Computer reviews – Check with your school

I saw this article on the Verge titled What’s the best student laptop? We asked students by Monica Chin. Being I am in IT and education I am always interested in these articles and this one asks students themselves. What would students say they like? Here is a group of people who typically don’t have a lot of spending power, so I was curious what they would suggest. Needless to say I was pretty disappointed.

Continue reading “Computer reviews – Check with your school”

Episode 184 – HIFLEX

This is a different type of episode.

Today, Patrick interviews Tony DePrato about his HIFLEX set up in the classroom. HIFLEX is a term that refers to students who are in the classroom and also at home and both are learning synchronously. Tony utilizes iPads and a few other items and tools to bring this affordable solution to life.

As always be sure to find us on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcasting app.

Episode 183 – Damn Fine Cans

Tony and Patrick are back! It has been long overdue too. It’s a longer than normal episode but there is a lot to talk about! As always, subscribe to us on Apple Music or your favorite podcasting app.

1) Back at school in a COVID world
a) Tony’s motto: “You have to think of every student as a virtual student that occasionally comes to school and if you do that your planning will fit every scenario.”
b) GoGuardian:
c) Cisco Umbrella:

2) Why your online streaming is bad and mine is good
a) iPad solution
b) Euro Mic Stand with Klip
c) Disable iPad audio
d) DJ Podiums
e) iPad is a “person” in the meeting

3) Virtual Parent Conferences
a) Zoom
Waiting rooms
b) Prep with teachers and parents
c) Google Meet deadline – Sept
ember 20, 2020

4) Streaming in the Classroom – Final verdict!
a) Windows schools – Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter
b) Mac schools – Apple TV
c) BYOD schools – BenQ Instashow/Barco WePresent

You can download the episode HERE!

Augmented Reality – Don’t be bamboozled!

Hey are you looking to buy bridge? I mean who doesn’t need a bridge? I’ll sell it to you and you can charge a toll for all the cars, bikes and people that will cross it and before you know it, you’ll be swimming in money! So what do you say?

Apple is holding an event next week (September 15, 2020) where they will announce some new iPads and a new Apple Watch and augmented reality (AR) will be a big part of the event. If you’re not familiar augmented reality watch the video below (it’s a little annoying but short).

The Pitch (I mean) Promise

Apple (amongst others) has been trying to push AR onto us as the next big thing for a while. It was first brought up during the release of the iPhone 8 and 10 and while it is pretty neat to see a life size tiger in your living room and to have the ability to view furniture in your home before you purchase it, AR does not solve any problems.

Microsoft, makers of the HoloLens, have changed the focus of their device from an everyday, every person device; to a more industrial vision of a workers consulting with experts back in a home office who can see exactly what the employee sees and can interact through their display by overlaying instructions, schematics and directions onto their real world through AR. They focused the use of their product and found a place where it can be used.

So why bring this up?

These companies keep trying to sell AR as an idea and to show what it can do as opposed to showing what problems it can solve. They do this by having very flashy, professional examples of what it can do and the promise that developers can take it to the next level. They want you to buy and then find a place for it in your school or classroom.

The problem is this doesn’t solve anything. Computers in the classroom solves a problem. It gives students and teachers access to the Internet and tools with which to collaborate, create and organize their classwork, their curriculum and multiple ways to present said curriculum and work.

Projectors and displays in classrooms solve a problem. They allow teachers to present videos, documents and electronic examples of projects to an entire class so everyone can easily view that information. This is technology that solves a problem and has a purpose.

Now ask yourself, what problem does AR solve? What is its purpose?

Don’t worry if you can’t come up with big educational issues that AR addresses. You’re not alone. Check out this article from CNET: Apples AR Plans are becoming more of a reality by Ian Sherr.

Here is a professional tech journalist having difficulties to even guess what “reality” actually means with AR. What is its purpose and how can it fit into the everyday world. It still sounds like a hobby for some developers and not really a serious option for businesses, education or the everyday person.

This sounds familiar?

We heard the same thing with virtual reality. It was going to be the next big tech! It was going to transform how we:

  • Work
  • Shop
  • Collaborate
  • Game
  • Live
  • Etc

It didn’t really shake up the world like people had predicated. Outside of video games (most have not been very impressive) I don’t see people reaching for their VR goggles when something needs to be done.

