November 17 , 2016

Reflector 2.6 is Now Available for Mac and Windows

Reflector 2.6 is now available for Mac and Windows. This release brings major performance and stability upgrades to mirroring and streaming with AirPlay and Cast technology.

You can update Reflector 2 by selecting “Check for Updates” from the Reflector 2 preferences menu. Additionally, you can download the new version from the Reflector 2 download page.

Reflector 2.6 release notes: 

Mac:
  • Reduced the amount of memory used when screen mirroring and recording
  • Improved reliability and performance of YouTube live video streaming
  • Improved reliability and stability of iOS 10 connections
  • Reduced CPU utilization when using Reflector Student
  • Numerous bug fixes and performance improvements
Windows
  • Reduced the amount of memory used when screen mirroring and recording
  • Added legacy renderer setting for users that experience a black screen when mirroring
  • Improved reliability and performance of YouTube live video streaming
  • Improved reliability and stability of iOS 10 connections
  • Reduced CPU utilization when using Reflector Student
  • Numerous bug fixes and performance improvements

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November 17 , 2016

4 Classroom Management Tips For Teachers Using Tech

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Note: This is a guest blog post by John R. Sowash, author of the new book, The Chromebook Classroom featuring Reflector 2! Read through to the bottom for more information on John’s book and a chance to win a free copy!

"With great power comes great responsibility." That's what Uncle Ben Parker said. The same is true in a technology-filled classroom. Student technology provides access to the world's information, but it also provides access to ALL of the world's information.

How can you encourage your students to remain focused on the tasks at hand and not wander aimlessly around the internet. Here are four ideas to help.

1. Be engaged!
The best way to ensure your students are using their time and technology wisely is to be engaged with them throughout the class period. You must be on your feet (not behind your desk) actively participating in the class (not grading papers) working directly with individuals and small groups of students.

Many teachers ask me if there is "lab monitoring" software that will allow them to see every student's screen at once. While such software does exist, it is not a replacement for active classroom management. Technology is not a babysitter.

2. Re-arrange your room!
The physical layout of your classroom will have a significant impact on your ability to engage with and monitor student activity. Make sure you have ample room to move between student desks. I also recommend that you configure your room so that approximately 25 percent of your students screens are visible no matter where you stand in the room. It is NOT advisable to have all of the screens facing the same direction.

I taught high school science and my room layout could not be adjusted  because there were too many gas and water lines. I would frequently teach from the BACK of the room so that I was able to keep an eye on what students were doing.

Using a tool like Reflector can make you, the teacher, more mobile and able to move around the room rather than be tied to your computer.

Download Reflector software on the computer that is connected to your projector. This will allow you to wirelessly mirror your phone or tablet to the computer, giving you the freedom to walk around the room as needed.

Reflector2Chromebook

 

3. Don't be boring!
The #1 reason that students get off task is that they are bored! It's hard to blame a student for wandering the internet if there isn't anything interesting going on in class!

One way to increase the amount of student engagement is to use an interactive presentation tool like Pear Deck or Nearpod. These two tools mix direct instruction with formative assessment. It's easy to ask a multiple choice, short-answer or interactive question during your instruction time.

Kahoot, ClassKick and EdPuzzle are three more tools that require active engagement from each of your students. The more engaged they are, the fewer issues you will have.

4. Don't freak out!
While it is important that we help our students focus on learning, we don't have to freak out about every little thing that they do. Is it okay for a student to check up on the playoff scores? To play music while working? To watch a quick video?

I learned this lesson when I was a student teacher in a school that had a strict "no phones in class" policy. One student was particularly distracted during any individual work time. The smallest noise would catch his attention. One day he asked if he could listen to music on his phone because it helped him focus. I said sure. He was much more productive from that point forward.

It all comes down to classroom culture. The ultimate goal for every teacher is to create a classroom culture that silently communicates the expectation that each student will get their assigned work done on time. As long as students follow this guideline, the teacher does not need to micromanage student activity.

Have faith that your students will rise to meet your expectations. Those who do not will quickly face additional scrutiny and evaluation to ensure that learning goals are accomplished.

Challenge
Managing a classroom full of devices isn't easy. What are your tips for helping students stay focused and on task? Share with the #chromebookEDU community!

If you enjoyed this blog post you will love John’s new book, The Chromebook Classroom, which contains over 30 lesson ideas for using Chromebooks at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Enter your email below for a free copy of chapter one of The Chromebook Classroom. You will also be entered to win one of two free copies being given away!

November 16 , 2016

Oh, Brazil: Alpha Squirrel Guest Post, Part Three

This is the third post in 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 closing the math gap for marginalized students using tablets and math apps. 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. Read part one and part two of Marc’s journey.

