Monthly Archives: June 2011

FH Tech – Issue that came up – Google shared calendar vs iOS

So today was our first day where the technology cohort (a group of teachers at Frank Hurt) who are interested in studying and implementing technology and digital tools into their teaching practice met together. Boy was it a busy day. Lots of info, lots of idea, lots of discussion and an interesting debate/discussion on who can purchase apps, for how much and how to manage the purchase of them.

I won’t go into the sticky details of the app purchase policy, but I’d rather talk about technical issues that came up.

One of the things that I have tried to get the staff to use is our Frank Hurt Google Apps account. One of the draws are the collaboration features of Google Apps.

Outside of school, I use my personal Google account and calendar with my wife. We share each others’ respective calendars. That way, I can see what she’s up to, and she can see what I’m up to. Any family event she puts in the calendar automatically gets updated in my Google account, and to my phone, and vice-versa. A nice way of keeping our tight schedules on track and shared.

I wanted to take advantage of that ability to share a calendar with the people in this group. I took it upon myself to create a “Tech Cohort” shared calendar in my school Google account, and voila! Everyone has a shared calendar where they can put events and whatnot into it.

A nice thing about Google devices is their integration. On my Android phone, I have it sync with my Frank Hurt Google account. That shared calendar appears in my phone’s calendar and I have granularity in that I can show or hide it.

When it came to the iPad, I added my Frank Hurt Google account to pick up my email and calendar events. While my main calendar events were sync’d with the iPad, the “Tech Cohort” shared calendar did NOT come across through to the iPad. There was no way for the iPad to pull that calendar out.

I was disappointed to say the least that this calendar did not come through.

I do have a “hack” – a work around so that a single “shared calendar” can be accessible via Google Calendar, my phone, and through the iPad calendar app.

Because I have full control over my school’s Google Apps account, I made a “calendar only” Frank Hurt account.  Here’s what I did:

 

Step 1 – Make a calendar-only user

I first made a new user group within Google Apps.  This group had all services turned off EXCEPT for calendaring.  Once this group was created, I made a user and put this user in the group.  This account will be “shared” in the sense that the members who need to access this calendar need to add it as a user to their iPad.  Outside of the iPad (or any other iOS device), the members of the group will be able to add and edit this calendar via their personal Frank Hurt account.

Step 2 – Log into this account and make a shared calendar

There is only one service that this account can access – http://calendar.google.com – so I punched in this URL and logged in under this account.  Because the iOS Calendar app can access only the first calendar in a Google Apps account, for this shared calendar account, I added all of the members of our cohort and gave them “edit” permissions of this one-and-only calendar.  If any other member logs into their Google Calendar, they will see in their list of calendars, this shared calendar.  They can add and edit events to this calendar and everyone in the group will see them.

Step 3- Add the account to the iOS device

Now back to the iPad.  I added this account in the Mail and Calendar accounts under Settings.  Because this account does NOT have email – only calendaring, when it gets added to the iOS device, it tries to verify the account, but returns an error “Cannot Get Mail”.  You’ll have no other choice but the “OK” button to go back to the Account window.  Click the “Next” button and you’re given a warning stating that this account may not be able to send/receive emails.  Click the Save button, then turn off Mail and Notes for this account, and simply leave the Calendars service on.  Click the save button and voila, the calendar account is now saved to your device!

Step 4 – Accessing the Calendar

Now you can go into the Calendar app and show this newly added “shared” calendar.   Events added to this calendar by the members of the group will now be visible and accessible on the user’s personal calendar AND their iOS device once it’s been set up!  I can now add an event to this calendar via my Android phone, and voila, it appears on my iPad.  I can edit it on my iPad and voila, a few moments later it is now on my Google Calendar

Summer Relearmixing

So here we are at the end of the school year.  I’ve decided to start another blog.  Why another blog when I already have one that I haven’t written a blog post in a while?  Well, this one will be non-family related stuff – basically education & technology related stuff.

This year, the principal at my school has embarked on a journey for us to become a hub of technology of secondary education.  Part of this is bringing mobile devices – iPads – into the hands of teachers and students.

What are we going to do with them?  Well, I’m not too sure just yet.  I’ve been given an iPad to explore and experiment with over the summer.  I will definitely be thinking of how this device can benefit the learning of the students and how teachers can best use it.

Also, another motive for me to have this blog is to put things down in writing – to write to the anonymous public out there as a public record of my thoughts and opinion.

Anyone who knows me and knows my opinion on computing, I’m a big FOSS – Free & Open Source Software advocate and user.  Apple computers are at the opposite end of computing which I prefer to use as it is a closed ecosystem, tightly controlled by Apple Inc.

Nonetheless, I cannot deny the fact that it is a very polished product with a lot of potential to use in the educational environment.  If anything like I tell my students, it is not the hardware or software that is important to learn, but it is the computing concepts that you learn and that you can apply elsewhere which is important.

If I were to spend my own hard-earned money on a tablet device, right now the top two devices would be the Asus Transformer or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

For me, the Transformer has the advantage of the optional dock which is a keyboard, touch pad, extra ports and secondary battery.  I like this optional feature.

The downside of the GTab for me is the lack of ports on the device itself – no external microSD slot, no HDMI and no USB unless you use the multi-pin connector.

But alas, I don’t have an extra $500 or so to spend on my own tablet.  But who am I to complain, I’ll use the iPad assigned for me for now. :D

Oh, and another project I’d like to do (other than post more in this blog), is to play with Google App Inventor and make apps for my phone.  In an ideal world, I’d teach this in my programming class and have my students build their own apps.

Well, that’s what I plan on doing this summer.  We’ll see how it goes…