Trackpad vs IWB or Trackpad + IWB

I’ve had the Apple Trackpad in my classroom for two days now and already I can see a change in my teaching!

  • For a start I can wander around the classroom and refer back to what’s showing on the screen without moving back to my laptop – that keeps me in contact with the student or students I’m working with.
  • It takes me away from the “front” of the classroom. (I don’t have a desk but I do have a seat beside my laptop which is connected to the data projector.)
  • It puts the mouse control into the students’ hands especially when using interactive websites.
  • If I’m working with a small group and want to refer to something on our class, maths or literacy wiki I will be able to do that and not lose continuity with the work we’re doing.

But does it do away with the IWB?

I don’t think so – I think students will use the trackpad to manipulate IWB notebooks (as well as interactive websites) but I doubt they’ll be able to write using the trackpad or use the popout keyboard. (I haven’t tested it on my students BUT I can’t write with the trackpad!)

I’m also not sure if it’s compatible with PCs. Sad for PC using teachers but good news for Apple using teachers. I wonder if any other teachers are using the trackpad?

I have a Mimio in my classroom – it works alongside my traditional whiteboard and is on the cheaper end of IWB products. I like it because there’s not a lot for kids to damage (I heard one teacher say at a conference that his kids had to stay at least 1 meter away from their IWB in case they damage it!) and it’s easy to set up and use.

Magic Trackpad in the classroom

Q. How long does it take for kids to figure out how to use new hardware?

A. Just as long as it takes for the box to be opened, software update to take place and the teacher to connect the device.

This morning one of my parents arrived with a present for our class – an Apple Magic Trackpad! Not to borrow – to keep. This parent is a fellow machead and we often talk about how various devices might be used in the classroom but the gift was still unexpected.


Actually connecting it to my MacBook was easy but I had to do a software update in order to use all the functions (click the tap/click etc). That required a little more time (30 mins once I’d disconnected the data projector cable) but still not too long. Once I had it all connected I tested the distance I could go before losing the bluetooth connection – I didn’t actually find out what that was as it remained connected everywhere in the classroom and even out in the corridor!

Maths was the perfect time to test it out. I stood at the back of the students (who were sitting on the mat) and opened up our class wiki then our maths wiki and went to our probability page. From there I first went to Mr Anker’s Probability page and got the students to pass the mouse around the class as they answered the questions. Then I opened up the BBC Fish Tank activity, zoomed into the activity section and got the students to pass the mouse around again answering questions. This was a little harder as they had to figure out how to scoop the fish into the net and then release it – as expected they figured it out before I did.

Check out this video of it in action.

Next plan will be to test it out using the mimio and maybe some drawing programs.

New Technology – iPhone 3GS Part 1

There’s been quite a hoopla over the past couple of weeks in NZ over Apple technology. Both the iPad and the iPhone4 have just been released here – with lots of ‘will they, won’t they’ drama over the iPhone 4. I originally intended to purchase the phone since my 24 month contract was expiring and I really wanted to reduce my 2 devices (Nokia 6121 & iTouch) to 1. After talking with one of my parents and checking out his iPhone 3GS I decided to buy one of those instead. I signed up to a new plan through Vodafone and sat back to wait for my phone to arrive. I expected it to be here Tuesday next week but was very pleasantly surprised when it arrived on Saturday morning.

Setting it up was a piece of cake except for 1 issue of trying to transfer my notes from the iTouch to the iPhone (in the end I sent the notes to my Evernote account). I decided on a clean installation for the iPhone which meant that things like the Notes didn’t transfer. (There’s also nothing like a technology spring clean every now and then to clean all the unwanted/unused stuff off your device whether it be a mobile one or a laptop/desktop computer.)

Camera Function
One thing I’ve been used to doing with my Nokia is taking photos and videos so that was a function I particularly wanted to test. The Nokia has a 2MP camera and the iPhone has a 3MP one.

This is a photo I took yesterday.

Island shot

And I’ve been experimenting with the video function as well. The first video is shot in portrait orientation and I trimmed it before uploading to YouTube.

The second is shot in landscape orientation with sound (via the headphone/mic) and untrimmed.

Initial impressions -> I’m very happy with the quality of photo/video. I also have a ‘real’ camera but as someone once said the best camera in the world is the one you have with you. I also like the fact that I can upload directly to Flickr or YouTube.

The iPhone is integrating seamlessly with my home wifi – using that function rather than the Vodafone network to do all the uploading etc. There is a builtin Usage Meter that gives some helpful and handy information.

Usage details

I had lots of fun testing my iTouch and iPhone side by side. There’s a remarkable clarity difference in the screen resolution of the two devices – possibly because the iTouch is older. Apps open much faster on the iPhone which is also great.

I’ll post more as I use the iPhone during the week. Battery life will be interesting (already I can say way better than the iTouch but probably not as good as the Nokia – although I’m using it more than the Nokia because of the different uses.)