Oh, Brazil
Our time in Brazil wrapped up with a visit at the mayor’s office and a meeting with the University of Pernambuco at the British Consulate. Both of these meetings were organized to plan for the future. Great progress has been made with local schools and partners here over the last 13 days. Moving forward with the onebillion math intervention seems likely. On my final visit to ABA Global school, I was presented with a gift from Francisco Gomes de Matos, peace linguist and President of the Board at ABA Global Education:

“Oh, Brazil, about you what can I foresee well? You will be internationally admired. You will be educationally developed. You will be scientifically and technologically advanced. You will be interculturally comprehended.”

This resonates with me and our trip here. This articulates our goal to work with Brazil and assures me that Brazil makes a perfect partner for our projects and research.

In my first blog post, I explained three projects we brought to Brazil:

  1. Closing the Gap in Math – “How can mobile technology and the onebillion software support marginalized learners?”

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In March 2017, Laura Outhwaite (Ph.D. student in the School of Psychology at the University of Nottingham) will return to Recife, Brazil, to work with ABA and DAMAS schools to pre-test children. Teachers will then implement the math gap intervention for 12 weeks. This will happen in English, Portuguese and with a control class – a design based on an international model used in England, Canada, South Africa and Malawi. During my visit, teachers have been trained to use the onebillion software. They are excited about this intervention. The teachers have also had a hand in designing the study so that it works with their curriculum and timetable. Laura will return again in June 2017 for a post-test and to receive feedback from teachers. Afterwards, the findings will be included in an international, cross-cultural evaluation of the software. And as the research is teacher-led, the schools will continue using the software and support the likely expansion of this project in Recife. Beyond the pilot study, there has been great interest with other partners in this work. We look forward to the possibility of expanding this project beyond the pilot study.

  1. Stories of a Lifetime – “How might we keep local legends, myths and fables alive while also sharing our place in the world?”

MarcF3.3MarcF3.4MarcF3.5

 

 

 

 

 

ABA and DAMAS schools both joined the project, and in our second week here a third school, Red Balloon in San Paulo, Brazil, joined as well. These three schools will use the project with different aged children who will research and retell folklore from Brazil and Recife. On my final project day in Recife, I taught a group of children at ABA Global School. Part of this lesson time introduced them to the Stories of a Lifetime project. They learned the story of Robin Hood, designed their characters and retold the story in their own words using Puppet Pals. I will share this response to the story back in my school with Digital Leaders and upload this work to the Stories of a Lifetime website.

  1. Connecting Classes Across Continents – “How might we develop deeper understanding through the use of global connections to broaden learners’ perspectives?”

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In my second week, I returned to ABA Global School to work with a group of Year Five children on this project. They spent time with me learning about Nottingham and they read the book about Burton Joyce, authored by Year Six children form my school. They met with the Burton Joyce children over FaceTime and exchanged knowledge about their place in the world. Following this visit, they will work on their own school book to share with Burton Joyce children and a second call will take place when I return to work. These two books will be combined as a case study text and published to the iBooks Store in the same style as the collaborative book my school published with St. Francis Xavier, Goa.

I have learned that visiting schools is a great way to share knowledge and expertise. Being in a setting gives many more opportunities to collaborate and provide practical ideas bespoke to that place. I’ve learned this through my own consultancy role in England and from managing the Apple Regional Training Centre in Nottingham. Applying this to an international context has been a beneficial way to further develop my skills as a leader and advocate of educational technology.

An international visit is much different to working with schools at home. Even though we had an agenda planned, opportunities arose that were unexpected. New relationships brought about detailed discussions that allowed our plans to evolve quickly. We had no contacts to rural schools before this trip, but we were able to make a visit because of the relationships we formed in our first few days. The advice from The British Consulate gave new avenues for collaboration beyond our visit. We have so many more contacts and ideas to explore now.
Meeting teachers in schools with technology gave new opportunities for me to share my projects and develop them in new, exciting ways with educators beyond the Apple Distinguished Educator network. Our priority was to launch a pilot study of the onebillion software in Recife, and this was finalized by the end of our trip with training provided to teachers and an implementation designed with school coordinators.

MarcF3.8Working with researchers and academics has been very interesting as well. My partnership with The University of Nottingham began over 18 months ago with the evaluation of the onebillion apps in the U.K. I’ve been involved in study design, implementation and evaluation of this research in the U.K. To have an involvement in the beginnings of a new pilot study in Brazil is very rewarding. I offered my own, first-hand knowledge and experience as a teacher and leader who has implemented a similar, successful pilot study. I explained the positive impact this study had on the children that I teach in math and other areas of learning. I look forward to offering support to these educators as they begin implementing their pilot of the onebillion software in Recife.

Working internationally has taught me three things:

  • Time is precious
  • Relationships are key to success
  • The work is hard

Moments of high energy and inspiration are met with moments of complications or exhaustion.  Problem solving, decision making and patience are needed as agendas change and challenges arise. Our plan altered on a daily basis. We were always on the go preparing for the next unexpected meeting whilst reflecting on the one we had just had. But when you see the children who deserve quality education, and you believe that technology can unlock talent, you know that the hard work for these children will pay off.

