The Potential of iBeacon for Schools

The Potential of iBeacon for Schools

openday_app

iBeacon apps deliver dynamic content for locality learning

Stephen Perse Foundation is a group of six schools founded in 1881 that have always been at the forefront of education developments. Every student has an iPad across its senior and 6th form schools, placing it in an excellent position to explore the potential of new technologies for learning such as iBeacon.  Having heard about iBeacon the school was eager to discover how it could be used to enhance student experiences and deliver location-specific content to students of all ages and across all schools. Following an initial consultation with locly the school decided to explore the following key elements for phase one of a beacon rollout project:

  • Creating a student iBeacon app
  • Creating learning zones & self-discovery displays
  • Setting up discovery / information points
  • Creating an open day custom beacon app
  • Explore sharing & working in groups

1) Student Beacon App

Locly developed a beacon app for teachers and students to populate with dynamic content using locly.com.  Content is very easy to create;  for example, sharing an iTunes U course is as easy as pasting a link.  Any changes or new content created will automatically appear in the app on students’ iPads. Content in the app is shown as bite-sized ‘cards’ that students can browse through easily.  Tapping on a card reveals more information in the form of:

text, photos, video files, audio files, interactive widgets, extracts from iBook files, Google Drive documents, iTunes U courses and more.

The app content is locked-down so that it is only visible to teachers and students when they are nearby a beacon.  For additional security reasons both teachers and students must login to the app to access its content.

sharing_beacon

2) Learning Zone: Cabinet of Curiosities

The Cabinet of Curiosities is an amazing learning space and was the perfect place to set up multiple learning zones with beacons. The Cabinet of Curiosities now has 7 beacons for students to discover as they walk around. Cards are created for each beacon using extracts from the school’s own multi-touch books, which are created using iBooks Author. They also create content using photographs, images, audio and video files, plus some interactive Bookry widgets. Students can now explore the Cabinet to discover content from the beacon that is nearest to them and discover more.

This room also presents a number of interesting layouts and beacons had to be placed very close together in some instances.  This was easily configured by setting the proximity radius of each beacon in situ using the locly app. The room is now fully beaconised, and ready for each exhibition.

Self-discovery Display: Visual Arts Centre

The Visual Arts Centre is a hub of creativity at the school where students have the freedom to explore inter-disciplinary approaches and experiment with new and exciting ideas – the perfect place for beacons!

The facility now has 10 beacons all of which have one main function; to tell stories about key pieces of art, including information about the artist, their influences, and how they created the piece, step-by-step. Text, audio and video is being used in the cards and interactive widgets like ‘before & after’ are being used to great effect.  Digital art plays an important role at the centre, and beacons are now being used in the creation, presentation and assessment process by teachers and students.

vac_beacon

3) Discovery Points:  Poem & Blog of the Day

The school library now has its own beacon (see photo) and reveals a different inspiring poem everyday for students to discover. Students can also tap on a card to open a Google Form to request a book. A beacon device has also been placed at the main school entrance to display a blog card in the morning. Students can read this when they arrive, and it changes to a different blog in the afternoon when they leave. This beacon is also used to send notification alerts to students via the app.

cabinet_beacon

4) Open Day Custom Beacon App

With locly the school can control when and where their app content can be seen. One of the options available to them is to make content visible at all times, not just when nearby a beacon. The school used locly to create an Open Day project. This includes content from their printed prospectus and it is complemented with audio, video and relevant pdf documents. The project was then wrapped-up into its own customised app for parents and visitors to download from the Apple App Store. The app content was also linked to physical beacons around the school so that it became location-aware when visitors were onsite.

5) Sharing & Working in Groups

iBeacon technology introduces a new way of sharing and working in groups.  With no need for emails or codes, students and teachers can easily share bite-sized digital content when nearby to each other. SPF Schools and locly are currently rolling out the following beacon functionality into the classroom:

iPad as a Beacon

A teacher can long-press on any card in the app to start transmitting it from their iPad.  The card then instantly appears in the app on any iPads nearby.

Annotation & return

A teacher shares a document with iPads nearby, The student then annotates it on their iPad and returns it back to the teacher and/or Google Drive.

Google Drive

Any documents shared via the locly app will also be saved directly into Google Drive.  Any group structures will also be taken and used to manage content delivery.

Scheduled Content

Locly is great for ad-hoc sharing but teachers can also set content to be shown at a specific time and date, and set the length of time it can be shared for.  Perfect for planning ahead.

Project Key Points

  • Simple online content creation with real-time app updates
  • No coding, no software  to download
  • Use existing resources like iBooks, pdf, iWorks and iTunes U
  • Interactive widget support
  • Input content creation in multiple languages
  • Integration with Google Drive
  • Easy group content delivery
  • Scheduled content delivery
  • Make a device a beacon & file sharing in one tap
  • Easy physical beacon setup via the locly app
  • Customised app creation for the Apple App Store

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