All of our blog posts focus on ways of integrating technology in the middle school classroom. However, there are a lot of uses outside of the classroom as well. This blog post describes how I used utilized technology to make my trip to Iceland such a success.
As Sherwood and Oak transform into true 1:1 iPad schools, one of the biggest obstacles continues to be “work flow”. Everyone wants to know the best way of making class handouts accessible to students so they can read and annotate them on an iPad. Some are also starting to collect student work, grade it, then pass it back again. We’ll cover how to do this last part in a future tech tip.
The good news is that there are numerous services that let you “push out” handouts and resources fairly easily to students. The bad news is that there is not a “one size fits all” answer. It really comes down to user preference. The best advice is to download a few of these and try them out. See which one you like…then go with it!
For those of you who attended one of the “iPad Work Flow” classes on Friday, Erica McMahon and I discussed the “big four” cloud storage companies: Evernote, Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive. The goal of the last three is all basically the same. They give you a place online to store materials where students can then access them. Evernote can do this as well, but it’s really quite different than the others. Erica created the slideshow below that gives a great overview of work flow and compares the four services. You can also download Erica’s original Keynote file here.
Regardless of which cloud service you decide to use, you must pay attention to the sharing settings you use. There are always multiple sharing options that can be summarized by two main types: view and edit. When giving students access to your stuff, you want them to be able to view only! This means they can download files to view/annotate on the iPad. If you let them edit your stuff, they can then modify your documents or even worse, delete them. I will further explain sharing options for each service below.
You will usually be given a link to share with your students. When they click on this link, it will direct them to the files you want them to see. There are many different options of sharing this link with students. The link can be:
- emailed (the district is working on class distribution lists)
- posted on a website, blog, wiki, or social media site such as Facebook or Twitter
- shortened using tinyurl or goo.gl then written on the board
- linked to with a QR code.
Which cloud service is the best?
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Google makes sharing easy. You can share files and folders from the Google Drive website or from within the iPhone or iPad app. You cannot, however, share from your desktop at this time.
In the photo to the right, you can see that Google gives you three sharing options: public on the web, anyone with the link, or private. All three options will give you a link to share, but the link will not work if it is private unless it is shared with each student individually.
The most important thing is to make sure that they are only given access to view. Do not change this to “can edit”. This would allow them to edit and delete documents!
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You can always take a look at the sharing settings for any given file or folder. In the screen shot to the left, you can see the sharing settings for the folder I share with my students. It is “Public on the Web – Anyone on the Internet can find and view.” It also gives you a few ways of sharing the link including Gmail, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.
I also shared this folder with students directly so they have easy access to it from within their own Google Drive accounts. I shaded out their email addresses, but you can see they can only view.
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It is possible to share entire notebooks or individual notes. You can either create a public link for anyone to access or you can share with other Evernote users. Just like with Google Drive, there are different permissions that allow others to view (which is what you want) or modify notes. The only drawback to sharing in Evernote is that the interface looks different, depending if you are using it on your laptop, the iPad app, the iPhone app, or the website.
- If you are looking for something very simple and easy to use, start with Dropbox or Google Drive. Both offer desktop syncing and easy sharing options.
- If you are looking for a lot of advanced features, give Evernote a try.
- If you use Google Docs with your students, Google Drive makes the most sense. All students have been assigned Google accounts already so the iPad app gives them quick access to your stuff. Once the iPad fully supports editing of Google Docs, this will also become a powerful creation tool.