Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Rubber Hit the Road

Anytime a new project is implemented, there will be problems and issues.  The question is....what are the possible problems?  How will we deal with them?  What are we missing?  The problems with this iPad implementation have been so small as to almost go unnoticed.  I believe this is primarily due to all of the time the educators and I spent planning, discussing and practicing.  (see previous posts) Although these issues are small, I will still write about them here and discuss my thoughts on how to resolve them.  If anyone reading this has an idea, I would love for you to comment.

Issue 1 - I work at an independent school where the admissions people are bringing new students into the school right up to the beginning of the school year and through the firs three to four weeks.  A new fifth grade student arrived the third week of school and of course was completely lost as to what she was supposed to do with this iPad since she hadn't gotten any of the training the other students had.

Resolution 1 - Work with admissions to create a new student orientation to technology program were these new students can receive a basic course in using their iPad and Google Apps.

Issue 2 - PDF files are a pain in my neck.  I have downloaded and played with over twenty pdf annotation apps and I never found exactly what I wanted.  Here is the down low on what has been going on.  We chose to use the app Remarks as a pdf annotator.  Educators would provide a pdf in our digital classroom environment (Fronter) and the students would download and manipulate it.  I LOVE this app.  The problem comes into play when the educator wants to view the manipulated pdf.  Remarks can save to Google Drive...great.  But...(dramatic pause) the teacher must view the new pdf on their computer or in Remarks.  The Google Drive app on the iPad will not show the changes Remarks made to the pdf file.  This was not acceptable so I searched for another option.  I landed on DocAS.  Although I don't like it as much as Remarks, it does everything we want....until we implemented.  It is not currently possible to save a pdf from DocAS into a sub folder within Google Docs/Drive.  It will only share to the main file structure.  So if I make a folder called RandySpanish and place a file from DocAS into it, I have to do the following.  Save from DocAS into Google, then move the file around using OfficeHD.  Not an ideal solution, but a solution none the less...(another dramatic pause) until educators need to grade them.  In order for an educator to write on the childs pdf, they have to open it in DocAS (makes sense) and then go through the same save and move process as the kids do.  That is sooooooo not going to work.  Doing it once is bad enough, doing it for thirty kids?  As a current alternative, educators that want to write on the childs pdf will do so in DocAS and email the file to the child with the comments.

Solution 2 - I am completely open to any suggestions people might have on this issue.  I need a pdf annotator that can save the annotations where the iPad can read them AND be able to save into a specific Google Docs/Drive folder. Anyone?  Anyone?  Beuller?

Issue 3 - Flash.  I have to take complete responsibility on this one.  I allowed the idea of getting a flash browser fall through the cracks.  I was sitting in the back of a math class when the educator was attempting to demonstrate the website arcademics.  She quickly realized this website contained flash based math games and accepted this iPad limitation.  I, however, did not.

Solution 3 - There are a fair number of browsers that out there that will allow us to run Flash on an iPad.  I spent some time with them and I liked iSwifter the best, but in order to get the full version I had to do an "In App" purchase.  This is not the way I need to get apps for students, so I emailed iSwifter, explaining my issue and chose my second choice, the ever popular Photon.  Just in time, I received a reply from iSwifter informing me about the free browser they made for schools called Rover.  Perfect!  Decision made and issue resolved!  Thank you iSwifter people!

In the grand scheme of things, there are very small issues.  Since the educators and I (the technology department) are working closely together, we have managed to deal with all of our issues as they arise, so the negative impact to the learning process has been minimized.  I was able to install Flash browsers right away, the Spanish educator and I could meet right after a class and resolve our DocAS issue and I was available to help the new student immediately ensuring that she becomes accustomed to our digital aged classrooms quickly and without too much stress.

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