Monday, November 28, 2011

iPads in the Classroom: Submitting Writing

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I spent the morning today with a 6th grade class in South Portland.  We were writing poetry as part of a Telling Room project.  The students had iPads, which they were not allowed to use.  I was fine with that. Paper is huge for spontaneous ideas and language - it's messy like creative minds.

When it came time for us to leave and for the students to get keyboarded finals to us, we stalled.  The students did have Pages for writing.  And all iPads come with Notes.  The keyboarding part was easy. But getting the files to us was problematic.  To do so would require a student email account created in the iPad Settings.  These are school-owned machines.  It is not legal for a child under 13 to create and use a web 2.0 account without specific parent permission - which the students did not have because the school had not created a system for this (easy to fix and should be in place in every school using web 2.0 tools).

Of course, several students had already figured out how to set up their personal gmail accounts (easy).  But from the point of view of the teacher, that was rule-breaking (good for him).

It so happens that this same issue is all over the EC Ning technology discussions this week.  There is no easy app for that!

Dropbox comes close.  I have written about its flexibility before, and have since learned more.

IF students can set up email (a free-for-schools Google gmail acct. is the best way to go), then following this set of directions for sending documents from Pages to Dropbox is handyProblem:  It only works for the teacher if the Dropbox folder is a 2-way street - so setting up means careful planning (e.g. Professional Development).

IF students can not set up email (or if you the teacher can not expect this),  it gets more complicated. 

There are three easy, but purchased, solutions that I have found.  It is too bad that school districts don't fully investigate the uses of the iPad for ELA before installing apps.

Here is a slimmed down version of my post to the EC Ning:
  • Having students write and email you the file directly is easiest.  Apps that do this include Notes, Pages, Evernote.  Read 10 tips for teachers using Evernote
  • Postereous connects to Facebook and Twitter and creates blog-posts (including media, which can be interesting...).  Students would need accounts for class use.  Facebook is an interesting idea, as Evernote also will post there.
  • Dropbox - a free app that you can Admin from your laptop/desktop.  Students can access a folder (class or individual) that you create and share, then just upload their files into it FROM A FEW APPS ONLY.  You can open the files in the app used to create them (or GoodReader), comment, "flatten" (that makes your comments permanent), and send back to Dropbox.  Students will need to keep a clean original on the iPad.  
  • accts. do not (yet) work on the iPad (along with many web-based upload sites. I would be concerned that wiki uploads would not work as well - check it out). [note: photos and URL's can be uploaded to Dropbox from within an iPad using free apps, so it is useful for submitting media to you] 
  • For $.99, the newly update Notability app might be the best solution.  Like the apps that follow, it syncs to Dropbox.  What I like about this app is its integration of audio, handwriting, word processing, and now Photos.  What a great tool for recording a group learning session or a lit group discussion!
  • The $1.99 app call My Memoir is perfect for submitting writing - sends directly to the Dropbox folder once the "connection" is created.  Students are also creating a writing workshop journal and a portfolio as they use it.  I wonder if a teacher can get a deal from the creator?  Read about it here.  
  • Textforce is another great app, maybe the best for teacher use - it was created for using Dropbox to edit "in the cloud" - nice formatting features too that are not found in other iPad writing apps.  Read about it here.  Students create docs in Textforce and upload directly to DropBox (which again has to be linked to a teacher acct. - but it can link directly to a folder a teacher creates or a student creates in the Settings).  Unfortunately, it's $3.99. 
  • Pages will send files to a WebDAV acct. - ask your Tech Guy if he can set this up for you on the server.  Also to an email address, but students will need to have one set up in their Settings - so we are in a loop below grade 8.  I wonder also if teachers could use a free acct. to share Pages or other documents.  Students would need an AppleID - many probably have one if because of using iTunes for music.  
To be honest - it is surprising that in any school or district this important detail was not ironed out over the summer!  Professional Development should have happened, focused on classroom scenarios.

Every one of the solutions mentioned is expensive or time-consuming for the teacher.  I wonder if that all does not balance out printing costs...

1 comment:

  1. I've got to try this drop box service in Portland. It sounds amazing! Getting your stuff from pages and having access to them, anywhere in the world, is a pretty cool idea. Thanks for sharing!