Archive for the “hardware” Category

One of the things with technology is it is often really expensive.  Schools fundraise and apply to trusts (etc) for a lot of money to provide the tech needed to make our chidlrens classrooms truely digital.  One of the key things with this is 'sufficiency' – do you have enough, and of the right stuff to make your programme work.

There are endless arguments made about "when I have a [insert name of shiny thing here] my programme will be a good one".  Thats a crock!  I have seen people doing wonderful things with quite old and slow technology, but good pedagogy.  It is knowing what to do and how to do it well that counts.  Jane had kids placing in national web design competitions and doing wonderful blogging when we worked together at Pine Hill way back when.  That was using the old coloured eMacs that were purchased 3-4years old from the University.  We had a lot of them though …. thats one of the keys.  A good proportion of the work the kids did was browser-based or in just a couple of bits of software.  The computers we had were sufficient for the learning needs and we had sufficient numbers of them that the kids had access when they needed them.  They were like a pencil in the classroom – simply a tool.

So … scale up the logic to today and based on a  discussion with a principal in Ashburton a few weeks ago …. it got me thinking.  Do we need to have lots of iPads or Macbooks, or other expensive tech gear for kids when many of the tools we will be using are browser-based?  Could a class have a good number of cheap-as-chips tablets with browsers for the donkey work online and consequently have fewer laptops or grunty machines for the power work video editing and the like?  This would give much better bang-for-buck for the school and get more devices in front of the kids. 

One of the cool things about being with CORE is access to some of these sorts of resources.  SO … for the past week or so I have been playing with a Samsung Tablet and a cheap Cruz tablet (both Android) to see how they go.

Hmmmm …. an iPad they are not.  I must admit I have pretty much given up on the Cruz already as it took 20min just to connect to the wireless at home and then the browser crashed so often it was unusable.  Factory resetting and starting again didn't help.  The store refuses to work so we were stuck with the default stuff off-line.  Not exactly an ideal educational tool.  The Samsung is a better bet but it is still laggy and for someone who has spent the last few years in an Mac environment I don't think in the way it is organised.  That really is ME not the device though so I need to have a further explore!  The screen is nice enough and the resolution is certainly sufficient for browsing the web etc.  The store works if you follow the trail in the right direction.  The things like LinkedIn, Facebook, Dropbox and the Google app work fine. 

Is is enough for a classroom?  Pricing is not that dissimilar from an iPad2, especially a referbished one from the Apple Store.  I know which I would rather use.  I know which I think kids would rather use too.

Maybe it reflects the survey results here:

BUT – I would be really interested to be proven wrong!!  Is anyone successfully using Android tablets in their schools?  Which ones?  Doing what? Please let me know in the comments ….

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Interesting read from ShawnBlanc. Some food for thought for people in schools here about the jobs that the iPad can do v's what you would want to do on one.

I don't think I could live with an iPad as my only device, but I know people who do.  A bluetooth keyboard and mightymouse, or keyboard case span the gap between the two devices.

Like Shawn I use keyboard shortcuts a lot and it is simply not as easy to type on the iPad keyboard (for me anyway).

Have a read, what do you think?

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At a recent BeL team meeting we were trying to work out how to convince an iPad to upload files downloaded as an email attachment.  This is the kind of thing you will need to do to add to Moodle etc.

This is one of the things that prevents an iPad from being the ONLY device you can use.  Still need the laptop for some things 🙂

The next day I stumbled on this in my RSS reader – Thanks Darren!


You know how annoying it is when you can’t upload files from the iPad because there is no native file browser?

Well, any web app which allows embedding can ‘host’ Dropbox files. It’s very simple: Go to your Dropbox app on the iPad.

Tap on the file you want ‘uploaded’ and tap on the little paperclip icon top right.

Choose ‘Copy link to clipboard’

Go into the application you want the file to upload to. We use Edmodo, which allows embedding, but it might be a wiki, or Weebly, for example.

Find your way to the embed function on the web app and paste in the link.

