iPad Document Camera Stand

Justin Franks contacted me this week with a link to a YouTube video where he proudly shows off his new creation. It's a stand designed to turn your iPad into a document camera. Justin's iPad stand goes by the name Justand.

I was excited to see this because I know a growing number of teachers would like to use iPads as document cameras. And now with AirPlay, iPad can wirelessly mirror its screen to an Apple TV or a Mac/PC running AirServer or Reflection. Though, as those who try to mirror wirelessly know, it's not as reliable as an old fashioned wired connection. Justin's iPad stand can be used with an iPad VGA or HDMI adapter or wirelessly.

Justand's education price is $89 and volume pricing is available. Justin tells me much of the price is for raw materials. The stand is made from large thick sheet of aluminum and has a 40 pound torque hinge. Of course, if you don't already have an iPad, the Justand document camera solution can be over $600. A third generation iPad will make a better document camera than an iPad 2 because the newer iPad has a much better camera.

At $89, Justand is cheaper than most document cameras. However, there are cameras that are less than $89, like IPEVO's $69 Point 2 View USB Camera. Why would you pay more for a stand than what you could pay for a whole camera? If you are already mirroring iPad's screen to a projector, it's one less device to switch to. Instead of switching inputs, you simply adjust Justand's arm and launch a camera app.

Instead of using the standard camera app, I would suggest using the CamDraw app (99¢) to draw on top of the live image from iPad's camera. Now you've got a classroom telestrator! That means you can annotate a science experiment and even draw on your textbook! In addition, you can instantly save screenshots of what's under the camera for use in other apps and for sharing with students.

I love teaching with a document camera. I was the first teacher at my school to ask for my overhead projector to be removed from my classroom because it was a waste of space after I became a document camera user. My fifth graders and I used our doc cam to do many different things:

  • Display a novel or textbook so students can read along
  • Demonstrate experiments so that all can see
  • Instantly exhibit student work, including artwork
  • Demonstrate painting and drawing techniques
  • Model note-taking
  • Complete graphic organizers as a group
  • Go over assignments and tests
  • Show 3D objects
  • Show the construction of graphs
  • Model use of math tools like calculators, rulers, compasses, and protractors
  • Demonstrate the use of editing marks
  • Film Common Craft style videos

I haven't used a Justand and I haven't seen one in person. I thought that someone should, so I asked Justin if we could give away a Justand to a blog reader and he agreed! You can enter to win your very own red aluminum teaching helper.  Just submit your name and your email address in the form below. One submission per person. The winner must have the Justand shipped within the continental United States. Enter by July 6, 2012 and one winner will be randomly drawn. Don't worry, I will not share your email address with anyone. Though, I will forward the winner's information to Justin and he will contact you about shipping your Justand. If you win, it would be nice for you to leave a comment on this post with a mini review. Good luck!

UPDATE: The drawing is closed and the winner has been chosen.


8 Useful and/or Fun Twitter Tools

I've been on Twitter since February 19, 2007 and to celebrate my 10,000th follower, I'd like to share some interesting Twitter tools.

When Did You Join Twitter?
No, I don't recall the exact date I first signed into Twitter.  I typed my username into, and it let me know when I created my account. 

My Tweet 16
Enter a username to view their first 16 tweets. I'm very embarrassed by my first tweets.
Type in a Twitter username to see their most popular tweets. 

Strawberry Jam
See the most popular links that have been mentioned by those you follow on Twitter. 

Twitter Tussle
Compare the frequency of words or phrases mentioned on Twitter. 

Add a bunch of tweets into Buffer and it will share them for you throughout the day.


Type in a hashtag or other Twitter search and the results are presented fullscreen and animated. This is great for displaying tweets during an event.


When Do They Sleep?
Enter a Twitter username into, and it will determine the user's approximate sleeping schedule based on when he or she is least active on Twitter. It's actually pretty accurate for my sleeping time.

Thanks to everyone who follows me and an even bigger thank you to those I follow! I cannot begin to tell you how much I've learned from Twitter over the years.


Show What You Know Using Web & Mobile Apps [Infographic]

Nowadays teachers and students have a variety of ways to show what they know and to express themselves. Take a look at some of the hottest online and mobile tools for showing, explaining, and retelling in my infographic, "Show What You Know Using Web & Mobile Apps." These tools can turn students into teachers and teachers into super-teachers! Furthermore, most of the apps listed in the infographic are free of charge.

You can download the infographic as a high-quality (7 MB) PDF or as a  lower-quality (2 MB) PDF.


Let's Use the Hashtag #iosedapp for Tweets with Educational iPad/iPhone/iPod Apps

In March 2010 I proposed that educators use the Twitter hashtag #edapp to make it easy for others to find tweets that mention an educational app when searching Twitter. I even made a t-shirt to get to word out about the hashtag. I wore that shirt and explained hashtags in Episode #22 of the Learning in Hand podcast.

