Adobe tools for the computing curriculum

Adobe tools for the computing curriculum
Michael Gove may be gone, but the 2014 computing curriculum lives on, replacing traditional ICT lessons with a more practical (and, let’s face it, more useful) focus on problem solving, computational thinking, and coding.

We’re big fans of this development, but a lot of the schools we deal with have mixed feelings. Staff like the computing curriculum in theory, but don’t think they have the skills or equipment to teach it effectively, especially when it comes to integrating coding into the rest of the curriculum.

Luckily, there’s no need for you to start crowbarring turtle graphics into GCSE art lessons. There are tools out there that can help you give your students a more technical understanding of creative technology, without taking the focus entirely from art, design or whatever else you’re trying to teach – and if you’re using Adobe software, you may well have most of them already.

Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Edge and Muse
Of Adobe’s current crop, the programs you want to focus on for teaching creative coding are: Dreamweaver, which allows students to design and publish web pages; Fireworks, for prototyping and optimising web and app designs for different devices; Edge Animate, a tool for animating Photoshop and Illustrator-created graphics using HTML5; and Muse, a simple, mostly drag and drop interface for creating simple websites.

All of these programs are intended to help non-technical designers, which actually comes in really handy when you move them to the classroom. The focus of the lesson stays on your subject, rather than it becoming a fully-fledged IT lesson, students who are less technically able can use the shortcuts in the software to ensure they can still participate fully, while those who are more confident can use CSS3, HTML5, JavaScript and PHP to push their designs further, or use this as an opportunity to focus on user experience design and usability and how this should inform their IT work. Here are a few of the goals we reckon Adobe can help you hit…

Working with a range of applications and devices
The holy trinity of InDesign, Fireworks and Dreamweaver all contain tools that’ll let you remodel work for different screens, browsers, tablets and phones. This is a great starting point for conversations about responsive design and the changing IT landscape – how are people accessing content? What new things do students need to consider, as developers, as a result of that? How do they make sure they have a design that is simple enough to translate, but still engaging and interesting? Do they know how to build swipe functionality into mobile versions of their content?

It also means that when you send them out into the working world, they’ll be used to taking these (very important) factors into consideration, and have experience with a wealth of devices to draw on – both great pluses for any job-seeking student!

Creating, re-using, revising and repurposing digital artefacts
The interoperability of all your Adobe software makes this one a breeze. Images you’ve created in Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign can all be added to web pages using Dreamweaver or Fireworks, and you can encourage students to repurpose their content for different devices. For example, they can create a web page for desktops, a mobile version that anyone on a smartphone can see, and an app version (complete with touch controls) for anyone who’s looking at the content on a tablet.  You can make this even easier by using Edge Animate to create a series of templates that students can work with or modify, or encourage them to create and share their own.

Self-expression and developing ideas through ICT
“Design and build a web site” pretty much hits this on the head, and that’s what Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Muse allow students to do. They can combine creative work they put together in Photoshop, InDesign, Flash or Edge Animate with functionality they’ve developed using CSS3, HTML5 and jQuery tags in Fireworks and Dreamweaver to create a fully featured, multi-platform project with as much functionality as they can pack in, with tools like W3C validation on hand to make sure they stay focused on creating user-friendly, accessible pages that meet professional standards.

Practically applying IT skills to a range of creative projects and media
CSS3, HTML5, JavaScript/jQuery and PHP are all used throughout Adobe Dreamweaver, Edge and Fireworks, so students can practise working with a range of languages and optimising that content for different devices, browsers and screen sizes. Adobe’s preference for very visual interfaces that offer a code-free way to edit page elements means that students who are less technical can get a clearer idea of which parameters affect which page elements, then tackle the code itself once they’re more confident.

So how so you plan these lessons?
One of the best things about Adobe’s education offering is that it includes access to the Adobe Education Exchange. This is an online portal packed with training programs, curriculum advice and lesson plans to help you get the most out of your Adobe software.

Both Adobe experts and other teachers can contribute, so it’s a good way of gauging how other schools are embedding technical and creative skills across the curriculum, and the resources are guaranteed teacher-friendly. You can even download sample files showing how to complete different types of project, such as creating your own textbooks or building multi-page apps.

It also includes resources for the 10 week Adobe Train the Trainer course, a series of self-paced lessons that act as continuing professional development for Adobe users.

 

Just want to code? Here are some of our top apps to try…
Cargo-Bot (Two Lives Left, free) – This former Jigsaw24 App of the Week teaches programming by asking students to create simple routines to activate a robotarm. Great for gauging pupils’ coding skills when they enter KS3!

 
Codea  (Two Lives Left, £6.99) – The programming app used to make Cargo-Bot, Codea allows you to create apps, games and simulations directly on to your iPad. It includes visual editors as well, so is perfect for beginners who want to grasp the basic concepts before moving on to more complex coding.
 

Scratch 2 Games (David Phillips, 69p) – If you’re using the web version of Scratch to teach students coding, these video tutorials on game creation are a must for teachers and students. 
 

Codeacademy’s Hour of Code (Codeacademy, free) – This app encourages pupils to work through the vocabulary and grammar of coding as if they’re learning a language. They take on one small step at a time, building on previous knowledge, and are introduced to the concepts and terminology behind their favourite apps and websites.
 

