Tag-Archive for ◊ android ◊

Monday, November 24th, 2014 | Author:


Another app that we have been playing with is Skitch.  This lets you annotate a picture, webpage, map or document but we have mainly used it for photos so far.

Screenshot_2014-11-15-15-58-39 Screenshot_2014-11-15-15-58-52

To begin, you open the app and then either take a photo or browse for an existing one. On the side of the screen there is an icon, clicking this will show a range of tools that you can use.


These include a pen tool, a rectangle tool, one for drawing arrows and another for typing. On the left-hand side, there is a coloured circle, tapping this gives the chance to change the colour of your text or pen.

Screenshot_2014-11-15-15-59-32  Screenshot_2014-11-15-15-59-19  masons tricky triangles

We have used this in a variety of ways so far. In my class it has mainly been used for Maths. When we have children who have been working practically, we have been able to take a photograph of their work and then annotate it to show what they were doing. The examples above show children finding fractions and drawing groups or labelling the different triangles that they have identified. We don’t required evidence of every practical task that the children have taken part in, but having a way of annotating photos when we need to is very useful indeed.


Once finished, the picture can be shared using the normal Android sharing tools giving us the power to blog it via WordPress or add to Google Drive to share it with others or to print it out and stick in a book or use for a display.

How else could you use this tool in your classroom?


Category: Android Apps, blogposts  | Tags: ,  | 4 Comments
Mobile Devices – Part 2 – Setting up Tablets
Saturday, November 01st, 2014 | Author:

In my last post, I wrote about setting up Meraki to manage our Android tablets. In this post I thought I would go through the physical hardware side from unboxing the tablets to having them setup and ready to play with.

As soon as the tablets are turned on, there is the first choice of choosing a language and then selecting your WiFi.



From here, clicking on “Advanced Settings” will provide the option to setup the proxy settings for your WiFi, if you need to. The tablet will then spend a few seconds connecting.


You will then be asked if you have a Google account. I’m not sure of the best way of organising this, but we have created one account e.g. android@ridersapps.co.uk (Our Google domain) and then every tablet device is “owned” by this account. We have six tablets per class and have no plans for moving towards 1:1 so the devices do not belong to the children and will probably not need to sign in to their own Google accounts either so having 1 account for all devices seems to be the best option.

Screenshot_2014-10-27-09-23-09 Screenshot_2014-10-27-09-23-56 Screenshot_2014-10-27-09-25-26

There are then various different terms and conditions and options before your device will be setup. In total, I would say 2-3 minutes per device. Of course having a few lined up to setup at once will always speed things up 🙂


Now, the next part involves customizing the tablet for your school. First things first, we downloaded the Meraki Systems Manager app. This was mentioned in my previous post.

Screenshot_2014-10-27-10-10-30 Screenshot_2014-10-27-10-11-29

Luckily, by searching for “systems”, you find Meraki first on the list. Install the app and it should appear on the home page, if not, look on the apps menu and it will be there instead. I found that 95% of the time it made a shortcut on the home screen.



Once you open Systems Manager, you will be asked to enroll the tablet onto your Meraki domain. Enrolling will ensure that the profile you set up on the dashboard gets installed on the device. This will include the WiFi information and other settings you have decided on. Although enrolling is where we found a major problem. It appears that you can’t enroll the device if you are connecting through a proxy server. So there are a few options:

1) Take all of the devices home and use your home WiFi to enrol them all. Cons: Carrying them all home. Do you really want to do this at home??? Pros: Setting them up whilst watching TV.

2) Get your phone out, turn on the option to act as a WiFi hotspot and connect them through your phone. Pros: You can do it in school (providing you have decent phone signal of course) Cons: If you have a lot of devices, you might find you have to do them in small batches. I could only do 3 at a time, more than that and the WiFi speed slowed down. Also, it only uses a teensy bit of data, but I did find that I went over my monthly allowance of 750mb after setting up 100 tablets.

To be perfectly honest, neither option is ideal and I hope that Meraki can fix it to make life a lot easier, but hey, it is what it is at the moment.

Another thing to be aware of is that when the tablet connects to a different WiFi e.g. your home one or your phone hotspot, you will be asked to sign-in to your Google account again. I think that this is a safety measure, but it’s something to be aware of. I took the first 30 tablets home, set them up and gave them to teachers and they were being asked to re-sign before downloading apps. Oops.

