Lesson Idea: Measurement & Estimation

Working recently with Year 4 students on length and estimation, we undertook a fantastic hands-on activity using plasticine and the Seesaw app on iPad.

The activity went like this:

  1. Students were asked to roll two pieces of plasticine into two long ‘snakes’ less than 30cm long.

  2. Next, students were asked to estimate the length of each snake (without measuring) and write their estimation on a post-it note.

  3. Then, students used a ruler to measure accurately the length of their snakes

  4. Students took a photo with the iPad Camera app of their snakes, post-it note and ruler.

  5. Finally, students used Seesaw to label the measured length of each snake in cm, then converted the length from cm to mm and m, adding labels for those converted measurements as well.  

  6. If time was available, students recorded their voice saying:
    'My estimation was ____ cm more/less than the actual measurement.


BYOD iPad Storage Cabinets

Earlier this year, while assisting a school plan and launch a BYOD program with iPads, the need for secure storage of iPads before school was identified.  

The school could not find a suitable solution, so we designed & manufactured a secure storage cabinet which allows students to slide their iPad in when they arrive at school, and teachers to unlock after the bell to access the iPads so students can get into learning for the day. 

The lockable cabinet holds 30+ iPads and its slim design fits easily against the wall in the classroom.  Students ‘post’ their iPad into one of the three slots, which gently slides down making room for other iPads.  The large lockable door allows easy access by the teacher once the school day starts.

If this solution could be useful at your school – contact us for details. 

Lesson Idea: Sketching the Reef

Scott was recently working with a group of Year 4 Teachers and Students studying the Great Barrier Reef in a HSIE unit. As part of their study into the issues for the reef, students undertook an art lesson to draw an underwater scene of coral and/or fish.

They used an iPad app called ‘Sketches School’ and used their fingers to do the drawing. To begin, they imported a photo of an underwater scene, and then faded it out so they could just see it. Then, using their fingers to draw they used the tools like brushes, pencils, crayon, eraser and more. They traced and interpreted the scene as their own artwork.

A fabulous way to integrate art and technology, developing an appreciation of the beauty of the reef – all without the mess and cleanup usually associated with an art lesson.

Here is some of the student’s work:

Apple TV Conference Room Display

Apple TV connected to a projector, IWB or TV in the classroom is a fantastic way to mirror your iPad screen using AirPlay. If you find the list of movies and music distracting or inappropriate in the classroom – you need to turn on Conference Room Display.

Conference Room Display on your Apple TV shows a beautiful photo and the name of this Apple TV for AirPlay.


Follow these steps:

  1. Ensure your Apple TV has a unique name in Settings > General > About > Name

  2. Go to Settings > AirPlay > Conference Room Display

  3. Turn on Conference Room Display

  4. Choose a Photo

  5. Optionally add a Custom Message

  6. Go to Settings > General > Restart

It should then look like this:

conference room display on apple tv

conference room display on apple tv

Which adaptor do I use?

Apple’s striving for thinner laptops and adoption of the latest standards, has resulted in a plethora of adaptors for the Mac. It can be confusing for even the most seasoned Mac users, let alone those new to the Mac.

MacBook Pro (pictured), iMac Pro, and iMac have multiple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports

MacBook Pro (pictured), iMac Pro, and iMac have multiple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports

The new MacBook Pro, iMac Pro and iMac have Thunderbolt 3 ports which also support USB-C in the one port, allowing you to connect both types of accessories – or adaptors for HDMI, Ethernet, VGA, and older versions of USB and Thunderbolt.


Apple recently created a guide to help you find the right adaptor for the accessories you wish to connect to your new Mac with USB C & Thunderbolt ports.

Read more

Add your iOS 11 iPads to DEP with Configurator 2.5

Apple’s Device Enrolment Program makes it easier to manage iPads, but being a time-of-purchase enrolment into the program, some schools are faced with an existing fleet of iPads which are not in DEP.

Some schools have found their Authorised Education Reseller is willing and able to retrospectively add iPads purchased from them into DEP.