Want to know more about your Adobe options? Get in touch us on 03332 409 333 or email adobe@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest education info, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.  

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Avid’s new upgrade plan: what you need to know

Avid’s new upgrade plan: what you need to know

Attention all Avid users: the software giants are saying goodbye to their current upgrade model, and are giving you until 1st January 2015 to move to the latest version by taking out one of their new annual support plans. Here’s what you need to know.

How the new plan works

First off, this isn’t a subscription model. When you buy a new licence of Media Composer, Symphony or NewsCutter, it’s yours and you own it forever. However, the only way you can get access to updates and new versions is by signing up for Avid Support, which costs £190 ex VAT and needs to be renewed annually. This cost gives you access to any and all updates Avid release for free, plus basic tech support. If you stop paying for Avid Support the licence will still function, but if you want to access any new features you will have to pay for a new licence.

Who needs to buy Avid Support?

If you bought Media Composer 8, Media Composer 7 or NewsCutter 11 between 1st April and 29th April 2014, you’ll have been automatically enrolled in Avid Support, and don’t have to do anything until next April, when you’ll need to pay to renew it for another year. All new licences purchased since then will have been automatically enrolled on Avid Support.

Everyone else will need to buy Avid Support before 1st January 2015, or you’ll have to buy new licences. If you’re using an earlier version of Media Composer, signing up to Avid Support will give you access to the latest version at no extra cost.

If you buy add-ons like the Symphony option for Media Composer, these will be covered by your initial Avid Support contract.

In case our aggressive hyperlinking hasn’t already clued you in, you can purchase Avid Support here on our site.

What if I have an existing support plan?

If you have a current Expert Plus or Elite support contract with Avid, then your Media Composer licences will automatically be enrolled in Avid Support, and you just need to renew then annually from now on.

What if I need to buy new licences?

All licences will include one year’s worth of Avid Support, and you’ll be prompted to renew in a year.

What if I choose not to sign up for Support before 2015?

You’ll still be able to use your existing Media Composer licences, but you won’t be able to update them or add Avid Support to them in future. If you wake up on 2nd January 2015 and realise that sweet merciful Zeus, you did need that licence after all, you’ll have to pay for a full, new licence. This will set you back far more than £190, so we strongly advise you to purchase Avid Support here, now, so you know you’re covered.

Isn’t there also a subscription model?

Yep. For those of you who don’t need to own your software licences outright (maybe the number of licences you need changes from project to project, maybe you only need Media Composer for a specific period), Avid now offer annual and monthly subscription plans from £429 ex VAT a year. You pay a regular fee to rent your software, and lose access to it if you miss a payment.

It’s also worth nothing that a Media Composer subscription comes with a load of extras, including access to Symphony, NewBlue Titler, Sorenson Squeeze Lite, Boris Continuum Complete Lite and a 30 day trial of iZotope Insight.

If you want to move your existing perpetual licences to a subscription model, Avid will let you cross grade for £340 ex VAT, after which you’ll have to pay the usual £429 annual fee.

What are the options too convoluted to discuss here, and who should I contact to find out more about them?

There are two other things we think you should consider. First, Avid are now offering networked and floating licences, designed to help artists in a single facility to collaborate more fluidly. Second, if you’ve been on an elderly version of Media Composer and are about to take out support to get the latest version, it’d be a good idea to check your hardware compatibility. We provide Avid accredited turnkey systems, so it’s a good idea to give us a call and discuss your options before switching versions (our contact details are below).

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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MOTU retire 2408 PCIe range after 15 years; announce networkable, Thunderbolt successors

MOTU retire 2408 PCIe range after 15 years; announce networkable, Thunderbolt successors

MOTU have announced a new range of professional interfaces that take over from the now-discontinued 2408/24IO/HD192 range. Offering the same high channel count, the new interfaces offer Thunderbolt connectivity instead of PCIe, with USB 2.0 also present.

The new interfaces also offer a first in this area: AVB Networking, which not only lets you connect multiple interfaces to a single computer, but also allows for the creation of a full audio network of interfaces and computers, where audio can be streamed from any source to any destination. The routing of the entire network can be controlled by a web app running from a computer, tablet or phone.

The MOTU AVB range

There are four products in the AVB range:

MOTU 1248: 32×34 interface with 4 mic preamps, 8 line level, 16 channels of ADAT, Thunderbolt and USB 2.0.
MOTU 8M: 24×24 interface, 8 mic preamps, 16 channels of ADAT, Thunderbolt and USB 2.0.
MOTU 16A: 32×32 interface, 16 analogue line level inputs and outputs, 16 channels of ADAT, Thunderbolt and USB 2.0.
MOTU AVB Switch: Dedicated 5 port AVB switch.

Any of the interfaces can be connected directly to any other via a single ethernet cable, but for further expandability the AVB switch lets you connect up to five together, or four with an uplink to another switch. Any of the interfaces connected to a switch may also be connected to a host computer of its own, with all attached computers being able to see all the connected interfaces.

What are the advantages of MOTU AVB?

