Brewster Academy Blogs



An Update on iPads at BA

As many schools continue to implement 1-to-1 iPad programs under much fanfare, it makes sense for Brewster to reevaluate its 1-to-1 laptop program. As we all know, technology is not important in and of itself, rather it is how we use the technology that is important. In my opinion, Brewster’s 1-to-1 laptop program is stronger then most 1-to-1 iPad programs at this moment in time because of how we integrate the technology into the curriculum. BA teachers have been effectively leveraging the laptop to improve student learning since 1993.

To be clear, some schools have proven that the iPad can be a very valuable tool in the hands of students and teachers when intentionally integrated across the curriculum. The question we need to ask and answer is, what value does the use of an iPad offer over a laptop? Can a student and teacher do everything they need to do with an iPad as they can do you with a laptop? Can the iPad stand alone as a primary computing device or is it best to be used as a secondary companion device?

iPad Pilots
Two iPad pilots have been conducted here at Brewster in the past few years. A teacher pilot was conducted in the fall of the 2012, where 18 teachers experimented with iPad use to develop and deliver curriculum. The pilot was a valuable experiment but in the end, it was decided that “there is not yet a compelling enough case to say that the iPad is such a game changer in supporting the development of creativity or imagination that we should adopt its use school-wide.”

A second student pilot was conducted in the spring of 2014, where 6 students were challenged to use the iPad ONLY in class and for the completion of their homework. After the six week pilot was complete, students were brought together in a focus group to discuss their thoughts.

Positive comments included:

•  “Note-taking is easy and organized with an app like GoodNotes, where you have the ability to annotate PDFs – highlight, underline, and write in the margins.”

•  “Normally I would find it easier to use my iPad when I need to review something quick such as email, Moodle, grades, BMP’s and taking notes.”

•  “iPads are capable of doing almost everything a laptop can do. One can make Keynotes, build mind-maps, organize notes easily, and easily and quickly access relevant information.”

Negative comments included:

•  “Typing is a bit of a hardship.”

•  “I can’t open PDF documents in Moodle.”

•  “Composing papers/essays on iPad, particularly research papers, is simply impossible. The multitasking is too slow, and it doesn’t allow you to glance at multiple real-time apps at once. This functionality is crucial when referencing bibliographies and information relevant to whatever project one is working on. Text manipulation on iPad is a nightmare, and even when one gets the hang of it, it isn’t pleasant to be working solely with it during revision.”

Keeping our Finger on the Pulse
Although we aren’t currently conducting any formal iPad pilots, many Brewster community members are using iPads in their professional and personal lives and providing feedback to the Tech office. We watch with interest as Apple and other vendors announce new products with enhanced functionality and we continue to experiment with these tools. Below is a list of the advantages that both the iPad and the Laptop have to offer.

The advantages of an iPad over a laptop

•  More portable

•  Built-in camera for both video and still photography

•  Better reading device

•  Large variety of targeted educational apps (priced inexpensively)

•  Less expensive

•  Write on the screen with a stylus (still needs improvement)

•  Longer battery life

The advantages of a laptop over an iPad

•  Multitasking – you can have many windows open at the same time

•  Built-in keyboard

•  Google docs perform better

•  Moodle performs better

•  Larger display screen

•  Built-in file manager (Finder)

Based on research and hands-on experience with using the iPad, it is safe to say that the iPad is not quite mature enough to replace the laptop in Brewster’s curriculum…yet. More to come, stay tuned.

Restore your iPhone from Backup via iTunes

I have a new iPhone – how do I transfer all of my apps, music, and pics from my old iPhone??

Before you can restore your apps, music and pics to a new iPhone, you need to back up your old iPhone.  The following method describes this back up and restore process using iTunes.

  1. Check that you have the latest version of iTunes.
  2. Use iTunes to back up your device. Transfer and sync any additional content to your computer.
  3. If you’re using iOS 6 or later, go to Settings –> iCloud–> and turn off “Find My iPhone”.

Restore your device

  1. Connect your device to your computer using the cable that came with it.
  2. Select your iPhone, iPad, or iPod when it appears in iTunes.
    Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 1.54.46 PM
  3. In the Summary panel, click “Restore to Backup”
    Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 11.06.28 AM
  4. When prompted with “Restore to Backup” message, pick the correct device you want this restored from, and make sure you see the correct back up date-If you backup often, you may have numerous backup dates listed.
    Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 11.06.45 AM
  5. Click “Restore ”
    Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 11.06.45 AM

Backing up your iPhone via iTunes

Common questions that we here down here in the Tech Office:
I lost my iPhone, boo!! What happens to all of my apps, photos, and music?…or
I got a new iPhone, yeah!! How do I transfer all of my apps, photos, and music from my old phone?

