Mobile Phone Shutdown

By: Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

During the first few weeks before my new campus opened, many people wanted to know what the mobile phone policy would be for students, especially those students living on-campus.

A decision was made to allow teachers to set their classroom norms, and to give the students an opportunity to use technology responsibly. This very open policy would be applied, and results would be evaluated.

The first month of school yielded some very interesting results, and eventually lead to a big change not only in policy, but also in campus culture.

The Real Issue

The assumption most adults and educators make is that students will waste time while using their devices in class.

The truth is that students using mobile phones outside of the classroom, is in fact a severe waste of time compared to the time lost in the classroom. Policies focusing on controlling students and preventing them from enjoying some form of entertainment while in class, are missing the core issue(s).

The real issue with students who are engaged in very high levels of screen-time, is that the engagement negates their time to socialize. The device, ironically, pushes them further apart from one another, even if they are using the device to communicate.

Classroom use of devices can be very beneficial. Teachers can task students and keep them working and interacting, while socializing.

During the first month of observation, when left to their own prerogative, students in social situations would default to the use of social media apps and free or freemium games instead of talking to one another.

The students were not engaged in deep discussions, academic information exchange, or even conversations about making plans for their weekends. They were just engaged in activities that had a short and very shallow feedback loop.

My personal observations were combined with others, and everyone agreed that we did not want a campus culture that encouraged students to not socialize; to sit alone and stare at a screen; and that seemed to push curiosity to the floor.


READ MORE at The International Educator Online


Apple in the Classroom, What’s Next on the Chopping Block?


By: Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

I just read the article, Apple planning to make original TV shows and movies as hardware sales soften. I decided to try and remember what I used to be able to buy for the school/classroom from Apple. Here is my list:

  1. Laptops designed for children
  2. Powerful and Extensible Workstations
  3. Servers with easy to use Management Tools, Media Streaming, and Podcasting
  4. Easy to obtain full sized keyboards







My concern is real. I am an Apple and Lenovo owner. My Lenovo experience has only improved in the last 6-7 years, while my Apple experience has gotten worse. Am I the only one who agrees that iPhones and watches do not equal creation and learning?

I am hoping for a turn around. Sales of hardware are down. Schools tend to buy in massive quantities. #SalesTiptoApple

Schools also like to by integrated packages of computers, devices, accessories, support, and software. #SalesTiptoApple




If This, Then That: Link Apps Together to Double Your Productivity!

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I recently discovered the amazing website: If this, then that 

What does it do?

  • link apps together to automatically work together
  • saves you time!

How does it work?

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Create a recipe, or choose from combinations that have already been created for you.

You can create connections between apps/products that you love to make them work more efficiently for you – if this… then that happens (aka you are making conditional statements)

Their about page explains this in more detail ( – I love that the URL is wtf instead of about 🙂

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Pre-made recipes are categorized for you and include all kinds of cool websites, news channels, media, etc…

Clicking on existing recipes allows you to quickly connect them:

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They continue adding more apps all the time. Most are useful, some are interesting…

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Kendra Perkins

iPhone app of the week – Quizlet


In the past I’ve talked about how great Quizlet is but there hasn’t been an official app. Well sometime this year that changed and Quizlet now has an iOS app. While you still will need the actual website to create classes or cards you can still view all the cards that are out there and learn and play the scatter game. It is quite impressive, simple and slick. It supports images and sound (how about that). If you even think about using Quizlet you need this app. You can get it here for free.

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iPhone apps of the week – It’s election time!

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The Presidential of Election for the good ol USA is this week and what better way to find out what the issues are and what Romney and Obama have to say about them is to download their respective apps. While they are anything but impartial the apps are pretty similar and do give each candidate’s stances on the issues that are very relevant to the race. As always we are eager to see who wins. In the meantime check out the images below and you can find Obama’s app here and Romney’s app here.

