iPadoPedia excerpt (there are plenty more here)
Archiving: Everything your students have ever handed in, stored and sorted on your iPad, ready to showcase as you need. Here’s how it works.
The year that was. On demand.
An archive is a comprehensive and searchable repository of every piece of work that your students have ever submitted. Weekly tests, essays, artwork, mindmaps, assignments… everything they’ve done so far, all in one place. It is a formidable reference for any teacher who needs to write reports, prepare for parent/teacher meetings or put together a showcase of the year that was.
And, in a pre-iPad age, an absurd idea.
What classroom would have the space to accommodate such a repository? Which teacher the time to sort, maintain or search through it?
But iPad intriguingly opens the possibility, by doing almost all the work for you. Apart from providing a convenient way to view anything in the Archive, it has more than enough memory to store the entire collection. You’ll always be able to carry with you everything from the year that was, without a box or a folder in sight.
And best of all, with just a search term, your iPad can retrieve anything in your Archive, as if it were your own personal librarian.
Why Archives are so useful for classrooms
Let’s imagine you’re introducing an upcoming assignment. Instead of just listing expectations as bullet points on a rubric, you could use your class Archive to assemble a gallery of all assignments from last year that earned an A+. Throw them up on the big screen (we look at how to do this in the chapter on Presenting) swipe through them with your finger as you talk, and you’ve got a compelling tour of best practice. This, you can tell your students, is what an A+ submission looks like.
If a student then puts up their hand and asks if they’re allowed to include drawings instead of photos, you can run another search and instantly showcase examples from students from previous years w
ho had done exactly that. Of course you can include hand drawn pictures. Just look at these. And given how good your own drawings are—
(enter the student’s name, add “drawings” to the search, now they’re on the screen instead)
—I think you’d do an excellent job.
If later that afternoon you have a parent/teacher meeting, you can use the same Archive to create a gallery of everything their child has handed in this year. Or just their child’s math tests. Or examples of their handwriting.
And again—because these galleries can be created instantly, based on whatever search terms you need—if those parents catch you off balance with an unexpected question, you don’t have to go rummaging through folders or boxes for supporting evidence; what you need is all right there on your iPad, the examples as easily retrieved as a weather forecast on Google.
When those parents leave, and the next pair arrive, simply enter the new name into your search—now your iPad is a showcase of that child’s work.
There’s nothing new about using examples of student work like this to inspire or inform; what is new is the speed and ease with which the relevant examples can be summoned. iPad makes the whole idea of Archiving painless enough that it may just pass a cost-benefit analysis for the first time.
How to set this up on iPad
It really just means a couple of extra steps once you’re otherwise done marking a piece of work:
First, you need to digitize the work—that sounds very Star Trek and complicated, but it basically means quickly pointing your iPad at it and taking a photo.
Then you add that digitized work to your collection using your Archiving app. This is the app that hosts the collection, and allows you to search within it. (We’ll take a closer look at an outstanding Archiving app in a minute).
And finally you need to tag that piece of work— which simply means typing in a few words or phrases that help your iPad find it again. You can add as many or as few tags as you like for any piece of work.
So, for example…
If you make it a habit to tag work with the student’s name, then you can instantly create a complete portfolio of any student’s work just by searching for their name.
If you also tag work with the mark awarded, then you can create a showcase of—as we looked at in our example a moment ago—every piece of work in your class this year that earned an A+. Or equally—if you wanted to—every piece of work that scored a D.
It’s completely up to you as to what these tags are; your choices would be informed by how you imagine yourself using the Archive in the future. So if you regularly have open days that showcase work from your most recently completed unit, then it’s worth tagging work with both the name of the unit, and the result.
Why? Because this allows you to perform a search such as:
“A+” and “Volcanoes Unit”.
which would instantly create a gallery of the best pieces of work in your Volcanoes Unit.
If instead you wanted everyone’s Volcano unit work on display, simply omit the “A+”.
Share the gallery across a number of iPads, and you’ve got a display that parents can swipe their way through on Open Day.
Useful tags to consider
Remember, the tags you use will depend on what it is you’re hoping to use the Archive for:
- Student’s name: makes it possible to create portfolios of individual student work
- Completion date/Semester: allows you to create galleries of specific times in the year, particularly useful for tracking progress or making before-and-after type comparisons.
