Apple School Manager & Shared iPad Feature

Along with iOS 9.3, Apple announced the most significant update to how iPads work in the classroom since the original iPad.  

Now, iPads which are shared by multiple students can be configured with separate logins for each student.  Their work will be kept separate, safe and ready for next time they use the iPad.

The new ‘Classroom’ app allows teachers to launch and lock apps on your class iPads at the same time, see which apps students are currently using with Screen View, and share student work to the projector or TV in the classroom.

‘Apple School Manager’ is a web-based portal for you to create and manage iPad logins for your students, manage your iPads, buy and distribute apps and books.  Schools with a Volume Purchase Program (VPP) enrolment will be able to migrate their account to Apple School Manager.

Find out more:

Configurator 2.2: Manage Home Screen Layout

Along with the release of iOS 9.3, Apple has also released Configurator 2.2 with some wonderful new features.

– Modify Home Screen Layout
Configurator can now set the layout of apps and folders on iOS device home screens. This feature can be used on one device, multiple devices, or a Blueprint.

Follow these steps:
1.  Select the iPad(s) that will have the Home Screen changed.
2.  Choose Actions > Modify > Home screen layout.
3.  Arrange app icons to your liking, including on top of each other to create folders.
4.  Click Apply.

Very exciting, we have been waiting for this for a long time.

– Hide Specific Apps
New Profile Restrictions include the ability to hide specific apps on iOS devices.  If you wish to stop students using built-in apps such as Find Friends and Reminders, this is also a fantastic new feature.

There are a number of other new features, which you can read about here:

Set Expiry on Sharing with Google Apps

Google Apps for Education now allows you to set an expiration date for sharing permissions on documents and folders, which sharing as View or Comment permissions.

Share to a person and once you have saved, you can then go back into the Advanced Sharing Settings and select "Set expiration..."  for one or more users. You can select from 7 days, 30 days or a custom date.



App Review: Adobe Voice

What's your story?  Adobe Voice is a free iPad app for creating animated videos with a focus on the voice.  Start with a short audio recording, then you can add royalty-free icons, photos, text and blend it with some music or motion graphics.  Simply talk, one line at a time, then add visuals, and move onto the next screen.

"Designed by an educator, Adobe Voice scaffolds the storytelling process to help teach your students how to structure effective, engaging stories and videos.  It encourages experimentation, iteration, and creativity" – Adobe

Voice is a wonderful digital literacy tool for creating multimodal texts.  As a tool, it keeps the focus on telling the story, or explaining a concept.  It's simple enough to be used in Kinder, but powerful enough for students and teachers of all ages to create presentations and videos, introduce concepts, for storyboards and prompts.

To get started you will need to create a free Adobe ID – best for the teacher to do this for students under 13.

Get Adobe Voice and view Student Work Samples

SMART Notebook 11 on El Capitan

SMART Notebook 11, the last version before annual licensing was introduced, can be made to work with the latest OS X by replacing some files which get deleted when you upgrade OS X.  

Follow these steps:

  1. Install OS X Mavericks v10.9.5 and then install SMART Notebook 11, plus tools and resources.
  2. Make a copy of /System/Library/Frameworks/Ruby.framework/Versions/1.8
  3. Upgrade to OS X Yosemite v10.10 or OS X El Capitan v10.11
  4. You will need to copy back the Ruby Framework 1.8 version folder as it will have been deleted by the OS X updater.  
    Note:  For El Capitan, you will need to disable SIP (see below)
  5. Install the latest Adobe Flash Player for OS X
  6. SMART Notebook should now launch and everything should work, including interactivity on SMART Boards.
    Note:  Panaboard drivers have not been released for El Capitan, so it may be best to stick with Yosemite if you use these electronic whiteboards.

Thanks to Luke Arms

Disable System Integrity Protection (SIP)

A new feature of OS X El Capitan v10.11 is a new security feature which prevents unauthorised changes to the operating system folders.  You will need to disable SIP to edit the Ruby Frameworks outlined above.  Make sure you turn it back on after you get SMART Notebook working.

