Friday, August 9, 2013

Google Docs and mobile devices

Catholic Education Parramatta are currently rolling out training to all our schools about Google Apps for Education, which we have branded as classm8.  Schools are responding very positively to the cloud based collaborative features as well as the breadth of different apps that can be used for student learning. 

As we already have many schools with 1 to 1 iPads in year groups, the burning question was how would Google Apps integrate with iPads.  Well the answer is a mixed one, works well for some Apps/Docs and not others and some limitations within Apps.

After much experimentation with a range of Apps recommended to us (paid and free) it seems to us that access to your Google Apps suite is just as good on the inbuilt free Safari App or if you prefer, the free Chrome App.

Safari/Chrome Apps access your Google Apps
When you first login into your Google Apps (classm8 for our staff) via the Safari App the appearance of your drive will look quite different to a desktop version.

If you do select a document it seems that the editing and menu functions are limited.  However you can get to a full editing mode and a view more like your desktop by selecting the 'desktop version' option.  This is typically available as an option right at the bottom of the screen or as shown in the screen clip opposite.

On the iPad you can create and edit:
  • Docs, Spreadsheets, Forms, Sites 
You can upload images from your iPad camera roll.  You can view presentations very nicely but cannot yet create them via the iPad.

Limitations - currently not supported:
  • Editing tables in Docs
  • Charts and Images in Spreadsheets
  • Uploading files to Sites
See Using Google Docs via the Drive iOs App and Using Google Spreadsheets via the Drive iOS App.

Drive App - easy uploading and access to your files via the iPad 
We also recommend the Drive App (only for personal devices) for easy creation of folders, sharing, uploading and the ability to open your uploaded files in various Apps.

The Drive App is not recommended for shared devices such as school class sets via our Parramatta Google Apps domain.   Due to our login system via CeNet the drive App is not properly recognising a change in user sign-in and thus a new user that logs in instead has access to the previous users account.

During the Google Apps bootcamps our schools have shared ideas and processes for how they will utilise the Google Apps suite via the iPad.  The Blogger Apps is being used by at least one of our schools as a workflow for student learning via the iPad.  We will explore that more in the next post.

St Agnes iPad use evaluation survey of students

St Agnes Catholic High School at Rooty Hill has surveyed their 2013 Year 8 students to gather their perceptions about the use of iPads in their learning.  St Agnes ran a similar survey of their Year 8 students in 2012.

In terms of use of the iPad in 2013 compared with 2012, there was an increase in using the ipad for
active, reflective learning by creating mindmaps, ebooks and multimedia presentations.  Conversely, reduced time was spent passively drawing in information by using it to search the internet.  This was highlighted by students indicating that Apps used the least seemed to be more content specific app while apps used the most were content creation apps like Creative Book Builder, Pages, Explain Everything, iMovie, Keynote etc which could be used across curriculum. Generally though the findings from this years survey of Year 8's compared with last year were fairly similar.  See the previous post 'iPad use evaluation'

The results of the iPad survey for 2013 Year 8's at St Agnes reflect the embedding of iPad in learning since its inception last year. To the question 'I am more distracted in class because I use an iPad' - 7% more students disagreed. So it seems that less students this year feel the iPad distracts them in class. This may reflect the fact that the introduction of the iPad last year went through a novelty phase while this year students are more familiar and they are now more acknowledged as a learning tool.

The embedded use of iPads in learning at St Agnes is highlighted by the involvement of students from St Agnes at the recent iConnect conference of the Council of Catholic School Parents at the Parramatta Novotel.  They staffed a booth and spent time with parents demonstrating how iPads were being used to enrich their learning.  

Parents were impressed with what the students were able to do and commented on how articulate and reflective of their learning the students were.  You can read a post by student Lois about how she feels technology and especially iPads has enriched her learning on Greg Whitby's blog Bluyonder. Lois was a pioneer student at St Agnes with their iPad implementation and is now continuing her senior school studies at Loyola Senior High.

St Agnes have used the 2013 Year 8 survey to reflect on their integration of iPads across the KLA's, their assessment tasks and to inform workflow practices.  Emerging Technologies coordinator Damien McGuire comments:
"We have run some PD sessions with our staff focusing on 'advanced' features of Moodle. For example questionnaires, quizzes and assessment collection. The aim was to point out the interactive nature of Moodle that can be accessed via the student's iPad. There is also a plan for teams across the curriculum to create their own ebooks for next year. These ebooks will incorporate all the necessary curriculum content linked with specific Apps. We will continue to work on our Work Flow procedures to make it clear to the students what their final solution needs to look like in terms of ICT."

Challenge Based learning and the iPad

A group of educators from Catholic Education Western Australia, Sydney and Parramatta were recently able to visit Holy Family East Granville to see how they were integrating iPads in learning.

Principal Sue Guilfoyle and Leading Teacher, Technology, Timothy Butt spent some time with us, discussing their integration of iPads in learning and showing us it, in practice in their classrooms.

To assist in integrating the use of the iPad across the curriculum, Holy Family has an iPad Professional Learning Group that meets fortnightly to share ideas on using the iPad, integrating it across the curriculum for learning and assessment and trialling apps.

In the classrooms we saw students using the iPad in a variety of ways for their learning including to create MindMaps with iThoughts HD, answer surveys via Edmodo and to record their reading of a book to improve reading fluency.

Tim shared his information on how they utilise iPads with CBL in their school, including the workflows, scaffolds and Apps they use.  Click on the image to the left to download the pdf of the presentation.


 Some links to other Challenge based learning resources:

Apples website on Challenge based learning:

Challenge Based learning scoop-it

David Baugh on his site Learning in Touch has a very useful diagram of Apps he uses in Challenge Based learning.  (see right)
It breaks down the Apps into categories for use in CBL such as planning, research etc.