Friday, August 24, 2012

Some cool NASA Apps

Science teachers everywhere! NASA has some great free apps out there to help your students learn about space exploration and NASA. I'm going to fill you in on three of those apps today. 

The first is just called "NASA". It's a great place to start. The home screen is a shot of our solar system. Click on any object and you get detailed information about that planet, star, or moon. Along the top of the screen are some great options: launch services, maps of NASA centers, NASA's launch schedule, and details about satellites. The bottom has several options for news, NASA TV, videos, tweets, and my favorite, NASA's radio station (Third Rock).

Another app to try is NASA Viz (Vizualization Explorer). This apps offers the stories behind NASA's exploration. It highlights new discoveries through the satellites and far-reaching exploring vehicles. Each slide offers details about the mission, images, and videos. I especially enjoyed the story called "Cruising with Curiosity", the story behind the Mars explorer.

Finally, check out NASA TV. It is an app that offers real-time viewing of NASA TV (which can be pretty boring sometimes because you watch a lot of control centers). The best part is the on-demand viewing. Choose to watch short clips of testing videos, interviews, and updates on projects in development. A nice way to keep up-to-date with NASA.

I hope you get a chance to try these out. Did I mention they are all free? Happy exploring! 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Getting a new wireless certificate

As we start our new school year, certain issues usually surface because teachers are back and the system gets fully tested. Well, this fact is especially true for our wireless network that hasn't been hit with much traffic since May. And with more schools fully wireless now, the load is much greater. 

One problem that we learned about is that the original wireless certificate that was installed on iPads last year could have expired. Some teachers saw their certificates expired on August 3. So that might be the problem is you were able to get wireless easily last year, but are having issues now. Here's what you should do:

1. Try to simply install the network again. Your media specialist has detailed instructions on how to install the private network. This installation could give you a new certificate to install. If not....

2. Reset your network settings. Go to the Settings app, choose "General", and scroll to the bottom of the page. Choose "Reset" and then "Reset Network Settings". This will wipe all your networks, so you'll have to install your home networks again as well. Then re-install the private network and you should be good to go. Unless...

You used a profile to install the wireless. If so, you should see a button called "Profiles" in your Settings app under "General". You can delete the profile and start fresh. 

I hope that gets you connected again! If not, talk to your media specialist or shoot one of us an email. We'd be happy to come out and take a look. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Welcome, Chrome!

Look out, Safari!! Google Chrome has finally made it's way to iPad. I installed it as soon as I heard the news and have enjoyed every minute of it. It combines all the great features of Chrome into a friendly iPad app. Here are some of the highlights for you:

Searching: the handy Chrome web address/search bar is great. Know the URL? Type it in. Just want to search? Type it in. 

Voice searching: Too lazy to type? Just speak your search. Press the little microphone and say what you want to find. 

Multiple tabs: yeah, Safari does it too. But Chrome seems easier for me to view and reorder. And you can open a ridiculous number of tabs in the browser. I stopped at twenty. You just slide them back and forth to see hidden tabs. It's crazy.

Quick navigation: Chrome remembers your searching for you. You can easily find recently visited pages, bookmarks, and sites from other devices synced with Chrome. So sign in on your desktop, and the same sites will be visible on your mobile devices. Pretty handy. 

Incognito tabs: search privately with incognito tabs. Pages you view in these tabs won't show up in your search history and they won't leave cookies behind. Most importantly, however, take Chrome's advice very seriously: be wary of surveillance by secret agents or people standing behind you!

With the release, there was one thing I really wanted to see. Would Chrome let you easily edit your Google Docs. Unfortunately, the answer is no. It's the same interface you would see through Safari. So Google has left us hanging once again. First with Drive for iPad and now Chrome. But don't let that slow down your download of Chrome. I'm starting the process of transferring my bookmarks to Chrome so I can say goodbye to Safari.

Happy surfing!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Apps for Destiny and Gale Resources

In case you haven't heard, there are iPad apps available for Follet's Destiny library management software and for Gale's electronic databases. These are two resources that CPS has purchased for teacher and student use. Here's a bit about each one that you can download through the App Store.

Destiny Quest let's you login and access all your Destiny information. Users need to know what organization they are a part of and then login with those correct credentials. The menus you can access are Top Ten, New Arrivals, Resource Lists, My Bookshelf, and Account Information. You can find resources you would like and place holds. You can also see everything checked out to you, and in my case, all the overdues attached to you! I got to see some books that were checked out to me six or seven years ago! In my defense, the books were classroom resources that I passed on to the next teacher.

The Gale Resources app is called "My School". Once logged in, you can access all the databases that your district has subscribed to. Examples that we have available to us included Biography in Context, Business Insights, and Opposing Viewpoints. Choosing a database gives you full access through a mobile-friendly app.

Remember, all Columbia Public Schools teachers will have access to all or some of these resources. I hope you get a chance to check it out!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Summer Update

Hello out there! It's been awhile since I've posted, but the new year is right around the corner so I wanted to get going again. Summer was so busy! Here's a look at what happened in our iPad world:

"Getting Started with iPad" was the theme of June. We took up our temporary residence at Smithton Middle School and began the 9-12 grade deployment. We designed a rolling training that started every 30 minutes and covered three rooms and a total of an hour and a half. Buttons, settings, Safari, camera, and App Store were all covered. The feedback was great! 95% of teachers said they felt comfortable with their iPad after the training. I'm not sure the final number, but the last I heard, we had moved over 300 teachers through the basic training! I really enjoyed getting to meet so many secondary teachers.

In addition to "Getting Started" training, we also put on inservices that covered some great integration ideas for iPad. Kerry rocked Evernote and file mobility. Ken tackled using QR codes and YouTube. I took on creating with apps, iWorks (iMovie, Keynote), and my personal favorite, "iPad Teacher Testimonials". I invited some master teachers from our district to share how they've used iPads over the last year. Heather Lang (Benton), Tyler Simmons (Cedar Ridge), Jill Kiley and Anna Osborn (JJHS) were awesome! They shared great ideas for using the iPad to increase engagement,  monitor progress, and develop higher-order thinking skills. The participants were flooded with great, real-world applications for their iPad.

I'm really excited about getting going again this year! There are so many schools doing different things with iPads, not to mention the 400 secondary teachers. My goal is to post at least once a week to our two blogs to keep you up-to-date with what's going on in our district. Hope to see you soon!