Now you only see it for video games and simulations. It is a far cry from William Gibson’s Neuromancer novels. The first one is a really good read by the way.

Not useless though

I am not saying that this isn’t cool tech because it is pretty neat and I have seen it in use. Some of the more common examples are in the medical field where doctors can simulate operations or view scans and cross-sections of the body without actually having to physically lay their hands on a cadaver. I have also seen examples in industry. Where a technician could be teleconferencing with an expert back at an office going and working in tandem to solve a problem, install a product or troubleshoot issues.

Why the hate?

It’s not hate, its cautionary. Companies are going to try and sell this to you. When Apple takes the stage next week they want you to buy their products. I guarantee a “revolutionary” feature they are going to talk about is augmented reality. In reality, no one needs this.

If you are a bleeding edge educator and want to dive into the deep end with AR go right ahead. Just make sure that when you are promoted, leave for another job at another school, retire or change departments; that you have left enough documentation, projects, support and ideas for the next person to step in and take it over. If you don’t, it will wither on the vine and that investment right along with it.

Remember that it is just a sales pitched. I encourage you to spend your money elsewhere and continue to watch the space. It may develop into something more. Right now, in its current state, it’s not going to leave a dent in education.

Don’t be suckered.

Episode 173 – Colts for the Win!

Tony and Patrick are back for another great episode. It is a quick one this week where we talk a little NFL, Google Daydream and swimming in your data. Check out the talking points below and as always be sure to subscribe to us on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app.

  1. Google Daydream is winding down
  2. Swimming in the Data Lake by Tony DePrato
  3. SideCar – Full Test…with Apple TV
    2. Must use a pen
    3. Astropad  – 

You can download this week’s episode HERE!


Episode 164 – Angry High Schooler

Tony and Patrick after a long and much deserved Spring Break. This episode promises to be another classic as Tony and Patrick talk about some upcoming Windows news, some great advice about STEM/STEAM skills and even a bit of comic book movies and Game of Thrones. Check out the talking points below and as always subscribe to us on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app.

  1. Spring break stories
    1. iPad apocalypse
  2. Windows Lite
    1. by Zac Bowden – Windows Central
    2. Its own Chromebook like device
    3. Very early reports – unsure if this will ever happen
    4. Thoughts?
  3. Steam/Stem Core Skills by Tony DePrato
    2. Appropriate skills for grade levels
  4. Self Checkout with a Chromebook! By Patrick Cauley
    2. Reasons to do this?
    3. Cost?
    4. Implementation?
  5. Make your own flashcards with Google Sheets by Patrick Cauley
    2. Flippity –
    3. Versatile for many different tasks
  6. Tony and Patrick discuss movies/Game of Thrones

Download this episode here″

Episode 155 – Gamechanger

Tony and Patrick are back in another awesome episode of IT Babble. The big news here is Amazon Workspaces and the game changing opportunities it offers education. Check out all the talking points below and be sure to subscribe to us on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app.

  1. In 2018, Windows died at home and nobody cared by Jason Perlow of ZDNET
      1. K-12 and Higher education still uses laptops/desktops
  2. Your Smartphone is the Best Computer You Own by David Pierce NO 🙂
    1. Schools typically follow business
    2. Should schools ditch laptops for “mobile” devices
  3. iPads vs. Chromebooks: Part 2 by Patrick Cauley
    2. Chromebooks it is!
    3. Interesting results of the student survey
  4. The accidental BYOD solution by Tony DePrato
    2. Amazon Workspaces
    3. Amazon Education –
    4. WINE for Ubuntu –

As always you can download the episode here

Or listen below.



Episode 152 – PHEASANTS!

Tony and Patrick are back! After a quick go around about pheasants on Tony’s campus they get going talking about some exciting ed tech talk.

As always subscribe to us on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app.

  1. Amazon WorkSpaces
    2. Pricing –
  2. Don’t buy Nintendo Labo – by Patrick
    2. Too costly
    3. One time use
    4. Alternatives?
  3. Computer Science, Programming, and Coding Standards by Grade Level by Tony DePrato
    2. ISTE – NETS-
  4. iPads vs. Chromebooks: Part 1 – 2018 by Patrick
    2. Following the data
    3. Discussing with stakeholders
  5. Apple Classroom update
    1. We are rolling the newer version next year
    2. It’s nice

Download this episode HERE!″

Episode 151 – iPads are a bore


Tony and Patrick are back after spring break! What better way to return than with a great podcast. Check out the talking points below and be sure to subscribe to us on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app.

