October 31, 2016

Meet The Fall 2016 Class Of Alpha Squirrel EdTech Experts

Become an Alpha Squirrel at alpha.airsquirrels.com!
The fall 2016 Alpha Squirrels class includes 26 EdTech experts from four countries and 14 states. We’re excited and honored to introduce them as part of the fourth class of Alpha Squirrel EdTech experts.

This group of education thought leaders from the U.S., U.K., Canada and France is made up of teachers, technology integrationists, technology directors, assistant principals and more.

Check out our full list of Alpha Squirrels team members!

These individuals are considered experts and advocates in the global EdTech community. Alpha Squirrels attend and speak at education conferences around the world to share their expertise and introduce fellow educators to the Squirrels suite of classroom technology solutions. You can catch some of them presenting at FETCTCEA and many other edcamps and conferences around the world in 2016 and beyond.

Alpha Squirrels might use or highlight our classroom technology such as ClassHub, Reflector or Ditto during a presentation, but sometimes they aren’t included in the presentations at all. We simply offer Alpha Squirrels the opportunities to be heard and learn. Our goal is to assist them in their professional development journey and provide them with resources to help other educators improve the student learning experience. We value their input and often look to them for ideas and inspiration as we move forward with new initiatives.

In addition to Squirrels-sponsored conference attendance and speaking engagements, Alpha Squirrels receive:

  • First access to unreleased Squirrels products
  • Squirrels welcome package – T-Shirt, coffee mug/tumbler, sticky notes, water bottle, headphones, pens, pencils, etc.
  • Video interview opportunities
  • Free AirParrot 2 and Reflector 2 licenses
  • An Alpha Squirrels member certificate
  • “Alpha Squirrel” signature badges for Twitter, Facebook and email
  • Product training, press kits and talking points
  • A chance to visit Squirrels Headquarters
  • On-demand interaction with Squirrels product designers and managers

Congrats to all of our new Alpha Squirrels! We’re proud to have you represent us in the EdTech community.

Are you a teacher or EdTech professional interested in becoming a certified Alpha Squirrel? Contact Emily Carle Hafer at alpha@airsquirrels.com for information about our next class of Alpha Squirrels.

Moving Around the Classroom with Reflector Director

If there’s one thing educators know about Reflector 2, it’s that it allows students to truly be “mobile” with their iOS, Chromebook or Android devices. If students can be mobile, why do educators seem so restricted with their devices?

We wondered the same thing. That’s why we created Reflector Director – an iOS companion app that allows teachers to move about the classroom and interact with students all while still accessing the controls of Reflector 2 from their iPad or iPhone. Goodbye to the days of teachers being chained to their desk, and hello to the new era of teacher mobility.

Reflector Director gives educators the ability to:

  • Show and hide student devices without disconnecting or reconnecting
  • Highlight one student device to spotlight important content
  • Eliminate distractions with full-screen mode
  • Change frames for optimum screen compatibility
  • Observe screen previews of each connected student device before displaying to a larger screen

Reflector Director

Let’s take a step back for a moment and ask ourselves, “why is it important for teachers to have mobility in the classroom?” All of these features mentioned above are useful, but what does that really do for the efficiency of a classroom?

Here are seven reasons why teacher mobility is important for efficiency in the classroom:

  1. Teacher mobility saves time by keeping teachers from running back and forth to their desks to control Reflector 2
  2. It’s easier to walk around and give students more one-on-one attention
  3. Teachers are able to guide and educate students on the usage of technology to prepare them for real-world environments
  4. The teacher becomes the encourager, advisor and coach of classroom technology
  5. The overall efficiency and flow of the classroom improves
  6. Teachers stay engaged with students throughout the lesson plan
  7. Technology barriers between teachers and students are removed

Reflector Director In Use

With educators being called upon to find beneficial ways to incorporate technology into their classroom, they need to find solutions that empower them and give them confidence. Keeping up with the change in EdTech can leave a teacher overwhelmed and discouraged, therefore leaving the teacher unable to influence students in the best ways. Reflector Director was designed to allow teachers to feel confident using their classroom technology by making collaborative learning via mobile devices easy.

Teachers play an essential role in every student’s education, behavior and development. In the EdTech world, it can be difficult to manage a mobile classroom by concentrating on every student. With the help of powerful remote-display-management apps, like Reflector Director, this is made easy, and each student gets the attention they need.

Check out Reflector Director for yourself. We’re sure you’ll be impressed, and want to make it part of your everyday classroom routine.

October 27, 2016

Alpha Squirrel Guest Post: Using Technology To Improve Math Education In Brazil, Part One

This is the first of a three-part blog series* featuring Alpha Squirrel EdTech Expert Marc Faulder. Marc is an educator and Interactive Technologies Leader at Burton Joyce Primary School in the U.K. He has spent the past two years working with the University of Nottingham in England on a research project about using tablets and math apps to close the math gap for marginalized students. They used math apps from onebillion, a London-based nonprofit, to measure the impact that this intervention has on learning.  

Marc is traveling to Brazil with his team to continue the research project and scope out the possibility of launching the onebillion initiative in Brazil. They’ll also train teachers on the use of technology in the classroom.

The Journey to Brazil
Today I travel to Recife, Brazil, and it feels like the beginning of a great adventure. But whilst I wait for my connecting flight to Sao Paulo from Amsterdam, I look back at the 18 months which led up to this moment.