Once enrolled, the device gets added to the Devices page on the dashboard and it can then be renamed as required. We have renamed all of ours according to the class they are going to and then stuck a label on the back of the tablet. This helps people know which device they have used and helps me know where things are!

So, once you’ve gone through the enrolment process, now what?


Connect to your school WiFi, load Systems Manager and scroll right to find the Managed Apps page. This will be a list of the apps that you have setup via the Meraki Dashboard. From here, you can click on an app and you will be taken to the Google Play page for the app. Click install and it will then download. You can queue up lots of apps but you still need to go back to Systems Manager, click on them, click install and so on.


Once setup and enrolled, if you add an app via Meraki, it will send a notification to each tablet and by clicking on this, you will get taken to directly to the app page so that it can be installed. This is nice, but you would then be relying on teachers/children to find the notification and install each app.

I would like to see some improvements in this process. It would be great to install remotely so that instead of there being a notification, the app actually installed instead. All in al though, for a free product, Meraki is great. I’d be keen to hear on how you have set up Android tablets so please let me know in the comments box.




Mobile Devices – Part 1 – Meraki
Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 | Author:

Since posting about our tablet devices, I have received a range of questions about their management so I decided to write two blog posts about how we have set them up and managed them within our school. These are similar steps for our Apple and Android devices. We currently have 10 iPads on our domain, 8 being used for monitoring children via the 2Simple Profile app in our pre-school and Early Years and 2 iPads used for SLT for various monitoring tasks and for observations. We also currently have 108 Android tablets for use by children from Year 1 to Year 6.

To manage the devices, we have used Meraki from Cisco. This is free and is available here: https://account.meraki.com/secure/login/dashboard_login This post will show you some of the things that Meraki can do and what we have set up so far.

Screen Shot 10-28-14 at 05.32 PM

The first thing to do is to visit the website and click Create Account. It will ask you to verify your email address and then you can login and access the dashboard.

Screen Shot 10-28-14 at 05.34 PM 001

Once logged in, it will ask you to create a new network.

Screen Shot 10-28-14 at 05.36 PM 001

We gave it a name and then chose MDM for Mobile Device Management. I’m not sure what the other options do!

Screen Shot 10-28-14 at 05.36 PM 002

You are then given the option to add devices. You can add IOS, Windows, Android or Chromebooks. Our Chromebooks are managed by the Google Apps dashboard and I haven’t tried adding Windows devices.

Screen Shot 10-28-14 at 05.36 PM 004

Screen Shot 10-28-14 at 05.36 PM 003

There are two ways to add an Android device. The first is to download the Meraki Systems Manager app from Google Play. Once open, you click enrol and enter the 10digit code. Alternatively, visit the mobile website and enter the code on there. This will then ask you to install the app anyway. Please note, this isn’t our real code, this is a mock account for the purpose of this blog post.

For IOS devices, this works in a very similar way. There are a few certification steps along the way where you have to verify things with Apple, but it is easy enough to add a device using the steps provided.

Screen Shot 10-28-14 at 05.41 PM

Once some devices have been added, it would be useful to create a profile. For IOS this gives you the ability to lock certain features e.g. turning off Siri or Facetime or blocking apps from installing. It also allows you to set a passcode for all devices.

Screen Shot 10-28-14 at 05.40 PM 001

Screen Shot 10-28-14 at 05.42 PM

For us, the most important part on the profile page is to setup the Wifi. We were able to assign the Wifi name (SSID) and the password and proxy settings. This was then pushed to all devices within our Meraki domain. We set this up and then added all of our devices, once enrolled, they automatically collect the settings. If you have added devices already, simply click the sync option on the app and it will re-download them.

Screen Shot 10-28-14 at 05.37 PM

Once the devices have been added, they will show on the Monitor>Clients page. From here, you can click on each device and rename it. You can also see the serial code, useful for inventory purposes and it also shows other information such as which version of the operating system is running, which apps are installed and which are missing. It also shows a map to give a rough location of the device.

Screen Shot 10-28-14 at 05.38 PMScreen Shot 10-28-14 at 05.38 PM 002Screen Shot 10-28-14 at 05.38 PM 001

From the MDM>Apps page, you can choose which apps to install on the devices.