Host access through Thunderbolt or USB. MOTU are the first to combine AVB networking with Thunderbolt and USB 2.o connectivity. MOTU AVB networks do not require PCIe slots. Instead, you can conveniently connect your host computer(s) through USB or Thunderbolt.

Support for multiple computer hosts. A MOTU AVB network can host as many computers as can be physically connected, with complete access by all hosts to all connected devices and audio streams. All computers and all network devices run in sync with each other, resolved to the network’s master clock.

256 channels of host I/O. Over Thunderbolt, MOTU’s AVB interfaces support 256 simultaneous channels of audio I/O (128 in plus 128 out).

Over 512 streams of network audio. MOTU’s AVB network can stream over 500 channels of audio throughout the network. Each MOTU AVB device can broadcast eight 8-channel network streams and simultaneously listen to eight 8-channel network streams.

Exceptionally low network latency. Standard AVB network latency is 2 ms. MOTU AVB network latency is an astonishing 0.6 ms, even over 7 “hops” (switches) and hundreds of metres of cable. By comparison, Cobranet has variable (unpredictable) network latency in the range of 5 ms. (We should point out that these figures came from MOTU, not the Jigsaw24 test lab.)

Star configuration. MOTU AVB employs a star network configuration. This is much more flexible than daisychain scenarios, which require dependency on all devices in the chain.

Web interface. MOTU’s AVB system can be controlled from MOTU’s control software, which runs within any web browser running on any networked laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

Wireless control. MOTU’s AVB system can be controlled wirelessly through its web interface from any networked wireless device, such as a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

One-click synchronisation. Click the “Become Clock Master” button in the MOTU AVB web app for the MOTU device you choose as the clock master, and all other devices on the network immediately resolve to it.

Thunderbolt connection to host computer. MOTU’s core system interfaces (1248, 8M, 16A, etc.) can connect to the host computer with Thunderbolt, which allows full access to the entire MOTU AVB system network, streaming 128 channels of audio in and out simultaneously, even at high sample rates, thanks to Thunderbolt’s extremely high bus bandwidth capacity.

See the full MOTU AVB range here. For more information, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email audio@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest audio news, follow us on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.   

Customer stories: Gifford Hooper and HoverCam

Customer stories: Gifford Hooper and HoverCam

Aged 13, Gifford Hooper built his first model helicopter in order to get aerial shots of his school for a geography project. Fast forward a few years (and models) and he’s an Oscar-winner and one of the world’s leading aerial filming camera operators.

Back in 1979, Gifford Hooper’s school geography department wanted aerial photos of the school, prompting him to build and operate a model plane with a 35mm clockwork camera so that he could get the necessary shots.

35 years and a few generations of technology later, Gifford is now the proud owner of an Academy Award™, having pushed the aerial shooting envelope with Hawkeye and HoverCam. His work can be seen in 24 Hour Party People, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Finding Neverland and 28 Weeks Later.

Hovercam Showreel 2010 from Gifford Hooper on Vimeo.

Can you still remember your first big break?

It was in 1990, when a riot broke out at Strangeways. I got in touch with ITV news and explained I could get them shots they’d never seen before, so they were very excited and ended up commissioning us to film the rooftop protest live – the first time a live  TV broadcast relay had been achieved from a civilian drone. That was also the first time I worked with Philip George, with whom I went on to found HoverCam. I’ve moved on since then am now working with a different set up and crew.

How has your kit changed since then?

When we started working together as HoverCam, we had a 16mm Beaulieu, a S16mm ARRI SR and an ARRI IIC with Cinematography Electronics’ crystal motor base. The first big change was when turbine engines became reliable, because the extra power let us carry bigger payloads and better guidance systems. With the advent of digital cinematography we’ve been able to move to smaller RED cameras, which make life a lot easier.

What drives your changes? Are you always looking to improve, or do you look at the setup on a job-by-job basis?

We’re always trying to improve, although if the client wants something exotic then a flying machine will have to be built for that project. Technology, reliability and safety are the main driving forces behind our changes.

What drives your choice of camera when it’s your choice?

Image quality, size and weight are the biggest issues. When it comes to image quality we have to test different cameras for rolling shutter issues and well we can electronically communicate/integrate with the camera to control its functions remotely. If we have to use a bigger camera, we look at what can be stripped off it without it losing functionality – in some cases we’ve physically cut parts off the camera.

Which camera has generated the most issues when it comes to aerial shooting?

All cameras have different issues to get over, but I guess when we used to shoot full frame 35mm motion film, we had to modify the camera gates, machine different lens adapters and install our own video assist cameras and remote controls. Nowadays all this involves is programming different protocols to talk to the camera’s electronics.

Are you working on the rig at the moment?

The most recent development is a new GPS autopilot system that I’ve implemented, dual autopilot controls for redundancy, new integration of camera controls with the GPS systems. It’ll allow for safer flying and new motion control possibilities.

What’s the most challenging shoot you’ve undertaken?

Well they all have their ups and downs – in aerial filming, all shots are challenging, that’s why they’re the icing on the cake. The hardest things are action sequences in feature films, when you have lots of cast and crew who have to be in the right place at the right time. This isn’t a crane that you can just leave in one place while adjustments are made to the set or actors, so you have to rehearse everything without flying first.

