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Dear Apple: Time to bring iChat Back

Dear Apple,
It is time to bring iChat back.
For those of you unfamiliar with iChat, when Apple released OSX.2 twelve years ago (can you believe it?), it also released a new video/audio messaging system that was to challenge Skype. It came free with every computer.

I suppose not a lot of people used it to its full potential. Apple has a history of deleting unused or underused features (see the latest versions of iWork, and of course RIP iWeb, and iDVD both of which were ahead of their time).

The reason that Apple needs to bring back iChat, or at least the feature set of iChat into its current FaceTime / iMessage video system is this:


iChat had some awesome features that even NOW are not available in the free versions of Skype or Google Hangouts. These included:

Text chat: You could carry out a multi-point text conversation. I know, everyone can do that now, but 12 years ago, that was unheard of.

You could have an audio chat. No big deal, we call that phone calls. But you could call up anyone from your computer and start an audio chat if the text chat was not enough, all without switching programs. Voice over IP for the masses.

If the text and audio were not enough, you could then create a video chat. Again, we are all in the same program, iChat. All of these things are without changing programs.

If talking to a single person were not enough, you could then have a multi-point video connections ( I know, Hangouts has this ability.) Up to 4 connections could be on a conference at a time, and using some nifty video and audio compression techniques, there was little or no lag time even on the crappiest connection.

But to me, the pièce de résistance from iChat was this:
iChat had an amazingly easy way to share files with the other users; You simply dragged and dropped files into the video chat screen and whatever you dropped could be seen by all the users in the chat. Movies, audio files, PDF files, Keynotes, documents, whatever. Wanted to share a video? Drop it into the chat. Want to share a PDF file? Drop it into the video window (which was called the theater). I do believe you could even record the video connection as well. Yes, Skype and others can do that now, but iChat had them all beat to the punch. Even now, the Skype method is more clunky than the drag and drop method of iChat.

When Apple dropped iChat, it replaced it with FaceTime. And while FaceTime is nice for a point A to point B conversation, it is only a single connection. There is no text chat. For that, you have to use Messenger. There is no multipoint connection. There is no screen sharing. There is no file sharing. In order to do those things, you need multiple programs, AND the person on the other side needs multiple programs as well.

Google hangouts or webinar programs such as Blackboard Collaborate are the closest thing now there is to the old iChat. Google allows 6 simultaneous connections and also allows screen sharing.

iChat, was way ahead of its time, and probably most people did not use it to it’s full ability.
But now that Apple is touting “Desktop class” processing on it’s phones and iPads, it is time to bring desktop video conferencing capabilities back.

Time for FaceTime to learn a few tricks from it’s grandfather iChat.

Are you listening Apple?

Free Epub: Redefining the Task

From the Site:

Many of you will have heard of the SAMR model for embedding technology in education, developed by Dr Ruben Puentedura. This two phase, four step model posits that the true aim for anyone seeking to harness tech in the classroom should be to redefine the actual tasks we are setting as educators. The iPad offers a wealth of opportunities to reach this goal due to its innate versatility and mobility.

A teacher recently told me that she didn’t see the point of iPads in education as there was nothing she could do with them that she couldn’t do without them. This is a classic case of someone who is only able to see/utilise technology within the “”Substitution” band. It’s the 21st centrury and we’re preparing children for a future that is inescapably threaded with the use of technology. We need to do all we can to prepare them for this.

They are ready. We know they are and more importantly they know that they are. Their lives are imbued with daily technology use and they access the world in a much more tech-friendly way than ever before. It also allows them to create work that is modern, polished and in line with their own goals and expectations. A parent recently spoke to me about an iPad project that I ran last year where the children used Book Creator to collate a whole term’s worth of multimedia work rather than use an exercise book. The parent in question told me that she had never seen her child so eager to share this work and that over the summer she had taken it on holiday to see their extended family and shown every single one of them!

Genuine pride.

The only problem for educators is that inescapabilywith over a million apps in the App Store and 60,000 within the education section, the location and choice of apps can be daunting. When it came to choosing the apps for our presentation, we selected those that are best suited to modifying and redefining the tasks set for students. What these apps have in common is that they are creation tools. Taking a constructivist approach towards selecting apps allows educators to get more out of each application as these apps work across a range of curriculum areas and age ranges.

