I am a big Evernote and Remember the Milk user. I keep Evernote as mostly just a clearinghouse of all my notes I take at meetings, along with passwords and settings for a variety of applications. It works for me. Not perfect (oh, how I miss you Sandy…), but it does the job. What I would like is something built into Android. Yes, I will admit to the Apple fanboys out there that some, I repeat some, of their built in things work. Looks like, with the release of Google Keep, Android may finally get some of those things built in. If they can make it work, as the video shows, this could definitely go a long way to bringing Android on par for productivity with iOS. I am going to try it and see how it works. If I can abandon Evernote and RTM, that would be huge!
Well, we continue to purchase more and more Chromebooks. We support about 100 now, but I definitely see that number growing next school year exponentially. I mentioned in previous posts we were looking to supplement existing desktops throughout the district, and we are beginning to realize benefits from them. For instance, a Freshman English class uses a group of four to type, edit, revise stories in Google Docs. A fourth grade class in another school uses them with the Google Maps for geography. They definitely possess limitations, but to supplement existing technology, providing more accesibility to students, we have found them to be quite legit. Our state Department of Public Instruction just alerted us that they will make sure the end of grade and course tests will work with the Chromebooks, as many Counties in our state are using them. Is this the future?
I head to Downtown Raleigh today to kick off the NCTIES conference. Well, actually today is pre-conference sessions and meetings, but I will head to Raleigh nonetheless. This conference has definitely changed over the years. From its initial ‘smaller’ style when competing with the Fall NCETC conference to becoming the only technology conference in our state, we have seen the good, bad, and probably not much ugly. Nice to have had it in Raleigh the past couple years. Makes travel much easier!
Through the years, we have seen quite a variety of things from this conference. I presented in the past on Linux and open source, as have many others. Now, though, it’s dominated by iPads. Not too much Android, but a little. More and more gaming sessions as well as focus on the Common Core. This year too the conference organizers decided to get away from the printed schedule and just offer a downloadable pdf or an iOS or Android App. Pretty excited about that for a change.
We recently had our CTE (Career Tech Ed) Department purchase five Samsung 7.0 tablets. They asked me to load some apps, so I explored the Play store. With CTE, you have such a wide variety of areas. You have your business courses. You have your technical courses, like masonry and welding, and then your agriculture classes. So I explored around and found a decent set of apps. One thing I do not do enough is just explore the Play store. Lots and lots of good apps, and adding new every day.
For our business teachers, I installed a series of MS Office tutorials. While not the most interactive thing, I figure they use this and the tablets would be a good way to review. Interesting that some of these are Goodwill Foundation apps.
For our technical, tools are always a good thing. Smart Tools offers a great series of things like rulers, levels, sound tools, and more.
Of course you can always use the camera and other built in tools. But the point is you really can load anything for any area. We hope to now get them to use these more interactively. Small steps!!
I really believe in teaching students about developing code, especially with mobile apps. You figure a kid designs a popular app, charges $0.99, and make a nice little allowance. In our school district, our Career-Tech track offers computer programming courses. In Computer Programming II, they begin Visual Studio to design games for Xboxes. How awesome if we could have an alternative, to teach kids to develop for Android. Of course, the complaint would be there are no curriculum, like Microsoft gives freely for their Visual Studio.
But alas, MIT comes to help. On their http://appinventor.mit.edu/teach/ website, they provide step by step directions and modules to go through app creation. You setup the App Inventor, then begin developing your first app. Best of all? The cost–free under a Creative Commons 3.0 license.
THIS is what we need to see in schools. Let’s train these kids with a RELEVANT skill. Microsoft Office? No, that’s past. Let’s get them designing apps. Hey, they could even develop one for your school district.