Tom Crilley

Recent Posts

December 8, 2017

Are we too late for computer science education?

This is the first of a three-part guest post series from Angie Kalthoff, Technology Integrationist at a Minnesota public school district. In this series, Angie analyzes where the K12 education system stands with computer science education. 

Students often get their first dose of computer science education in high school. 

For many, that’s too late.

Studies show that if students are not exposed to computer science by fourth grade, stereotypes about people who are not good at science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) begin to form. These social stereotypes deter girls and students of color in particular from entering the computer science field.

This is a problem.

Computer science introduces critical literacies, such as coding, and skills that are fundamental to the development of college- and career-ready students in the 21st century.

How do we fix this?

We can provide earlier access and opportunities while highlighting self-efficacy in computer science. Students should begin learning computer science as early as kindergarten. That will help build a diverse computing landscape.

Introducing computer science in kindergarten will help prevent education stereotypes from forming during the time when students are curious, learning about the world and developing their interests.

Why not bring more technology experiences into our primary classrooms?

Based on a study of classroom teachers’ experiences, the primary motivation for teachers to use technology is the belief that technology will make them better educators and positively impact student learning. 

While most teachers believe that technology benefits students, few of them successfully integrate technology into their curriculum in a meaningful way. My colleague and friend, Diana Fenton, is working to change this by introducing her preservice teachers to technology integration best practices and computer science education early in their college experience.

Resources
Teachers who are not able to take Diana’s class can use the following resources for professional development opportunities:

TPACK
Teachers who are currently in a classroom setting can follow the TPACK model for guidance on technology integration. By working together, we combine our skillset in the following areas: Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge, which encompass TPACK. My district encourages this type of co-teaching.

Challenge yourself
I didn’t think that I could introduce computer science at the beginning of the school year when I was a kindergarten English language teacher. That’s an important time for developing relationships and establishing routines.

Then I challenged myself to think of how one of those routines could incorporate a computer science station in small group rotations. I saw the progress we made with computer science integration and decided to introduce it even earlier the following year to see what we could do with a whole school year.

Coming Up...
Stay tuned! In the second installment of this three-part series, I share how computer science lessons are integrated into our classrooms and how they connect with state standards, the ISTE Standards for Students and the CS Framework. 

To dive deeper into the research, visit the following resources:

Google. (2014). Women who choose computer science—what really matters: The critical role of exposure and encouragement.

Mountain View, CA: Author. Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-E2rcvhnlQ_a1Q4VUxWQ2dtTHM/edit

Huebner, G. (2017, April 20). Coding for Kids | 5 Reasons to Teach Kids to Code. Retrieved November 07, 2017, from http://blog.kodable.com/2014/07/07/5-reasons-to-teach-kids-to-code-2/

Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. T., Glazewski, K. D., Newby, T. J., & Ertmer, P. A. (2010). Teacher value beliefs associated with using technology: Addressing professional and student needs. Computers & Education, 55(3), 1321-1335.

Young programmers -- think playgrounds, not playpens | Marina Bers | TEDxJackson [Advertisement]. (2015, January 20). Retrieved October 10, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOQ-9S3lOnM

November 26, 2017

Cyber Monday Sale: Save Big On Squirrels Items

The Squirrels Cyber Monday sale features huge discounts on many of our most popular products. Save on the newly released Reflector 3, Reflector Teacher, DropStream and more.

Squirrels Cyber Monday sale

All Cyber Monday discounts on Squirrels wireless screen-mirroring and streaming technology are listed below. 

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Reflector 3
20% off

BUY FOR $11.99 →
Regular $14.99

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Reflector Teacher
20% off

BUY FOR $11.99 →
Regular $14.99

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DropStream
25% off

BUY FOR $7.49 →
Regular $9.99

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AirParrot 2
30% off

BUY FOR $9.09 →
Regular $12.99

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Airparrot Remote
50% off

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Regular $7.99


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Reflector Director
57% off

BUY FOR $2.99 →
Regular $5.99

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Reflector for Android

BUY FOR $6.99 →
 

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Reflector for Fire TV

BUY FOR $6.99 →
 



Remember: The Cyber Monday sale is your best opportunity to save big on Squirrels technology. These are the best prices you’ll see all year.