The apps we focused on were:
  • - BOOK CREATOR
  • - EXPLAIN EVERYTHING
  • - MOLDIVv
  • - PUPPET PALS
  • - FRIENDSTRIP
  • - SLOPRO
  • - MASTER FX
  • - MORFO
  • - COMIC LIFE
  • - MADPAD
  • - STAGE
  • - SKITCH
  • - PLAYART
  • - PLAYSCHOOL ARTMAKER
  • - MAKEDICE
  • v- TYPE DRAWING v- FOLDIFY

Details on these and examples of their use can be found within the ebook itself (link below) as well as in various other features and reviews across the site. Naturally there are others we could have included and we hope to produce a second volume of the book next year.

If you have any issues downloading the ebook, feel free to contact us.

Download from Google Docs: DOWNLOAD THE EBOOK Please note that the ebook is in .epub format to enable all the multimedia elements to work in full. This means you have two choices: 1. open the link on your iPad and download the file (Open in iBooks) 2. open the link and save the file to your Mac or PC and open the file using the Google Chrome browser’s Readium app (free to download)

10 things your iPad can do right out of the box that you might not know about.

NYT - How to Survive the Next Wave of Technology Extinction: Buy Apple

But the best thing about Apple’s hardware is that it maximizes your ability to be promiscuous with software. Apple’s App Store is home to more programs than any other app marketplace. What’s more, the most innovative start-up firms often create apps for Apple’s platform before they bother with Android. Since software is the soul of a machine, the source of all our devices’ advancing powers, you’re best off getting the gadgets that can run the widest range of software. (A note for the sticklers: Yes, Apple restricts the ways you can tinker with the deeper parts of your mobile devices. But if you’re a tinkerer, you don’t need to read a column to decide what to buy.)

Technology is only technology to those born before the technology. -John Couch

Technology is only technology to those born before the technology. -John Couch

(Source: recitethis.com)

It is interesting to me how current Apple Ads are used to show how the devices can help people change their worlds, as opposed to other companies that show features, or make fun of the competition.

"We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering — these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love — these are what we stay alive for.

To quote from Whitman,

“O me, O life of the questions of these recurring.
Of the endless trains of the faithless. Of cities filled with the foolish. What good amid these, O me, O life?
Answer: that you are here. That life exists and identity. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

“That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

What will your verse be?”

Creativity and innovation are something you can’t flowchart out. Some things you can, and we do, and we’re very disciplined in those areas. But creativity isn’t one of those. A lot of companies have innovation departments, and this is always a sign that something is wrong when you have a VP of innovation or something. You know, put a for-sale sign on the door. Tim Cook

Creativity and innovation are something you can’t flowchart out. Some things you can, and we do, and we’re very disciplined in those areas. But creativity isn’t one of those. A lot of companies have innovation departments, and this is always a sign that something is wrong when you have a VP of innovation or something. You know, put a for-sale sign on the door. Tim Cook

(Source: recitethis.com)

How to get the most out of Apple’s Siri on your iPhone or iPad

For a feature that has so many uses across all of iOS, it is amazing how many people have never used Siri before. A survey taken in the second half of last year found that as many as 84 percent of users polled were not using Siri following the launch of iOS 7.

That means that there are still quite a few individuals that for some strange reason find it awkward speaking into their cell phones. What may make the remaining device owners more comfortable trying out Siri is knowing that you can use Siri with a set of headphones that include a microphone and even Bluetooth headsets.

The following will help those that have not used Siri before get started, and show off some of the many situations where Siri can be used on iOS for those among us that are using it.

Click on title to. Go to article

Jan 5

Texas library offers glimpse of bookless future

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Texas has seen the future of the public library, and it looks a lot like an Apple Store: Rows of glossy iMacs beckon. iPads mounted on a tangerine-colored bar invite readers. And hundreds of other tablets stand ready for checkout to anyone with a borrowing card.

Even the librarians imitate Apple’s dress code, wearing matching shirts and that standard-bearer of geek-chic, the hoodie. But this $2.3 million library might be most notable for what it does not have — any actual books.

