The benefits of iBeacons spread further in Education - even to mobile device management

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The benefits of iBeacons spread further in Education - even to mobile device management

I came across a nice little intro article to iBeacons and Education here from software makers JAMF. They released the very popular Caspar mobile device management tool several years ago and revolutionised how well schools, businesses and institutions were able to manage large fleets of iPads etc. I especially liked this bit:

"iBeacons offer great advantages over traditional location services. Instead of using the device’s specific geographic location (GPS coordinates), iBeacons use a device’s proximity to an iBeacon region. Similar to how Grover taught on Sesame Street, an iBeacon knows what devices are 'near' and what's 'far'. 

This is a major shift in the approach to the accuracy problem. Instead of constantly sending location data to a service, a device only communicates when it is in one of these regions. This removes liability, as the service no longer knows where devices are, only that the device is in a region it cares about."

The other thing that caught my eye which will be of great interest to users of Caspar is that it really sounds like from this article that they are adding direct support for iBeacons into Caspar itself - which means that the thousands of schools, businesses and institutions already using it will soon gain the ability to add local context to their environment!

Read: http://www.jamfsoftware.com/blog/the-benefits-of-ibeacons-for-education/ 

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From Brooklyn Museum - lessons from a building wide deployment

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From Brooklyn Museum - lessons from a building wide deployment

Came across this article shared by Geoff Ellwood at the LinkedIn iBeacons group and found it a fascinating read and one well worth sharing wider. I have to commend the Brooklyn Museum iBeacon team for not only such a persistent effort, but also for being so open in describing what worked and what didn't. 150 beacons is a big project, and it seems they are finding solutions and sticking to their original vision of staying agile.

While many in education are only looking at much smaller deployments at least to start with, there is still a lot that can be learned here: READ

 

 

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Video: Using iBeacons to push information to parents

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Video: Using iBeacons to push information to parents

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Came across a link to this on twitter today while perusing the #iBeacons tag. It's a short video of a teacher in a Kuwaiti school demonstrating how they are using Estimote beacons to push information to parents as they arrive at different sections of the school, or when they attend parent-teacher interviews. Its another simple but effective example of iBeacons proving their worth in education - and the more applications we see, the more will be sparked.

The video shows the notifications working on iOS and Android devices - turns out that the app service it mentions them using - Lightcurb, supports both via its free beacon-scanning app. I hadn't heard of them before but am happy to see they also sell Android compatible beacons for those using that platform. I'll be reaching out to them to see what else they offer for schools. I did see they have a free trial of their web-service available at the moment.

VIDEO LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWv0smcVfy4 

 

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iBeacons mapped against SAMR model

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iBeacons mapped against SAMR model

6 months in the making, this infographic aims to map the emerging uses of iBeacons in Education against the levels of the SAMR model developed by Dr Rubin Puentedura. Why? When a new technology emerges, its early uses in education will generally follow a path that begins at a substitution level of using the new tech almost exclusively just to replace something we could already do. In the case of iBeacons, this can mean pushing links to lesson resources out to class iPads rather than emailing them.

As our experience grows however, the challenge in regards to getting the most out of the time, money and energy spent on on deploying the new technology is to learn how the capabilities it brings allows us to augment, modify and then redefine the original learning task in ways that would never have been possible before.

I hope you find this chart useful - it is a just a version one, but has resulted from a large range of conversations I've had with leading educators and iBeacon early-adopters this year. Enjoy, share, and let's know ideas for a future version 2 :)

Download PDF version HERE.

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Apple Watch - I aim to find out how it works as a classroom iBeacon tool

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Apple Watch - I aim to find out how it works as a classroom iBeacon tool

Jewellery, iBeacon, and/or learning tool?

I was fascinated to read top iBeacon commentator Doug Thompson's latest Beekn.net post last week exploring just how wearable tech in the form of the  Watch will impact the world of iBeacons. Both are important parts of the Apple ecosystem and will obviously only grow in significance over time. 

As an early proponent of exploring Wearable technology in education then, I am excited to announce that the TAFE Queensland English Language and Literacy Service, where I am Digital Learning Co-ordinator, will be running potentially the worlds first Apple Watch classroom trial in early 2015.

Before you jump in with ideas that this is yet another 'throw a shiny thing into a classroom' project, you should know that several elements are being integrated into the pilot such as use of the SAMR model and an extensive curriculum planning period to ensure that the capabilities of the Apple Watch match the learning outcomes that our programs are federally mandated to deliver.

The choice of the Apple Watch itself has been made after careful consideration of both the needs of our students to have cutting edge skills so they standout in the job market, and because of the accessibility features Apple Watch integrates that will specifically support our ESL and ELL students.

Download the press release HERE.