With the recent release of Apple Configurator 2.5 there is a new option for schools with iPads not yet in DEP.  Schools can provisionally add any iPads running iOS 11 to DEP using the new ‘Add to DEP’ tick box when preparing iPads in Configurator 2.5

Configurator 2.5 - Provisional DEP.png

This enrolment is ‘provisional’, so for a period of 30 days, users are able to opt-out of DEP.  The lock screen will display instructions for how to “leave remote management”.  Therefore, you may choose to not have students using these iPads during the 30-day provisional period.  Sounds like a good last week of school, or summer holiday job.

What are the requirements?

– Your devices must be updated to iOS 11.
– The process will erase devices. It will not preserve data.
– You need to plug devices into a Mac (once) to start the process.
– The person running the process will need the Apple School Manager login.
– You will need to manually assign devices to your MDM in Apple School Manager, then complete the setup of the iPad.
– For 30 days after enrolment, users may choose to leave DEP (and MDM). DEP is permanent only after the 30 day provisional period has elapsed.

Read our blog 'Why DEP is so Important'

If you have questions about DEP, don't hesitate to contact us.

App Review Apple Classroom 2.1

Classroom is a powerful iPad app for teachers to guide students while they learn using iPads. Launch apps, books and websites on your students’ iPads to focus their attention.  Lock screens, mute sound or observe screens – all from the teacher’s iPad.


The Classroom app is only installed on the Teacher’s iPad, and classes are configured in one of two ways:

– Admin-created:  Classes can be created in your Mobile Device Management (MDM) system and the Classroom app on teacher iPads is automatically configured with students ready for class.  Student iPads need to be Supervised and enrolled in the MDM.

– Teacher-created:  With Classroom 2.0 teachers can create their own classes and add students on their own with the app – no MDM or Apple ID required.  Ideal for BYOD classes.

Just remember, in teacher-created classes, students can ‘Deny’ teachers performing actions on their iPads, so there is a little more human ‘classroom management’ required.  Using an MDM system you can prevent students from doing this.

Classroom 2.1 has added a new ‘Student Activity Summary’, where a new screen presents a summary of student activity when the teacher ends a class session.  Support for Drag and Drop to share URLs, documents and images is now supported on iOS 11.

Apple Classroom requires an iPad 4th generation, iPad mini 2 or later, running iOS 10.3.2 or later. To take advantage of all features the latest iOS is recommended for both teacher and student iPads.

Watch the Guided Tour
Learn more about Apple Classroom

iOS 11 – will your favourite app stop working?‎

Apple has removed support for older 32-bit applications in the new iOS 11, which has been hinted at in iOS 10 with messages warning certain apps need to be updated by the developer. The first 64-bit processor iPad was the iPad Air, released in 2013 and since then Apple has been warning developers of it's move away from 32-bit architecture.

What does this mean for us?  Some of the apps you love to use in your classroom will not work on iOS 11.  So how do we find out which apps won't run on iOS 11?

Follow these steps to find out:

  1. Make sure your iPad is up-to-date on iOS 10.3 or later
  2. Open Settings > General > About > Applications where you will find a list of apps that will not work with iOS unless the developer updates the app soon.  (Note: if you can't click on Applications then you don't have any 32-bit apps installed on this iPad)

You may want to contact the developer of the app to encourage them to update their app so it will work on iOS 11.  If enough of us make contact, they might update the app.


App Review: Handwriting Learning Apps

The touch interface is what sets the iPad apart from a traditional computer, and it’s wonderful when apps are created that take advantage of this interface.

rED Writing and School Writing are two Australian apps designed to help students who are learning to write with letter formation and more, which make excellent use of the iPad touch Interface.

Both apps offer letter tracing with assistance for upper and lower case letters, and numbers.  If students incorrectly trace the letter, the apps demonstrate and give the students another chance.  A choice of Australian state cursive fonts is offered, plus Australian voices and spelling ensure a great experience for our students.

rED Writing was recently updated from an iPhone app to work on the larger iPad screen, and it's fun graphics and style is engaging for kids.