Click on title to go to link.

Jan 4

Apps in Education: Great Site for classroom teachers with iPads

One of the hardest things with using the iPad in the classroom is finding the time to go through all of the apps in the iTunes Store listed under the education banner. We have started to list some of the apps we’ve found under each of the Key Learning Areas.

Click on the title to go to the site.

Mythbusters: My iPad Can’t Do That. Yes, it can.

“I think it’s common for us to look at digital devices and how they can best support what we’ve already been doing in class and with students, rather than thinking about how they could transform what we’re doing… into even better practices and activities.” Wes Fryer via Facebook, January 2014

Online discussions by Miguel Guhlin and others have come up with lists of “things” that students should be able to accomplish using technology in class. Miguel’s list looks like this:
  • 1. “code” or program.
  • 2. engage in desktop publishing.
  • 3. use GoogleApps for Education tools.
  • 4. engage in advanced image editing.
  • 5. do video recording, editing and remixing.
  • 6. complete Pearson compatible state assessments
  • 7. complete drill-n-practice and/or tutorial programs like the TexasSuccess program activities (e.g. iStation, Think Through Math), as well as others like Scholastic Math and Reading Intervention Programs, Adobe Flash-heavy projects*, etc.
  • 8. create a variety of rich multimedia products using multiple media-rich web sites and/or apps
  • 9. participate in video/audio-enhanced conferencing using web-based or app-based tools (e.g. Skype, Google Hangout, Adobe Connect, etc.).
  • 10. Provides on-board or easy access to cloud storage to facilitate saving and sharing with others.

Miguel, along with some other ed tech bloggers are using these “lists” to create matrices in which to judge technology equipment before purchase. They then will rank before they purchase. It is a good starting method of trying to look before they leap. For instance, in Miguel’s list above, the iPad scored 7 out of 10. A Chromebook, 8 and amazingly enough, a Linux device of unknown origin or manufacture had 9 out of 10. Miguel’s list is rather “Texas-centric” of course, because he is a Ed Tech director in Texas. Other states or countries have differing needs. Of course, anyone can create a list that slants a prospective purchase one way or another. For instance, in the list above, one could have easily have added “mobile” to the list which would have wiped out any desktop computer from the running. Adding “Runs Linux” would wipe out a possible iPad purchase.

The fantasy of course, is to come up with something that people claim is “software agnostic” meaning that whatever they are looking at can run everywhere anytime. Steve Jobs tried to push this idea when he forced iPads to NOT run Flash with his now famous “Thoughts on Flash declaration, claiming it was a battery hog and that HTML5 could do just as much. (Of course, at the time, people went into spasms claiming that Flash was the only way to go. Now, three years later, Flash is dying , and HTML5 is doing pretty much everything that Flash could do.)

There are of course, issues with these lists. Every list I have seen so far has one or more of the following errors in them:

Districts in the same state or schools in the same city might have differing needs. For instance, a school that is an Arts magnet school might have differing needs than say a technical school, or a traditional school. Grade levels have differing needs.

They require a specific tool or tools that binds them to a specific technology. (How many RFP’s have gone out with the phrase “Must run Windows XP or later..?)

They are not aligned to actual curriculum.

They are not aligned to any kind of educational technology standard.

I think a better way of deciding what technology to purchase, or how to construct a matrix to decide, would be to start with the standards that the students are supposed to learn, followed by the district created (or purchased) lesson plans.

The Six Strands for the Texas Technology Application TEKS are:
  • 1. creativity and innovation;
  • 2. communication and collaboration;
  • 3. research and information fluency;
  • 4. critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making;
  • 5. digital citizenship;
  • 6. technology operations and concepts

Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the ISTE NETS-T will think these are familiar. Indeed, a closer look at these strands for grades K-8 will reveal that students are asked to do such a wide variety of things as:

Word processing, creating spreadsheets, create original products, use proper graphic design, research topics, pick appropriate tools to do digital work, evaluate appropriate tools, create multimedia products, use a variety of digital tools to measure, explore and create, as well as of course use digital citizenship skills and basic computer skills, manipulate audio and video files, use models, simulations communicate results of data analysis, create collaborative work and more. Of course not all of these are at each grade level, but the idea here is that tech purchasing should not ignore the standards.