Is there a shot that you’re most proud of?

Working on feature films is the best work to have, but I guess working on commercials with huge budgets means you get to go to some amazing places. We filmed a soft drinks commercial in the Maldives, I think it was for Japanese TV. The shot called for a small beach island with one palm tree and a couple drinking the soft drink, they are on sun loungers and have a kite flying above them giving them shade. Our shot was an aerial view of the complete island surrounded by sea, the couple on the sun loungers with a kite flying close to the aerial camera in the foreground.

To achieve this we had to assume there would be no wind to fly the kite, so that was tethered to the ground and lifted up by a smaller model helicopter. Then we positioned the aerial filming helicopter above the kite. Because the complete island and the sea surrounding it was in view, we couldn’t operate the helicopters from the island and had to build scaffold towers in the sea instead.

Are there any moments where things have gone drastically wrong?

In the early days, mechanical faults where our biggest challenge. The machines had to be completely stripped down and rebuilt overnight while the film crew slept, so we could have a fresh working machine for the morning. We got very little sleep on film shoots! The biggest technical problem we ever had was filming a hotel commercial in Thailand – we lost power and ditched the helicopter in the empty pool. This was back when we were shooting film, so could pull the camera out, strip it, dry it, clean it, grease it, reassemble and test it, then carry on with the shoot with our second machine.

You’ve just won an Academy Award™, which must have felt amazing…

It was awesome, and a complete shock. It’s very nice to have fellow filmmakers acknowledge your many years of hard work.

But looking forward from that, where do you see aerial filming going next?

The market for drones for aerial filming is booming. This is a fantastic time for the market, with lots of computer controlled drones and high quality small cameras. Our systems are all electronic now, so we have fewer mechanical problems to deal with. Usability and reliability are up 100 fold compared to 25 years ago.

Do you see any downsides?

Unfortunately, this leads to some rogue use of technology. A lot of people doing this for the first time are unskilled in aerial filmmaking and flying, and I think a lot more training needs to be done. For example, a lot of people are unaware that it’s illegal to fly without a CAA licence for commercial filming. Even if you’re only doing it as a hobby, you have to abide by the CAA air navigation order.

So your advice to young aerial cameramen is to know the law?

Well your first starting point is to learn how to fly a model RC plane and helicopter to give you a good understanding of flying, start asking for help from people who have being doing it for 30 years. Then obtain the licence for commercial aerial filming work from the CAA.

Looking to get started? We can’t issue pilot’s licences, but if you’re wondering which cameras to invest in, give the team a call.

To find out more call 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Adobe Illustrator CC gets GPU-acceleration for the first time

Adobe Illustrator CC gets GPU-acceleration for the first time

For creatives relying on the magic of Illustrator CC’s vector graphics, you’re about to find the creative workflow a far smoother experience. Thanks to graphics processing giants NVIDIA, Illustrator is able to take advantage of GPU-acceleration for the first time. The technology to applaud for getting your GPU out of it’s armchair is NV Path.

NV Path is an extension of OpenGL, and the result of work between NVIDIA and Adobe. NV Path offloads path rendering onto the GPU, leading to increased fluidity when zooming and panning around your resolution-independent creations.

Previously, Illustrator performance was served up entirely by the CPU, often leading to stuttering, spluttering and an interrupted creative process. Unlike their 3D cousins, 2D artists haven’t had access to the GPU until now. When Illustrator CC is able to perform 10 times faster, you’ll wonder how you got by.

While all this sounds like a technical marvel (and it is!), Illustrator CC’s central mission is to get your imagination onto the screen and beyond with the least resistance. News of this stutter-killing advancement will delight 2D artists, whose creative impulses won’t be held back by an overworked CPU.

For users with the winning combination of Creative Cloud and an NVIDIA GPU, NV Path enabled Illustrator CC is available now.

For more information, call 03332 409 306 or email on at adobe@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Customer stories: Sport on Wheels

Customer stories: Sport on Wheels

Andy Zadora-Chrzastowski set up Sport on Wheels in 1998 in order to provide images and results for wheelchair tennis tournaments across the UK, Europe and the USA. Six years ago he moved to Mac, and hasn’t looked back since…

Tell us a bit about why you started Sport on Wheels.
Well, at the time there was no coverage for wheelchair tennis tournaments, so I started Sport on Wheels to cover wheelchair tennis as a disability sport, but I’ve also started to cover para-badminton and power chair football. It operates on a charitable basis and is non-profit, so it relies heavily on sponsorship and donations.

Why did you decide to move to Mac?
Well I’d been using Adobe Creative Suite for a number of years and experienced a lot of problems with my laptop hanging and crashing, but I was quite unaware that Adobe was never really designed to work on a PC, it was designed to work on a Mac. So I spoke to a lot of people, and they all told me that going to a Mac was the obvious progression.

What was your first Mac?
About six years ago I got a second hand MacBook Pro and I was using that until quite recently. And touch wood, in that time I’ve not had any issues on a Mac with programs running together or crashing or anything. It’s absolutely phenomenal.

Did you find making the switch difficult?
I actually didn’t find the transition too difficult, to be honest. I’d heard all sorts of horror stories about how horrible [OS X] was to get to grips with, but to be honest I found things so easy. And I suppose the big difference is with a PC there was so much hanging and crashing, the whole thing was totally laborious. But since I’ve changed to Mac it’s just faultless.

