Managing Change: the S-Curve

A few years ago I attended an Apple education event where a story was used to help us think about change management. We were invited to imagine that we were on a desert island, with another, better island in the distance. What sort of person were we? Were we the swimmer who immediately jumped into the water and started speeding off to the next island? Or were we the observer, standing on the shore with our binoculars and surveying the water for dangers, obstacles and perhap sharks? Or were we the flag-holder, someone who was going to stay put on the current island thank you very much and had no intention of going anywhere?

I would definitely say I was a swimmer, but it was interesting to discuss about the positives and negatives of each position and how all were important in managing change. Swimmers might get to new places quicker but could also get themselves into trouble. Observers are good at looking ahead and identifying possible problems and issues with a change, but can also be slow to actually take action. Flag-holders are good at championing the benefits of the status quo and questioning the genuine need for a change, although they can hold it back unnecessarily.

What was said next was the most fascinating though: to get to the island, what you really need is a boat. There needs to be a way that everyone can get across to the new island without leaving people behind. And sometimes you might need to burn the flag – staying behind and avoiding the change isn’t an option any more!

This way of thinking about managing change suggests a deep understanding of the Diffusion of Innovations theory (or S-curve). The S-curve theory is about the process of how new ideas, innovations and technology are adopted within a society or social group. It suggests that there are:

  1. Innovators – those who first invent or use a new technology or idea
  2. Early adopters – this who begin to use it more widely
  3. Early majority – a larger group who begin to also use the innovation
  4. Late majority – most of the remaining half of people who then accept the innnovation
  5. Laggards – those who relunctantly capitulate to the innovation, a significant amount of time after the innovators and early adopters

The theory can be applied to any new innovation in history, be it boiling water to sterilise and kill germs, the emergence of the motor car or using computers in school. Returning to the picture of the islands, perhaps the swimmer is the innovator and early adopter, the observer is the early and late majority, and the flag-holder is the laggard.

As someone who wants to see education transformed with (Apple) technology, this theory is really fascinating. Only a small proportion of teachers will adopt a new idea to begin with, but over time many, most and finally all will also adopt it too. I have found this with all of the changes I’ve sought to bring in school, be it with introducing Macs, teacher iPads, ditching Smartboards or going 1:1 iPad with kids or starting to use Slack. It takes time to introduce a change, but there is a critical point where a ‘boat’ is required to accelerate its adoption and give people an easy enough path to move from where they are into the new thing. There is also a point where the old approach and method needs to be decisively removed to enable everyone to move together.

 

#deploy2016

For years I have really wanted to do a 1:1 iPad deployment in my school. Ever since we started getting sets of iPads in our school, they always tended towards one-per-child, with teachers combining smaller sets so that every pupil in a class could have one. When the original iPad mini came out in 2012, I put a proposal to my headteacher for us to roll out iPads across the whole school, which (thankfully, in hind-sight) wasn’t accepted. This was back in the days when syncing to iTunes was still a thing and we still had a creaky and patched together wifi network. It might have worked at scale in a 3-4 form Primary school, but I do doubt it.

Since then, we’ve been slowly increasing the number of iPads in the school and gradually embedding them into everyday practice, bringing us to the point where ‘going 1:1’ just seemed like the obvious next step. We just needed more devices so that the iPad could be a tool for learning whenever it was needed, rather than having to negotiate an hour slot once a day. After all, you don’t have to book out a class set of pencils – everyone gets one, whenever you need it!

With this in mind, our proposal for going 1:1 in KS2 was agreed, with the rollout at the beginning of this term. Here’s the process we went through…

Picking the device

We’ve been using iPad minis with children in our school for 3 years, and it’s been working well. The devices are small and light enough for children to easily carry and use, as well as not taking up loads of space on a desk when not required, and they’re also that little bit cheaper than a ‘normal’ sized iPad. The question was then about storage size and model. For the money we had to spend on a lease, we could get 32GB iPad mini 2s over 3 years, 16GB iPad mini 4s over 3 years or 64GB iPad mini 4s over 4 years. Having that slower processor of the mini 2 at this point felt it would feel pretty tired and old after 3 years, as probably would the mini 4 after 4 years. Admittedly, 16GB is pretty scrimpy for doing a 1:1, but with iCloud storage and uploading finished projects to Showbie, I feel like we can make it work. Hopefully! It’s not entirely ideal, but the best of the options.

