Friday, November 4, 2011

iPad Project: Post #2 Two for "them" & one for "us"!

My last iPad project blog post ended with the donated iPads in their inexpensive rolling cart, various apps installed, and an iPad scavenger hunt form ready for students.  As Rick foreshadowed, the next obligatory steps were wrought with difficulty.  I needed a way to send the scavenger hunt to each iPad so they could complete and submit it directly from the tablet.  I set up a gmail account for each iPad, giving the email account for each the name of a noted children’s book author.  Clever, I thought!  The following day I was foiled by the school district’s firewall that prevented access to all email accounts save the one they issue to us.   
I pressed forward, undeterred, teaching my students to connect to the school-adopted curriculum websites, where they could access additional interactive practice.  A group of very excited, logged in and ready-to-go students were crestfallen when the website wouldn’t launch on the iPad because the site utilized Flash.  Again undaunted, I asked my tech-savvy friend for assistance.  He found a browser that would allow Flash to work on the iPad: Photon, a $3.99 iTunes application.  Gloating to my naysayer colleagues (who promised that Flash could not work on an iPad), I pulled up the browser and the site, clicking on the lightning bolt, and the site opened beautifully.  The problem was that the browser was so slow, the website logged my students out before they could complete a single interactive problem.   I may have lost that battle, but certainly not the war!
Storybird was my next Web 2.0 adventure.  Creating a class set of logins, I set half of my class to create stories on this wonderful website via iPads.  They logged in, titled their story, chose their artwork and almost began writing.  However, the obligatory use of Flash again prevented us from actually writing our stories.  Utilizing the three classroom computers that run the most updated version of Flash, they were able to rotate through and write their story, but not on the iPads.  Another battle lost.  
My fifth grade student helper, who is resilient, smart, determined and really loves technology, helped me set up iCloud on each iPad, using the same username and password on each.  I emailed the iPad scavenger hunt Google form and it showed up instantly on each iPad!  (A glitch in the school district firewall?  I’m not complaining!) We put various dates in the calendar, and, lo and behold, all the iPads calendar information immediately synced without difficulty.  I fell in love with Steve Jobs all over again!  This win felt epic!


  1. Jennifer, that is amazing! I have an iPad as well. I was a bit confused about how iCloud would work but once I updated to the new iOS I was amazed how seamless it is. This is an excellent example of tech application in education. Glad you have a resilient 5th grader to help with the process!

  2. I continue to be impressed with your perseverance. And, simultaneously, I feel an almost personal sense of failure here: it shouldn't be that hard. You shouldn't have to fight to use technology to teach willing students. I'm working to educate the next generation of web and mobile developers and attempting to engender in them an understanding of how much people want to use their products. But the graduates I produce are small drops in the huge buckets that are the Web and Mobile industries. And, unfortunately, our industries share the same "right way versus quick way" production constraints of any other industry, and "quick and cheap" still win out all too often.
    I hope that it gets better, and moreso that it doesn't take years to get there.

  3. Thanks for keeping us in the loop...