*Note – While IT Babble is neutral in the political race, Omar is voting for Rosanne Barr*

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iPhone app of the week – Mitosis


Tell me if this has ever happened to you. There are a couple of people talking about mitosis and they start talking about the prophase and you are completely at a loss. Embarrassing I know, but if that is your worse nightmare, I have a cure. Download the app Mitosis. It will give you all of the info you need for this all important natural phenomenon. Whether you’re casually talking about it during parties, need to study for a test or looking for another supplemental resource for your students, then look no farther. It has videos (from YouTube), an explanation (which is read to you if you wish), a glossary, even a test to see where you need to focus your studies. All of this and its free to boot! Check it out here.

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iPhone app of the week – 30/30


As a teacher there has been more than one occasion when I need a quality timer. I know the my iPhone has a timer, but getting it to do intervals is a pain and being able to edit those particular intervals on the fly is not really possible. Are you in need of one too? Well I think I have the answer. You need to check out 30/30. Not only can you create a ton of custom intervals, you can control each interval by pausing, quickly add or subtract time from the timer, move intervals around and of course delete them. It runs in the background so if you have to switch apps, it will keep counting down. Also, it looks quite pleasing to the eye. Oh I almost forgot. This app is free which makes it even more worth your while. Check out the images below and you can find 30/30 here.

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iPhone app of the week – Common Core Standards


A real hot topic in education are the Common Core Standards. A set of standards that are clearly defined for teachers for English and Mathematics. If you work at a school that implements these standards then it is a good chance that you need to site these standards when writing lesson or unit plans. If that is so, then having a pocket reference guide will definitely save you some time. Check it out here for free.

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iPhone app of the week – 3D Brain


If you’re like me then you have by no doubt have seen the movie The Water Boy staring Adam Sandler. There is a part in the movie where a professor claims that the medulla oblongata (yes I had to look up how to spell that) is the reason why crocodiles are so “ornery.” I always wondered if that was really true or not and where I might be able to find it on my own brain. Well, some of those answers have been answered. Thanks to 3D Brain. This handy iPhone app gives you the 3D model of the brain and breaks down all the different parts and substructures with some simple explanations. This app is tailored for biology students and middle school students. It also gives references as well which makes it even handier. Give it a try, it’s free and you can find it on iTunes here.

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iPhone apps of the month – September

It has been a crazy month for us here at IT Babble and my weekly contribution of iPhone app of the week has slipped a little. No worries though, I have some great iPhone apps to show you for the end of the month. There were a lot of great apps this month and picking them was not an easy task let me tell you. So click on past the break to learn more about some iPhone apps (free ones too) that may be helpful to you in the classroom.

Skitch was one of the best screen capture programs on the Mac for the past few years. It was an easy way to do screen captures, annotation and share those images with others, so needless to say I’ve been waiting for it for the iPhone for quite a while and here it is. It does pretty much everything I wanted it to do and with Evernote integration it makes it even more powerful. Check it out for free here.

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Class Dojo
This web app is growing more and more popular and now a much anticipated iPhone app is finally here. Lots of teacher use Class Dojo to track and help manage their students’ behavior in class by giving a visual representation of their behavior performance in class. You can check out my review of it here. If this is something that really interests you, then check out this app. It is as easy as advertised and teachers that use it, rave about it. Check it out for free here.

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Yeah I know I’ve covered this one before but they have added a new feature which I think is worth mentioning. You can now create and edit word processing documents where as before all you can do was view and share. I’ve actually created and edited a few documents now and it is quick, easy to use and even not that much of a pain to format text. I wouldn’t write a thesis on it, but for some quick edits and sharing with other people this is a must have app and it’s free! Get it here.

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Khan Archiver
No matter what you think about the Khan Academy’s philosophy on education it is hard to deny that there are a lot of supplemental resources that they offer that I am sure many teachers find useful. This app gives you access to Khan’s huge library of video tutorials. You can watch them from YouTube which is great. You are probably thinking, Patrick, so what!? Well before you click away this app lets you download those videos so you can watch them offline. Now that is pretty nice an handy. If you have an Apple TV or other device that supports Airplay then you can even stream that video from your iPhone to a projector. Check out the pictures below and you can get it for free here.

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