Broadband Upgrade

We get our broadband at school through London Grid for Learning, which has a pan-London network with pipes from Virgin Media. In return for us signing up for so many more years, they’ve doubled our broadband speed to 200 Mb. The upgrade wasn’t entirely pain free as the increased bandwidth required an enormous new router, which barely/didn’t fit into our existing cabinets. Putting in a new cabinet involved re-patching all the cables, with occasional one popping out because the little clip had snapped off, resulting in “aargh, why doesn’t our network work!” panics.

Having a bigger pipe coming into the school can only help, particularly we significantly increasing the number of devices in the school.

Caching Server

OSX Server has a featured called Caching Server, which basically keeps a copy of any and every app that is downloaded on the network for iOS and OSX and then serves it up the any device that then subsequently wants it. This dramatically speeds up app download speeds and reduces pressure on your broadband connection. Which is nice. It even works in weird networks like ours, where our school is buried deep within LGfL’s network.

However, we only had caching server on one machine, meaning one of our sites was cache-less and the other site had to share one cache with lots of devices. So we got Toucan Computing to install a couple of other Mac servers for good measure.

802.11ac WiFi

The iPad mini 4 comes with faster radios, supporting 802.11ac wifi. Our existing wifi installation was the 802.11N Unifi from Ubiquiti, which allows you to add as many access points as you want without additional licence fees for the controller, which can run on a Mac/PC/Linux box somewhere. They mount nicely on ceiling tiles or walls and can be powered via PoE (Power over Ethernet). They now have an ‘ac’ model, so we swapped in newer access points for the classrooms having 1:1 iPads. So far they seem to be managing perfectly fine with 30+ devices per access point, with faster download speeds as well.

Storage Cabinets

Because we’re not sending the devices home, we needed an easy and secure way to store and charge iPads. Three years ago, lots of people sold ridiculously expensive cabinets that could USB sync your iPads with iTunes. However, I wonderfully stumbled across these cabinets from Zioxi (formerly ISIS, who have since changed their name as the innocent river flowing through Oxford has inherited some other connotations). The trolleys are basically some shelves for each iPad with some power strips to plug in the USB power adaptors.

I’ve found that teachers are notoriously bad at remembering to lock up cabinets, so we opted for ones with digital code locks, making the locking process a lot easier. It seems to be helping!

Apple School Manager

The thought of manually creating 450 Apple IDs made me feel ill at the thought, so thankfully Apple have now released Apple School Manager where you can, amongst other things, create Apple IDs that are managed by the school. These accounts can be reset by the school, as well as inspected for their contents at any time. They also strip out anything to do with commerce on the account, which means no buying apps or in-app purchases. This might make you wonder what the use of them is, especially as apps can now be assigned to devices by the MDM. It’s basically for iCloud backup, plus the ability to accept distributed e-books and enroll on iTunes U courses (with a caveat – read carefully!).

Apple School Manager is an attempt to unify all of the different systems such as Volume Purchase and Device Enrollment. It does work, but still feels a bit like a work in progress.

The dream of Apple School Manager is that it will sync seamlessly with your student information system (SIS), automatically populating your MDM and iTunes U with classes, teachers, courses and the correct students. Our SIS isn’t supported, so we instead have to download 6 CSV templates, complete them with the relevant information and upload it back to Apple via an SFTP address. It was rather fiddly (not helped by the fact that LGFL blocked SFTP traffic to begin with) to set up, and requires some careful reading of their support information, but I got it working in the end. You are supposed to be able to set the passcode requirements (normal alphanumeric, 6-digit or 4-digit) from the CSV file, but that didn’t work for me so I had to manually reset all the account passwords after importing.