What’s your workflow like when you’re at an event?
Normally I spend three to four hours shooting the event. I can take upwards of 600 images a day, which does make things difficult when it comes to culling the ones I don’t want. Once I’ve got the ones I want to keep, I adjust them for colour, resize them and then get them straight to the organisers so they can update their websites at the end of each day.

And you’re using Adobe for that?
Yeah, I use Photoshop CS6 and Aperture 3. I was on CS3 for a long time and CS6 was a bit of a steep learning curve, but I only use the basics. As long as I can adjust colours easily, adjust the curves if the lighting’s not brilliant, crop them and add text overlays, I’m okay.

Do you ever think about expanding your coverage?
I’ve been asked so many times to do video or expand into other disability sports, but to be honest, the expense means it’s not a road I would be able to go down. I did have a caravan that I used to cover longer events up and down the UK, but it’s very old and has started to let water in, so it’s not usable any more!

How did you find out about Jigsaw24?
Well I contacted a few Apple resellers. Two I never even got a reply from, and one I bought software from, but couldn’t get a discounted rate even though they knew I worked for a charitable organisation. I thought there must be an alternative, so I had a look around and lo and behold, I found Jigsaw24.

And we’ve been alright?
You’ve been outstanding in the help and support you’ve given me, and this is going back quite a few years now. I’ve had superb service every time I’ve brought something in to your place.

How do people get in touch with you if they want to know more about Sport on Wheels or lend you their caravan?
The best way is to email info@sport-on-wheels.com or visit the website, www.sport-on-wheels.com. There’s a contact form there.

For more on Apple solutions from Jigsaw24, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

 

Introducing Apple curriculum training (and our 5 top courses)

Introducing Apple curriculum training (and our 5 top courses)

Bringing new technology into the classroom is great, but how do you make sure your staff are ready for it? We recommend Apple curriculum training courses delivered by our own Apple accredited trainers (who are ex-teachers themselves).

Courses can be tailored to your school’s specific requirements, and range from iOS and Mac basics to subject-specific training, preparing for rollout and even device management. They’re all designed to give your staff a solid grounding on how to use iPad, iOS and Mac generally, and then within each subject area, so they have the competency and confidence needed to lead a lesson.

Sidney Stringer Apple Training 3

What do we offer?

We offer a huge range of courses from foundation iOS and OS X training to curriculum-based sessions and even vision and planning for your Apple deployment. We also offer Apple’s Professional Development (APD) courses, as well as our own. We’ve picked out our top five below, but get in touch to find out about the full range available.

Introduction to iOS

This hands-on course helps staff get to grips with the core apps for the iPad and how they can introduce the technology effectively into their learning environment. We look at gestures and personalisation of the devices, along with use of the Camera, Notes, Safari, iTunes U and iBooks apps, as well as accessibility tools like text-to-speech and guided access.

iPad built-in apps can be utilised to support students and teachers in the classroom, and it’s important that staff realise the potential of these before moving onto third party applications.

Vision and planning for iPad

Within this session, we’ll discuss current plans and pedagogies and examine how we can use the iPad to support staff, students and parents within the school and beyond. It’s also important to think about the impact that this will have on existing plans.

Finally, we ensure that at the end of the session a clear plan is formed. This includes how we can communicate all of our ideas, strategies and implementations to staff, pupils and parents clearly as the institution moves forward.

iOS and productivity

This course is the ultimate boot camp for teachers who want to squeeze the most out of the incredible functionality that comes with each iWork app – Pages, Keynote and Numbers. Throughout the workshop, you’ll be getting hands-on with these apps to create documents, presentations and spreadsheets so that you can develop an in-depth understanding of what each app can do.

iTunes U Course Manager

In this session, you’ll use the iTunes Course Manager and your existing teaching resources to create an iTunes U course based around your curriculum area. We will explore best practices and view existing courses to gain ideas on implementation of courses within our own classrooms.

We will look for other resources that already exist within iTunes U, a huge catalogue of educational content that is constantly being updated by educators around the globe.

iBooks Author

This in-depth course looks at how to easily create your own digital textbooks for free using iBooks Author (a cinch if you’ve ever created a Word document or produced a presentation), exploring everything from accessibility features in iBooks to multimedia copyright issues so that you can be sure that you’re accessing the right resources and have the legal right to distribute (and even edit) them within your iBook.

At the end of the session, you will create an iBook that supports your own curriculum to ensure you have the skills to continue producing materials for your own cohort of students.

Sidney Stringer Apple Training 1

Who’s delivering this training?

Our fully-accredited Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) are former teachers who can come and deliver APD training onsite at your school at a time that best suits you. There’s no need to go anywhere or call anyone else in – just get in touch with the team!

Paul Ford 

Paul’s got eight years’ experience teaching students, teachers and local authority staff of all technical abilities. His roles have included Lead professional in Music Technology at The East Manchester Academy and Multimedia/Network Manager at South Manchester City Learning Centre.