- Type of work: So you can create a gallery just of (say) essays, or in-class tests, or posters.
- Result: Perfect for instantly assembling a best-of portfolio, or examples of subpar work to springboard discussions with support staff.
- Unit of work: Will let you create instant galleries of entire units—ideal if you need to talk about that unit in your reports. (Add the name of the student to that tag search, and you can see exactly what you need for your comments)
- Noteworthies: These are tags that capture anything that might be unusual about the student’s work. So this is where you might tag “excellent illustration” or “rich vocabulary” or “lateral thinking” or—for sharing with colleagues rather than parents—”howler”. Opens the way for galleries that provide unusual and themed perspectives on class work. (This is how you would have been able to call up all assignments with excellent illustrations in our example on the previous page.)
The app that makes this possible
The 1000 lb gorilla of Archiving apps is Evernote, which is a free program that is routinely is used to manage everything from small personal recipe collections to library-sized repositories of notes and images for the most thorough of researchers or journalists.
Simply open a new note to paste in each new example of student work, and then assign whatever tags you need:
- “Timothy Schmidt”
- “Assignment on Belgium”
- “Semester 1 2014”
That’s it. This piece of work will now automatically be retrieved in response to any future search for any of those tags. There’s no need to sort anything into folders, you’re done.
Because a tag search will quickly fetch all the pieces of work that match the given tags, and only the pieces of work that match—no matter where in the repository those documents are—you’ll end up with a comprehensively organized Archive, despite the fact that you’ve done no organizing whatsoever.
(Parents will think you’re very clever. You don’t have to own up to how you really did it.)
How to get Evernote
There are versions of Evernote for just about every platform, including Mac, PC and iPad—because the information is saved to the password protected Evernote servers, you can access your class’s work from any device, and from anywhere you happen to be.
Just go to www.evernote.com to set up your free account.
Giving students access
One of the features of Evernote is that you can grant your students read-only access to their own personal Archive. It’s a personalized mini version of your full class Archive that only features their work, so they can track their progress without compromising the privacy of your other students.
To do this, you’d need to make sure that each student’s work is stored in a separate notebook in your Archive. You can then elect to share any notebook simply by entering the email address of the recipient—in this case, you’d use the email address of that student.
When your student receives that email, there will be a link for them to click on—that will take them straight to their Archive. They’ll be able to see what’s in the Archive, and navigate through the contents, but they won’t be able to make any changes.
Note that your student won’t need an Evernote account of their own to do any of this. (although it’s such an endlessly useful tool for research and idea management that it really should be one of the very first things they install on their iPad—see the entry on Researching)
Be consistent with your tags
Evernote will obediently fetch any piece of student work that is tagged with whatever you search for, but it will limit its search to exactly what you typed. This means you need to be careful to be consistent about naming your tags—if you’re highlighting excellent work with the tag “outstanding”, but then next time use a synonym (“unusually good” “ahead of the curve” “showcase this”), then a search for “outstanding will only show the first piece of work, not the second.
Fortunately Evernote makes it very easy to see what tags have already been applied, and will also let you edit, delete or reapply tags to any note at any time. Like just about everything with iPad, you can feel free to mess up, knowing you can always untangle it later.
Getting written work onto your iPad
The whole idea of an iPad-based class depends on also being able to convert student written work into a digitized form that iPad can work with.
In the chapter on Photocopying, we look at how you can use an app called Scanner Pro, to effectively turn your iPad’s camera into a high resolution scanner: just point and shoot at whatever work you want to digitize. It doesn’t matter whether it’s paper or papier-mâché, nor does it matter how big it is—if you can get it in shot, you can capture it. So if your student’s project was a mural that covered an entire wall, simply stand back far enough that you can frame it all. (You can digitize mountains if you want to, using this technique)
If the work had been submitted electronically instead—for example as a word document or PDF that had been sent to you using one of the techniques outlined in Handing in work, then there’s no need for this step. And given the sheer variety of ways in which students can create work on their iPad, it will become increasingly likely that the work wasn’t done on paper in the first place. (See the chapter on Publishing)