TIES Highlights: A CMLE Scholarship

The following was submitted by a CMLE scholarship recipient.

Submitted by: Nancy Lorentz, Becker High School Media Specialist

Monday’s speaker, Sir Ken Robinson, gave an inspirational as well as humorous keynote. He discussed the state of education in the United States, and our emphasis on standardized testing and continuing to train our young people for an industrialized economy that simply no longer exists. We need to expose students to all sorts of experiences–arts, music, movement, technology as well as academics so that they can discover where their passions and talents lay.

The most valuable sessions I attended dealt with the use and management of mobile devices in education–specifically the iPad, and putting content on-line (especially using Moodle).

Becker High School will be rolling out a one-to-one program next fall, and every student will be issued an iPad for use during the school year. One of the challenges we will face is management of over 800 devices–without any extra personnel. A seemingly great solution was presented by JAMF Software out of Minneapolis in their session titled, “Apple Mobile Device Management Using the Casper Suite.” Some of the management capabilities of the Casper Suite iOS device management software include: Remote Wipe, Remote Lock and Remove Passcode. Mail can be set up on devices remotely; configuration profiles can be pushed to devices; the App Store can be removed from student devices; LDAP groups can be used to push out content and it automates the Apple Volume Purchasing Program. Sadly, there is a cost of approximately $8 per device for this service, so there will need to be a discussion about how to pay for it.

Because of our one-to-one initiative, the other topic I was interested in at TIES is creating content for the iPad. There were several sessions about future of textbooks in our schools. With more and more content being available digitally, teachers are able to find free materials and customize them for their own courses. A California initiative (CK12.org) provides “flexbook” content free for anyone to download, although most of the content is presently math and science/engineering related. The availability of this type of digital content, the ePub capabilities in iWork, the ease of creating presentations and video on the iPad will someday (hopefully soon) make the purchasing of expensive textbooks unnecessary.

Presently, about 25% of BHS teachers use Moodle and our wiki to put their content on-line. When all of our students have access to iPads 24/7, that means they will also need access to our content 24/7. Moodle is a free and easy way for teachers to post assignments, upload worksheets, link to websites, and create lessons and quizzes that students can access any time. The blogging and forum features of Moodle and wikis also make it easy for students to communicate with their teachers and each other on a regular basis. The math department in Byron, MN has done away with textbooks completely and now have all of their content–including videos of their lessons–on Moodle. While they pay licensing fees for some resources, the rest is a blend of open education resources and teacher-created content. Wolf Creek Online High School has used Moodle as its content management system for the past three years, using forums and on-line texts and journals with students to create and foster relationships between the students and their Learning Managers, and amongst themselves. The teachers have put together learning modules to teach academics, technology, career planning and personal and social skills to their students.