I created a video a while back on the standards:

So with the standards in mind, I think that any type of purchase should be looked at in much the same way Alton Brown looks at kitchen appliances: They should not be purchased with a single task in mind, but should be able to accomplish multiple tasks. (Take the Hutzler 571 banana slicer for instance. That tool can do one thing and one thing only.) The more versatile a piece of technology is, the better. The less you have to spend on OTHER pieces of technology.

When purchasing technology for students one should look to the tool that is the most versatile, not simply the one that is the “least expensive.” For instance, no one, I think, purchases digital cameras anymore that cannot also record video and even audio. The camera is both a camera and a camcorder. You are getting two devices for the price of one. Savvy tech buyers look for the greatest amount of utility. Can this piece of equipment do more than one thing?

One of the overlooked capabilities of the iPad (and perhaps other tablets) is the ability to replace other pieces of classroom equipment. The iPad EASILY can replace document cameras, camcorders, cameras, even interactive whiteboards and student responders. That ability cannot be understated. No matter the low cost of devices like Chromebooks and Netbooks, they simply cannot be used as camcorders, scanners, camcorders, document cameras and more. The value add of the tablet device must be taken into account when doing any kind of calculation. I wrote more about it here.

So with that information in mind, let’s rework the 10 criteria for technology purchase for students to match the standards and the idea of versatility.

Any student device should have the following capabilities:

1. Create graphically correct collaborative documents from single page to multiple page, up to book length 2. Access online collaborative spaces, such as Google Docs, iCloud, or Moodle. 3. Be able to be used as a presentation tool 4. Be able to be used as a data collection device using built in sensors.(The more built-in devices available the better.) 5. Imbedded audio, still and video recording capabilities 6. Have audio, still image and video editing capabilities. 7. Has basic computer commands such as “save file” built in. 8. The ability to be used as a web based research tool 9. Can be used as a video collaborative device using such applications as Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, or Webinars 10. Can change it’s interfere to meet the needs of the user.

If we change the CRITERIA to meet the needs of students and not the needs of the IT department, then the scoring changes a bit.

Score: iPad: 10 PC/MAC: 7 Chromebook: 8

Some may ask why I left off the Texas Success initiative materials that Miguel mentioned. These are supposed to be used as RTI (Response to Intervention) and not meant for every student, except those that are struggling in specific areas. I will assume that the hundreds of thousands of laptops and desktops already in place can meet the needs of these students.

One might also ask why I left off “ability to program or code.” The answer is simple: Not every kid needs to code. It is like saying every kid needs to learn to play a musical instrument. That is a fad movement that is making lots of noise right now but will die as sure as the sun comes up in a year or so. (And yes, the iPad can do that…)

Perhaps we need to also redraw the triangle that Miguel created:

to more closely match how we should be looking at ed tech purchases where the standards and the ability of the device to adapt are more important than whether or not a device can use this or that website. (With the advance of HTML5, this is a non issue mostly, but not completely.)

I started this post with a quote from Wes Fryer that he left on Facebook: “I think it’s common for us to look at digital devices and how they can best support what we’ve already been doing in class and with students, rather than thinking about how they could transform what we’re doing… into even better practices and activities.”

I

f you believe what Wes is saying, you HAVE to ask yourself what device do you think actually transforms the learning environment. What device would lead to “better practices and activities?”

Well, which one? So what do you think? Agree or disagree? Add your thoughts in the comments section.

Is Apple's 13-in. iPad a desktop for kids?

Interesting speculation on what and why of a 12 inch iPad (if there even is such an animal. What the author leaves out is the possibility of a 12inch iPad Dock to make the device a desktop computer as seen here in this patent application. Would a 12 inch iPad be made for the education market only? Apple has in the past made devices just for the education market (the white iMac, the all-in-one Mac G3, (also known as the molar). Time will tell, but putting a large iPad into a dock to make it a desktop computer is intriguing to say the least, especially if the price point is good.

Click on the title to go to the original article.