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Meraki: Manage Mobile Devices from the Cloud…FREE

What it is: Meraki lets you centrally manage mobile devices, macs and PC’s from the cloud based dashboard.  The systems manager makes it simple to centrally manage applications on iOS, Android, Mac and PC devices.  It integrates with Google Play, Amazon Appstore, Apple App Store and Apple’s Volume Purchase Program.  In addition to being able to manage apps, Meraki makes it easy to enforce and deploy restrictions on mobile devices. Choose how your students access the app store, gaming and content, how they connect wirelessly, security settings and remote VPN access.  Meraki has a virtual backpack where content can be shared with devices.  Files and documents can be added and sent wirelessly.  Separate backpacks can be delivered to different classrooms so that the correct documents are shared with the students who need it.  The cloud platform makes 1 to 1 projects and BYOD (bring your own device) roll outs manageable.  The best part?  Meraki is 100% free.  You just can’t beat that! How to integrate Meraki into the classroom: This is one of those tools that I WISH I had seen before I spent $3,000 on another solution.  Blerg.  Live and learn, right?  Next year, this is the solution I will be using to manage all of our BYOD iPads at Anastasis.  It has everything that we need.  The integration with Apple’s Volume Purchase Program is pretty fantastic.  This is a great way for the school to purchase and manage educational apps that we want to share with students.  The cloud management means that we can manage devices from anywhere and we don’t have to have a dedicated server to do it.  I can do a lot of things, but managing servers is not one of those things that I want to spend my time doing! Meraki is a great solution for whole schools or single classrooms that need to manage devices.  I love that Meraki can be used for a school initiated roll-out or in a single classroom BYOD initiative.  Either way the tools are easy to use and will make the integration of technology in the classroom run smoother. Tips: Check out the FAQ page to learn more about how Meraki gets installed on the student devices.  The installation changes based on device. Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Meraki in your classroom.

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Playfic: create, play and remix text-based games

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, History, Interactive book, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 08-01-2013

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What it is: Playfic is a site that let’s users create, play and remix online text-based games.  I may have lost some of you already…but don’t leave yet! A text-based game is a genre of game that uses no graphics or sound, but instead, uses text to tell a story in an interactive world.  Think of a choose your own adventure tech-style.  Students can create a story that others can interact with by directing the story using words and phrases.  As an example, the story might be about a forest, describing what you can see East, West, North and South.  The player would type in a direction “East”, hit the return key, and the story progresses.  You can try out a sample text-based game here.

How to integrate Playfic into the classroom: Playfic has all kinds of good stuff for classrooms.  To create a story, students must first learn a little bit of coding.  Tutorials are included on the Playfic site, and are easy enough to get your students up and running in no time.  There is even a link to an Inform 7 (coding language) recipe book that will have your students dreaming up new scenarios and actively researching how to make them come to life.  Students can create games for each other while strengthening their writing and grammar skills.  This is wonderful for fictitious writing, but could also be used for students to explore “what ifs” in history and science.  Students can take a moment in time and dream up what might have been different about the world if the event hadn’t happened the way that it had.  As they are researching and learning about the actual event, they will also be analyzing why the event is important and critically thinking about it’s impact on the world we live in.  Similarly, students could explore a science experiment, hypothesizing what will happen and the different outcomes that might occur.

Teachers could create these choose your own adventure stories for students for new learning or review of a topic.  Wouldn’t it be cool to have a story using sight word vocabulary that prompted practice with the sight words?

I know a handful of students who really struggle with writing…it is PAINFUL.  These students are brilliant. They have great ideas to share. One of the students I have in mind came up to me today and said, “over break I taught myself Lua (programming language).”  Students like these will be all over this type of writing.  What a cool way to engage them and excite them about the writing process in a new way.

One of the things that I really like about Playfic is that it takes a lot of planning, organizing, and thought to create this type of story.  For some students the planning/organizing portion of writing is a real struggle.  This site would be so useful in teaching students the importance of those steps.  I also love that it will have them researching and looking up solutions for how to make their ideas come to life.  Just like we do every day in the “real world.”

Tips: The Inform 7 Recipe book can be found here. 

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Playfic in your classroom.

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