Mike Watkinson

Mike’s been working with Apple technology in the classroom since the mid-90s, in a variety of subjects and across different age groups. He’s an Apple Distinguished Educator, Apple Certified Trainer and Avid Certified Trainer, supporting schools and colleges for the last ten years.

What are other schools saying?

“Fantastic and engaging speaker… everything was explained in a way where even the most inexperienced user could understand.” West Grove Primary School.

“Paul was brilliant! He is knowledgeable, completely understanding teaching and learning issues. He always passes on any new information he comes across, which has really helped in the past, he is always willing to provide really helpful advice and follows up any promises of finding out about something – this is why we intend to ask Paul in for further training in the future.” Levenshulme High School, Manchester.

Budget check

Full day sessions cost £650, half days are £325, and we also offer twilight sessions, with discounts available for shorter sessions and bulk bookings. Get in touch and we can probably accommodate you!

Download our Apple curriculum training catalogue

Want to know more? View the full training catalogue here, or get in touch with the team on 03332 409 333 or email learning@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and FAQs, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Interactivity in your class’s hands: Why touchscreens are the next big thing

Interactivity in your class’s hands: Why touchscreens are the next big thing

If there’s one thing that I’m convinced of, it’s that multitouch technology is far easier to pick up for children than it is for adults. 

We’re already seeing it in the classroom (research has shown that 47% of schools are now trialling or using iPad) and more than ever we are seeing it in daily life; I recently found myself at an exhibition about space in a room full of six and seven year-olds who all expected to be able to move the stars around on screen with their fingers – much to their disappointment, they couldn’t.

It’s not surprising then that, at this year’s BETT show, giant interactive touchscreen displays were one of the hottest topics. Best thought of as giant tablets or TVs with multitouch technology, they proved a hit with teachers because they open up interactivity and collaboration in a way that’s not previously been available. On a basic level, they improve engagement letting pupils physically interact with a subject, but the learning benefits go far beyond that…

What exactly is an interactive touchscreen?

The best way to describe an interactive touchscreen is a giant iPad that can be either wall-mounted or used flat on the desk. You get all the same visual functionality as you do on an iPad – an HD screen for streaming video and images and built-in speakers make them ideal for presenting to the class.

And the multitouch aspect also means they’re ideal for letting pupils get hands on with activities too – using simple finger touch, they can intuitively interact with programs onscreen. As well as encouraging pupil interaction and group activities, teachers can also lead the class from the front, or even get pupils to connect wirelessly with their mobile devices to get involved with activities.

What are the learning benefits of interactive touchscreens?

Touchscreens are perfect for making sure you’re targeting 21st century learning skills. They’ll improve collaboration, boost critical thinking and problem solving, and can be used with all the great content that teachers and pupils have already prepared. The main benefits include:

Greater increase in pupils’ attention

Pupils are naturally drawn to touchscreens, and the interactivity really helps them engage with subjects. If you have pupils with a short attention span who struggle to engage with topics, touchscreen displays can help. Up to four students can use them at one time, so there’s less chance to switch off as they’re engaged in learning full time.

Better collaboration between pupils and with the teacher

Set pupils a group challenge and they can use the display to complete it – for example, a simple jigsaw puzzle that they would normally complete themselves can be turned into a group activity. Another option is for pupils to use iPhone or iPad to connect the display for mirroring (displaying their iPad screen on the touchscreen) and annotation.

Reduced replacement costs and better visibility

Unlike a data projector, a touchscreen uses an LED screen rather than a lamp. That means you won’t find yourself having to replace costly projector bulbs when they come to the end of their life (to put it in perspective, the approximate life of a touchscreen like the CTOUCH before any element needs replacing is put at 15 years, or 45000 hours!). It also means there are no shadows obscuring your work as you walk in front of the screen!

Increased class attendance

We’ve had great feedback from our schools who say they have integrated innovative technologies like touchscreens with a 1:1 iPad scheme, and it has actually increased attendance levels because the pupils have been so engaged with the technology.

How could we use touchscreen?

One use we really like for interactive touchscreens is collaborative storytelling. For example, you could get a small group of pupils to work together to plan a story and write it by dragging and dropping images, video and other elements into the plan. Because up to four pupils can be working on a touchscreen at once, it means everyone gets to join in and interact with the process, and annotate sections with thoughts and ideas.

Jigsaw24’s top pick: the CTOUCH!

HD display. From 47” right up to a whopping 84”, the CTOUCH’s antiglare screen gives a great picture, even in the brightest classrooms.

Multitouch functionality. There’s no need to hold a stylus – the CTOUCH’s screen works with the touch of a finger, and supports up to four pupils.

Built-in speakers. With 20W speakers included, you get great sound quality, or the additional Sound Bar gives enhanced surround sound.

Mobile device connectivity. Connect iPad and iPod with included Smoothboard Air software for displaying iPad screens and annotation.

Adjustable trolley. Fully height-adjustable for all students, including those in wheelchairs. This means smaller screens are just as usable, and can be wheeled to wherever they’re needed.

Budget check: CTOUCH interactive touch screens range from £2730 for the smallest 47” model up to £13,194 for the 84” option. See the full range of CTOUCH options here.

Want to know more about how touch screens could help in your classroom? Give us a call on 03332 409 333 or email learning@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and recommendations, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Is it time for your boardbooks to go digital?