Once the Managed Apple IDs are created, you then print them out (either full page or many to a page) and give them to children to enter when setting up their ipads. They have a temporary password that the user then as to change during the setup process. One annoyance was that there was no way to filter or sort by class, only by year group, meaning I had to manually sort a big pile of login sheets into each of the four classes in year group. Hey ho.

Casper Suite

We moved from Meraki to Casper Suite as our MDM last year, and I do not think we could have done a 1:1 programme without it! Amongst its many benefits, it allows us to have our own internal ‘App Store’, through their Self Service app. Students can then browse and download the apps they they need from a pre-selected list without the need for an Apple ID or using the App Store.

Roll Out

With all of this planning and prep, and all the features that Apple released in iOS 9.3, we were able to roll out 15 classes of iPads in just 4 days, with children themselves tapping through the set up process and entering their Managed Apple IDs etc. It really was remarkably straightforward!

ADE Global Institute #ade2016

At the end of July, I had the privilege of attending the ADE Global Institute in Berlin for four days of jam-packed professional Development. The Apple Distinguished Educator programme has a new intake every two years, with me joining last year as part of the ‘Class of 2015’. In the intervening years, they run what is called the ‘Global’ Institute, where nearly 400 ADEs from around the world gather together for a week. In order to attend the Global Institute, existing ADEs have to submit a two-minute video demonstrating what they’ve been up to for the last few years and how they’re sharing that wider. After spending a half term in February cobbling together a video about how we use Explain Everything and Showbie at my school, I was surprised but pleased to secure a place.

Here are some highlights for me from the four days:

Meeting Apple people

On the first day, we had product demos from the Product Managers of things like Keynote, GarageBand and Final Cut Pro X. It was inspiring to learn tips and tricks from people who know the apps inside out and to then think of ways that could be used in the classroom. I was particularly blown away by the new ‘Live Loops’ feature of Garageband, which allows for the easy creation of electronic dance music through arranging and triggering loops. There’s a great GarageBand for iOS Starter Guide that walks you through all this, which is well worth a look.

What was particularly cool was that you could then talk further with these guys over lunch, rather than just listening to a workshop. All the Apple people were really keen on hearing our feedback on products as educators, and I didn’t hold back coming forwards (basically, keep porting OSX stuff to iOS – iBooks Author I’m looking at you!)… Trying out Apple School Manager for the first time and then being able to fire questions at various Apple engineer people was very helpful!

Meeting old ADE friends and new

It was really great to catch up with ADEs from last year’s Institute and also meet face-to-face people that I had been in touch with via the online ADE community but had never met in person. I also met lots of new ADEs and was inspired by hearing people’s stories a bit more. In a world of digital community, it was really refreshing for the effort and time to be given for people to meet in person. The ADE community wouldn’t be what it is if it didn’t gather together at different times.

Day trip to Berlin

On the Wednesday, we were all sent off around Berlin to explore the city and go on a learning adventure ourselves. My little group went for an open-top bus tour, taking us around places such as Checkpoint Charlie and other parts of East Berlin. It was a fascinating insight into the history, and sobering to remember how different things were in Europe not so many years ago.

Running a workshop

An ADE friend Benji and I got to deliver a workshop during the Institute, looking at managing Macs and iPads on a budget. It was not hugely well attended (7 people?), but it was fun to do and hopefully helpful to those attending.

ADE Showcases

At some point every day, 12 or so ADEs presented what they were doing in their educational setting, with a strict 3 minute time limit (complete with countdown timer) to do it in. This was always inspirational, but I was particularly stuck by the ADEs who were using the accessibility features on an iPad to really help out those with physical or learning difficulties. At my school we have some iPads assigned to children with SEND, but I know there is much more that I could be doing in this area.

Sketch-noting

After taking up sketch-noting last year, it was fun to return to an Institute armed with an Apple Pencil and an iPad Pro. The Pencil really does make a huge difference, as does the larger canvas of the 12.9″ iPad Pro, and I certainly enjoyed capturing and processing my learning in that way.