School Writing adds the ability for teacher to customise content for their students, including word lists, replacing demonstrations and voice overs.

At time of writing, both apps offer a discount in the Education VPP Store.

App Review: Jungle Fractions, Coins, Time and Geometry

Andrew Short has written a wonderful series of maths apps with a jungle theme featuring fun graphics, animations and sound.  Each app starts at a basic level, but has depth for extending students.

The Fractions app features naming, comparing, converting and adding fractions, while the Coins app lets students identify and compare coins, count value and calculate correct change – with Australian coins.  Time has support for 12 and 24 hour clocks, and students get to tell the time, set the time and compare time.  Geometry looks at shapes, angles, length and more.

Why is DEP so important?


The Device Enrolment Program (DEP) provides educational institutions and businesses a range of benefits for deployment of iPads when using a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution.

DEP has become important for schools as they migrate from Apple Configurator to an MDM.

Firstly, iOS devices ordered under DEP can be more easily enrolled in an MDM solution using the 'Automated Device Enrolment' feature, where an iPad can configure itself when turned on initially, based on the DEP settings, which are set by the institution.  Students and teachers could be issued with an iPad still in its shrink wrapped box, and when the user turns it on and joins WiFi the first time, the iPad will configure itself automatically.

Secondly, a DEP enrolled iPad can take advantage of a number of features when enrolled in an MDM solution:

Mandatory & Lockable MDM:  Users will not be able to remove the MDM management profile
Streamlined Setup Assistant:  Specify which setup screens are showed to users during initial setup.
Wireless Supervision:  An iPad can be supervised, without using Apple Configurator.
iOS Updates from MDM:  Update iPads over WiFi, without having to touch each device.
Shared iPad:  DEP is required to support the new 'Shared iPad' feature to allow multiple student logins
Note:  Shared iPad requires iOS 9.3 or later, on a minimum 32GB iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4 or later.

DEP is now available to schools who have enrolled in Apple School Manager, or upgraded their VPP account to Apple School Manager.  

When ordering, schools need to ask for them to be ordered under DEP from Apple, or an Authorised Apple Reseller who is participating in DEP.  Previous purchases might be eligible for retrospective addition to DEP depending on where they were purchased from.

Contact us if you would like assistance with upgrading to Apple School Manager, or navigating DEP or setting up an MDM for your school.

Mind Map Apps for Chromebook & iPad

Mind maps are used for brainstorming and to visually organise information.  They connect information around a central idea or topic and build branches (or nodes) around it.

SimpleMind on the iPad

SimpleMind on the iPad

Students can create a mind map to organise their thoughts before writing a story or creating a project.  They can use them to takes notes in a non-linear way making it easier to see connections between concepts, or as part of a problem solving task to see the different parts of a complex problem to highlight a new and creative solution. Creating a mind map as a group allows everyone's ideas to be included effectively.

There are a range of free and paid apps available to create mind maps.  Here are a few we have used:

Chromebook Apps

MindMup is a free web-based mind mapping tool which integrates into Google Drive for collaboration with others. Add text and images, change the node colour and attach files and URLs.  MindMup Gold subscription provides a premium service either per user, or per organisation.  Edit your Drive Settings to more easily open your MindMup documents from Google Drive.

Coggle is another web-based tool which allows collaboration, but not as integrated with Google Drive as MindMup. Create colourful mind maps with text, images, icons and URLs.  Upgrade to paid versions for more features.

Other Chrome apps worth looking into are MindMap, Connected Mind and Lucid Chart.

iPad Apps

SimpleMind is available as a free version, or the Pro version with more features. The interface is clear and easy to use with lots of flexibility.  Pro offers 50% discount on VPP Store for Education.   

Popplet is a widely used app in schools with its distinctive rectangles which can contain text, drawings or images. Popplet Lite is free and allows you to have one board only.  The paid Popplet allows multiple boards and many other features, and offers 50% discount on VPP Store for Education.  Note:  as time of writing Popplet has not been updated to 64-bit which may cause compatibility issues with future iOS releases.