Is it time for your boardbooks to go digital?

A while back, when we offered you our six best app ideas to boost your business, we stayed out of the boardroom. However, with mobile devices becoming more pervasive, board members becoming more distributed and the security concerns mounting, we think the time is right to talk about board meeting apps. 

What is a board meeting app?

Board meeting apps essentially replace your paper boardbook – bulky, difficult to update, expensive to print – with an interactive electronic version that you can tote round on your iPad. They usually include functionality that will help secretarial staff collate and distribute documents electronically and securely to board members, including late papers and updates.

Many also include meeting planning functionality to help with scheduling the meeting itself and – perhaps most importantly – functionality to make sure that all attendees can view, present and annotate different documents in concert. Typically, the app itself is free to download, but you’ll need to pay an annual for the back end of the solution – the bit that makes it all work and keeps your information secure. Some will break this down on their iTunes page, but many companies will provide you with pricing on a case-by-case basis.

What’s the advantage of dedicated apps over free ones like GoodReader?

While some companies do arrange meetings using free apps like GoodReader, we advise against it for all but the most basic meetings. GoodReader is, as Mashable says, “a Swiss army knife of awesome” (and a former Jigsaw24 app of the week), but it doesn’t have calendaring functionality and isn’t designed for collaborative working. Yes, you’ll have an electronic version of your boardbook, but you won’t be able to share your annotations in realtime, or edit documents while presenting.

The advantage of a dedicated app is that it combines the capabilities of document readers, calendars, content sharing sites like Dropbox and presentation tools into a single system, then adds useful touches like the ability to lock users to specific pages or documents while you’re presenting on them.

What are the business benefits of a board meeting app?

Let’s start with the obvious: you save a lot of money on printing and delivery/couriering for your books. One of our customers, investment company NorthEdge, are on track to save £300 a week on printing after switching their staff to iPad – that means an iPad pays for itself every week.

At the same time, the fact that you’re dealing with electronic documents that are being shared over a secure connection should improve your data security. Granted, there are people out there with the skills to hack into your VPN, but there are far more who are capable of intercepting a physical document, and the collate-print-bind process offers plenty of opportunity for your data to fall into the hands of third parties. Plus, once the information is on your iPad, it’s protected by industry-leading device security, and can be remotely wiped should anything go wrong.

Dedicated board meeting apps also facilitate clearer, easier communication. Your secretarial staff can edit, upload and distribute boardbooks with a swipe, sending them out along with key meeting info and, in some cases, using the same interface to send follow-up information and minutes post-meeting.

We’re so impressed by the amount of time having all these processes integrated saves that we’re integrating similar functionality into our free b7 app, which allows directors to pre-define goals and talking points for each meeting they take. Sales staff can then log notes against each one and then share automatically generated minutes with the customer and head office.

And it’s not just before and after the meeting that these apps are useful. The ability to lock screens means you can keep everyone on the right page, even if key stakeholders are attending remotely, so it’s easier to keep everyone on track. Collaborative tools and shared annotations are going to make it easier for you to work together within the meeting, so you can achieve more in the time you have.

What are your options?

There are plenty out there, and we definitely recommend scoping out a few before making your final decision. Here are a few to get you started…

BoardPad (ICSA Software, free but requires a subscription)

Possibly the best known solution in the UK at this point, BoardPad supports iOS and Windows 8 devices, and combines in-meeting annotation and presentation functions with its own Connect platform for organising meetings (this is fairly impressive in its own right). We particularly like the fact that you can create ‘secure reading rooms’ for different groups of users and give different users different permissions when it comes to opening, printing and emailing the documents within them. Its proven track record with the FTSE100 set doesn’t hurt, either.

Anywhere Pad (Azeus Systems Holdings, free but requires a subscription)

This promising app has only just reached the UK but has been enjoying success in its native South East Asia for a while now. It supports an impressive array of devices and platforms (though users on some devices can only attend meetings, not present in them), and we particularly like the simple drag-and-drop interface secretarial staff can use to build meeting packs. It integrates with SharePoint, Box and Dropbox too, so you can submit documents using your usual process.

iqBoard (IQ Group, pricing variable)

For those of you who want something a little less off the shelf, iqBoard is a SharePoint add-on developed by Australian financial experts IQ Group. They’ll tweak the functionality and appearance of the app to suit your meeting style, and as it’s SharePoint-based it shouldn’t struggle to integrate with your existing systems. However, your data is hosted in iqCloud, a cloud storage service based in Australia – a real stumbling block if you have restrictions on where your data can be held.

Ready to arm yourself with iPad? See our full range of special offers here.

Want to know more about how iPad could help your business? Give our team a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

NAB 2014: Sonnet to show Mac Pro rackmount enclosure with Thunderbolt 2-to-PCIe expansion system

NAB 2014: Sonnet to show Mac Pro rackmount enclosure with Thunderbolt 2-to-PCIe expansion system

As the broadcast world ramps up for NAB 2014, the pre-show announcements are getting more and more exciting. Today, Sonnet have announced an xMac Pro Server that will securely house the new, cylindrical Mac Pro and allow you to connect three PCIe expansion cards via Thunderbolt 2. It provides 5.25″ mobile rack expansion — all in a 4U enclosure.