October 16, 2017

Ditto update offers organizations a custom screen-mirroring experience

The Ditto wireless presentation solution received a number of highly requested feature updates that will make each screen-mirroring experience feel unique to your organization.

The new customization features allow schools, businesses and other organizations to offer their users a personal and familiar screen-mirroring solution. 

So what's new?

Custom room codes

Ditto room codes are what users type into the Ditto connect page to wirelessly display their screen to the AirPlay or Cast receiver in the room. Previously, these codes were randomly assigned to each room by Ditto. An organization had no control over their codes.

That all changed.

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You can now customize Ditto room codes instead of using randomly assigned codes. The custom codes can incorporate your school name, company name, building name, room name or anything else.

For example, a school can now create a code like “Franklin Hall 101” to align the Ditto room code with the actual room. Custom codes are more memorable and more appropriate for each setting.

Custom-branded connection pages

Easily create your own branded Ditto connect page. Upload a logo, a unique background image and colors. Even insert a custom message for your users containing connection instructions or pertinent organizational information.

Using a branded connect page makes it feel like Ditto is a screen-mirroring solution tailored to your organization rather than a service provided by a third party.

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Custom subdomain

When you create a branded Ditto connect page, you receive a special URL that’s needed to access the page. You’ll want a simple way to direct your end users to the branded page so they can enter their Ditto room code there instead of our generic Ditto connect page.

That’s easy when you create a custom subdomain. Pair your branded connect page with a domain alias such as ditto.yoursite.com for an even more immersive experience and easier access. Learn how to create a custom subdomain.

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Room list view and search

The list of rooms in the admin portal can get lengthy if you have many Ditto rooms. Now you can easily search and find any Ditto-enabled room to make adjustments to rooms as needed.
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Customize your screen mirroring now

These features are free and available now for all Ditto customers. This update takes Ditto way beyond your standard screen-mirroring solution. Ditto provides quality and reliable screen mirroring during presentations and meetings. That’s a given. Now you can turn Ditto into a solution that’s completely in tune with and connected to your brand.



More to come

We're excited to bring even more user-requested enhancements later this year. Stay tuned: More updates to come.
September 25, 2017

How To Connect An iPad To A Projector

Here’s an important piece of advice for anyone looking for a way to connect an iPad to a projector: 

Don’t do that.

Why?

Because if you’re looking for a way to connect an iPad to a projector, what you’re really looking for is a way to show a group of people in the same room what’s on your iPad.

Whatever method you’ve come across so far probably isn’t the best way to do it.

For instance, you might be inclined to manually connect the iPad to the projector via cable.

Nope. Don’t do that.

Why?

There are a number of reasons. Here are three big ones.

  1. Cables are restrictive and often require you to remain within a few feet of the projector. Limiting a presenter’s mobility makes it difficult to captivate an audience.

  2. Cable-based projector connections require outdated VGA and HDMI adapters. This is a problem because Apple has shown a tendency to change the connection ports on its devices.

    These adapters are not compatible with all iPads in use, and they will likely be incompatible with future iPad models.

  3. Connecting via cables is a huge time waster, especially if other people in the room, such as peers or students, need to share from their devices as well.

    Each new connection requires the individual to walk their device to the projector. This process interrupts the flow of any meeting, class or speech.

We know what you’re thinking.

What about connecting an Apple TV to the projector and wirelessly displaying the iPad to the Apple TV?

Nope. Don’t do that, either.

Apple TVs are expensive. A new one will cost about $200. That adds up if you need iPad presentation capabilities in multiple rooms.

Apple TVs only allow one device to wirelessly connect at a time. That’s not ideal for collaboration or comparative analysis purposes.

So what are you supposed to do?

The best way to connect an iPad to a projector

The best, most cost-effective way to connect an iPad to a projector is with a $15 computer application called Reflector 2.