Other apps worth trying are Mind Meister, iMindMap and Total Recall Mind Map.  If you decide on a free app without export, remember you can always take a screenshot.

5 Reasons to Update Your iPad 2

Apple released the iPad 2 in March 2011, almost six years ago.  

iPads are so reliable, they are still going strong in schools across the globe – but schools are starting to replace them for a number of reasons:

  1. iOS 10 is not compatible with the iPad 2, 3 or iPad mini (1st generation) preventing you from installing apps which are iOS 10-only including the current version of all the apps from Apple.  This will become a bigger issue over the coming year for updated versions of existing apps, but also wonderful new apps like Swift Playgrounds.
  2. Proxy Authentication issues preventing iPads from accessing the Internet effectively in NSW DoE schools have been resolved in iOS 10.2, but there is NO update planned for iOS 9-only devices such as the iPad 2 which may continue to experience issues.
  3. Bluetooth 4 is required for many educational robotics, but the iPad 2 only has Bluetooth 2.1 so its unable to work with some robots.  Important to check before purchasing.
  4. The new Apple Classroom App & Shared iPad features of Apple School Manager require a newer iPad to work, the iPad 2 is not compatible.
  5. Device Enrolment Program (DEP) is very helpful when moving to Mobile Device Management (MDM) and most iPad 2 devices in schools can’t be added to DEP. 

So what do you do now ?

It has always been important to budget for replacement of our ICT resources over a 3, 4 or 5 year lifecycle – so time to do the same with the iPads and budget to replace the iPad 2s over this year and next.

Apple and a number of resellers are offering trade-in programs which may be worth investigating.  Some schools are replacing them with new models for classes to use and then keeping the iPad 2s for non-Internet, non-robotics purposes.

We recommend all new iPads be purchased under DEP from Apple or Apple Reseller.

NEW Google Sites

Google recently released the brand new Google Sites – a drag-and-drop website builder that is fabulously easy to use, with a responsive design to automatically scale between computer, tablet and mobile.

Easily manage multiple pages and navigation menus.  Add text and images, videos and uploaded documents.  Embed content from other websites, your Drive, and Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms.  The 'Add Editors' button opens the familiar sharing permissions pane, while 'Publish' lets you choose your audience as anyone in your organisation or anyone on the web.

Now integrated into Drive like Docs and Slides, you create a new Site by selecting 'New' > 'More' > 'Google Sites':

Simply drag objects from the menu on the right side of the screen to add Text, Images, Embed URL or Upload objects onto your page – or select one of the many Google content objects such as maps, calendars and anything from your Drive.  Drag objects to rearrange your page.

Google has announced that "The previously existing, classic version of Sites will continue to exist in parallel with the new Sites as we add capabilities that are similar to those found in the classic Sites" and "In 2017, we’ll provide and recommend options to migrate your sites from the classic Sites to the new Sites" and finally "Beginning in 2018, we’ll send a timeline and instructions regarding the gradual process to shut down the classic Sites. The specific date for the shutdown of the classic Sites has yet to be set, but we’ll inform you at least one year in advance of that shutdown".

Google has created an online tutorial to help you get started.

Swift Playgrounds

So, you have been using Scratch with your class for a while, and wondering how you can help them move towards learning to code an app?

Enter Swift Playgrounds.  

Swift Playgrounds Lesson

Swift Playgrounds Lesson

This revolutionary new app for the iPad uses Swift, the programming language for developers to create apps for the iPhone, iPad and Mac.  Students use this interactive and fun app to solve puzzles and learn to code along the way.  Swift Playgrounds requires no coding knowledge to start, but is a deep app that has the potential to grow students' skills to the point they can move into Xcode, Apple’s developer tool and make their own app.

When launching the app, students can begin with ‘Learn to Code 1 & 2’ lessons and then move on to a range of challenges.  Each lesson has a number of tasks, which introduce students to commands that they will use to move the character known as ‘Byte’ around a virtual world, achieving things along the way.

Swift Playgrounds is a free app, available for iPads running iOS 10, and requires an iPad Air, iPad mini 2 or later.