Looking back at my comments after the 2015 Institute, it certainly made an impact on the last academic year. I’m looking forward to the year ahead!

 

One Best Thing

As part of the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute last summer, we were all set the homework of creating some resources to share best practice with teachers. We were given three options to choose from: Community Engagement (ADEs collaborating with museums/libraries etc. to create resources), Lessons for the Classroom (an iTunes U course that demonstrates how iPad can work in the classroom) or One Best Thing (a multitouch book sharing one way that Apple technologies have made a difference in the classroom). For ADE newbies, we were recommended to do ‘One Best Thing’, so I decided to do one about using Explain Everything as an Interactive Whiteboard.

 

It’s quite a short book, but is now published on the iBook Store, so do take a look!

Coding Evening

Last Thursday, I had the privilege of attending and briefly speaking at a Coding Evening at the Mozilla HQ in London. The event was run by my fellow ADE Cat Lamin, who started these events a year or so ago to provide an informal and relaxed atmosphere to learn about how to teach ‘coding’ in primary school and to try out different kit. The new ‘Computing‘ curriculum in the UK is ambitious and probably a really good idea, but I think it does terrify a lot of teachers and I’m not sure all teachers are suitably trained or equipped to deliver it. Hence providing a space for teachers to learn a bit more!

The evening run regularly in Peterborough and Twickenham, but the central London one was a one-off special event, complete with free drinks and pizza thanks to sponsors! It was pretty cool to hang out in what was basically the Mozilla staff room (they have what is quite possibly the largest TV screen I have ever seen), but it was also great to meet new people and learn new things.

As part of the evening, there was a string of ‘lightning talks’ from different people about how they’ve done interesting and cool stuff with coding in schools. I got the chance to share briefly about how we use LEGO WeDo, which I think went down well.  There was also different companies representing their wares, which was interesting:

  • A guy called Marc Grossman was there, demoing Scratch, Kodu and Code Club. Scratch is a great visual programming tool designed by MIT, and Kodu is a cool 3D game designer from Microsoft.  But what really impressed me was the resources he shared from Code Club.  Code Club is a not-for-profit organisation that gets volunteers to run coding clubs in primary schools. What is really handy is that you can download the worksheets etc. that they use and deliver it yourself. I shall be making use of that!
  • A plucky upstart company called Pi-Top were demoing their product, which was essentially a green laptop that runs off a Raspberry Pi. It did seem pretty cool, and reminded me of my childhood days playing with a ZX Spectrum and figuring out how to make things work.
  • There was also a company called FUZE there, who make a computer for schools that is basically a robust keyboard case that houses a Raspberry Pi.  What is unique about them is that they include their own version of BASIC for children to use, claiming that introducing more complex languages like Python to children just puts them off coding, rather than hooking them in. This was an interesting challenge to me, as we have included Python in our Computing curriculum at school, which admittedly is hard for teachers and children to get their heads around. I’m not sure I’d want to introduce a set of computers that would need to be plugged in and set up each week just to teach Computing lessons once a week.

It was a really excellent evening and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get their head around how to teach Computing in school.

Introducing Showbie

We’ve started using Showbie in my school.  Which feels a bit like saying, “Hey, guys, did you know that they’ve invented colour TV?” Or, “I finally had a ride on one of those new-fangled horseless carriages…wasn’t so bad.”

I’m not sure when Showbie was first launched, but it’s definitely been vaguely on my radar as a paperless classroom solution for iPad ever since the magical tablet first appeared in 2010. Since then it’s become a de-facto app solution for managing digital workflows in iPad schools, even appearing as number 4 in a Top 10 list of apps as votes by ADEs in the Summer. However, I’ve always dismissed it as being useful in a Primary school that wasn’t 1:1 with iPads, so haven’t given it much consideration up until now.

However, last year a brilliant Apple Distinguished Educator Julian Coultas came to visit our school to suggest ways that we could take our iPad journey further, and he mentioned about Showbie. We were increasingly hitting the problem of how to evidence, record and generally deal with the digital content that was being made in lessons using iPad. Lots of interesting learning was happening in classrooms using technology, but it was often hard to tell this looking in children’s books.  Some teachers were willing to go through the laborious process of printing off children’s work and then sticking it in books, but most were not: why make a lively, engaging iPad lesson into a laborious bureaucratic chore? Plus, how exactly does one go about printing a video?

Instead, Showbie offers a solution to three interrelated but distinct problems:

  1. Digital portfolio – keeping a record of children’s learning. With Showbie, each pupil has their own account where iPad learning can be handed into. This then creates a record of the learning process on iPad, complete with comments and dialogue between the child and the teacher.  And with the latest version of Showbie, there is even the ability to create ‘proper’ student portfolios!
  2. Managing ongoing projects with shared iPads. Once work-in-progress has been saved to Showbie, a child can then log into Showbie on any iPad, re-download it and then continue.  With shared iPads across year groups, then avoids the issue of children having to remember the iPad they used the lesson before.
  3. Distributing resources/documents. Showbie makes it easy for teachers to distribute documents/images/instructions to children for a given lesson.  We’ve already got a generic email account setup for each class set of iPads which currently offers a lo-fi version of this – teachers can email images and web links to a set of iPads – but Showbie adds more power and flexibility.

We launched all this a week or so ago, complete with some class demos and a staff meeting from Julian, which unfortunately coincided with a horrendous Showbie outage. Despite being entirely unable to even log into Showbie to show them, teachers seemed really up for the solution Showbie offered to the problem of a student e-portfolio/continuing work on a shared iPad/distributing content.

Since then I have been working my way around classes to give brief Showbie demos so that both children and teachers feel confident in the workflow (which, after enrolling into a class, is basically: log into Showbie, do you work, ‘Open In’ Showbie and hand work in at the end of the lesson, and then log out of Showbie).

In order to make the creation of student accounts manageable in a large school, we’ve gone for the paid ‘Pro School’ account. The guys at Showbie have been incredibly helpful and supportive and have ironed out any issues we’ve run into.

The Digital Divide

I had the enormous privilege of attending the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute in July, a week of inspiring professional development and hearing from amazing educators from all over EMEIA (Europe, Middle East, India and Africa). Not very surprisingly, many people came from schools that had some sort of 1:1 iPad programme. They could tell stories of the creative and innovate things their students were doing with technology, and more importantly how learning and future life-chances were impacted.

I’ve wanted to have a 1:1 iPad programme at my school ever since I heard about Fraser Speirs‘ pioneering work in his school in Scotland.  Research since has shown that giving a computer to every student has a measurable impact on their education, and so that question is now whether schools should go 1:1 but just when and how.

My problem is the later two questions. Working at a large state Primary school, there is a big budget but there are also a lot of students for it to go between.  With the government busy cutting budgets further, spending money on ‘luxury’ Apple tablets can seem a bit rich.

What I noticed at the ADE Institute was the high percentage of attendees from either International or Secondary schools, which tend to have more money to spend on iPads. I don’t begrudge this, but I do wonder about the digital divide: should children’s opportunity to be part of the learning revolution depend on their parents’ means or have to wait until they’re older?

Talking to people who’ve walked this path before me, it seems that there are two options:

  1. Inspire those in leadership to take a longer and harder look at the 1:1 possibility. In the scheme of things, an iPad for every child isn’t dirt cheap but is affordable: the money is there, but is being spent on the wrong things (photocopying!).
  2. Make the most of what we have. Julian Coultas has done some brilliant work on how to effectively use 8 iPads in a class of 30 children. 1:1 might be the ‘best’ way, but a smaller amount is not worthless.

Appreciating Apple TV

At our school, we’ve mostly used Reflector as the way of doing AirPlay mirroring from our iPads into a large projected image. This has worked well when using old-fashioned VGA projectors and a 4:3 image. However, the connection can sometimes be unreliable, which is probably down to network/wifi issues. But, due to the advantages I’ve previously outlined, Reflector seemed a better choice than the main alternative: Apple TV.  Apple TV is a little black box that works (amongst other things) as an AirPlay receiver for content from your Mac or iOS device.

However, after some discussion with some fellow ADEs, I’ve come to appreciate the advantages that Apple TV has over Reflector.

  • It’s Apple’s AirPlay mirroring solution, rather than a third-party reverse-engineered hack, so that means it’s more likely work more reliably.
  • If connecting to an HD device via HDMI, setup is super simple.
  • You can have one-time device authentication, where a new AirPlay connection requires entering the on-screen passcode. This stops accidental AirPlay connections (thank you Early Years!) without having to remember or share a password.
  • Peer-to-peer. Which is amazing! With a lightning connector iPad, it uses Bluetooth to set up a direct wifi connection to the Apple TV, thus bypassing the local network and so reducing the network load.
  • Modern macs can AirPlay to Apple TV. I’m interested what impact this will have on its use in the classroom, is it makes it the same class citizen as the iPad.

Here are some things I’ve discovered to make setup easier:

  1. Turn on Conference Mode so that it shows instructions for AirPlay mirroring, rather than the normal grid of video apps.
  2. Turn on device authentication to make peer-to-peer AirPlay connection work.
  3. Have a wired Ethernet connection to the Apple TV to reduce load on your wifi.
  4. Do a restart on the Apple TV after setup to make the changes take effect.
  5. Make sure it’s an HDMI HD display your connecting to, either a projector or a TV. It just doesn’t work very nicely with old school VGA projectors, even widescreen ones.

Stop, collaborate and listen #ade2015

ADE Institute 2015

So, I’ve just finished the EMEIA (Europe, Middle East, Indian & Africa) Institute as a newly (qualified? graduated? inducted?) Apple Distinguished Educator.  It’s been an intense four days of professional development, hearing stories from educators from across the (third of the) world, sharing a bit of my story, meeting lots of new people and making some friends.

Here’s a few things that I’m going to take away from the time:

Step away from the computer

I was quite surprised by how many people here are actually ‘just’ educators who use Apple stuff in their classrooms, rather than a techy/geek person (like me).  But what people are doing in their classrooms with technology is amazing!  Like making multi-touch books to teach medicine, or creating video walls with iPads or even just doing a spot of green screen.  I need to make sure I don’t get bogged down with getting the technology to ‘just’ work that I don’t end up with no time to work with teachers on transforming the learning that goes on in the classroom.

Ice ice baby

On the last day of the event, I was asked to share on the main stage a little bit of my experience of the week.  And for some reason, the lyrics of Vanilla Ice sprang to mind: “Stop! Collaborate and listen…”  As they do.

But seriously, it’s been a great time to actually stop (in amidst the hectic schedule) and reflect on what I do in the classroom, work with other brilliant teachers from all over the world and listen to the cool stuff that they’re doing.  Of which there is much.  It makes me feel very ordinary coming to a place like this!

Paper by FiftyThree

I’ve also discovered and now avidly taken up ‘sketch noting’, which is where you draw notes on your iPad rather than just typing.  I’ve been using the app ‘Paper‘, which now seems to be free to use, including all of the clever pens and tools.  It’s a lot of fun and lets me be creative whilst listening.  I’ve put some of these on twitter, so do take a look.

The 1:1 Question

Over the last year I’ve kind of resigned myself to the fact that we’re never going to be a 1:1 iPad school. But having met people from lots of state schools, including primaries, where they have gone 1:1, that little dream has returned.  I need to come up with a serious plan (which basically will involve working out where savings can be made to pay for it…printing/photocopying/SIMS I’m looking at you!)

Apple Distinguished Educator

So, I’ve been accepted to become an Apple Distinguished Educator, class of 2015!

I had to tell the story of how I used Apple technology to transform the learning environment in my school, both in words and in a video. It was quite tricky to distill it down into a decent and clear narrative, but I guess I must have done ok!

Part of the induction process is attending the ADE Institute in the summer. This should be a fascinating week, learning more from educators from across Europe, Africa, Indian and the Middle East about how to use technology to transform education.