iTouches in the Classroom: Now What?

This week I had the pleasure of receiving some very important shipments to me at school, namely a classroom set of iPod Touches.  I was fortunate enough to receive these iTouches from a grant I had written a number of months ago.  Here’s what I’ve got (so far):

I don’t have any cases for the Touches, at least not yet anyway.  I’m a little concerned on whether or not they’d fit nicely in the Sync Cart.

Bretford Power Sync Cart
Mario Cart for iPods

So now, the challenging (but exciting!) task at hand is to figure out the logistical side of setting these up.  The key areas I’ll need to explore are:

  1. iTunes Account – Normally when setting up an iTunes account, you need a credit card to do so.  Obviously, I don’t want to use my own personal credit card, nor do I really want to rely on one school account I may not have access to.  I’ve heard of a way to set up an account without submitting a credit card initially and then purchasing apps solely by way of gift cards, but I also need to consider how other teachers might have access to this account.
  2. Syncing 33 iTouches – I’ve read that you can sync up to 5 iPods/iTouches on one iTunes account.  I hope I’m wrong.  If I’m not, this could become problematic.
  3. Classroom Guidelines – No other classroom in our school has a set of iAnything, so creating a classroom policy on how best to use these do-dads falls (happily) on my shoulders.  Since iTouches are an expensive and desirable investment, I’ll need to make sure all of my T’s are crossed and my lower case j’s are dotted.
  4. Go Shopping – I know there are billions of apps out there, I know.  But I want to be intentional and realistic about implementing these in my class for the rest of the year, which is – oh bye the way – only about 2 months long.  So, I want to pick and choose things that will actually be useful for classroom instruction and student learning, not just play Bejeweld for 4 blocks a day.

So, Educators, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your advice!

5 Spooky Haunts of Ed Tech

As much as I love the burgeoning tech ed field and the opportunities it provides students to grow, learn and develop, there are a number of things that fright my night. So, in the spirit of the season, here are five things that keep my spine tingling and my soul caught in that nether world of ghoulish old practices and spooktacular innovation.

1. The forgotten password. Assuming a student is going to forget their login name and password is like assuming a Vampire is going to bite your neck. It’s inevitable, and when it happens, it’s going to suck. Thankfully, you can create a new Google account pretty much whenever you want. Open IDs can’t get on to more websites soon enough.

Forgetting your password? Now that sucks.

2. Dependence on Machines:

Cylon
When machines get replaced by machines, what hope is there?

Remember in Battlestar Galactica when humans made machines and the machines rose up against their creators and nearly obliterated mankind? No?  Well I do, and it wasn’t pretty.  My (loose) point is this: the more you rely on a machine to get all your work done, the more problems could arise.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had a hard drive fail or a paper wiped clean for inexplicable reasons. I love computers and gadgets and doo-dads, but if we’re totally reliant on them….goodbye Caprica.

3.  If the pencil isn’t broke, why fix it? Most teachers I know embrace the push towards using technology in the classroom for creation and collaboration.  There are, however, some who do not see the benefit of it and would rather stay wrapped up in “traditional” ways of teaching than work with a group of people on a given task, increasing that knowledge pool and producing a better product over all.  If we taught (and students learned) in a completely isolated environment, then I guess that would be ok.  But that’s doesn’t seem to be the realty of a 21st century learner.  Or teacher.  Or…duck.

Ducktalkes Mummy
Working together solves problems. Working alone traps you in a sarcophagus.

4.  Have computer, have no Internet. More and more in class a home computer sans Internet is akin to my Jack-O-Lantern from this year existing as a pumpkin without its orange innards. Much of what teachers are asking kids to do are now web-based and for those kids without home Internet, or with spotty connections, the ability to complete assignments and experiences can be frustrating.

Jack-O-Lantern 09
Oh Jack, how I miss you.

5.  The Replicants.  One of the more frustrating things for me when rolling out a shiny new lesson that requires tech integration is to have the whole process sputter and squashed by a lack of innovative ideas and creativity.  Not because a student is incapable of being create mind you, but, well,  “if it’s already posted somewhere else, why can’t I just copy and paste it on my Google doc/wiki/forum/blog/whatever?”  Replicating someone else’s work so you can get done quicker so you can get on YouTube faster?  Well that just drives me Batty.

Roy Batty
Replicating in favor of creating drives a teacher Batty.