Update 8.11.2012

We completed the annual Tech Boot Camp a little more than one week ago and worked with more than 200 Northfield teachers to begin our transformational technology project. We offered two different iPad-oriented workshops over eight sessions. During the iPad I session, teachers:

  • Checked out their iPad. We are using the Northfield High School library circulation software to maintain our inventory and track who has which device. Thanks to NHS Media Specialist Rebecca Glassing and district Technology Specialist Cindy Samuelson for their work in developing this process.
  • Learned about the device itself, specifically about its operation. We practiced all sorts of techniques for efficient use of the device. This included using pinch-to-zoom, multi-touch gestures, using the different varieties of iPad keyboard layouts, and others. Much of the initial training focused on leveraging the context teachers currently have with their desktop computers. One example of this is comparing the iPad Safari web browser to Internet Explorer. While very simple, this illustrates how we tried to connect the new device to their current technology skills.
  • Completed Apple ID registration. This was our biggest challenge! Some folks already had Apple IDs tied to their school email address and, at one point, Apple’s servers didn’t care for 50+ people trying to create IDs from a single location. At the end of the week, we had everyone registered with their ID. 
  • Explored the built-in Apps, paying specific attention to the camera applications. Many teachers immediately made connections to how they would make use of this capacity with their students. For example, one teacher shared how she planned to project science lab experiment progress so the rest of the class could see how their classmates we approaching the lab. That probably isn’t what Apple had in mind when it added a camera, but is certainly a logical thing to do – turn the iPad into a mobile document camera. Smart!
  • Began looking at different productivity apps. The district purchased two apps for teachers — Quick Office HD and Notability. Using our discount through the Apple Volume Purchasing Program, we secured 50% off on these two apps. 
During the iPad II session, we:
  • Modeled some additional skills – such as how to use the keyboard more efficiently and how to get characters used in foreign language, such as the ñ, ü, é. These kinds of things are important to our foreign language and Compañeros program faculty.
  • Provided in-depth training on Notability, one of the apps the district has purchased. This app, which cost 49 cents after our 50% discount, has the ability to take notes via typing and digital ink as well as the ability to record audio while taking notes. You can also insert photos from the iPad camera or web clips. It also allows the user to open a PDF document and annotate it.
  • Performed live demonstrations of the built-in FaceTime video conferencing app. We’ve done a number of video conferences in the past using Skype in our classrooms. FaceTime makes that ability even easier and more user-friendly.
  • Began sharing apps to change instruction — such as ShowMe. Immediately our teachers began thinking of ways to use this free app – ranging from recording teacher demonstrations of skills to having students use the app while solving mathematical problems and asking them to narrate what they are doing. This would allow the teacher to “hear” as well as “see” the student’s thought process and assist them in providing personalized instruction for that student.
  • Broke into groups by grade level to begin discussing ways to use the device to modernize and personalize learning and researching apps that could fuel that goal. 
I want to extend my personal thanks to the following faculty and staff who assisted during our iPad sessions:
  • Karl Viesselman, High School Math
  • Rebecca Glassing, NHS Media Specialist
  • Ann Hehr, Sibley Media Specialist
  • Amanda Heinritz, Greenvale Park Media Specialist
  • Nancy Antoine, Bridgewater Elementary Principal
  • Matt Nohava, Middle School Workstation Specialist
Special thanks to Technology Specialist Cindy Samuelson for assisting with all eight iPad sessions!
We have scheduled additional iPad sessions for late August in order to accomodate faculty who couldn’t make the Tech Boot Camp sessions. These workshops are scheduled for August 17, 20, and 24.
Tech Boot Camp wasn’t all about iPads. We offered eight other sessions for teachers to hone their skills with other technology skills. All of these sessions were led by our own staff:
  • Mark Thornton: Google Apps 
  • Cindy Samuelson: Cornucopia of Web Apps
  • Allison Otte: SMART Board
  • Melissa Spitzack: SMART Board
  • Danielle Amundson: SMART Board
  • Eric Sandberg: Personal Learning Networks
  • Curt Mikkelson: School Center (web page development software)
  • Roger Jenni: Viewpoint (data warehouse)
Our next task involves getting our various task forces, looking even more deeply at possible student implementation, up and running. This week, we are meeting with our task forces surrounding:
  • Content and app selection
  • Policy and procedures
  • Professional development
  • Communication
We are off to a very good start with Tech Boot Camp and look to take that momentum to continue to move the project forward!