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Friday, February 17, 2012

Judson ISD February 2012 Technology Services' Newsletter

We have published our Judson ISD February Technology Services Uplink newsletter at this link.  Featured articles include:

  • Wireless - Now District Wide!!!
  • Opening Up the Web for Teaching and Learning
  • Self Service Password Manager
  • Automated Screen Locking
And more!

Judson ISD Classroom Excels with iPads and iPods

Ms. Kellogg's Crestview Elementary Students working

Yesterday, I had a wonderful time visiting with Judson ISD's elementary iPod and iPad pilot at Crestview Elementary School.  One might think that managing the mix of iPods and iPads (plus computers) in a classroom might be overwhelming and end up being counterproductive.  But from what I observed in the classroom, students were engaged and focused on their individual learning, as the teacher monitored and coached the students.  Their teacher, Ms. Kellogg, writes:  

The integration of iPads and iPod Touches into my first grade classroom has given me the opportunity to provide individualized instruction for the students that is both multi-leveled and multi-sensory. I utilize various iPod and iPad apps to differentiate for each student’s unique learning needs. I have been able to more tightly align my instruction with innovative, meaningful, and engaging lessons and activities.  My students get continual feedback on their progress as they work on the iPads and iPods. I am able to retrieve and analyze real-time data on my students, then adjust their level of instruction as needed. One of the biggest rewards that has resulted from this pilot program is that all of my students are able to experience success, no matter their strengths or weaknesses.

 This classroom works so well because of a teacher who was willing to fundamentally change how her classroom works and to investigate, learn, and experiment on a daily basis to keep improving the implementation and the students' learning.  She admits to spending many evenings researching and preparing for the next day.   To make this work on a larger scale, many teachers would need to have sustained and ongoing professional development and support to succeed.   I look forward to seeing the progress this class makes this year and to see if the success can be broadened beyond this one classroom.   

Some photos from my visit are available in my photo gallery.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Judson ISD Connect Mobile Application for iPhone, iPad and Android

After talking with a fellow technology leader about a rapid development tool for easily creating iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android applications, I decided that I would investigate just how easy, or how difficult, the actual development of an Apple iOS and a Google Android application might be.  I was not sure of what kind of challenge this might be, given that I have only developed web pages and ColdFusion applications in the past.

I created an account at Conduit Mobile to investigate the process and after trying ideas out for about an hour, I knew that given the high number of great news, photo, video and other social media feeds that Judson ISD has, I could easily develop a great mobile application for our community. 

So I set aside a half day with my fantastic web team ( and one giant pizza to feed great minds ) consisting of a webmaster and web application developer and we mapped out a plan for the few hours we had put aside to work on our mobile app.  I focused on configuring the app, while the webmaster created couple of custom RSS feeds and the web app developer worked on some graphics.  We had most of the app ready within that afternoon, with everyone spending a couple more hours on their part in the next day or so.

Here is where I spent a lot of time putting the app parts together in Conduit mobile:

The most difficult parts of this project was the registering for becoming and Apple and Android developer and the associated application submissions and approvals.  The time from account creation to our application being published took no more than three weeks time, but would have been quicker had I not encountered some application build errors with Conduit Mobile.

I am very excited we were able to create such a useful app with so little time and money.  I think the end product is professional and very usable for our staff, students, and community.   

Below is the info from our Judson ISD mobile application page:

Judson ISD Connect Mobile Application for iPhone, iPad and Android

Conduit Mobile graphic
Using the freely available Conduit Mobile application platform, Judson ISD has leveraged its existing news, social media activity, photos, sports schedules, sports scores, video and bully reporting to offer our community a convenient iPhone, iPad, and Android application where they can conveniently browse our web content. We know today's mobile users like to consume web content via apps, rather than traditional web pages. The application is free of charge for anyone wanting to use from their existing smart phone or tablet.
This application was entirely built in house and the only cost besides some staff time, and the $499 Conduit Mobile premium lifetime subscription, was the $124 spent for Judson ISD to become approved developers for Apple and Android.
While there are no definitive plans for what might be added to this app in the future, we have many ideas about what we might add to this application in the future.
Please visit the links below to the Judson ISD Connect mobile application in the iTunes App Store and the Android Marketplace.
Here are some application screen shots - please download the latest version of the application to see the most current screens:
Judson ISD Connect! home screen
Judson ISD Connect mobile app photo gallery

Judson ISD Connect mobile app Twitter feedJudson ISD Connect mobile app news feed

For more information about our application and our development experience, please contact Steve Young, Chief Technology Officer for Judson ISD at (210) 945-5562 or by email at