September 29, 2014

iPad Deployment with Teacher-Led Mini-Lessons

There are many ways to do an iPad deployment. One method I like is to ask teachers to lead mini-lessons at the start of school to train students in iPad use.

This does a couple of important things:

  • It puts training in the hands of the most qualified adults in your community: the educators
  • It engages teachers in a conversation about what iPad tasks are important enough to include in the first days of class
  • It positions teachers as iPad experts
Before you ask teachers to give up class time there are few conversations you'll need to have... okay there are MANY conversations you'll need to have!

For example you might:

  • Gather a deployment working group
  • Articulate goals 
  • Set configuration and deployment tasks 
  • Determine timelines and roles 
  • Develop a training plan and supporting materials 
  • Launch your device deployment and mini-lessons 
  • Assess your deployment process 
  • Provide ongoing support

What do you think - do you like this idea? How did you roll out your iPad program? Let us know in the comments!

The 'Check out what I made on my phone' video challenge!

It's a common trap in communications to not make anything for fear of making something that isn't good enough.

One way to get around this issue is to give yourself permission to make something that is short, fun, not laser focused on message, and with low production value. I call this kind of video 'Authentic' because it is a quick, authentic look into your organization.

Use this kind of video for:
  • Cool things you notice while walking around campus
  • Celebrating events on campus like curriculum night, homecoming or parent weekend
  • Quick turn around when you don't have much time or equipment
Here's how to make an 'Authentic' style video right from your iPhone:
  • Bring your phone around with you all the time
  • Get one of these and tuck it into your bag or pocket
  • When something is happening open the camera app (included with your phone) and shoot a few short clips in the 5-10 second range (longer clips will take too long to edit)
  • When you have a few minutes of footage open the iMovie app ($4.99 or free with new phone)
  • Edit together your clips in 2-3 second cuts, don't make your movie longer than a minute
  • Add some royalty free music you bought on the iTunes store
  • Upload to YouTube
In my conversation with Dan last week I talked about this in more detail:

In case you missed it here is the video I made from my phone to see how it would go.

Go ahead and make something this week! What should you make a video about? How about something easy: whatever is happening this week. Try one of these topics or think of your own!

  • Lunch
  • Getting your kids ready for school
  • Getting yourself ready for work
  • Walking the dog
  • Meetings
  • Classes
  • Arts
  • Athletics
  • Doing homework
  • Helping someone with homework
  • Your room
  • Your house
  • Your campus
  • Your pets
If you make something send me the link and I'll feature it on next week's Conversation with Dan!

September 18, 2014

Should Teachers and Students be 'Friends'?

I spoke with a reporter from with the Today Show web site last week regarding social media guidelines for schools. Her article Social media boundaries: should teachers and students be 'friends'? just hit the interwebs.

What do you think? How should schools and young people interact on social networks? Let me know in the comments!

September 16, 2014

This is too much fun to actually call work.

Here is how I spent my afternoon yesterday. Despite nearly crashing trying to take off in some deep grass and causing a minor disturbance in a classroom by flying outside the building it was a very successful day. For the record I didn't damage any propellers and I wasn't looking in the windows!

September 11, 2014

A Question, an Experiment, and a Suggestion

Photo Credit

Imagine your new view book arrives on campus. You open the first of dozens of boxes and find a slight printing error: in a quarter of the view books the print is very very small. Everything else is fine, in fact if you hold the view book up to your face you can read it perfectly. Here's the question:

How many of those view books do you mail to prospective families?

You probably wouldn't mail any of those view books. You would probably send them back to the printer with an angry note. But your web site might look exactly like those misprinted view books right now! Text could be hard to read, photos might not load properly, and menus could be nearly impossible to select. Don't worry, you haven't been the victim of a hacker attack, your site just hasn't kept up with how people go online.

Increasingly people go online on their phones or tablets. For one of my clients in an urban area the percentage of web traffic from mobile devices including tablets is 40%!