Read more about Swift Playgrounds, and register for the Coding in the Classroom Workshop to explore this app and how to use it in the classroom.

Collaboration for Pages, Keynote & Numbers

Fans of Apple’s iWork suite – Pages, Keynote and Numbers, will be excited to hear that Apple has added collaboration to the latest versions of these apps on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac and iCloud.com 

Invite others to your documents and work on them together in real time when signed into iCloud on your device, or logged in to iCloud via a web browser.  You can change share options, limit who can access the document, and control if they can make changes, or view only.  While collaborating you can see who is working on the document, and follow someone’s edits.

Collaboration in Pages for iPad

Collaboration in Pages for iPad

In Keynote, there's an option to present a slideshow that users can follow along with from their Mac, iPhone, iPad, or iCloud.com, and there's a feature for highlighting with the Apple Pencil while presenting on the iPad Pro. Pages and Keynote also both now feature support for opening and editing Pages and Keynote '05 documents. 

You will need iOS 10 on your iPad and macOS Sierra on your Mac with the latest versions of Pages, Keynote and Numbers – alternatively, access iCloud on a Mac with the latest Safari or Chrome, or a Windows PC with IE 11, or the latest Chrome browser.

Learn how to get started

iOS 10

Apple released iOS 10 on 13 September 2016 with a cleaner and more consistent design including a redesigned Lock screen.  Updates to the built in apps such as Messages, Maps and Siri, plus more opportunities for developers to integrate round out the top features.  

Read more here:  http://www.apple.com/au/ios/

iOS 10 is supported on iPads 4 or later and iPad mini 2 or later.

iPad 2, 3 and iPad mini (1st Generation) will continue to operate perfectly on iOS 9, although eventually you may find too many apps require iOS 10 to install – so begin planning your replacement budget for your older iPads.

Configurator 2.3 was also released to support iOS 10 and includes the ability to set the time zone when preparing an iPad.  It requires Mac OS X v10.11.5 or later and the latest version of iTunes on your Mac.

Earlier versions of Configurator will give an error when trying to install or restore to iOS 10, so for those still on Configurator 1.7.2 the time has come to migrate.

Duck Duck Moose Apps now free

Award winning educational app developer Duck Duck Moose, creator of titles such as ChatterPix, Word Wagon, Draw and Tell, and Park Math – has joined forces with Khan Academy.  

“We’re joining Khan Academy because it’s the best way for us to have the largest impact on early learning and children,” said Caroline Hu Flexer. “We’re excited to make all of our products free so they can be accessible to children all over the world, regardless of their financial resources.”

See their range of apps

Which iPad for the Classroom?

When planning your next iPad purchase, there are a number of important considerations.  

Previously, the decision between large and small screens and GB of storage often came down to budget.  Today, there are new considerations:

  • Minimum Spec for ‘Shared iPad’ – To use Apple’s new ‘Shared iPad’ feature, you need a 32GB iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 4 or later model iPad.
  • Mobile Device Management (MDM) – To take advantage of ‘Shared iPad’ and the new ‘Classroom’ app an MDM solution is required, and Caching Server is recommended.
  • iOS 10 Support – When iOS 10 arrives in spring, it will NOT support some older iPad models. 

While iPads have proven to be very reliable (especially compared to desktops and laptops) and schools continue to use their original iPads, their longevity is a double edged sword.  Their long life makes it hard to justify their replacement!

Schools with older devices, especially the many schools with iPad 2 will need to look at budgeting for the replacement of older iPads for the coming year if they want to support the upcoming iOS and apps, and the new ‘Shared iPad’ functionality.

Google Forms Quizzes

Teachers have long asked for Google Forms to be able to auto-mark questions.  Google have listened and added this feature in a recent update.

You can create a new quiz from forms.google.com, or convert any existing form using the Settings gear-cog icon.

Once you have created a question, click the ‘Answer Key’ to choose the correct answer, add a point value and optionally add answer feedback for both correct and incorrect answers.

You can release the mark immediately after each submission, or later after you have manually reviewed your students work.

Learn how to make your own: