Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~ John Dewey

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I received a tweet a couple days ago asking why I still believed laptops, in this case MacBooks, are the right choice for middle school and high school students.

Now before I begin, let me state that I firmly believe a 1:1 (one computer per student) program no matter what the connected device (device connected to the Internet) is better than no 1:1 program at all. If a school can only afford an iPad for ever student then that’s the best choice.

However, many schools, especially here internationally and private schools in the states, have the option to buy either an iPad or a MacBook and for them I am recommending MacBooks for Middle School and High School 1:1 programs.

Consumption vs Creation

iPadkid
by umpcportal.com

At the end of the day the iPad is designed for the consumption of information. This is not the shift I’m looking for in education. Yes…you can create some things on the iPad but it doesn’t take long to max out the iPad’s creative potential. I am not talking creating music, or taking a video. I’m talking the mashup of videos from different sources, the creation of music from different sources as well as the programs and apps I want students to be creating today.

Apple sees the iPad as a consumption device, and it does a really really good job of it, giving the consumer a beautiful interface to consume through. Apple’s latest announcement where they unveiled iBook Author I think just makes this point stronger. You create the textbook, or any book for that matter, on the computer and you consume the information on the iPad. As much as I want digital textbooks, what I really want is students to create their own books.

For middle school and high school students I want them creating sophisticated projects, I want them collaborating, like I’m doing today on a Google Doc using the built in chat feature. I want them making apps, videos, and music…not the kind that get a couple views, but the kind that go viral.

If you want to plan for the future

macschool
by torres21

Now if you really want to plan for the future, and by that I mean the next two years, then students should have both an iPad and a MacBook. I know one school who is looking at this option and I believe that’s the future.The iPad and tablets will are changing the way we consume information no doubt about it. We need to be preparing students to consume information that is digital, updated, and constantly changing.

We also want need creators and that’s where I love to focus my time. We do a really good job in schools have kids consume information, we don’t do a very good job of having them create new information out of what they are learning.

My Perfect School

I’ve been asked on several occasions what my perfect school looks like. Today as it stands in January 2012 this would be my perfect school.

PreK – 1st Grade: 1 iPad for every two students: iPads stay at school owned and managed by the school.

2 – 3rd Grade: 1:1 iPad program: Each student has their own iPad and iPads primarily stay at school and can be checked out by the parents to take home if need/wanted.

4th Grade: 1:1 iPad and 1:1 Laptop: The iPads are allowed to be taken home and are tied to a guardians account. The school purchases a set of “standard apps” anything above that is up to the parents. The laptops stay at school and can be checked out by the parents to take home if need/wanted.

5th Grade: 1:1 iPad and 1:1 Laptop: Same as 4th grade however the students at some point during the year gain the responsibility of taking both the iPad and the Laptop home. 5th Grade is a great time to do this because:

  • In 5th grade students still only have one classroom teacher. This sense of classroom community is a great place to talk about responsibility and practice it.
  • A good time to practice taking care of your devices before hitting middle school where students have 4 to 6 different classes in 4 to 6 different classrooms with 4 to 6 different teachers.
  • Allow students to learn to organize their digital lives so they are not trying to figure this out at the same time they are learning a new “schooling” system of lockers, freedom and multiple classes.

6 -12th Grade: 1:1 iPad and 1:1 Laptop: Both devices become the sole responsibility of the student. The school loads a “standard” set of software on all devices and the students/parents are responsible for managing the rest.

Of course there are a lot of things “schooling” that would need to change too and trying to bring this into a school that already is established and has a history would be messy…very messy, which is why most administrators won’t attempt it.

But if I was starting a new school today….this would be the given and every parents would know from day one what we’ll be using and here’s what we would expect from the students and from the parents as their responsibility for learning.

Today I’ve been working with the first grade team preparing to created their e-portfolios for the kids.

http://www.elizabethannedesigns.com/living/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/iphoto_icon.jpgWe started off the year talking about how we could organize the photos and movies that would be taken over the year so that when it came to this stage of the process it would be as quick and easy as possible. With 30 days of school left the last thing teachers want is to spend their time learning a new skill.

So here’s what we’re doing:

1. In August we set up an Album in iPhoto for each student
2. As teachers and assistants took pictures and videos they put them into each students album
3. In iPhoto we then created a slide show
4. File – Export – Slideshow – Medium size

That’s it……cute little e-portfolio for 1st grade students of pictures and videos throughout their year of learning.

It took longer for the videos to render (about 15 minutes) then it did to do the whole rest of the process.

The key to the whole thing is starting in August with a plan of how to keep track and organize the photos and movies.

iPhoto makes this easy. As soon as a teacher connects their camera to the laptop iPhoto pops up and teachers could quickly drag the right photo into each students album.

Just another way of using pictures and media to record learning.

U Tech Tips

After my post about moving to a new school and having a Mac for the first time in 10+ years, I received more suggestions of software that I needed then I ever thought I would. I’m still going through the list and of course installing and uninstalling software as I try things out and find what I really need.

I was asked if I would create a wiki to keep track of all the cool software that people were mentioning….so….I did.

The wiki is set up and asks for software recommendations for educators and education in Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Now all it needs is software. It is open to the public so you can go ahead and start adding software recommendations without signing up for an account.

If everyone took the time to add just one piece of software it wouldn’t take us long to have an amazingly useful site.

So head on over and add just one…..that’s it! Through one….comes many!

Thanks!

http://wiki.utechtips.com

Thanks to everyone who replied to my last post about the Mac software I should install on my computer….keep the programs coming!

On Thursday a lot the teachers asked me if I could help them learn how to use the Mac. Most of the new teachers coming in this year are coming from PC school and are new to the Mac OS.

So I asked if anyone would be interested in a “Pimp Your Mac” session at my house. 13 newbies showed up to learn all about their new machine.

We started off simple with how to connect to the wireless at home and at school, how to change the Proxy setting in Firefox and made sure that everyone could get connected to the Internet. The other new Technology & Learning Coordinator (TLC), Chad Bates (coming from KL), helped as well as we trouble shooted issues on machines and got everyone to a common place.

Then we got geekie and we looked at the dashboard, how to use spaces. The school pre-loaded Jing so we played with that a little bit. We talked about Skype and the built-in web cam. Most importantly though…we just answered question.

Sometimes the best thing we can do is just be there for people to answer questions.

Of course the teaching wasn’t all one way. I learned a lot as well like how to turn on the two finger right-click feature…very cool!

I have to say I was very impressed with the tech skills of the group overall. As I told my wife last night and Kim this morning…..these guys are going to be fun to teach with.

Thanks again everyone for the great tools you gave me in the last post I feel like we need a wiki if one isn’t already started of all the tools an educator might need on their Mac.

Now if I could only get my Entourage Calendar to sync with Google Cal….I’d be all good!