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Educated By Design Blog

Filtering by Category: Apple™

The Reason Why Teachers Are Afraid Of Technology, and 2 Ways We Can Help Them Embrace It.

Michael Cohen

When I was eight years old living in Southern California, my parents bought a video conferencing system to talk with my grandparents in Philadelphia. To this day I could never figure out how my grandfather, set it up on his end. The mammoth devices used a combination of wires to connect to our phone line and television, delivering a blurry 200x100 image of my grandparents. It was quite a scene. With a mixture of movement delayed by 45 seconds and their voices echoing through the telephone, I felt as if I was in a 14.4K internet induction program.

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I Preordered the iPad Pro and I am Scared

TheTechRabbi

I love the iPad. I find it to be one of the most amazing computing devices of the past two decades. It's tactile and model experiences are untouched by any of its competition, and while some will gripe at its premium price, I will smile and say its worth it. I have iPad 2's at my school that are albeit a bit sluggishly running iMovie on iOS 9 yet I would be surprised to hear of a netbook, chromebook, or even a laptop holding up that long (4 years) in an educational environment.

Still, we must be clear that the iPad is NOT a computer replacement for everyone.

Apple boldly said in their March Keynote that the iPad pro is in fact a computer replacement, it is missing a serious demographic, and that is creative professionals. If you are a business person or someone that needs simple programs and multitasking, then the iPad Pro models might work for you. I on the other hand have spent the past decade and a half using Adobe creative products and the iPad app alternatives are simply not there. While I find myself more and more working on hand drawn sketch style projects, there are certain things on the iPad that at least it this point I cant imagine doing even if it is possible.

JIFA_finalmark

Take this logo for example. Its done by slicing, layering, and rotating watercolor swatches which are then masked behind the the three unique shapes to create a single unified mark. Can this be done on the iPad Pro? Unsure and uncomfortable are two words that come to mind.

In the realm of sketching work, my go-to app has been Paper by 53 with the Pencil by 53. With my expensive yet amazing Apple Pencil, I just lost the power of the Apple Pencil and my favorite app.

Still, I am excited for the possibilities. The iPad Pro packs a powerful mix of software and hardware and I believe that the 9.7 model will attract developers including Adobe to push the limits of design.

With all this said, for the first time ever, I preordered the iPad Pro 9.7 with the keyboard case, Apple Pencil, and USB adapter. I am excited but also a bit scared. Not just because it costs as much as a macbook pro, but because I don't want to find myself on my Macbook pro because the iPad Pro can't perform.

 

Think Different, More Than Just a Choice of Device

TheTechRabbi

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It was 1997 and Apple challenged the world to "Think Different"This cliché is more than meets the eye, speaking more about the decision not go with the status quo device than a challenge for us as innovators and users of technology to use their devices to, think different. This is because 1997 was the same year that Apple almost went bankrupt. Twenty years later, we see Apple is a leading technology company, one who continues to push the limits of how technology can shape our future. When analyzing technology's impact on experiences in and out of education, we need to appreciate that technology affords us the ability to think different. It allows us to enhance experiences, alter others, and cause daily experiences to become obsolete. It is in this spirit that models such as SAMR as so dangerous, yet simultaneously so magical in how they enable us to measure our thoughtful use of technology.

When we look at technology only as a computer then we in fact significantly limit our potential outcomes.

file000381054567 One of the greatest technological breakthroughs of the industrial age was the invention of the typewriter. It was a device of empowerment, individuality, and of freedom. We were now able to rapidly produce our thoughts onto paper breaking the shackles of the limitations of pen and ink, and the printing press.

So what did the computer accomplish? Looks like a typewriter to me. For one, it turned production into mass production giving us the ability to store hundreds and even thousands of those typed letters on this "little" innovation. Floppy_disk_2009_G1Computing technology has come a long way, becoming smaller and simpler, with expanded abilities , and more intricate and complex results. As the decades passed this trend continued until

April 3, 2010. That was the day that Apple again, Thought Different.

