’s PE classroom. Dropvox allows me to record audio and upload automatically to Dropbox. Great for recording conferencing processes with students.



Minecraft in the classroom

Minecraft is a down loadable game from the Internet that costs around $40 for one license for a PC, there is a free iPad app (very basic, can’t save but good for learning on) or a $7.49 app for iPad (Phoebe assures me it is not as good as the online version but not bad).

What is Minecraft? Wikipedia explains Minecraft as an open world game that has no specific goals for the player to accomplish, allowing players a large amount of freedom in choosing how to play the game. The game world is essentially composed of rough 3D objects—mainly cubes—that are arranged in a fixed grid pattern and represent different materials, such as dirt, stone, various ores, water, and tree trunks. Players can gather these material blocks and place them elsewhere, thus allowing for various constructions. The game primarily consists of two game modes: survival and creative. Unlike in survival mode, in creative mode, players have access to unlimited blocks, regenerate health when damaged, and can fly freely around the world.

I’ve actually never played Minecraft but we do have an account that Phoebe and Lucy use. The more I watch the girls build and create worlds the more potential I see for use with students. Without any personal experience using the game my first thought is to use it to engage students to design and build historical locations, buildings, statues and artifacts. It would be a brilliant tool for this purpose. Click here to visit a teachers example of how he used it in an Ancient Greece unit (see photos of the student’s structures). Another use could be to design scale models. As everything in Minecraft is built with blocks students could convert measurements into blocks and replicate an object i.e. a building (Phoebe worked out to scale the height, width, lengths of arms and legs etc of one of her dolls in blocks to recreate it in minecraft).

If you where looking to engage students in learning I think this would be an ideal tool. Of course their are many blockers to using something like Minecraft to engage students and the list probably looks something like this:

  • It costs money.
  • I don’t know how to use it.
  • It will be too much extra work to organise it.
  • I don’t have time to learn something new at the moment.
  • It looks great but it is not for me.
  • and so on …..

But also consider:

  • There will be a child in your class who can show others how to use Minecraft (give students leadership). Jump in and learn as you go, you don’t have to know everything before you start.
  • It is a way to differentiate the curriculum and make it accessible to students who find watching a video or creating a poster dead boring.
  • It allows for higher order thinking skills to be used including Analyse – investigate, examine, Evaluate – decide, justify, Create – construct, design, invent

With the potential to save multiple worlds on one iPad ($7.49 app) it may be an engaging tool for teachers to use in the near future at PBAS.

Below I have added some video and images of creations built using Minecraft.

The video below is of a students work. He had to design a structure from medieval times and decided to do it in Minecraft instead of building a traditional project.

Here are some images of things people have created using Minecraft. It is amazing what you can build out of blocks!

Staying Relevant

When your computer goes down or the Internets not working you might ring a help desk for assistance. This video is a humorous take on what happens when someone can’t get their ‘new book’ working. They have been used to working with scrolls and this new technology has them confused!

When your viewing the video pretend the person learning to use this new book is a teacher. If he gives up because it is too hard/frustrating will he continue to be an effective teacher? The answer of course is no. Books will soon become common place and scrolls will disappear. He will no longer be able to communicate with his students effectively as schools will no doubt be using the new technology with students.

What is our understanding of how: 1. children use the following (in and out of school) and 2. how can we use the following for teaching and professional development?

  • The Internet beyond a google search (web 2.0 tools)
  • Programs beyond Microsoft Office
  • iPads and the thousands of apps available for education
  • Social media such as Facebook and Twitter (how do students use these? what are their pitfalls and benefits?)
  • Blogs (your own or professional reading)
  • Wikis
  • Gaming i.e. Minecraft, which by the way I think has great applications in the classroom
  • Smart phones
  • Creating a YouTube account
  • Being responsible for and maintaining our online footprint
  • BOYD programs (Bring Your Own Device)
  • Mobile Learning

Do we risk becoming obsolete over the next 5-10 years if we do not embrace and embed technology as part of our pedagogy beyond the twice a week visit to the computer suite? (note I said as ‘part of’, we should never throw out old still effective pedagogy just because something new comes along, we should however be adding to our pedagogical content knowledge).


While you ponder this question enjoy the video, it is very funny!