Thursday, June 11, 2015

Preparing for the New Technology for 2015-2016 School Year

Our district will have some beneficial technology changes for elementary classroom teachers and their students next year.

For starters, all of the elementary teachers will be receiving a brand new, right out of the box, laptop this summer (MacBook Air). What that means for elementary classroom teachers... back up all of your files onto an external hard drive or into Google Drive before you trade your old laptop in. If you have taken advantage of Google Apps for Education, you will have all of those documents available to you as soon as you log into your Google account. Another benefit with Google is your bookmarks will be saved. Make sure to sign into Chrome by clicking the little person in the upper right hand corner of the browser and choose to link data. Then no matter what computer you sign into Chrome with, you will have all of your bookmarks available. If you use Firefox or Safari click the links to learn how to save your bookmarks. When I received my laptop this winter, I did not restore it using Time Machine, but rather only uploaded files on my computer that I need to use. The rest of my older files stayed on external hard drives and flash drives. The less you have stored on your computer, the more efficiently it will run. A great article on using an external hard drive to store documents and applications. With your new MacBook Air, you will have an SD slot. This is another way to store files and keep your Mac running faster without having to carry around a hard drive or a flash drive. Cards are made to fit nicely into the laptop without sticking out like flash drives. See photos below.



How to back up documents to an external hard drive.



How to back up documents to Google Drive.



Your new laptop will come with a variety of advantages, one being that the Airs can work wirelessly with a classroom Apple TV. This means less wires to plug in and the convenience of projecting your laptop and the sound from your laptop from anywhere in your classroom. We are very fortunate to be getting faster and better laptops plus not hand-me-downs from the MLTI buy back program. However, this exchange does come with one thing that we will need to work on. For those teachers that play DVDs from your laptop, we will need to come up with a different solution. For teachers who have purchased videos from iTunes, you can play those from your Apple TV. Also if you have a Netflix account you can sign in to your account on your Apple TV and project videos, but if you do not have either option available, you may want to think about teaming up with some teachers to purchase a device that will play DVDs for you.

The plan is to be 1-1 with iPads in grades 2-5 for the 2015-2016 school year. There will also be changes with the way you get apps for your classroom iPads. All app purchases, free or paid, will need to go through Ryan via the tech help ticket system. Choose app request from the drop down menu. Ryan will push the apps to the classroom iPads fairly quickly. Classroom teachers will also have one extra iPad for teacher use. This iPad will not have to have apps downloaded through Ryan. You can use your own Apple ID to purchase apps, test apps out, and decide if the apps are worth adding to your classroom iPads. The downside to teachers having their own iPad is, the iPad carts will no longer be available. Who this will effect... K-1 classroom teachers who have religiously signed out and used the iPad carts. During the next school year, K-1 teachers will have a teacher iPad and a couple more iPads will be added to their already existing set of 5 iPads. I know many of my K-1 teachers have grown accustomed to using the cart so that they can have a class set of iPads. Unfortunately this will be an adjustment to those classroom teachers. What I hope to see is teachers teaming up and sharing iPads for the times when a full class set is needed. Every classroom that has iPads right now will be keeping what they have and for grades 2-5 will be supplemented with the latest iPads to create a class set, except if you teach 3rd grade. In 3rd grade the mini iPads will be removed and you will receive the regular size iPads, probably a mix of iPad 2s and the newest model. I imagine, but don't know the logistics, this will probably mean that K-1 teachers will have minis instead of iPad 2s or quite possibly a mix of the two sizes. K-1 classrooms may or may not have to trade in their iPad 2s for mini iPads. This also means that you will have some old iPads with 16G of storage and new iPads with 64G of storage. You may want to keep this in mind when choosing who in your classrooms will have which iPads. Also, your storage cabinet has 20 charging slots. If you have a larger than 20 student class next year, you will want to have a solution in place for charging the extra iPads that will be sitting on the bottom shelf inside your iPad cabinet.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me. As with any plan, there will be things that we need to work on together. I look forward to helping grades 2-5 move forward with a 1-1 implementation and helping K-1 figure out next steps and how you can make the most of the devices that will be available to you.