We love our Android tablets. So many uses in our district for our 500+ and counting devices. From our Maintenance Department using Samsung Galaxy 10s for their ticketing system to using Nexus 7s to assess students in reading, we use them regularly. The largest issue with these is management. How do you lock down the Play Store so students (or teachers) cannot download whatever. How can you do a device wide inventory? How can you push content or apps to a device? Lots of tough questions to answer before wanting to go full into a 1:1 or large scale deployment. We use Meraki’s free mobile device management software to do some of that, but not all. We continue to look for something though.
So I found Tab Pilot. Right off the bat, I will say this is NOT a free product. You can demo up to two devices free, but to use it on a large scale you pay a $50 per device fee. This gets you a license to use forever, which you can transfer to new machines. I am going to go ahead and try the free test, and then report back what we find.
So the buzz around the interwebs these days is ‘what in the world did Google do to Google+?’ Google+, for those living in caves, is Google’s answer to Facebook. While it started slow, I definitely like a lot of the functionality. We use it in our Y Princess tribe to organize us Dads, I use it to organize my photos from my phone (love, just love auto-upload!), and I use it for the Hangout video chatting. So what does Google do as more and more people look to adopt it? They change it all around. In the photo, you see three columns now where you used to see just one. While it does not sound like much, trust me, it matters. Much more difficult to look through all your content, and it heightens the chance to miss something. If, like Google wants, you use this to organize all you instances of life, from professional, to school, to hobbies, to family, this will definitely pose more challenges for you.
We continue to think about eventually using this in our school district. Children may not have any issue with this…maybe I am just now on the old fogie side, as I did just celebrate another birthday last week. I still see Google+ being a great way to organize a classroom. Whether you teach elementary (sharing info with parents) or different classes in high school, the Circle feature still makes so much sense. But as Google is renowned for doing, they mess and mess with something, and then may eventually fold it once we become engrained in it (Reader. Notebook. Etc. Etc. Etc).
I recently saw a review of Go Class on Android 4 Schools. This app definitely provides something we have been looking for. Just to summarize, my district decided on Android a few years back, first utilizing the Samsung Galaxy Tabs and now with a few hundred Nexus 7 among all the nook HDs and other devices. So one question that always comes up is how to push content to the devices. Go Class explains what it does:
Built to support the classroom dynamics, GoClass aids the instructor in delivering rich content effortlessly and effectively. You can achieve so much more in your classroom by doing very little. It brings you power of technology combined with the time tested teaching methodology of SHOW-EXPLAIN-ASK. It allows you to create, deliver, evaluate, and update content all from the same application and store it all on the Cloud. See how it works!
Sounds pretty good, yes? Before going forward though, I would slightly warn they are in a free beta. That could mean they will stay free, they will go away without explanation, or they will come back with an exorbitantly high price after the beta. So how does it work? Well, first you need to create your class. Your typical data entry of student names, emails , and information. You then begin creating your lesson plan. Really, this just organizes your content. You can add media (images, movies, etc), weblinks, pdfs, and other documents. Once you finish, you can create some questions for your students. When time to teach, you can project your content or push it out to your devices. Pretty cool. With all the 1:1s, BYODs, and the like, I can definitely see this being a good way to share content. Similar to what a Course Management System (Moodle, Blackboard, etc) does, but maybe a little quicker and cleaner. I will continue to play around with this to see how it works. Can’t you see this working for teacher professional development as well?
With all the shiny devices out there, most people do not think to use a small arsenal of tech tools. We want the biggest, fastest tools, without sometimes thinking of the learning that can take place. Take for instance a recent article and infographic that I posted here. Infographics can provide so many teaching moments in pretty much every curricular area. In this one I used think of how students can use this in math…looking at the populations of the countries in an outside the highlighted circle. Making a spreadsheet to total up the populations. Looking at percentages or using decimals. Going deeper into higher math functions. Social Studies is pretty obvious, but to go deeper looking at the style of government inside and outside to see if there are any similarities. Science -can the resources there sustain these large populations. So many things. So why, why do we try to make things so difficult by introducing all these confusing devices and applications? Sure, they can work some, and in this case, if you had a couple devices, you could definitely use them with these infographics, but we just tend to make things difficult in keeping up with the neighboring school district or county. Keep it simple, right?
Image source: http://www.fastcocreate.com/1682915/infographic-majority-of-earth-s-population-resides-in-this-one-relatively-small-circle?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+fastcompany%2Fheadlines+(Fast+Company)