That day, we went mobile, and dozens of limitations and challenges evaporated into thin air. A truly different device was created. It is not a device that can replace a computer and, therefore, isn't comparable to one. It is like trying to compare a car and a helicopter simply based on their similar ability in respect to travel. The iPad also created a challenge that other tech companies eagerly accepted. How can we take the best features of all creative devices and combine them into one. The mobile tablet was born. IMG_0140   Still, the world looked at the iPad as a consumption device, and Education looked at it was skepticism. Fast forward five years and it is abundantly clear that the iPad is much more, a creative, personalized, empowering, truly mobile device. Still as recently as yesterday I am reading criticisms leveled at the iPad that I thought we had overcome. CK5Pe4hVEAE4_z5 No one will question the importance of easy and advanced levels of writing, but once your Bluetooth keyboard pairs with the iPad, it will give you ample time to question the level of emphasis on essay writing as a means of assessment, which alienates at least four ways students can demonstrate their understanding.

Still, the iPad isn't perfect, for example, it's an IT nightmare. The iPad is extremely difficult for IT Departments to manage and support. This is, unfortunately true, and very frustrating. Apple has made little to no effort to answer the call by educational technology personnel to change how the iPad is set up and managed. Fall 2015 is a little to late and many have given up on the device as an educational tool because of this. For those that have stuck it out I ask the following question.

What drives the choice of technology at your school? The meaningful learning outcomes that students can produce or the ability for the adults to manage it?

I want what's best for my students. I want to afford them the most flexible and versatile learning tools just like I expect those same descriptors to reflect their learning spaces, and the learning itself.

I don't want my students to have an iPad, I want them to have a mobile studio that can plan, design, produce, edit, and publish most excellent learning experiences.

Rewriting History with Book Creator

TheTechRabbi

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One of the challenges of teaching history is that it doesn't change much. While there may be a discovery here and there, it is rare that any sort of drastic discovery might alter the learning experience of a student in history class. Thanks to various technology innovations like the internet and computing technology, this challenge can also be turned into history. That is if as an educator we are willing to be open to the possibility that we are not the all knowing fountain of knowledge, and that our 20-year old textbook might need an upgrade? But who can afford textbooks?!!?

Worry not! We have a classroom of historical researchers and thinkers and the tools to empower them to create their own history book.

In an 8th-grade history class, we did just that. In collaboration with Ilana Zadok, 8th-grade history teacher, we set out to challenge our students to build their own Revolutionary War publication. We wanted it to be something that is 100% student-produced with the goal that others could learn and in the end benefit from the students work. Our students set out to research various events of the Revolutionary War, focusing on primary sources and first-hand encounters. With this research in hand students because to create a window into the past. Through creative writing, photos, and student-produced films these events began to take life through the lens of the students. With all of this amazing content gathered and produced we were at a loss of where to compile it and share it out.

Book Creator to the Rescue!

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After the content was created students imported it into Book Creator and used its features to layout an interactive book full of written, visual, and audial expressions. Each group of students then created an assessment quiz at the end to demonstrate their understanding of the content and to challenge their peers to delve deep into their work. In the end students learned from their peers gaining a deep understanding of a specific Revolutionary event and a general overview of the entire war. With the success of this unit, there was so much more accomplished besides the memorization of battles and soldiers. Students developed important skills in communication, both visually, and verbally. Collaboration, Cooperation, Organization, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving all played a role in this production.

The end result was an 110-page publication that pushed the limits of student learning and technology itself. The Book Creator file was 1GB and due to its size would not export from the iPad. With a little bit of praying and 4 hours of work on my part, I was able to get the file down to 610MB without sacrificing one iota of student work and airdrop it to the students iPads to experience their hard work first hand.

Here are a few screenshots and videos from the publication.

Enjoy.Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 11.50.15 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 11.50.40 AM

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Reflections: Apple Distinguished Educator Institute 2015

TheTechRabbi

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What makes a great educator? Is it passion? pedagogy? adaptability? Is being forward thinking and a risk taker the yardstick of a quality educator? When I arrived at the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) Institute in Miami I was told,

You are all here for a purpose, and you all deserve to be here.

This statement has still yet to be digested as I try to piece together amazing, meaningful moments together on my journey as an educator and a lover of technology, and I do love technology. I find technology empowers its users with an uncanny ability to create and explore hidden talents, skills, and ideas that without it would lie dormant, and hidden away.

When I applied to the ADE program this year, I was nervous anxious totally freaked out. I saw amazing educators who are doing amazing things in their classroom with amazing students. Then I saw me, the bearded Chassidic Rabbi trying to "change the world", and then it hit me, April 22nd, 8:00pm.

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 9.20.06 PM

The following are 4 take aways that made this experience powerful in the moment, and priceless in where it will take me.