  1. Apple’s education event
    1. New iPad
    2. New software
    3. Does this make the iPad relevant in education again?
  2. Kaizena Chrome extension
    3. Feedback
  3. Tech Support Problems, Apathy, & Solutions by Tony DePrato
    2. What is your system?
    3. Google Script
  4. Solutions vs. Support
    1. Purchasing technology that you can service vs having to pay for service
    2. Example: Sound solutions in a classroom

As always you can download the episode here!

Why do schools want iPads? Do the math, and you won’t understand it.

I will make this a simple conversation. I will choose 10 qualities that a traditional educational technology resource should have. If the iPad has a quality in full, I will award it 1 point. If it is partially capable, I will give it a .5 . If additional accessories are required, it gets a 0.

  1. Works with existing software or licensing :   .5
    Sometimes there are Apps that come with software licenses, but often you have to buy the App version.
  2. Fits into the school’s purchasing model and/or accounting methodologies: 0
  3. Allows users to create media and share it easily: .5
    The tools are starting to evolve but moving things from the iPad to sharing mediums dedicated to the curriculum, and the privacy of the curriculum, is not always easy. Getting media on the iPad that was not created on the iPad is also significantly harder than using a laptop.
  4. Allows students to create long form written assignments for curricula such as the IBO, AP, and IGCSE: 0
  5. Can easily work with other hardware owned by the school: 0
    Not for free and not always intuitively. With some Apps the possibilities are growing but on the initial buy-in, the iPad creates it’s own little world.
  6. Cost effective and shareable resource: 0
    The iPad models seem cheap, but with the way they need to be accessorized the price is very close if not equal to a low-end laptop. Sharing a device designed for personal ownership is possible, and Apple makes it possible, but it is not ideal. Even if the price point for 30 iPads is usually lower than 30 laptops, asking 100 students to use 30 iPads is not the same as sharing laptops. 100 students need 100 iPads to really make the most of them.
  7. The device works with content provided by the curriculum publishers: 0
    Getting better but still not there. Amount of content used still greatly exceeds the amount available on the iPad.
  8. The device has a high level of local maintainability: 0
    Most IT departments cannot fix iPads when they break. I mean physically break. Unlike laptops and computers they need to be sent away to the iPad doctor. Trust me, kids can break iPads, they are not Starbucks Going Hipsters reading The Verge carefully swiping with clean fingers.
  9. Has a variety of cost effective software solutions available for various age groups: 1
    No argument, the Apps are there and they are very powerful when integrated properly.
  10. The device is scalable for future performance: .5
    I am giving this a .5 because the software is scalable, and it is possible for an organization to develop exactly what they need for the device. In fact, it is cheaper to have someone make a simple focused App, than to have them write a deeply integrated program for a platform like OS X or Windows.

Score: 2.5 / 10

So why do schools want iPads?

Because they motivate students to learn. In the same way that this device motivated me to love technology:

Star Trek Tricorder

The fictional concept of being able to move around freely and have a device that gave me a different view of the world was very powerful. It powered my imagination. It drove me to start using computers at the age of 11, but not just for games, but to program. I always loved how the Start Trek Officers had to constantly modify, update, and reverse engineer their Tricorders to get them to do what they wanted.

That is what the iPad is. It is the reality of years of imagination. It is often a time-wasting, game playing ,mind numbing entertainment device. However, when students decide to make it forward facing, and use it to read the world, it is something much more.

The innate weakness of the platform is what makes it a good problem solving tool. Trying to get the iPad to achieve the goal, is the goal. That is where the learning happens, through the process and through the imagination.  Students do not care about all of this, they just want to get it to work. To do what they want in the way they want.

It is not important what a grade 7 student does with an iPad. It is not important if they waste their time. It is not crucial for them to demonstrate that they are responsible enough to keep the music down. What is important is that at some point an idea sparks in their minds. An original idea. And then they take the resources around them, and make the idea into reality.

When in engaging students with iPads, do not tell them to get “Apps A and B” and do “Activities 1 and 2”. iPads are not textbooks. Instead leave a problem or question in front of them with the following instructions: “Solve It and Prove It”.

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. ~ John F. Kennedy 1962

Tony DePrato