Monday, January 9, 2012

iPad Deployment Journal: Updated List of iPad Apps

iPad Deployment Journal: Part 5...Adding Apps

I'm happy to report that our iPad cart is making it's way into the classroom and students are starting to use them. I have continued to search for apps and recruit suggestions from our staff. Right now, all the iPads on our cart have the following apps:

Foreign Language: BrainPop (spanish), Japanese Language Keyboard
Language Arts: Mirriam Webster Dictionary,
Social Studies: Google Earth, Oregon Trail: American Settlers *
Math: Sketchpad Explorer, QuickGraph
Science: Periodic Table, K12 Periodic Table, iCelcius, Moon Phase *, Moon *
Productivity: Dropbox, Evernote, Evernote Peek, iBooks, Diigo, UStream, QRafter - QR Code Reader
Music: GarageBand ($)

* added 1/10/2012

($) indicates that it is a paid app. I'm glad that ordering 20 copies of GarageBand cut the per device price in half. The regular price for Garage Band is $4.98, but the volume pricing is $2.49 for 20+ licenses.

As time goes on, I would like to provide descriptions / reviews, and hopefully ideas for how to incorporate these apps into classroom activities. If you would like to assist with this, please do. Please contact me if you have any experience with the apps we are using and always feel free to suggest new apps that are worthwhile.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Partners in Rhyme - Royalty Free Music and Free Music

When my students work on projects in my classes (games, presentations, etc), the question about copyrighted music and sound effects always comes up. Students are inclined to want to record a song from YouTube or elsewhere to use in their project. Partners in Rhyme is a website devoted to royalty free music. Understand, however, that royalty free music does not mean that the music is free. Royalty free means that once you purchase it, you can use it in your project. Partners in Rhyme does have a section of free sounds that you can use. This includes music, loops, sound effects, etc. This is a resource that I use with my students so that they can incorporate music and sounds without worrying about copyright infringement.

I hope that you enjoy find the site to be a great solution for the issue of using sounds in student projects!

Royalty Free Music and Sound Effects Download the music and sound effects you need for your multimedia project today at Partners In Rhyme.

Friday, December 23, 2011

STEM Video Game Challenge

William Annin students participating in the National STEM Video Game Challenge

If you were to step into the computer lab at William Annin middle school, it might look more like a Video Game Design studio than a classroom. Presently, students inMr. Isaacs' and Mrs' Sharpe's 7th grade Computer Cycle as well as Mr. Isaacs' 8th grade Video Game Design and Development elective are hard at work creating original video games to submit in the 2012 STEM video game challenge.

7th graders have been working with Gamestar Mechanic ( They have learned the basics of designing games and have written a design document to guide them through the development of their game. 8th graders have been working with a program called Game Maker (http://www.yoyogames.c0m/) and have a few options for their contest submission. Students can revisit a game they created earlier in the semester and improve upon it or they may create a new game based on an original idea. Some students are branching out beyond Game Maker and using Gamestar Mechanic or Kodu Game Lab ( to create their game as part of an independent study option.

Students have opportunities to work on their game during class, at home, and before or after school in the computer lab. In addition, interested students who are not in one of the classes that are actively working on contest entries are encouraged to participate. More information can be found on the National STEM Video Game Challenge website ( Students are welcome to inquire with Mr. Isaacs for additional information.

Inspired by the Educate to Innovate Campaign, President Obama’s initiative to promote a renewed focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education, the National STEM Video Game Challenge is a multi-year competition whose goal is to motivate interest in STEM learning among America’s youth by tapping into students’ natural passion for playing and making video games. (from

Let the games begin!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

iPad Deployment Journal Part 4: Making Progress

It's still me against the iPad cart. However, I think I might be winning (no Charlie Sheen references, please). Of course, this wouldn't be without at least one bump in the road. I came to realize that the Volume Purchasing Program requires an email / password for login. However, that is not the same id / password you would use for iTunes. In my opinion, it would be great if it was. However, when 'purchasing' free apps (a bit of an oxymoron), you must work through iTunes with a separate iTunes login. Initially, I used my personal iTunes account thinking that I was only using it for free apps. Then I realized (thanks to advice from others as well) that this was not a good idea, especially when apps need to be updated and such.

So, I created a new iTunes account. I thought you needed to enter a credit card when setting up an iTunes account, but my new iPad deployment mentor Jim (you'll hear more about Jim shortly...) pointed out that you do not (

Prior to creating this account, I downloaded two apps to the PC and deployed them to the iPads on the cart through iTunes (with my personal account). After creating the school account, I decided to move forward adding additional free apps using that account. This was where I ran into a little snafu. On the computer it looked like these new apps were synching just fine. I added them one at a time to each iPad (plugged into the cart via usb so I could do it all from the one PC). This is where I learned an important lesson. Always check to see if the content that you believed was transferred to the iPad really was. I wass less than pleased to find that these apps (while showing up on the PC as being transferred to the iPad) did not make it to the iPad.

Back to the drawing board...

At this point, I decided to 'restore' each iPad and sync the apps using the new iTunes account. Fortunately this worked.

After restoring them, I had to manually set up each iPad ('next-ing' through the questions (enable location settings, choose network, accept terms and conditions, etc.). After that step was complete, I returned to the iPhone configuration tool to send the network settings to the iPad. This prompts you to 'install' this configuration. I did that and then manually (on each iPad) added two additional languages to the keyboard (the two Japanese language keyboards). You can add keyboards under the general section of the setting. There is a keyboard setting, and then add international keyboards is an option. This was done based on a request from the Japanese teachers.

