Saturday, November 14, 2015

10 Questions That Must Be Answered When Going 1:1

1.  What types of mobile learning initiatives have other school districts

Image Credit:
While planning a mobile initiative, start by looking at what has already been done.  Talk to neighboring school districts.  Find out what has worked well and what has not.  Reaching out on twitter is another possibility.  Following hashtags such as #mlearning, #slide2learn, #iOSedApp, #edtech and #edchat can be beneficial.  Educators on twitter are always willing to share their ideas and experiences.  Here is a list of educators on twitter that share their expertise on twitter: @web20classroom@tonyvincent, @iPodsibilities, @lkolb, @SNewco, @Ignatia@kylepace and @elemenous.

2.  Where is the funding coming from?
Many districts give up on mobile learning initiatives before they even gets started due to lack of funds.  It is important to be creative when thinking about funding.  School districts can look into E-Rate funding, local and national grants, local company contributions and help from their PTO. Sometimes starting small is the most important aspect.  Starting out with a pilot program can be very valuable for not only teachers but the students as well. 

3.  Is the initiative sustainable?
Everyday in the news you hear about a school district buying a ridiculous amount of devices.  Was this plan really thought out?  Will it last more than two years?  It is also important to think about upgrades and broken devices.  What is the cost of repairs, replacements and upgrades?

4.  How does the district plan on using the devices?
Are the students just using these devices for testing purposes in class, or are they going to be able to bring the devices home for personal use?  All teachers need to be onboard and be willing to make use of them on a daily basis.  Students need to know the importance of the device and the many ways this resource can be used. Will these devices follow the students throughout their educational career?  In many districts, students will use the same device throughout the entirety of their education. 

5.  What device is right for your student population?
Many schools go to device is the iPad, but it is important to look at all options and functionality. Some schools feel that Chrome Books are the better route for their students.  How will the students be using the devices?  Will a keyboard be needed?

6.  Is an Acceptable Use Policy set in place?
An acceptable use policy, also called a responsible use policy, must be set in place before the roll out of the program.  Students, teachers and parents need to have an understanding of what is expected in and outside of the classroom when using devices.  Acceptable Use Policy Resources via @cybraryman1

7.  Have the teachers bought into the idea of the initiative?
This is the fastest way to kill a mobile learning initiative.  All of the teachers need to be on board.  The students will follow the lead of the teachers.  If the teachers are positive, the students will enturn be more likely to have a positive outlook regarding the use of these devices. Once again, it is important to get a group of positive teachers involved in a pilot program.  These teachers can then help out the teachers that are more apprehensive about introducing mobile devices into their classroom.

8.  Where is the professional development going to come from?
I have found that the best professional development comes from teachers teaching teachers.  Before I began using mobile devices in my classroom, I had the opportunity watch it in action in a different classroom.  Visit other school districts that have had success!

9.  Are there technology leaders in each building that will keep the initiative   
going in a positive direction?
It is always important to have a go to technology leader that is willing to take the time to work with teachers that are not as tech savvy.

10.  What apps will the students benefit from using?
Resources for Apps in the classroom.
12 of the Best Math Apps for Kids via @TeachThought
50 of the Best Free Apps for Teachers via @TeachThought
APPitic: App Lists for Education via @APPitic

Monday, November 3, 2014

Please Vote for St. Marys Intermediate School for @CompassLearning Video Contest

St. Marys Intermediate School has some EXCITING news to share. We have been selected as a finalist in the Compass Learning Classroom Refresh Video Contest. Our video was chosen from over 120 videos from all over the United States. We have a chance to win up to $55,000 worth of new technology for our school, but we need your help!

Go to to sign up. Our video is called “We Wish We All Would Use Technology More”. Your vote will take us one step closer to winning. Online voting for finalists’ videos is open to the public through December 1, 2014 and once registered, you can vote DAILY!

Please share the news about our video with your friends, colleagues, and family and encourage them to vote. When you view the video, you’ll see “Email A Friend” and “Share” features that enable you to easily share the video with your contacts on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other social media sites.

So, please take a moment to visit to register and give us your vote. We appreciate your support!


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Remind Announcing Stamps: Get Instant Feedback from Your Class!

Remind is excited to announce Stamps, a new way for students and parents to provide instant feedback on your Remind messages! With Stamps, you can easily ask questions and get quick answers from your class in real-time. For example, you can find out who is going on a field trip, who is confused about a new topic you introduced, or even, who likes the messages you’re sending.

It’s simple. You send a message to your class, just as you’ve always done with Remind. Students and parents receive the message on the Remind app and can choose one of four stamps to give feedback   ?. You’ll get timely updates when class members stamp your messages, so you can check the stamps later or watch as they arrive in real-time while in class.

While one-way messages kept students and parents informed, many teachers began asking us for an easy way to engage their class. We’ve spent a lot of time working with teachers like Diane,Laura, and Roni (thanks!) to ensure Stamps could provide instant feedback for teachers while keeping Remind simple and easy-to-use. Only teachers can see who stamped what so everyone in your class can feel comfortable leaving honest feedback.

