After the mishap today with a crashing PDF-Notes 2.0.0 app on all 30 iPads, I immediately thought that I should do some app maintenance over the next few days. You know, clean up the springboard, delete unwanted apps, add a few new ones, create folders, and so forth. All I would need to do is setup one iPad with the newly organized springboard, create a backup of that iPad, and then restore the remaining 29 devices with the same backup file.
Sounds So Simple – So Do It!
Good thing I didn’t! Unfortunately when backing up iOS devices, in my experience, many of the settings including calendars, mail accounts, WiFi passwords, and much more is not recovered when the backup file is used during a restore.
Not only is it a hassle to have to setup calendars, mail accounts, & WiFi passwords on 30 devices, but the secured WiFi network used on our class set of iPads has a private password which only the computer technicians in the board have access to. This would mean a call to Help Desk and a long wait every time I needed to restore the devices with an updated setup.
After some searching on Google, I came across a program called iPhone Configuration Utility. Upon downloading the software, it looked pretty in-depth, but I hope to learn whether this software can help solve these issues. Keep you posted.
Now that my WiFi issues have been solved using a secure SSID with a password permanently stored in all iPads from our class set, it was on to experimenting with pdf-notes. After stumbling upon this free app in the iTunes App Store, I watched an advertisement on YouTube which was more than impressive. A nice bookshelf setup with the ability to create categories for each of your classes throughout the day, tons of writing tools which can be toggled using finger gestures, the ability to export a PDF to Dropbox as well as other cloud storage services, and even a password option! Here’s the video clip below:
After trying the app for a short while at home, I thought this would be the ideal PDF annotation app to use with the TIPS4RM handout/worksheet style my colleagues and I have been using for the majority of our math courses.
The REAL Test Drive – My Grade 9 Applied Math Class
After spending some time setting up Dropbox accounts for each of my students in the class, we were off to the course website, www.mrpearce.co.nr to grab the handouts we would be tackling in pdf-notes for the day. A quick tap on the handout link via our course google calendar had the PDF file up on each iPad in no time. Having pdf-notes as an option on the “Open In” menu when you tap once on the worksheet was convenient to get all students into the app with the PDF. Thankfully, I told the class we would “test’ our Dropbox accounts by exporting the worksheet as a flattened PDF and saving it in our individual accounts.
Then it happened…
What a great… Wait… Why am I looking at the iPad springboard? The app crashed! Not just on my iPad, but every student had the same problem.
According to the pdf-notes blog:
Version 2.0.2 Ready For Sale – 5 September 2011
- bug fixed: exported invalid pdf files for some documents
- bug fixed: crashed while exporting some pdf files
- bug fixed: didn’t save inks for some pdf files
- bug fixed: couldn’t add text notes by double taps when the time interval setting is always dot
- bug fixed: went back to the wrong page after jumping by thumbnail pages view
Am I hopeful that the issue will be resolved in the free version soon? Absolutely! But until then, I will have to experiment with apps such as neu.Annotate PDF & Noterize, which I originally felt had less to offer. Maybe the simplicity of these apps will make for less problems and a more user-friendly setup for the students.
After spending hours of my own time over the past two weeks since receiving my Bretford Power Sync cart and 30 iPad 2′s, I was starting to get frustrated and disappointed with what I have been able to do with the iPads in my classroom. Since I was chosen to go to a brand new school in the Greater Essex County District School Board here in the Windsor-Essex, Ontario area, we have had many I.T. troubles; one of which was WiFi.
Our board uses two separate WiFi access options: a secured wireless SSID for all board owned computers and a public guest network that can be logged in via a web-based login screen similar to airport WiFi hotspots.
My problem? Logging onto the Guest Network with the iPads has been nothing but a nightmare. Some iPads would allow the login screen to appear, while others would take much more time or not show up at all. Another issue is the fact that the internet connection is reset after the iPads go to sleep, causing a classroom panic and the need to re-enter a username and password.
Today, permission was granted to use the secured SSID network for all 30 iPad devices. This allows us to save the SSID and password in each iPad, which allows for an automatic WiFi connection upon use of the iPad.
I can see the light!
Just last night, I was on the blog, Teaching Like It’s 2999 and I came across a great post about using Google Docs for assessment. By creating form on Google Docs, you can easily create surveys and assessments to use in the classroom. Not only that, but the data can be collected in real-time on your personal laptop/mobile device for your own viewing, or on an interactive whiteboard to display to the entire class the results of the poll or quiz.
Having a class set of iPads or a mobile laptop cart would allow you to gauge student understanding quickly and easily on a daily basis via a quick form! Here’s a summary:
Once in Google Docs, select FORM from the CREATE menu.
Enter a title for your form. You can add as many questions, be it multiple choice, numerical, true/false, etc.
You can choose a template for your form to jazz it up in any way you’d like:
As your students submit their forms, the data will update instantly in a Google Doc spreadsheet.
You can even use a tool called Flubaroo to automatically mark your assessments! We will take a look at Flubaroo in a future post!
For now, get started making some forms for a quick way to check student understanding or to collect other information quickly and effectively!
One item I was unaware of before the iPad shipment came in was how the setup process would work using the Bretford Power Sync Cart. Although you should never assume, I figured that the initial setup would be a more efficient process with the Sync Cart, but I was wrong. Each device had to be setup individually, plugging in one at a time.
Some things I have learned since:
- You CAN plug in all devices and simply click on each iPad in iTunes to make the process a bit quicker, but you will not be able to tell which iPad is which in the cart. If you intend to name your iPads “ipad 01″, “ipad 02″, etc. you will have no way to determine which is which once the process is completed. A way around this is to plug one iPad in the first slot, get started on the setup process and name it, then plug in the next. This will save a bit of time, but still inconvenient in my opinion.
- I found some tips on the initial setup process on The Spicy Learning Blog by Royan Lee. He suggested creating a new iTunes account specifically for the iOS devices. This eliminates confusion between your own purchased apps and apps that the school or board allow you to purchase. He also suggests syncing the iPads individually and setting them up as a new device. This is how I have my devices currently. Unfortunately, by doing so, it makes it difficult to control what is on all the iPads with one sync. Another option I have since stumbled upon was on Teaching Like It’s 2999 by Jennie Cho Magiera. She suggests using one iPad as your “Master” setup iPad, set up all of your apps, settings, etc. on that device, create a backup of that iPad, and restoring all other devices using that backup file. Seems like a huge process, but probably less work than individually tweaking each device, when needed.
More updates soon! Stick around!