Screen Shot 10-28-14 at 05.39 PM 001

For Android, you simply click Add New and then search the Google Play store. Pressing add and then save will send a link to this app to all of your devices.

Screen Shot 10-28-14 at 05.40 PM

You can also click on an app you have used previously and re-push it to any devices that haven’t installed it yet.

For IOS devices, the process is similar but you will need to register for VPP (Volume Purchasing Program) so that you can buy the apps at a discounted rate and then install them on multiple devices. This can take a little while to go through as when you register for VPP, Apple will check your identity and that you belong to a real school. Once this has all been done, you can add the information from your VP account into Meraki. Free apps work in a similar way to the Android apps above.

Screen Shot 10-28-14 at 05.43 PM

For Apple devices, the Organization>MDM page will highlight the various certificates and approvals that you will need to get things working. It doesn’t take long, but it is another step in the process.


We have only just started using Meraki, but it seems like a fab free tool for managing lots of devices. There are lots of things that it can;t do e.g. setting up each device to look the same or updating the operating system, but for the basics, it does them very well.

This next post looks at how to enrol the devices onto the Meraki domain.


aye-pads, tablets and netbooks
Monday, March 26th, 2012 | Author:

Ok, so it’s sunny outside..that means some blue sky thinking. I think.

I’m thinking about a scheme similar to ones running in many secondary schools already where pupils can buy/lease a device by paying monthly over a number of years. In my mind, netbooks would be great, but if you’re spending £300-£350, then obviously the ipad comes into play too. But then if you’re talking tablets, you might also want to investigate the Android ones too. There should probably be a small mention for Chromebooks too at £300, but for that I could almost get a ‘proper’ laptop/netbook which could be used for animation, movie editing and game design too.

So, before deciding on a device I want to decide what it will be used for and why I want it. To do that, some context is needed. We have 9 classes (if you don’t include Reception who have a few desktop PCs) using  68 netbooks. There are also 18 or so desktop PCs in the corridor for children to access and a suite of 20. The suite will last another year at most and as it only holds 20, doesn’t get used much (once/twice a week) due to class sizes of 28+.

The netbooks are great and I am totally converted after thinking that I would hate them. They have decent-sized screens and they boot up in 5minutes. Battery life is 4-6 hours too. So the easy option would be to have a scheme where children can buy their own netbooks. I could image them very quickly using the system we already have and life would be simple.

But then what about the tablets? As I have never really played with an i-pad (except for a bit of browsing and a bit of a play in a shop once) and never used an Android 3/4 tablet, it’s best to list the things that I want and then hopefully some lovely people will leave comments to say if it is possible.

  • The device needs to be able to sync with others so that if I download apps on one, they go to all devices. (do I need to think about licensing???)
  • They need to work through our proxy settings
  • Will there need to be multiple accounts setup so that when they are used in school the child sees the ‘school’ apps but when they’re at home, and it becomes a home device, they can install angry birds?
  • Can I therefore stop pupils from purchasing apps in school?
  • Can I ‘force’ a certain look on all devices e.g. making a maths folder and a science folder with relevant apps inside?

Of course there are also other questions that are more teaching and learning, than techy:

  • Will my teachers want a range of devices in class?
  • Will they want to have different activities being done by different children at the same time?
  • Will children want to use it so much that they forget how to write? Will they be allowed to choose when to use it and when not to? I don’t want it being a flashy way of doing their times tables!!
  • Will we use it for a range of different stuff often enough? If it’s just going to be a ‘research’ machine for finding out information, why not buy a Blackberry Playbook for £170? (and this has Flash)
  • What if only 5 children in a class sign up to the scheme? Will this create haves and have-nots? Will this be a problem? Should I just buy a couple of ipads for each class and avoid the issue?

Ideally I’d like a couple of devices to play with for a few days but I have no idea how to go about this. I tried a few places and it wasn’t in their policy to let me have shiny things to play with in case I broke them.

There is obviously the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) argument too and I think we could allow this providing it worked through the proxy settings.

So, am I being ambitious? forward-thinking? mental? Would/could/does this work and how do I go about trying? I’m not a Distinguished Apple Blokie so I’m looking for something that any teacher can go and do. Comments, questions, rants, opinions are all welcome, so please help if you can!