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Watch: This is the role iBeacons can play in Education

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Watch: This is the role iBeacons can play in Education

This video sets out some of my basic ideas for what role iBeacons can play in Education. it also serves as a teaser for a session I'm delivering in November at the Learning and Teaching conference in my hometown of Brisbane. Hit the link below if you are local and keen to come :)

 

" 'iBeacons in Education' is just one of the 50+ breakout sessions available at the National Learning and Teaching Conference. Browse the conference at www.pearson.com.au/pl/LTCon2014 There are four streams of breakout sessions available: Classroom Intervention Digital Technologies Leadership Intervention Student Wellbeing - Video courtesy of Jonathon Nalder. "

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Getting started with iBeacon apps - Estimote Guide

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Getting started with iBeacon apps - Estimote Guide

While for many the easy uni-device programming that apps like Beecon and Beacondo make available are enough to get going with deploying iBeacons into learning environments, the time may come when yes, you want to learn to program your own. 

To this end, early iBeacon leader Estimote have created an excellent guide that steps you through what is required, with examples and sources for code etc included. You can find the introductory module here:

http://ct78ez.axshare.com/intro_to_beacons.html

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iBeacons a key part of global Apple Education event

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iBeacons a key part of global Apple Education event

I had the great privilege recently of attending an event that is only held every 2-3 years for just a few hundred educators - but is one that has far-reaching implications in terms of what learning tools and ideas will be organically spread by those who attended. I'm speaking of the Apple Distinguished Educators Institute that saw 360 leading teachers and education experts gather in La Jolla, San Diego to pool ideas and learn from each others best practice. 

One of the key sessions that around half of us attended was an introduction to iBeacons. While there had been a hard core group of us who had been talking about the potential of location-aware learning triggers for months, having a detailed but accessible session for a wider group of influencers I'm certain will see awareness of iBeacons now be spread back to the many corners of the globe that were represented.

The session itself went over the basics of beacons being merely triggers - which means the challenge then falls to the learning design to make the best use of the chance to curate experiences according to context and location. Featured as a first-up tool for educators to try was Beacondo, the Mac app that allows you to push out multiple iBeacon-aware mini-apps to any iDevice, or even to publish them to the App Store if you so desire.

I've actually had permission to share the link to the materials that were shared in the form of an iTunes U course - you can check it out here to learn a bit more about the potential of iBeacons yourself: https://itunesu.itunes.apple.com/enroll/K89-EQF-RC6

It was also great to have Gavin Smart of Clevedon College present at the Institute about the beginnings of their student-developed 'iClevedon' deployment of iBeacons. Chatting in person with him was an invaluable experience, as was actually taking part in an off-site scavenger hunt that Apple organised to augment our field trips. All in all the future for iBeacons in education looks great - wether its via teachers rolling their own solutions with Beacondo or Beecon apps, or working with devs like Crowdsify as I am doing for custom solutions, or even using school-wide solutions like eLockers. The best is yet to come...

 

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These are the worlds first iBeacon schools

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These are the worlds first iBeacon schools

Since news of Paul Hamilton's first ever use of iBeacons in a school hit the web earlier this year, there has been a gap in time as other schools and developers have been working hard to implement location-aware learning on a bigger scale. I myself am part way through developing an app to support professional development training of teachers with Crowdsify, but it takes time.

The waiting period to see which schools will be next is over however as a major project was announced last week involving a partnership between Australia's largest independent school (Hailybury), a private school in the UK (Bryanston) and SpecialistApps.com that will see the already in place eLocker software used by these schools to support students use of iPads being augmented by iBeacons in a way that gives teachers a contextual trigger for curating learning content and experiences within an already successful and familiar tool. Read more about it in Geoff Elwood's post HERE.

Almost at the same time we have another UK School who are launching their own project. Titled iClevedon, it leverages the work of a student developer to add iBeacon support for the schools digital handbook as well as location-specific triggers and notifications to make the very act of moving around the school an interactive experience. They are also using their back-end file management system (Foldr) to allow the beacons to trigger access to content for students as they need it. You can view the launch video HERE and follow them on twitter for updates.

So all in all, things are really heating up! Both of these projects are also giving me some great ideas to add to the chart I am creating to map iBeacon use cases against the SAMR framework of Dr Ruben Puentedura to provide a big picture view of where we are starting from (generally just substituting iBeacon use for a previous almost identical tool) and where we are going in terms of aiming for deployments where iBeacons allow learning tasks to be totally redefined.

 

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"We are adding the dimensions of SPACE, TIME and CONTEXT"

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"We are adding the dimensions of SPACE, TIME and CONTEXT"

At the massive Edutech 2014 conference in Australia recently the highlight for me was getting to talk with a developer whose iPad locker and content management software is already used widely in schools. Why was this chat so exciting you ask? Well firstly let me point you to a post-Edutech post by Geoff Elwood to whom I was speaking about iBeacons, and this quote in particular:

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Doesn't that just sum up some of why educators in the know are so excited about the potential of this new tech to connect learning supported by digital devices back to the real world? No longer will a digital resources (which can be almost any resources nowadays) be just a file on a server or icon on a screen, but how we interact with it can be curated by iBeacons according to where we are, how close we are (or aren't) or even what time it is and what cohort or interest group I belong to

I encourage you to read the whole post and look out for some more big news soon about how Geoff is working to not just talk about iBeacons, but do something massive to assist schools with using them as well...

