Apple Distinguished Educator

One of the things that I am most interested in as a teacher is using educational technology to make a difference in the classroom.  I use iPads, Apple TV and my interactive whiteboard nearly every day but for a whole range of purposes.

In February I applied to become an Apple Distinguished Educator.  This global programme accepts applications every two years and the main part of the application is a two minute video sharing your story of how you impact change using Apple Technologies in your setting.

Apple Distinguished Educators are Advocates, Ambassadors, Authors and Advisors, sharing what can be possible in the classroom when Apple Technologies are used effectively.  Being part of the Apple Distinguished Educator community is an honour, they are some of the most innovative and encouraging teachers I have ever come into contact with and collaboration, sharing ideas and working together, is such a big part of the community ethos.  Everyone is just SO helpful and lovely.

I had been working towards applying for around 18 months, collecting evidence of the practice that I was doing anyway – trying to showcase the difference having iPads in school makes.

With some advice and encouragement from ADEs I know from online and real life I submitted my application in February.

The wait to hear back seemed never ending, especially with some false starts of other applicants on twitter saying that we would hear on a certain date (dates that passed without announcements). Until Apple Edu tweeted saying the new class would be announced on 3rd April.

I was delighted when at 5pm on the button, while I was sitting in Tesco carpark on my way home from school I got the email.

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A huge thank you has to go to the ADE alumni who have encouraged me and advised me,  especially Dessie Tennyson and Rachel Smith, to the other ADE applicants who were like a little online support group and to my family and friends who pretty much heard about nothing else for the last four months….

Its difficult to put into words how much this means.  Its an honour for what I do in my class and my school to be recognised.  Its exciting to get to part of the programme and I’m looking forward to meeting others from the class and some alumni at Apple Institute in the summer.

And I know that this is just the start of the adventure!





Apple Classroom 2.0

Last summer I went to an Apple Edu event for teachers introducing Apple Classroom. At the time I was really intrigued by the possibilities that it would bring to my own classroom, but was disappointed to find that I wouldn’t be able to be used given our current set up. 

Then came the update, Classroom 2.0 which is the game changer I’d been waiting for. 

I haven’t had a chance to use this in practice yet, but I’m excited to give it a go. I have just updated our small class set of iPads to iOS 10.3 and updated the classroom app to version 2.0. 

Teacher iPad steps

I set up my class in the app on my teacher iPad which took two seconds. I set class name and my name.  I tapped to add pupils and got a short numeric code to type in. 

Pupil iPad steps 

 I opened settings on the pupils iPads to set them up to join the class automatically. 

In the classroom app section of settings, I typed the code from my teacher iPad and the pupils iPads registered automatically to my class. (I just hit add on the teacher iPad once I could see them) I changed the settings on the pupil iPad to allow teacher control “always” and to join the class automatically in the future. 

What you can do with Classroom

Screenshot  from Classroom on my teacher iPad – I’ve still more pupils to add!

From the teacher app in classroom I can see what each pupil is looking at on their screen, force open apps, navigate through safari, lock their iPads or mute them.  If a child has let their iPad auto-lock I can open up the app again. For an early years teacher this takes a lot of the fiddlyness out of the start of a lesson. While there is a level of independence that you want to build it’s nice to be  able to help those who are struggling to get started and to save time if learning to open an app isn’t something you want  to spend time on in every lesson. 

It’s also good to be able to lock pupils into an app with one tap rather than using guided access and setting each iPad individually. 

The other tool which I know that I’ll use is the lock function. If I tap lock iPad on the teacher app it comes up on the pupil screens that the iPad has been locked by their teacher. I know this will come in useful for non iPad times within a lesson. My class find it hard to stop tapping…

Displaying and sharing pupil work is also made much simpler by the fact that I can share pupil iPads to the whiteboard via Apple TV myself, rather than pupils airplaying themselves. Again this is something very useful, particularly as the lavolta kids cases my class use sometimes make pulling up the control panel tricky.  

The only downside for me at the moment is that across school we have a range of iPads, from iPad 2s to brand new airs. Only the newer ones will be able to update to 10.3 and run classroom 2.0. So it’s my class and Foundation Stage that will be able to utilise it at the moment. 

There are other features, like the ability to group pupils iPads and control groups in different ways, but I won’t need these in my SEN class just yet.  

Long term I’m thinking about what we will do when our older school iPads become too slow to keep up with what we need our children to be able to do. Already we can’t update our software on some of them. I don’t have any answers yet on that one. The recycling programmes really aren’t cost effective and our budget (or lack of it) means simply replacing them is not an option.  I don’t think that one is going to have an easy solution.  So classroom may just be a foundation stage tool for us for a while. 

For now I’m excited about the potential of Classroom to make the set up/management of a lesson a bit easier/slicker and let the pupils focus on the learning that comes from the activity without getting tangled up in the processes to get to it.   

I like the potential of Classroom for much of the same reasons I like Nearpod.  It’s a way of letting the iPad be a tool the teacher has control of while the pupils have individual experiences of using it.

Apple produced a great guide for classroom which you can find here.