Reflector is an application that runs on Mac or Windows computers. It allows you to wirelessly display one or more iPads on your computer screen.

Read: How to wirelessly connect an iPad to Reflector

To display the iPad to your audience, all you need to do is connect your Reflector-enabled computer to the projector with a cable. Whatever you do on your iPad will display on your computer, and the connected projector will show the iPad to your audience. You will be free to walk around the room and wirelessly present from the iPad in your hand.

Thinking about using Reflector?

Do that.

Reflector is more cost effective than Apple TVs, and it allows you to mirror more than one device at a time. It also gets rid of all of the HDMI and VGA cables and adapters required to connect an iPad to a projector.

You just solved at least three presentation problems with a $15 computer application. Exciting, right? 

Get Reflector today to begin wirelessly presenting from your iPad.

August 23, 2017

Personalize student device management with new ClassHub update

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If no two teachers are the same, why is it so hard to customize classroom management settings?

That’s the question we asked when we were thinking of ways to make student device management more user friendly for teachers and administrators.

Consider these two cases:

Mrs. Smith never uses YouTube for instruction and doesn’t want her students to have access to it.

Mr. Lindon frequently uses YouTube to complement instruction and encourages his students to use it for research.

Now imagine there are tens or even hundreds of applications that need to be enabled or disabled for certain teachers at certain times on certain devices.

How do you easily coordinate that in a device management solution? In many cases, you can’t.

Sure, workarounds exist. But they are difficult to scale and become useless in certain circumstances, like when schedules change during testing periods.

Device management customization has been an IT professional’s nightmare…until now.  

Introducing Configurations
Our latest ClassHub update solves this problem with the introduction of Configurations for iOS and macOS devices. ClassHub enables hyper-focused mobile device management (MDM) not offered by other MDM solutions.

The Configurations feature makes it easy for administrators to implement teacher requests for restrictions or permissions on specific classes or devices.

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Under the new Configurations tab in the ClassHub admin portal, administrators can easily save any number of configurations, then apply those configurations to the appropriate classes.

Configurations include restrictions and permissions in addition to a suite of other functionality, like class-specific bookmarks, custom app-notification settings and room-specific printers and Wi-Fi settings.

Administrators can even apply Configurations at the school level. Imagine Wi-Fi settings that auto-apply when a middle school student comes to the high school for an accelerated class.

Using the examples above, an administrator could create one configuration for Mrs. Smith’s class that addresses her wish to have YouTube blocked along with any other apps she wanted enabled or disabled during her classes.

Similarly, the administrator could then quickly create another unique configuration for Mr. Lindon’s class allowing his students access to YouTube during his classes.

No other work needs to be done. The configurations automatically apply when a teacher begins a class using the ClassHub Class Manager. 

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Customizing student settings
What if one of the Mr. Lindon’s third-period biology students, we’ll call him Johnny, consistently used YouTube in a way that was distracting, disruptive or off task?

ClassHub offers educators multiple ways to handle this. Mr. Lindon could simply lock Johnny’s device using the ClassHub Class Manager.

Or, with the new Configurations tool, the school’s administrator could edit Mr. Lindon’s third-period biology class Configuration to disable YouTube on Johnny’s device.

This amendment could last indefinitely or for a certain time period. Problem solved. 

Bottom line: The Configurations tool presents the easiest way for teachers and administrators to coordinate and apply personalized device management settings.

We’re excited to give ClassHub users more great ways to manage student devices.

Request a ClassHub demo today
Want to see how our device management and classroom operations solution, ClassHub, can help teachers and administrators in your school or district do more with mobile devices?

We have a lot to show you, so we better schedule a demo. Oh, and don’t worry about high-pressure sales tactics. That’s not our style. Just details and a demo.

 Schedule a demo      Discover more

About Us

Squirrels is a software development company based in North Canton, Ohio. We create high-quality, budget-friendly screen mirroring and device management software that’s compatible with today’s most popular devices. To date, our software can be found in hundreds of thousands of classrooms, businesses and homes. Follow our blog for all the latest product updates, Squirrels news and technology insight!