 

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Announcing a partnership with Crowdsify to fuse iBeacons with learning

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At the moment everyone involved with iBeacons is experiencing a platform in constant flux and evolution - its an exciting time, especially for educators who see new tools to support linking the wave of digital devices now deploying in schools and universities with real, physical locations.

As I've been experimenting from the learning side with Estimote, Nomi and Gymbal beacons as well as apps like Beecon and Beacondo, so have many developers been working to get new types of apps ready to capitalise on what a well-supported beacon-ecosystem can make possible. One of these developers is Crowdsify who have been active on twitter and especially on the ground in Europe deploying location and proximity services that leverage iBeacons. After chatting with them over the last few weeks I'm now pleased to announce a collaboration project where we can bring their expertise and my education background together to build something new.

It's early days, but our specific focus is looking at how an iBeacon app looks when adapted for educational needs. We want to build something that is at once a first class demonstration of the possibilities of tools like heat-maps and notification triggers, as well as a an app that can be used to directly support classroom and training sessions.

Look out for much more on this project and what we learn very soon...

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Massive visual collection of iBeacon related stuff

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One of  my go-to places for keeping up with the latest in iBeacon developments is Gary Bass's Pinterest page. Why? One - because the list of pins there is already massive, but number two - because its a collection curated by an experienced fellow-educator who is also a developer working with iBeacons now himself - in other words this site has cred, and yes, you should follow it too!

http://www.pinterest.com/garyb0au/ibeacons/

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Example of iBeacons creating deep, interactive teachable moments

Recently came across this amazing example of iBeacon use which may spark lots of ideas for education. It's a pretty harrowing topic, but in my mind this kind of iBeacon use opens up all kinds of teachable moments:

"Using Apple's iBeacon technology, which harnesses Bluetooth Low Energy and geofencing to provide micro-location awareness between apps, UNMAS was able to plant invisible, simulated land mines around the exhibit space. Inside the organization's app, also called Sweeper, a land mine "explodes" when an unlucky individual comes across one. A recording then explains the physical injury inflicted by each type of mine"

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Another iBeacon in Education blog worth following

Fellow Edtech pioneer and explorer of new tech Courtney Pepe, who has a very popular blog covering classroom ideas, Google Glass and App Smashing has now also added an iBeacon category that is well worth checking out by educators wanting to keep up with this fast-expanding space.

You can visit it here http://mrspepe.com/ibeacons/ - and don't forget to go on an explore the rest of the great content there as well.

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50 Possible Applications for iBeacons...

As myself and other educators begin the journey of adapting iBeacon bluetooth technology for learning, we are just at the stage of considering ideas, brainstorming, and canvassing a wide range of possibilities. The filtering and narrowing down to practical applications will come over time - but for now, you may like me want to have a look through the 50 ideas that beacon maker Lighthouse have put together.

Some are easy to see as being applicable for learning, others not so much, and others again fit in the category of 'maybe, I wonder...'. Hope they prove useful to get your brain going as well...

http://blog.lighthousebeacon.io/50-possible-applications-apples-ibeacon-bluetooth-le/ 

 

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Passbook as an iBeacon app

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Passbook as an iBeacon app

Fellow Apple Distinguished Educator Gary Bass of Advaita Digital has pointed me to a discussion about how the Passbook built into every iPad/iPhone can be used with iBeacons: 

"Over in apple communities there is a raging and wide ranging discussion..with a discovery about PassBook and passkit just revealed..

An App is not required to detect beacon(s)..

- could be very useful in schools!

Teachers use MBP as 'virtual beacon' from their projector connected computer.

As student approaches the classroom..or learning space, messages pop-up (recall wifi is not needed for bluetooth).

Perfect for excursions..the imagination begins to go wild!!

But, better yet, no specific App is necessary to detect the beacon.

Details over on https://discussions.apple.com/thread/6028034#25277013

(warning!! ..a bit nerdy..so some IT speak will be encountered.."

- Thanks for sharing this Gary! 

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Gallery of free stock iBeacon images

As I've been working with my Estimote beacons, I've been creating a series of images to help show what they can do - as I know other educators are also going through the same process, I've decided to make them available as a free gallery for others to use - as long as attribution back to jnxyz and beaconsforeducation.com is given :)

Here is the link to view and download images: iBeacon Stock Images Gallery

You can also access the collection via Flickr.

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Shared iBeacons knowledge base

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COLLABORATIVE CHALLENGE

As is this is a new field, my challenge to everyone is to collaboratively share what we are learning - and to back this up I have created an online Pages document where educators playing in this space can share their knowledge. 

You can view the results of what has been created so far HERE.

> Contact me if you'd like to join in adding to the doc    

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