Follow these steps:

  1. Restart your Mac.

  2. Before OS X starts up, hold down Command-R and keep it held down until you see an Apple icon and a progress bar. Release. This boots you into Recovery.

  3. From the Utilities menu, select Terminal.

  4. At the prompt type exactly the following and then press Return: csrutil disable

  5. Terminal should display a message that SIP was disabled.

  6. From the  menu, select Restart.

You can re-enable SIP by following the above steps, but using csrutil enable instead.


OS X Tip: Edit Number of Users on Login Window

Mac OS X has long been able to show a list of network user accounts at the login window, defined by Managed Preferences (MCX).

Managed Preferences continues to work on El Capitan clients, but WorkGroup Manager no longer works with server. Profile Manager replaces Workgroup Manager for client management to control preferences for the login window, location and contents of the dock, to provide restrictions and more.

In Yosemite & El Capitan, the list of users on the login window is limited to around 200 users by default. For schools with more network users, you can edit a preference to show all your student and teacher accounts.

Follow these steps:

  1. Login to your Mac as Administrator
  2. Open Terminal from the Utilities folder
  3. Type the following command:
    sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/ MaxNetworkUsers -int 500
    Note:  Change 500 to the number of network users you wish to display.
  4. Press Return
  5. Enter your admin password
  6. Restart your Mac

Note:  You can do this on your 'Master' Mac before using DeployStudio for imaging. 


Google Classroom – New Features

Google Classroom has be updated with new features:

Ask and answer a question: Teachers can post a short answer question to students in the class stream at any time, with options to allow students to edit their own answer, and to see and reply to classmates’ answers. Students answer the question in the class stream, and teachers have the option to grade answers.

Reuse a post: Teachers can reuse existing posts (announcements, assignments, questions) from a current or previous class.

Move a post to the top of the class stream: Teachers can change the order of posts in the class stream by moving any item to the top of the stream to give it priority.

Visual refresh: Classroom has a new simplified design for creating and posting assignments, announcements, and questions and for viewing assignment details. The design updates enable quick and easy access for teachers and students.

Read More

10th Anniversary

Think3 recently turned 10 years old.  

Since 2005 when we began supporting schools, we have seen significant change. Shifts from desktop computers to laptops, then the iPad exploded onto the education scene in 2010. School-owned devices are making way for students bringing their own devices and changes in the Internet/Web 2.0 have revolutionised the way we think about software, publishing, collaboration and interactivity.

Over this time we have been delighted to see teachers and school leaders expand their vision, and develop their use of technology for learning in a digital age.

We look forward to walking alongside you over the next 10 years.


iOS 9 News

Apple has announced iOS9 will be available in our 'Spring'.

 iOS9 will bring new features and significant changes for how we manage iPads in schools with major improvements to both Configurator and MDM solutions.  More details closer to the release date.

In preparation, you may wish to set your iPads to "Never Update Device" in Apple Configurator.  This will prevent the devices updating automatically when you use Configurator the first time after Apple releases iOS9.  

Then when you are ready to move your iPads to iOS9, you can change this setting back to "When Update Is Available".

Google Classroom: Inviting Teachers

Google Classroom provides teachers a way to connect their students in a 'class' to communicate, share resources, and provide a workflow for sharing documents with automatic handling of permissions – from setting a task, through monitoring students work to submission, marking and returning work to students digitally.

If you would like to share your class with a colleague in your faculty or grade, or with a team teacher – use the "Invite Teacher" in the "About" section of Google Classroom.  You may need to add them to your contacts first.


A simple workflow for managing student work is so important when using iPads in the classroom.  Schools are finding Showbie provides a great solution, and with recent updates it's definitely worth a look.  There is an app for iPads and it works via a web-browser on Mac, Windows, Chromebooks and Android. 

Your teacher account is connected to your students' accounts through your "class" on Showbie.  You can distribute documents and resources, and students can save their work from a wide range of apps either to "hand-in" their work to you, or simply for safe keeping before the shared iPad goes back in the trolley.