Here is an experiment everyone in communications or admissions should try:

Go to your website on a phone or tablet.

How does your site look? Are you delighted? Are your marketing messages still loud and clear? Is anything broken? Can you find the admission menu? Your site might not look quite right because web designers face a massive number and variety of different screen sizes, operating systems, and devices. Previous solutions to this problem included:
  • Specific apps for specific platforms - it's hard to keep up with the number of platforms, and what casual site visitor is going to go the app store to download something just to see your site?
  • Mobile versions of the site - these work well for people already familiar with your community and who just need quick directions or logistical information but they are usually devoid of marketing messages important for admission.
  • Ignoring the problem - this could work well for a little while longer, but with up to 40% of your site visitors seeing something that is at best annoying and at worst broken can we afford to wait much longer?
The good news is there is an emerging web standard to address this problem! It's called Responsive Web Design or RWD. Essentially what this means is websites can be designed to be device agnostic. The site notices the size of the screen and automatically adjusts to fit the real estate available.

Check out Whipplehill's cool infographic on RWD below and the original post here.
Click to view full size.

You probably wouldn't throw out all your view books if a few were misprinted but you might work quickly to resolve the issue as you carefully used the correctly printed pieces first. Would you wait a whole admission cycle? Probably not, and I don't recommend school sites wait much longer to move to Responsive Web Design either.

 What do you think? Are you worried about how your site looks on mobile devices? How much traffic do you see to your site from phones? Let us know in the comments!

September 10, 2014

First Day of Quadcopter Videography

On the same day this guy crashed his drone into a beautiful national treasure I got my quadcopter in the mail! I've been looking forward to getting one of these since I saw one at the Whipplehill user conference back in the summer.

After nearly crashing it into the house I kind of sort of got the hang of it. Out of the box the DJI Phantom Vision 2+ is really easy to fly. Everything you need is in the box (down to the AA batteries) and the quick start instructions allowed me to... well get a quick start!

So far my only gripe is I'm used to pushing the left stick forward to go down but that tells the quadcopter to go up. Maybe I can change that in the settings?

I had heard that photos take a long time to process but I didn't find that to be a big problem Here is one that I took of the house.

I can definitely see how you could get in trouble with one of these: it's surprisingly easy to get started and a thrill to fly. I will certainly exercise some judgement when it comes to choosing where and when to fly.

What do you think? Should more schools and non-profits use aerial videography? Have a question about how it works? Want to connect to go flying? Let me know in the comments!

September 9, 2014

Don't miss a 'Conversation with Dan'

I'm having a great time creating weekly content talking with my friend Dan. In case you've missed it every Friday I have a video 'conversation' with Dan talking about education, iPad, video or whatever else is interesting to me that week. I try to incorporate viewer suggestions and questions into my conversations as well.

In case you missed any of the past episodes I've built a new section of the web site to collect all the goodness. Check it out here!

What do you think I should talk about this week? Let me know in the comments!

September 1, 2014

How to Create 'Notebooks' and 'Dividers' in Notability

How do you like to organize your notes? Let me know in the comments and I'll share your tips on my next 'Conversations With Dan!'

Conversation With Dan (Episode 2)

In which we talk about the poetry activity and not one but TWO big announcements!

August 22, 2014

New Video Series: Conversations With Dan

One of the things I miss most about not being at a school is the fantastic conversations I would have with my good friend Dan Love. Often we would steal a few minutes over a cup of coffee and discuss not what was urgent... but rather what we found important.

So with that in mind I'm launching a new video series today in which I have a weekly 'conversation' with Dan about education, media, life and... whatever else might be interesting that week!

Here is the first in what I hope will be a weekly Conversation With Dan - I hope you enjoy!

I hope you will join us in this conversation and let us know if you have questions, ideas, articles, videos or thoughts. I'll try to work in as many of your thoughts into our conversations, just send me an email or leave a comment below!