You need to know that no one controls a hashtag. Anyone can use any hashtag, even if what they write is not relevant to the keyword. Unfortunately, spammers are including #edapp in their tweets. That makes it difficult to find the tweets that really contain educational apps. That's a tragedy because I have learned about so many great apps over the last two years through searching for #edapp.

My vision for #edapp was that tweets tagged #edapp would mention a single educational app or list of apps for iPad, iPhone, and/or iPod touch (all of which run Apple's iOS). Because no one controls a hashtag, my vision doesn't mean that it is others' vision for its use. Some Twitter users tag any tweet in which they mention anything that has to do with iPad or iPod touch as #edapp. Some mention web-based tools (even tools that are flash-based and do not work on iOS devices). Android, Windows, and Mac apps are often slipped in there too.

Don't get me wrong. So much of what people have been hashtagging with #edapp has been fantastically valuable. But, I want myself and others to be able to search Twitter and instantly find educational apps for iOS. Between the spammers and the ambiguousness of the keyword edapp, I now propose using the hashtag #iosedapp when mentioning apps or lists of apps for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. This is the keyword I will include somewhere in my tweets when I share a newly discovered educational app or when an interesting educational app goes on sale. I hope you'll do the same.

You can find tweets tagged #iosedapp in a variety of ways. One way is to go to and enter #iosedapp. You don't need a Twitter account to use the search. If you see many tweets that are all the same, refine your search to include -RT. That will remove retweets so all tweets displayed are originals. 

When tweeting about an app, I highly suggest including a link to the app's page in the App Store. The best way to do this is through iTunes on your PC. When on an app's details page, simply click the arrow next to the price and choose Copy Link. Paste that link into your tweet. Don't worry about how long the URL is because Twitter will shorten it.

Check out what has been recently tagged #iosedapp in the widget below. Note that there will probably be some tweets that do not mention an iOS app because, at least at first, some tweets will be referring to the use of the new keyword.  

Got something to tweet about mobile learning and it's not a specific iOS app? Include one or two of these hashtags instead of #iosedapp:

For your information, here's what Twitter has to say about hashtags:

Definition: The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.

Using hashtags to categorizing Tweets by keyword:

  • People use the hashtag symbol # before relevant keywords or phrases (no spaces) in their Tweet to categorize those Tweets and help them show more easily in Twitter Search.
  • Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other Tweets in that category.
  • Hashtags can occur anywhere in the Tweet – at the beginning, middle, or end.
  • Hashtagged words that become very popular are often Trending Topics.

Using Hashtags Correctly:

  • If you Tweet with a hashtag on a public account, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your Tweet
  • Don't #spam #with #hashtags. Don't over-tag a single Tweet. (Best practices recommend using no more than 2 hashtags per Tweet.)
  • Use hashtags only on Tweets relevant to the topic.

Of course, I cannot guarantee that #iosedapp won't be overrun with spammers at some point. Maybe in two more years I'll be suggesting yet another hashtag...


Make Your Podcast Sticky [Infographic]

There are six principles of sticky ideas according to Dan and Chip Heath, authors of Made to Stick. Sticky ideas are ones that we can plainly understand, clearly remember, and easily retell. When teachers and students make educational podcasts, whether audio or video, we want them to be sticky. I created the infographic below that that applies the principles outlined in Made To Stick to podcasting for teaching and learning. You can click the image for a PDF version of the infographic.



Be an iPad Superstar: 8 Collections of iOS 5 Tips

Just when I think I know a lot of about Apple's iOS, someone shows me a clever feature, setting, or shortcut I've never seen before. Since Apple doesn't include a printed manual, it's up to us as iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch users to find our own ways of learning these tips. I'd like to share eight links with tips to help us get the most of our iOS devices.

The Always Current iOS 5 Tips and Tricks Guide from Mac|Life

50 Really Useful iPad Tips and Tricks from TechRadar

40+ Super Secret iPad Features and Shortcuts from AppStorm

Keyboard Shortcuts to Speed Up Typing on an iPhone or iPad from Digital Inspiration 

 The Complete List of iPad Tips, Tricks, and Tutorials from How-To Geek

 10 Useful Apple iPad Tips and Tricks from Mashable

 iPad Tricks and Tips from Redlands College

Fifty iOS 5 Tips in Five Minutes from CNET UK

Follow me on Twitter, @tonyvincent, for more mobile learning tips, including tip-offs when great apps go on sale. 


Wireless Mirroring from iPad to PC Now a Reality with AirServer

Windows users now have a way to wirelessly mirror iPad and iPhone to their computers with AirSever. Similar to Reflection (now called Reflector) for Mac, AirServer is software installed on a desktop or laptop that turns that the computer into an AirPlay receiver with no Apple TV required. There's absolutely no software to install on iPad or iPhone because AirPlay mirroring is built into iOS (but currently only on iPad 2, iPad 3rd generation, and iPhone 4S). 