When students have completed their work they can "send it" to Showbie for you as their teacher to view and mark.  Equally as valuable, unfinished work can be "backed up" to Showbie rather than risk it being deleted on a shared iPad.  Using the "Share" icon, select the "Showbie" icon to upload:

Here is a list of iPad apps that work with Showbie

Signup for a free Teacher account, put the free Showbie app on your iPad and give it a try.

Make an iPad Filming Stand for your Classroom

iPads are fantastic for filming and editing inside and outside the classroom.  Holding the iPad while videoing can produce wobbly results.  What you need is a simple stand to hold the iPad while filming, or taking photos – especially when doing stop frame animation.

We made some simple stands for our workshops from some timber offcuts.  A piece of hardwood flooring 200mm x 90mm with a 10mm slot to hold iPad works well.  The size and weight provides stability, and you can prop the stand front or back with a variety of objects to get different angles.

Obviously there are fancier iPad holders for tripods, but making your own might better suite your budget!

Multitouch Books from Field of Mars

Field of Mars Environmental Education Centre have released a range of wonderful new multitouch books for the iPad and Mac to support the NSW Board of Studies Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum.

These digital multimodal books offer a gorgeous, full-screen experience full of interactive diagrams, photos, and videos.  No longer limited to static pictures to illustrate the text, now students can dive into an image with interactive captions, manipulate an image, draw, or have the answer spring to life in a chapter review.

Find out more and download these books to use in your classroom

You can make your own multitouch books for your classroom using iBooks Author on a Mac.  Attend a workshop to find out how.

Google Apps for Education & Office 365 for NSW DEC Schools

Well, the wait is over, staff and students in NSW DEC schools now have access to both Google Apps and Office 365 learning tools, linked to their account.

Google Apps for Education is a mature, web-based environment that enables teachers and students to collaborate and share their work. 

Docs, Sheets and Slides provide a rich cloud-based version of traditional office suites (such as Microsoft Office, or Apple Pages, Keynote and Numbers) with easy sharing options to invite others to work with you on your documents.  You can gather results from your class during an experiment, an excursion or fitness test.  It's simple to collaborate in a 'Doc' for an english writing task, or research a topic in HSIE.  Students can create and share a group presentation with 'Slides'.

Google Sites is a web publishing solution that can be edited right in your web-browser.  Everyone can now publish easily.  Our 'Design a Digital Unit' workshop walks you through how to transform your units of work online and share them with your students.

Don't forget that as this is all "in-the-cloud", available over the Internet, so it can be accessed from home as well as school.  This makes it easier for you as a teacher when students take their devices home and you want to check their progress.  You don't need to collect their books to mark them anymore!

Resources to get you started:
– Staff can explore these tools, by looking in "My Learning Tools" in the portal.
– Warren McCullough has created some 'QuickStarts' which you may find helpful as you get started.
– Attend a hands-on workshop to help you get started and see the potential in the classroom

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App Review: Google Docs, Sheets & Slides iPad Apps

With the release of Google Apps for Education in NSW DEC, it's a great time to look at the support for Google Apps on various devices.  

While you can use Google Apps in your web browser on a Mac, Windows PC, Chromebook, iPad, Windows or Andriod Tablet – Google have also been steadily developing their apps for iOS and Android, which give a 'native app' feel to the excellent web-based Google Apps.

Let's look at the iPad versions of these apps:

  • Docs – create, edit and share word processing documents
  • Sheets – create, edit and share spreadsheets online
  • Slides – create, edit and deliver presentations via the web 

Recently updated for iOS 8, the latest versions also include editing of tables, spellcheck and support for Touch ID fingerprint sensors in the latest iPhones and iPads.

These apps provide you with quick and easy access to your Google Apps applications, saving your login, so you can open the app and get straight to your documents.  The apps have been designed to allow for easy editing on the touch screen based iPhone or iPad with a simple menu system.

These apps are probably best used on individual iPads, rather than iPad sets shared by multiple users due to the saving of logins.  We highly recommend installing them for staff use, in student 1 to 1 programs and BYOD.

Student's creating eBooks using Book Creator

Book Creator is a brilliant, open ended apps that is a must for the Primary Classroom.  It's simple and approachable, it is an app that lets you start creating without a steep learning curve.