Did you back up your iPhone??…if not, here’s how!

Backing up your iPhone via iTunes 

  1. Open iTunes
    Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 9.56.11 AM
  2. Plug your iPhone in your computer
  3. Select your iPhone from menu bar
    Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 1.54.46 PM
  4. Click Backup on “This computer” and..
    BACK up NOW”…then let it backup (do not use your phone during back up process)
    Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 1.58.25 PM
  5. When your done you should see the correct date and time of your most recent backup.
    iTunes Backup complete

Avoid tears, backup your computer!

In our Technology Office we regularly see technical glitches, like hard drive failures, or user mistakes that result in users losing all or most of their files.  These disasters are ABSOLUTELY AVOIDABLE providing the user does regular file backup!

Step 1) Buy an external hard drive if you don’t already have one (FYI, it’s on the student’s list of required items to bring to Brewster).  Your backup drive should ONLY be used for automated backups – don’t use it in any other way.  If you need more storage, buy a second external hard drive, but then you will have to back that one up too!   If you need recommendations for backup drives, or help erasing older ones please contact our friendly ITD staff for assistance!

Here’s one of the ones we issue faculty here at Brewster:


Step 2) Plug your external hard drive into your laptop.
Note:  The first time you backup your computer may take 1-3 hours, so don’t plug it in for the first time unless you can let your computer sit in one place for a while.
You CAN still work on your computer as it backs up!


It will initially look like this on your desktop (Though it could be named anything)

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 2.39.14 PM

Step 3) Your computer will ask you if you want to use this for Time Machine Backup. Please click the button labeled “Use as Backup Disk”

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 2.39.08 PM marked

A new preference window will pop up on your screen and it will start counting down (120 seconds) until it begins to backup your entire computer.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 2.39.38 PM markup

Step 4) Let your computer backup fully, the first time. If you continue to watch that same window you will see a progress bar appear.Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 2.40.55 PM

Also, the icon for your backup drive will change to look like this once the backup starts:

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 2.40.03 PM

Step 5) Plug your backup drive into your computer regularly! Time Machine backups are completely automated but the drive needs to be connected to your computer in order for that to happen. We recommend plugging your drive in EVERY NIGHT (or day) and checking to make sure it backs up. When your backups are finished, or you are ready to unplug your backup drive, please make sure to properly ‘eject’ it before you disconnect it. This will prevent any backup in progress from getting corrupted. You can eject the drive simply by dragging it to the ‘trash can’ in your dock. As a note, when you start to drag the backup drive to the ‘trash’, the trashcan icon will change into an eject symbol!


How can you be sure that your computer is backing up?

There is an icon placed in upper right hand corner of your menu bar. It looks like this:

Screenshot 2015-04-08 17.33.00

If you click on it you will see the status of your current backup, or a message telling you when the last backup completed.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 2.40.19 PM

Further Advice

Only the first backup should take a bit of time (1-3 hours). Each daily backup after that should be quite fast. Usually under five minutes. However, if you go a long time between backups or suddenly download or create a large volume of files, it may take more than just a few minutes!  You CAN still work on your computer as it backs up!

If you have any questions please contact us down here in the ITD!






Mac 101: Taking Screen Shots

Taking a screenshot of a specific area of your desktop in Mac OS X

  1. Open the application, window, or other item that you’d like to take a screenshot of.
  2. On your keyboard, press Command + Shift + 4 and then release all keys.
  3. You will see that your mouse cursor has turned into crosshairs that you can move around.
  4. Drag the cursor to where you’d like to start one of the corners of the screenshot and press down and drag the mouse over the area you’d like to capture.
  5. When you’re done selecting the area simply release your mouse button. Check your desktop and you should see a new .png file that contains the screenshot you just created.


How to take a screenshot of your entire screen in Mac OS X

  1. Open the program or applications you’d like to include in the screenshot. Basically, set up your desktop as you’d like it for when you take the screenshot..
  2. On your keyboard, press Command + Shift + 3 and then release all the keys.
  3. Check your desktop and you should see a new .png file that contains the screenshot you just created.


Video for Students: Social Media Smart

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