MarcF3.9 Jose Guido Correa de Araujo, Emeritus Professor, International Relations Officer, University of Pernambuco

As I board my first of three flights back to the U.K., I leave Recife looking forward to collaborating with all of the friends I have met here. I look forward to seeing Connecting Classes grow with a new link school and case study publication growth. I look forward to seeing Brazilian legends told in Stories of a Lifetime. And I look forward to working on Brazil’s first pilot of the onebillion software in March 2017.

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“Oh, Brazil, what will be your legacy to every coming generation? Oh, Brazil, may all of these things happen to you; may you inspire Brazilians only good things to do” 

I would like to thank Squirrels for their support with this visit, for sharing my story and showcasing what is possible when technology enables quality learning. I need to thank the Apple Distinguished Educators who work tirelessly on projects which have a truly global reach. I thank them for committing their own time to these innovations and for encouraging me to share them beyond our community. I also send much love to Marie Neves for her friendship before, during and after this trip; see you in December! And also to Ricardo; our dedicated driver, intelligent interpreter and gracious guide.

I must end with a thank you to my partners at The University of Nottingham, particularly Dr. Nicola Pitchford. The time that you invest in my work, and the support you give me, means so much. This trip has been a career highlight. Thank You.

*Marc submitted this post to Squirrels on November 3, 2016. You can contact Marc and follow his education journey on Twitter

November 15 , 2016

Welcome, Home

Google Cast to Google Home-Update

You may notice something different the next time you try to open your Google Cast application on your Android phone.

Google Cast has a new name

Google renamed and redesigned its Google Cast application for the third time (second this year). What you previously recognized as Google Cast is now called Google Home to coincide with the new Google Home device.

New layout

Although Google Home still has the same capabilities of the old Google Cast, there are a few cosmetic changes to notice. Instead of the user interface showing three tabs (What’s On, Devices and Get Apps), Google Home now has two – Watch and Discover. Consumers will be able to use the app to discover new content and manage their Google Home assistant and Cast devices, according to Google. These added tabs will make it easier to find new suggested content to watch on your Chromecast, along with a library of applications that support the device.

The icon in the upper right-hand corner is used for managing devices, and there is now a FAB (floating action button) in the lower right to use for searching. Users can still Cast their Android device screen from the navigation drawer – a panel that displays the app’s navigation options, usually on the left edge of the screen. This is where you will go to connect to Reflector 2.

New logo

The application logo got an upgrade, too. Instead of the notable round blue Cast symbol, you’ll find a colorful house icon.

Although Google Cast is no longer the name of the application, it’s still the name of the core screen-sending technology. It’s how users send content or media from the device to a receiver.

There you have it, folks! Google Home is now available to download for free from the App Store and Google Play Store. Happy mirroring, Android users!

Let us know if you have any questions about connecting to Reflector 2 using the new Google Home app in the comments section below!

 

November 14 , 2016

Say Goodbye to Classroom Connectivity Issues

Reflector Student Press Shot

Picture this: Your school finally purchased the iPads you’ve been requesting for months. You’re eager to get started and excited for all the collaborative opportunities your students will get to experience. Now it’s time to figure out how to strategically use all of these devices. You ask yourself, “How can all of my students be collaborative with one another if they are all working on separate screens?”

You do some research with your fellow colleagues and discover that Reflector 2 will allow students to wirelessly display their devices to your computer screen. By connecting your computer to a classroom projector or interactive whiteboard, you could share these mirrored student devices with the entire class.

You and your colleagues are instantly impressed with its recording, mirroring and customization capabilities, and you can’t wait to implement this screen-mirroring technology into your lesson plan. There’s only one problem. You and your students are on separate wireless networks. In order for Reflector to work, both teacher and student need to be on the same network. What’s the solution? Reflector Student.

The Reflector Student app is a free Reflector companion app that runs on each student’s iOS device and acts as a workaround for schools that experience Reflector 2 connectivity problems due to restrictive networks. This will resolve issues for schools that host their student and teacher devices on separate networks. Students can connect their iOS device to a teacher’s Reflector 2 software using the following options in the Reflector Student app:

Reflector Student Connection Types

  • Bluetooth discovery
  • Quick Connect Codes™
  • iOS camera linking

Once paired, mirroring across subnets and tricky networks is a breeze. Reflector Student remembers the pairing, allowing it to automatically display in the device’s AirPlay list to make connecting faster in the future.

Reflector Student also shows your students the other devices connected to Reflector. This allows them to see other student or teacher devices directly on the iOS device that's in front of them.

Reflector Student In Action

Discover Reflector Student for yourself, or download it for free in the App Store.

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