With all our new features, we’ve been careful to maintain the simplicity and safety that have been at the heart of Remind. While Stamps are only available on our new iOS or Android app, students and parents can continue receiving your messages over SMS or email in case they don’t have a smartphone. This lets you continue using Remind just as you always have.

Stamps are available in the new version of our app available on iOS and Android. Expect more cool new features to come now that our mobile app supports students and parents. We can’t wait to show you what’s next!
We wish you an amazing school year, and hope that Stamps makes it easier to guide your class towards success!

As always, if you have questions please reach out to us by e-mail:, or onTwitter, or Facebook.

Josh and the Remind team

Friday, June 13, 2014

Interview with @DavidBFox the Designer of @RubeWorks App

1.  How long have you been involved with gaming and app developing?

I’ve been involved in gaming since 1977 when my wife, Annie, and I opened the Marin Computer Center, a nonprofit public-access microcomputer center. We’d acquire games for our computers, review them for the magazine, Creative Computing, and work with the publisher to convert them to other computers (e.g., from the TRS-80 to the Apple II).
My first game was “Mix and Match Muppets” for Children’s Television Workshop. Then many games at Lucasfilm Games/LucasArts.
I started building apps (for mobile) in 2010, with our first ones based on Annie’s Middle School Confidential graphic novel book series.

2.  What inspired you to design the app Rube Works?
Skype in the Classroom with David Fox.

I’ve always loved Rube Goldberg machines. I remember reading his cartoons in the Sunday newspaper when I was a kid in the 1950s. His wacky humor struck a chord with me.

After building several book apps, I was ready to do a game, and a Rube Goldberg machine seemed like a good idea. While researching the competition, I noticed that all of the games’ descriptions said “Rube Goldberg-like” or “in the style of Rube Goldberg”. It struck me that none actually had the word “Official” in their title or description. On a whim, I found and sent an email. Jennifer George called me from Rube Goldberg, Inc. the next morning! After about 10 minutes, she casually revealed she was Rube’s granddaughter. Wow!

3.  How long did it take to develop the app Rube Works?

 I was working on the project about two years before it was first released. The first year was focused on designing the game, building prototypes, and getting funding for it. The second year was on production.

4.  How many people were involved in the design of Rube Works?

For just the design, I’d say the core group was comprised of six people, including Jennifer, Joseph Herscher (“The Page Turner”), and two game designer friends from my LucasArts days, Ron Gilbert and Noah Falstein.

5.  What was the most difficult level to create on Rube Works?

Probably a toss-up between the Orange Juice level with the octopus and the Take your Picture (first selfie) with the acrobat, mouse, and fly. Both had a large number of complex interactions that resulted in bugs layers upon layers of bugs we we had to fix.

6.  What is your favorite level on Rube Works?
Rube Works promotes problem solving skills.

Easy question, level 2, “Simple way to slice a turkey”. It is definitely the edgiest one (in terms of humor), and a bit dark. You have to laugh, and then you feel bad you’re laughing. This was the one I chose as my prototype demo level, and it was the first one we built as a proof of concept.

7.  Are you currently working on any new apps?

Yes, getting close to releasing “Middle School Confidential 3: What’s Up with My Family?” 

8.  What games inspired you when you were growing up?

There were no computer games when I was growing up, but I played lots of board games, checkers, chess, Chinese checkers, card games… I did love going to the penny arcade (though it was really a dime arcade). None of those games were electronic, though… mostly mechanical with moving parts, lights, and sound.

9.  What games did you work on with LucasArts?

My first game was Rescue on Fractalus! which was released in 1984 and was one of the first two games Lucasfilm Games (LucasArts’ name then) released. Then Labyrinth (based on the film of the same name, which Lucasfilm produced), Maniac Mansion (I was the SCUMM scriptor), Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders (designer, project leader, SCUMM scriptor), and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure (co-designer, SCUMM scriptor). I did work as a producer on Pipeworks and then as the designer on a location based entertainment project, Mirage, which was intended for theme parks but was never released.

10.  What is the best advice you would give to students that are interested in creating an app?

Do it! Start with one of the simpler development environments, like Corona SDK, or possibly look into the HTML5 systems (I’m not familiar with these though). Either work on your own, or get together with some friends who have abilities you don’t. You’ll need a designer, programmer, artist, sound designer, and lots of testers. And of course you will need someone who takes the lead in the project to help manage the flow.
 If you’re not ready to dive in, then find some books on app creation, or if you want to create a game, do some research on game design. Then play many different games and evaluate them, thinking about what you’d do differently.

Download on iTunes App Store:
Download on Google Play for Android:

Here is a preview of the app with the @RubeWorks official trailer.
RubeWorks is designed by @UnityGames, @ElectrcEggplant, @DavidBFox @RubeGoldberg