So, where does that leave me now?

Let me back track ever so slightly. In anticipation of rolling out the cart, I sent an email to all staff requesting app suggestions. The first wave of suggestions included:

  • BrainPop

  • Periodic Table app (I installed two free ones - 'Periodic Table' and 'K12 Periodic Table)

  • Google Earth

  • Dictionary - I chose the free Merriam-Webster dictionary

  • Dragon Dictation

  • Sketch Explorer (the free app version of Geometer's Sketch Pad)

  • the two Japanese language keyboard

Right now, the 20 iPads have these free apps (and the language keyboards) and our school network settings. This should be a start and allow teachers to start using the iPads with their students.

What's next?

  • I still need to determine which 'must have' paid apps to purchase using the Volume Purchasing account (and then get those apps on the iPads)

  • Continue to work with the iPhone configuration tool to set up reasonable restrictions on the iPads.
    Should we keep facetime on the iPads?
    Should the camera be enabled?
    Should I remove the App Store?
    and on and on....

Please post any comments or questions as well as suggestions for those 'must have' iPad apps".



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

iPad Deployment Journal Part 3: Naming iPads and updating to iOS5

The iPad deployment adventure continues. I was very excited when I managed to get the network settings to each iPad through the iPhone Configuration Tool (see my last post).

Next it was on to naming each iPad in the cart. It was getting a bit frustrating to see 20 iPads named ipad show up on iTunes. So, I figured I would unplug all and add them one at a time. When an iPad shows up in iTunes, the following screen appears:

Clicking Register Later prompted the following Screen:

I chose set up as new iPad and then Continue, prompting...

Here, I unchecked the Automatically sync songs and automatically sync apps checkboxes, leaving all three unchecked and I named the iPad based on our naming convention. Right now we only have 1 cart, so I will consider this cart 1, but wanted to leave room in our naming for the future when we have more carts so that there will be no questions regarding how to name those.

After clicking done, the following up:

Being that the iPads did not have iOS5, this screen prompted us to Update. It seemed as though any iPads that had already been changed in any way since we received them wanted to be backed up, while the others just updated.

The process took some time as I had to do them one at a time. Each time one was finished, I would plug in the next one so that it would show up with the name ipad and once completed join the crowd of newly updated iPads with the spiffy iOS5 and the nifty new name.

Next up ... Volume purchasing of apps and using the iPhone Configuration tool to get the apps to all of the iPads in the cart.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

iPad Deployment Journal...Part 2

So, I did my research on preparing a cart of 20 iPads for deployment in our school. One thing that I definitely realized is that noone seems to be doing it the exact same way. I believe my story is no exception.

I have not started to actually install apps on the iPads, but I have begun the readying process and have made some strides. The process is certainly time consuming, and I still wish there were an easier way. Perhaps my experience will help others as they embark upon this arduous process.

I was able to create a configuration file using the iPhone Configuration tool. One of my first concerns was to get our incredibly long WEP key entered on each iPad so they can access our network. Fortunately, the iPhone Configuration tool has a configuration option for wifi. It was suggested (and for now I agree) to create separate configuration profiles for different actions, one being the wifi. In theory, you can set up a number of configurations in one profile and send them all to the iPads, but in this case, I stayed with just seeing the network settings through rather than getting overly ambitious.

This process was not as bad as I feared... Simply click on Configuration Profiles in the Configuration Tool and name the profile in the Identify Section of the General tab. Then click on wifi and enter the settings for your Network. Once the configuration profile is created you need to install it on each iPad. The list of iPads shows up on the left. I was hoping I could install it on all with one click, but I couldn't figure that one out. Has anyone?
The image below shows the wifi screen for this profile:

In my next post, I will share the process of naming each iPad using iTunes. Preparation for deployment continues...

Working through the less than intuitive iPad deployment process...

We just got a cart with 20 iPads (woo hoo!). The cart is great in that it charges all the ipads and allows us to connect to all of them via USB. So, I understand (and feel free to correct any gaps in my understanding) that we can deploy apps to all of the devices using the iPhone Configuration Utility on a PC or Mac connected to our cart. We can purchase apps using the Apple Volume Purchasing Program. Once purchased, we should receive a spreadsheet with all the codes. This is where I get a little vague. From my research, it seems as though we can either deploy the apps to all of the ipads from the iPhone configuration tool OR have each iPad click on a link created from the volume purchase in order to install it on each iPad. I far prefer the idea of sending it through the config tool. I have heard that it can work and essentially, you are installing the app with the same code to all devices, but since you have purchased a license for each device, you have that info on the spreadsheet for verification purposes.

  1. A few questions...
    Do I use the iPhone configuration tool independently of iTunes, or do I use iTunes as well?

  2. Can I update all of the devices to iOS5 from the config tool or in some manner without updating each one individually?

  3. Should I name each iPad through the iPad itself or through the configuration tool?

  4. Is there a way to change the network settings through the configuration tool (in other words, I have a very long WEP key to enter in each one. Do I have to do it manually to first get each one on the network?

That's the bulk of my questions for the moment. I will post this and other reflections on the process in my blog ( Thanks in advance for any support.