I’m very app-y
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011 | Author:

Sorry for the rubbish title, but it made me smile.It’s obviously been a long day.

Today I made my first ever app for a phone. It took me about 45minutes and I’m fairly happy with the result. It all started yesterday when Simon (@xannov) said he had made an Android app and wanted a tester. I remember he had made an app before for iphone and I was interested then but just couldn’t get it to work so I gave up. This time, he pointed me towards a different website and it was much easier. That website is www.appmakr.com (no ‘e’)

The key thing is RSS feeds. Without them, you’re stuck (or that’s what I found anyway)

My app was going to have my school’s twitter feed (the RSS link found on www.twitter.com/stjohnswaltham), links to our blogs (all setup through wordpress) and news from our Joomla-based website. This final part was the hardest.It’s quite tricky to get certain elements of Joomla to feed into an RSS feed. I wanted the galleries to feed out, but they’d have to be done separately rather than all pictures etc, so I left those in the end.

So you start by uploading a logo for your app and a background/splash screen. This was done in seconds. Then you click RSS and copy and paste the feed into your app. It validates it and tells you if there’s a problem.Once you have all of your feeds on there, you can choose a colour for your header and some other options (remove ads) and you’re done. Click publish and wait 10-15minutes.

Now, it isn’t very whizzy and it doesn’t allow readers to comment on the blog posts, but if they get read by parents then it has to be a good thing. Pictures come up nicely and if they want to, they can click the link and visit the blog post to leave a comment.

Do you want to check out my app? Visit the Android market(search for st john’s angel).

Feedback is welcome of course.

PS – It is also possible to use the site to make an iphone app, but that is a bit more complicated, needs an App developr account and needs to go through Apple first. I will add that to my to-do list for later…

Edit 01-04-11 – The iphone app is launched today, find it in the itunes store. For more info, visit this information page on our school website

Edit 26/03/11 Our Android app is now in the Android market. Just search for St John’s Angel. This was published by Angel Applications and we had some support from the excellent @therenegade78. The iphone app is currently under review. For more info, visit http://www.angeleducation.co.uk/appshop/index.php/


Run, Ian, Run
Sunday, February 06th, 2011 | Author:

As you may have read here,  I am taking part in a weight loss challenge this year and to be honest, the main challenge is with myself. Trying to stay motivated is always the hardest part!

For the past 2 years I have taken part in the Great South Run, a 10mile run in October around the windy streets of Portsmouth. I intend to take part again this year too. Usually I train a bit, do the race and then snuggle up and hibernate for the winter until around March time. I don’t want to do that this year so I booked myself a place on a 10k run around Chichester. I thought about it worked out that it’s 6.2 miles so thats around 62mins at my pace (ish).

I’ve tried various apps on my phone and none had come close to matching the one I had on my nokia 5800 until now. I love Cardio Trainer. For a number of reasons, but mainly because it helps me to run. It measures my time and distance and allows me to share these via facebook and/or Twitter. It gives me a little medal to show me how many calories I’ve burnt off in the past 7 days. I HATE it when it gets below 500, but boy, that 2,000 medal sitting there at the moment looks damn good. It does miles or kilometres and saves me from working that out. It lets you measure your weight each week and puts it in a graph for you. It can even measure the food you’re eating if you want to and it shows how much red (bad) food you’ve eaten compared to green (good) food. Simple, but it makes me think before I buy a chocolate bar!

The best bit is that this app is free. It does most of that for nothing. I have paid for the app (£6 or so) because it has totally changed my running. I tend to run on the same route most mornings and I can race against previous times and it’ll tell me how i’m doing and if present-me or past-me is winning.I also paid for it because I wanted to support the developer as it obviously wasn’t easy to pack so much stuff in. They offer a 30-day refund too if you’re not happy. Win and indeed win.

Today though, one feature came into it’s own. Like I said, the race was 10k, my mind is in miles. I set the app and turned on the voice settings. A lovely voice then told me my pace every 500m (you choose how often) so I could judge how far ahead/behind of target I was. Within about 3k I realised I might be able to do this race under an hour. So I sped up just a little and the voice confirmed it as I managed 5k in 28mins.

I finished in 59.13 which I am chuffed with, but I truly believe it is down to the Cardio Trainer app.

Here’s the Android link. I hope it helps you too.