When pupil work gets saved on a laptop, it gets networked and is then accessible from any other laptop - perfect! This is just accepted normal practice.
The same cannot be said for iPads, which means pupil work can only be found on specific devices, which again unless you are blessed with a 1:1 device policy, can present a problem if you don’t, keep, book out, or quickly pilfer the right device if the work needs to continue the following day, lesson or at a later date.
I got around this by using Showbie.
It is a brilliantly simple networking app.
A teacher sets up an account (Yes, it is FREE - there’s a premium version, but I’ve not yet really seen the need), and they then have the power to give access to tasks and receive work from children via the cloud. The functionality is available both on iPad and PC/Laptop, which is refreshingly non limiting.
Each pupil also needs their own free account which I get them to do as a first lesson. Keep it really simple though I tend to make it something easy to remember/spell and hard to forget:
Initalsurname (e.g. mcalloway) or nameinital (glennj) and a numerical password, even 12345 works. It gives us a good opportunity to talk about eSafety and why for this a simple login is good but why for other internet services more complex ones are better.
I am not going to turn this into a tutorial blog, if you are reading, then you don’t need that… but I will share some ways I have used it to what I consider good effect.
1. Eliminating ‘Blind Googling’ and link hunting:
It is easy on a networked laptop to save and share a specific link, if and when you want and need a child to visit a specific page for an activity or to find key information on a topic. While a QR code can do this, Showbie also allows the children to collect to information they find as notes, written and voice recordings, save and upload images and screenshots for use at a later date, creating a personal online reference scrapbook.
By sharing the exact resources you want the children to find, you can save time and eliminate those rare occasions when children inadvertently stumble across something they don’t need to see.
2. Class Discussion:
A strange function, that feels quite ‘American’, the idea that children can post discussions while using the app. This is a facility that you can turn on and off as necessary. I have used it with UKS2 to pose questions when researching and for children to post their responses, it works well if the children are pursuing their own lines of inquiry, as they can offer facts, which others can try to refute or support, while not having to stop the flow of the lesson. I like the feature, although I do use it sparingly.
3. Resource Sharing:
As part of an activity where children were creating presentations in ExplainEverything, groups had taken numerous photographs of areas of the school, plants, leaves, minibeasts, habitats and such. They wanted and needed to exchange images and as our iPads are becoming older AirDrop wasn’t an option. Showbie’s upload images function meant that all the children needed to do was upload their images to a shared file in the app and everyone could access all the files they wanted. This meant there was no need for a GoogleDrive or additional file sharing service, and merely let the children do something they already knew how to do. Pupils were quickly able download, upload and share their images between iPads and the work was completed far more efficiently.
4. Work Collection:
As Showbie allows you to access its content, through both mobile devices and laptop/PC, it means that if children complete their work they can easily share it with me as their teacher. Whether they have created annotated images in Skitch, picture collages in Moldiv or even videos made in iMovie or ExplainEverything. I can then mark and give feedback in app, annotating work or leaving written comments. There are a handy set of in app tools allowing mark making, writing, highlighting and such too. Very simple and intuitive, for adults and children alike.
There is also the fact that as it is an online product, children can access their work from home. I have on occasion used it for homework task and regularly set small tasks and projects and such like for my Digital Leaders.
I haven’t yet used Portfolio and Parent Access features - but that might be an interesting future idea.
Last year, a teacher at my school planned and hosted a multi-school event. Pupils in Y6 from 3 local schools joined us to participate in a range of activities that allowed them to use and develop “the most important skills required for 21st century education: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity”. To be frank the activities planned were really good, with plenty of outdoor learning (so I was always going to be happy about that.) However, when I was asked how she could integrate some technology into the session, the choice for me was easy, Showbie.
I set up 4 group accounts and got the 4 children from my school to manage them. Every activity that children took part in was then recorded either using, Notes, Camera, Video, Sound Recorder or directly into Showbie. This was completely new experience for the children visiting us and our own pupils were excellent Ambassadors - teaching their new peers how to use this tech.
The real power came later as each group then used their iPads to share their work via AirServer to a big screen in the hall, again common practice for many, but new to the children visiting us. They were then able to share and discuss the tasks they had completed, play video and listen to voice recorded poetry and sounds.
Oh, and here’s a pupil made guide, by one of my Y6s from last year: https://spark.adobe.com/page/j1UpT/