Unlocking Talent Through Tablet Technology
Unlocking Talent is a research project supported by Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) and the Norwegian Government. Led by the University of Nottingham in England, the project evaluates how onebillion is using innovative math apps to give marginalized children access to this critical math education. The apps allow children to learn at their own pace and in their own language. Beginning in the African country of Malawi, this research found that from six weeks of using the apps, children received the equivalent of 18 months of learning gains in math skills.

As this research continued, the university and onebillion questioned whether or not this way of working could be replicated beyond Malawi. This is where I joined the team. We ran a pilot study across the schools in the federation that I work for. We found similar learning gains here, as well as in other small-scale pilot studies from U.K. schools. In June, we launched the U.K.’s first large-scale evaluation of tablet technology and math attainment.

The apps are used with Early Years children that have been identified as working below age-related expectations. They work on activities set by the teacher in the app for up to 30 minutes a day. The learning is 1:1, personalized and self-paced. These children use this app as well as normal teaching practices and traditional interventions. When combined like this, the learning gains have been huge.

The findings from the initial U.K. pilot studies can be found here.

A Cross-Cultural Study
Today I travel to Brazil with Dr. Nicola Pitchford, an associate professor at the University of Nottingham, and Laura Outhwaite, a Ph.D. student in the School of Psychology at the University of Nottingham. These two have been instrumental in the success of the research in both the U.K. and Malawi. Our initial trip to Brazil is a scoping visit and came about following a visit from researchers from CESAR Recife, an innovation centre that promotes transformation through technology, back in January. Marie Neves and Flavia Nascimento came from Recife to Nottingham to observe best practices in my classroom using both onebillion software and iPads to enhance learning. You can read more about this visit here: https://enabling-environments.co.uk/2016/01/19/brazil/

MarcFaulder

Inspired by what they saw and with a good knowledge of the schools they work with in Recife, Marie invited us to partner with CESAR and look into the possibility of bringing onebillion to their schools.

During our initial trip this November, we’ll meet with teacher training institutions, local and state government representatives and Portuguese schools in the area. Marie and I have also organized a conference for 30 teachers where they can learn some ways to best use iPads in the classroom and how to maximize learning gains when embedding this practice in a learning environment.

A Chance to Reflect
There is much to learn on this visit. Plenty of time in this trip has been dedicated to meeting professionals and observing current practices in Recife schools. This visit is about hearing teachers’ stories and learning about their ways of closing the gap in math. Our purpose in these conversations is to exchange knowledge and share what we are finding in the U.K. and Malawi.

The most exciting part of this trip for me is looking at different learning contexts from the same perspective; closing the gap in math. It’s easy to look beyond your home country and see what is different. But to make comparisons based on learning gains for math provides a common ground for any teacher, no matter what the context is. What are we doing to support the children who are working below age-related expectations? Whether this be 10 children in a class of 30 in the U.K., or 80 in a class of 100 in Malawi, teachers are united by the way in which will tackle this issue. Being able to share the same resources to close our gaps is such an exciting way to collaborate and bring these school contexts together.

I look forward to sharing more of my visit with you as it unfolds over the next two weeks.

*Marc submitted this post to Squirrels on October 24, 2016. You can contact Marc and follow his adventure on Twitter

October 24, 2016

Squirrels Attends CECA Conference

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The Squirrels team started the month of October in Oklahoma City for the Oklahoma Technology Association Encylco-Media Conference, and it’s finishing the month in Plantsville, Connecticut, for the Connecticut Educators Computer Association (CECA) Conference. You can say we’ve been busy!

CECA is a nonprofit organization of professionals who promote the effective use of technology throughout schools in Connecticut. It’s also an affiliate member of ISTE (hey that sounds familiar!). CECA is committed to developing a strong organization that is a catalyst for inspiring teaching and learning through its leadership and collaboration with the global education community.

We are excited to join 900 CECA Conference attendees in Connecticut this week to showcase our classroom screen-mirroring solution, Reflector 2, and to talk about a new product we’re releasing in the coming weeks.

If you’re attending the conference this week, stop by booth D06 to say hello to your favorite Squirrels reps. They’re excited to meet you and tell you what we’ve been up to!

October 18, 2016

Unlock, Pinch-To-Zoom and Sleep-To-Wake Highlight New AirParrot Remote 1.1 Features

AirParrot Remote version 1.1 is now available in the App Store. AirParrot Remote is a companion application to the AirParrot 2 wireless screen-mirroring software for Mac and Windows. With AirParrot Remote, users can remotely begin mirroring a computer screen, create media streaming playlists, extend a desktop and preview a desktop screen, all from their iOS devices.

AirParrot Remote 1.1 update notes: 

  • Added support for waking a Mac from sleep when connecting to it via AirParrot Remote
  • Added support for unlocking a Mac when connecting to it via AirParrot Remote
  • Added pinch-to-zoom and scroll support to Preview control
  • Preview control bar can now be collapsed to access the lower portion of a previewed screen
  • Automatically enable the mouse cursor in AirParrot when using Preview control
  • Improved support for clearing media playlists
  • Improved auto-reconnect functionality
  • Resolved an issue that prevented AirParrot Remote from accessing files with capitalized file extensions
  • Resolved a potential crash when attempting to remove a file from the playlist
  • Resolved an issue that prevented Preview window from being cleared when preview is no longer available
  • Miscellaneous bug fixes and performance improvements

All users must update their AirParrot 2 software to the latest version (2.6.2) to ensure compatibility with AirParrot Remote 1.1. You can update AirParrot Remote to version 1.1 in the App Store. Both updates are free for current AirParrot 2 and AirParrot Remote users.

Please let us know if you have an questions or comments below.

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