Book Creator allows students to create multi-page digital books rich with text, photos, videos, audio recordings and sketches.  You can use it for social stories, for demonstrating understanding or to present a individual or group project.  Books can be exported and shared, viewed either in iBooks or as a PDF.  It's an app limited only by imagination, and should be on every iPad in a primary school.  There is a free version in the App Store which allows you to try it out and make one book.  Schools can purchase the paid version in the VPP Store at 50% off.

For teachers wanting to take interactive ebooks to the next level, look at the free iBooks Author for Mac.  It provides many more features than Book Creator.  It's ideal for teachers creating resources for students to use on their iPads as well as students creating their own digital books on a Mac to then use on an iPad or Mac.

Our 'iPads in Action:  Digital Literacy' explores practical uses for Book Creator, Stop Motion Cafe and Doodle Cast Pro and our 'Creating Digital Books with iBooks Author' workshop takes you through using iBooks Author.

The students at Broulee Public School on the South Coast have been hard at work with Book Creator on the iPad.  Take a look at their work.

Upgrading to iOS 8.1 with Configurator

Apple recently released a software update for iPads, iOS 8.1

Read more about iOS8:

A number of schools have upgraded, and it seems to be working well.  If you have been waiting to upgrade to iOS8, I would approach it this way:

  1. Upgrade one iPad to iOS8, run any updates to Apps to ensure you are running the latest versions, and test everything works.  If it's all good, follow the remaining steps.  If not, stop and get to the bottom of the issues before upgrading the other iPads.
  2. Backup user data on the iPads.  Download photos and movies, get a copy of documents from all your apps.
  3. Upgrade your Mac to Yosemite (OS X v10.10) using the Mac App Store.  It's a free update.
  4.  Upgrade Configurator to the latest (at least v1.7) – it's a free update.
  5. Upgrade iTunes to the latest version, using "Updates" section in the Mac App Store.
  6. In Configurator > Supervise > Settings select ONE iPad, and change Update iOS to "when update is available".  Click Refresh/Apply button at the bottom of the screen.  This will download iOS8.1 and update the ONE iPad you selected.  This will take a few hours.
  7. Once you have added apps and profiles, and everything seems to be working well, go ahead and update the rest of the iPads.  Because you downloaded iOS 8 in Step 5, it should install on all iPads of the same model without downloading again, so it should be minutes, not hours.

If you would like assistance to manage this upgrade, contact us to book an appointment.


MacBook Air – Fixing USB Device Limit

Do you have a MacBook Air and a 30 iPad sync & charge trolley and wonder why Configurator can't see all 30 at once ?

MacBook Air is a great laptop to run Configurator, but it's important to know that some models have a software limit on the number of USB devices you can connect at once.  Sounds like this is to help with energy saving as part of giving it such an awesome battery life.

Fortunately, you can change this setting by doing the following:

  1. Login to the MacBook Air as Administrator
  2. Open Terminal  (It's in Applications > Utilities)
  3. Run this command:  sudo nvram usb-options=”%01%00%00%00″
  4. When asked, enter the Admin password for the MacBook Air
  5. Restart your MacBook Air

Note: If you ever want to reverse this, use this Terminal command:  sudo nvram -d usb-options

Get ready for iOS 8

Apple is releasing iOS 8, the next major version of the iPad/iPhone software, on Wednesday night, 17th September.  Read all about it here.

For school's using Apple Configurator, it would be wise to prepare for this release, as you might not want all your iPads upgrading before you are ready.

So, before Wednesday night, ensure Configurator is set to "Never Update device" as shown in the picture below.  You will need to sync your iPads to Configurator, so they get this setting change before Apple releases iOS 8.

If you do not do this, next time to connect your iPads to Apple Configurator, even to add just one app, the iPads will be updated to iOS 8 – which may not be the best plan until the dust settles on the update.

When you are ready to update your iPads to iOS 8, simple change the "Update iOS" menu to "When Update is Available" and click Apply/Refresh for ONE iPad.  Once you checked that it's all OK, then you can do the rest of your iPads.