This Isn't Just A Conference:

As an avid cliché user, and life long learner, I am always trying to find new things to learn, and new ways to learn them. When I attend conferences I am usually caught up in the hustle and bustle of presenting and finding worthwhile sessions to attend. At the ADE Institute, something was different. During the opening keynote, it was said that

if all we did at the institute, was bring you all together, we are certain that amazing things would happen.

The Institute hosted without questions some amazing presenters. Outside of the unbelievable work that fellow ADEs presented at the showcases, we also heard from the developers of Garageband and iMovie who shared with us not just how to "use" the apps, but how to "think" while using them. Our surprise keynote, Jason Hall of Chicago's "Slow Roll Bicycle Movement" show us how passion and activism can unite a community, a city, and the world. Still, my biggest take home without question was those impromptu conversations with fellow ADEers whether over an iPad, a Beer, or both. These colleagues and friends will definitely be part of my continue journey as a professional educator.

Learning Is A Journey:

One of the biggest challenges as a learner is to make time to reflect, redo, and reread pieces that make an impact on us. In our educational journeys, many times we are simply pushed forward in an effort to "learn more". The process of going back to something that seems old, and discovering something new is a tenant of the Jewish faith. Every year, we reread the Torah anew, and every year I discover something completely amazing, something that is as relevant today in 2015 as it was 2,000 years ago. With this outlook I try to impress on my students, and anyone who will listen, how critical review and reflection are. One of the amazing experiences of the Institute was to see so many amazing educators on very unique journeys. Still, no matter how unique we are, there was always something to learn from one another. Some of the best discoveries I had at the Institute were in conversation with a kindergarten teacher and a university professor. In the end we all shared the same focus on not just where we are, but where we are going.

We Are In This Together:

"Let me know how I can help." This was a mantra at the institute, and everyone was serious about it. It seemed that every time I shared a story, a struggle, a dream, there was someone at the ADE Institute who could help me. It really felt like a great big family of educators and this is something that I know will keep going throughout the year and beyond. It was humbling, inspiring, and outright exciting to interact with so many talented and creative experts who want to share more than just ideas, but their time and effort to help me grow as well as my students.

We are Advocates:

The four pillars of being an Apple Distinguished Educator is that we are Authors, Advisors, Ambassadors, and Advocates. For me, it was the idea of advocacy that hit home. As a Chassidic Orthodox Rabbi, I must admit that I was very nervous about attending the Institute for a number of reasons. The challenges of the Sabbath, access to Kosher food, and some of the cultural differences made me unsure if I would "fit in". After speaking with Matt Baier on the phone prior to the Institute, these worries simply melted away. Not only did I feel welcomed and supported, I felt integral. I felt that the diverse and unique educators at the Institute is what makes the Apple Distinguished Educator community so great.

The Apple Distinguished Educator Institute was unlike anything I have every experienced. I know that it is the spring board for amazing friendships, collaboration, and a driving force that will make a difference for the teachers and students that I support.

Now the next stage in this journey...

My One Best Thing

Interactive Book titled, "Students Teaching Students Is Totally Awesome".

Astropad: A New Hope

TheTechRabbi

[vimeo 119822837 w=500 h=281] Welcome to Astropad from Astro HQ, a digital drawing tool that gives us a new hope in how inspired artists create. The touch capabilities of tablets, specifically the iPad have transformed how lovers of drawing make art. The past twenty years have seen amazing advancements in how digital art can be produced. Beginning with the Adobe Creative revolution of the late 90's, to Wacom's tablet technology of the 2000's art could be digitally created and refined, but still had its limitations. Fast forward to the creation of the iPad, a screen you could touch, which provided the means to develop incredible artistic apps like Paper 53, Autodesk's Sketchbook, and my personal favorite Tayasui Sketches. These apps have taken classic artistic processes and opened up a whole new world in how we mix together works of digital art.

Now its time for the next artistic leap forward

In comes the Astropad, which takes a massive leap forward in how we facilitate the artistic process. Astropad gives you the manipulative touch power of an iPad with the computing horsepower of a Mac to creative your own masterpiece. Artists can now use the iPad to zoom in, refine work just like drawing on paper, while keeping your Mac focused on the bigger picture.

Astropad retails for $49.99, with an educational discount for teachers and students for $19.99.

While its still a fresh technological approach to art, Astropad gives me a new hope in what is possible.