IRVINE, CA — 26th March, 2014. At the 2014 NAB show in booth SL10824, Sonnet Technologies will unveil the xMac Pro Server Thunderbolt 2-to-PCI Express (PCIe) expansion system and 4U rackmount enclosure for new Mac Pro computers. Similar in concept to Sonnet’s award-winning xMac mini Server for Mac mini computers, the xMac Pro Server securely mounts the Mac Pro horizontally inside a specially designed modular enclosure that connects three PCIe 2.0 slots to the computer via Thunderbolt 2 technology, and provides space to install additional equipment in two 5.25″ mobile rack bays.

By supporting every Thunderbolt-compatible PCIe card available, the xMac Pro Server enables audio-video professionals to use the high-performance PCIe cards they need with the latest Mac Pro, which on its own lacks PCIe expansion slots. Supported cards include pro audio, Ethernet, and Fibre Channel, as well as SAS/SATA RAID controllers, and video capture and editing cards.

“With the success of our rackmountable xMac mini Server and Echo Express III-R Thunderbolt 2-to-PCIe expansion products, it was natural for us to properly address the need to efficiently rackmount the new Mac Pro and provide much-needed expansion capabilities,” said Robert Farnsworth, CEO of Sonnet Technologies. “Ever since the new Mac Pro was announced, our customers have been asking us for this product, and we believe they will be pleased with our solution.”

The xMac Pro Server’s heavy-duty steel outer enclosure provides secure mounting and protection for the Mac Pro, PCIe cards, and mobile rack devices installed inside. Occupying a 4U rack space (7″) and just 16″ deep, this system is perfect for use in a wide range of popular mobile racks, carts, and rack cases, as well as in a server room. The computer, PCIe card expansion system, and mobile rack devices reside in separate modules to simplify setup and maintenance. To make the Mac Pro fully rack- and road-ready, Sonnet constructed a protective cocoon for the computer out of formed steel and lined it with soft-touch padding to hold the computer firmly in place while safeguarding its lustrous finish.

The xMac Pro Server’s PCIe card expansion system incorporates ultrafast 20Gbps Thunderbolt 2 technology, providing sufficient throughput to support many of the highest-performing PCIe cards. The expansion system supports up to three full-length PCIe cards with one x16 and two x8 PCIe slots. Along with an integrated 300-watt power supply, the system includes a 75-watt PCIe power connector for cards that require supplementary power such as the Avid Pro Tools HDX or the RED ROCKET-X cards.

Mounted on its side inside the xMac Pro Server, the Mac Pro is kept cool by a quiet and efficient cooling system with an airflow path that remains unchanged and unobstructed according to Apple’s specifications. The PCIe card expansion system’s two remarkably quiet, temperature-controlled, variable-speed fans manage airflow to ensure cool, reliable operation in noise-sensitive environments.

The xMac Pro Server extends the Mac Pro’s Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, and HDMI interfaces to panel-mounted connectors on the back of the unit for easy external cable connection, while a USB 3.0 interface and power switch are mounted on the front to enable the user to conveniently connect a USB peripheral and activate the computer’s power switch. The included Thunderbolt cable connects the Mac Pro to one of the xMac Pro Server’s two Thunderbolt 2 ports, and an included lock secures the Thunderbolt cables in place when connected to the expansion system. These features make the xMac Pro Server ideal for use in both fixed and mobile applications.

With the optional Mobile Rack Device Mounting Kit, the xMac Pro Server provides space for additional expansion equipment. Users can install two 5.25″ mobile rack devices in the outer enclosure and connect them easily to cards installed in the PCIe slots. Without taking up additional rack space, the kit supports a wide array of devices such as an internal LTO tape drive, four or eight swappable 2.5″ SSDs, a Blu-ray burner, a Sonnet Qio MR pro universal media reader, or three swappable 3.5″ hard disk drives. The kit easily installs into the xMac Pro Server’s enclosure, and an integrated 100-watt power supply inside the kit powers the installed devices while its internal fan works to keep the devices cool. Sonnet will also offer preconfigured kits that include the mobile rack devices, PCIe card, and necessary cables.

Along with the new xMac Pro Server, Sonnet expects to display the RackMac Pro, its upcoming rackmount enclosure for two Mac Pro computers. Similar to the xMac Pro Server in many ways, the RackMac Pro offers users a simpler way to rack one or two Mac Pro computers in a 4U rack space. Pricing and availability will be announced at a future date.

The xMac Pro Server (part number XMAC-PS) has a suggested retail price of $1,499 and is expected to be available from 2nd June. The basic-edition Mobile Rack Device Mounting Kit, formerly named Echo Express III-R Mobile Rack Kit (part number EXP3FR-MRM), has a suggested retail price of $199 and is available now. An extensive list of PCIe cards compatible with the xMac Pro Server is available on Sonnet’s website, with the list continually expanding as more cards are tested and certified. Like Sonnet’s Echo Express family of Thunderbolt 2-to-PCIe expansion systems, the xMac Pro Server was designed, engineered, and built by Sonnet in California.

Want to know more about the latest from Sonnet? Give our team a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us Facebook