There you have it! Your iPad has just uploaded a file.

…. Just don’t tell it as it may take offence.


Love it!!


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How is it that the wifi versions are  $500/$600/$700 in US Apple Store …. which is $612, $735, $857 in NZ dollars on todays exchange rate.  We are essentially paying for the option down compared to US prices.  Big difference …. hmmmm!!

Just had a play with one a colleague bought in the US a couple of days ago …. Very Nice.  But not really worth the margin I am thinking.  Anyone heading to the US with space in their bag heading home?

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The latest statistic to drive this point home is that, during the new iPad launch, Apple sold more iPads in one weekend than one quarter of Android tablets ever sold. (via Cult of Mac)

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This review from MacWorld sums things up nicely:

Lots of hype; not THAT much different really (no really – push play on the review).  But the potential is here for schools to get cheaper iPad2's if you want to without sacrificing that much at all with the drop in price on the iPad2's.  Worth taking advantage of if it is something you were thinking about anyway.

The current beast has a better camera and a stunning display from the looks of things – otherwise much the same in NZ.  The big deals in the recent "Event" were really around software.  The completion of the iLife/iWork suite for the iPad, etc.

You have an iPad you buy into the ecosystem.  Some things are hard – don't try importing video from most digital cameras into iMovie for instance (even with a camera kit).  Usually doesn't work.  Frustrating in a school …. but then 'you have the whole shebang in one device' is the counter argument.  But when pretty good digital cameras are under $200 I am not sure I buy it.

Technology is a treadmill, admit it!  It is just deciding when to jump on and start running.  No company gives you want you want, or even necessarily what they are capable of doing – they give you the minimum to make you fork out your money and not feel too ripped off.  Apple are particularly good at creating and riding the hype cycle. 

It is also working out what you actually want to do with the shiny new toy and when it actually no-longer does it.  Can you live with waiting 2.7seconds instead of 1.9?  Do you really need the HHHD resolution screen to play skill and drill apps in your classroom that look like they were designed and built for a Comodore 64 anyway? Its like high speed broadband – it is just more crap faster unless you know how to search effectively.

So … iPad3's?  Like the review says – don't have one or have a Gen1 the probably worth it.  But don't trade in an iPad2 for one unless you really need the upgraded features.  The #2 is a real bargain at the moment and still streets ahead of any competition I have seen for any school scouting around.


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This from Cult of Mac ( a shameless cut and paste from HERE):

The new Apple Configurator app is a free download in the Mac App Store for Macs running Lion.  It lets a single Mac manage up to 30 iOS devices and makes it pretty painless to accomplish the following set of tasks:

  • Wipe (restore) devices and install a specific iOS release
  • Update the installed iOS version
  • Assign unique names/identifiers to each device
  • Backup and/or restore data from an existing backup
  • Create and apply configuration profiles
  • Install apps (from the public App Store or created for internal use)
  • License paid apps using Apple’s Volume Purchase Plan for business or education
  • Install documents (documents must be associated with an installed app because iOS doesn’t offer a user-facing file system)
  • Assign devices and related configurations to users (users can be populated based on an enterprise directory service like Microsoft’s Active Directory so long as the Mac running Apple Configurator is joined to such a service).
  • Organize devices into groups for easier management
  • Restrict devices from syncing to other computers
  • Assign a organization or user-specific lock screen image
  • Create a device check-in/check-out setup that ensure users always have access to their on-device data regardless of whether which device they are assigned (similar to roaming profiles in a Windows business environment where users have the same desktop regardless of which PC they use)
  • Enroll devices in a third-party mobile device management (MDM) console for additional capabilities

That’s a pretty good set of tasks that Apple Configurator can handle. The automatic check-in/check-out capabilities are particularly valuable for schools or other environments where the supply of devices like iPads doesn’t match the full user population. This allows a lending library-style approach that ought to work particularly well in elementary schools (it’s essentially an iPad/iOS version of the MacBook carts that Apple has been selling to schools for the past couple of decades).


sounds like just the ticket for schools!

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