AirServer offer a 7 day trial period, though you will have to allow the developer to post on your Facebook wall. Standard and student licensing costs are very reasonable and can be installed on up to 5 machines.  

After AirServer is installed on a Mac or PC, your iPad or iPhone must be on the same Wi-Fi network. Then just double-click the Home button on your device and swipe right on the multitasking tray until you see the AirPlay icon next to the volume slider. Tap the AirPlay icon and choose your computer from the list and activate Mirroring. Audio and video from your iPad or iPhone will be routed to your Mac or PC.

Mirroring allows teachers to show their iPad's screen on a larger computer screen. Better yet, if the computer is connected to a projector, then iPad's screen can be seen by a large audience or classroom full of students. Because AirPlay is built into all iPads (except 1st generation), students' iPads can also instantly be mirrored and their writing, art, ideas, and projects can be shared with the class.

Besides using AirServer to show a device's screen to audience, it makes screencasting possible. With software like Jing or Screenr, you can record whatever is on your Mac or PC's screen along with audio. This is a great way to make app tutorials! For an example, check out Prime Number Frayer Model with Popplet Lite by Lisa Johnson.

Wirelessly mirroring can turn an iPad or iPhone into a mobile document camera. Simply activate the Camera app while mirroring and what's seen through the camera is piped to the Mac or PC. You might have to be inventive if you want a contraption to hold the device above a surface instead of holding it with your hands.

Another use is realtime monitoring of what students are doing on their devices. AirSever allows multiple iPads and iPhones to mirror all at once to one computer. Each device that mirrors shrinks the others on the computer's screen to make room. You probably won't want to mirror a whole class set of iPads, but certain students who might be on iPad "probation" may be required to mirror to the teacher's computer for monitoring. The teacher's computer wouldn't be projecting--it would just be for the teacher to oversee what's happening.

You might want to know how AirServer compares to Reflection. I have used both and prefer AirServer, mostly because it seems less buggy and scales to take up the entire screen. Furthermore, AirServer's image appears crisper. Reflection does have one option that AirServer does not: Reflection places a cute iPad or iPhone border around your image. Using Reflection is not an option for PCs since it only works in Mac OS X.

Wirelessly mirroring my iPad has greatly improved my workshops. I can walk around the room during demonstrations instead of being tethered to a VGA connection (and I don't have to worry about that pesky iPad VGA adapter constantly falling out). That same improvement can now happen in more iPad-using classrooms thanks to AirSever and its support for Windows PCs.


iPad Backpack is Also Handsfree Frontpack

iBackFlip Studios sent me their Somersault iPad backpack. Its hallmark feature is its iPad mount. You can flip the backpack around to your front side, unzip the mount's compartment, and you instantly have iPad floating in front of you.  Your hands are free to do whatever you need them to do.

I can imagine situations where this can be great for teachers. They can walk about the room with instant access to an iPad. I'm particularly thinking of teachers who input data for student behavior into their iPads. With iBackFlip, the iPad can be right in front of her for easy access for data recording on the fly. Though, personally, I had success using a pocketable device for classroom data collection since I can simply pull it out of my pants pocket anytime.

There are times students benefit from having an iPad mounted in front of them, especially students who use iPad for assisted communication. Wearing iPad in an iBackFlip Somersault could ensure iPad will not be dropped while making the device readily accessible. The backpack is somewhat sizable, especially for a youngster. The viewing angle can make it difficult to see the bottom of the iPad screen because the Somersault itself gets in the way. Perhaps iBackFlip Studio's Somersault Slim would work better for students because it is not as bulky.

A few more observations:

  • The backpack has plenty of storage.
  • I could almost fit my 13" MacBook Air inside.
  • I need to lock iPad's screen rotation when iBackFlip Somersault is flipped down. Otherwise the screen is upside-down from my perspective.
  • It uses magnets to wake iPad when opened and to sleep iPad when closed. 
  • With some unzipping and folding, you can use iPad's camera without removing it from the mount.
  • The bag is very well constructed and has plenty of padding.

Read the product description, see photos, and view videos at iBackFlip Studios' product page for the Somersault.


#mobile2012 Day One Tweets

Three hundred educators converged on the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown for Day One of Mobile Learning Experience 2012. There were 16 breakout sessions about topics like inquiry, project-based learning, language arts, app creation, and iPad lesson planning. The day concluded with a keynote presentation by Jaime Casap, a Google Educational Technology Evangelist.

The Twitter hastag for the conference is #mobile2012. I've selected some tweets that were shared as a window into Day One.!/ComputerExplore/status/190168943284068352!/wfryer/status/190169801598042113!/reubenhoffman/status/190171612283273217!/kevin_corbett/status/190179427655749632!/kevin_corbett/status/190179427655749632!/reubenhoffman/status/190186541354721282!/GrahamBM/status/190187298208497665!/wfryer/status/190188021637840896!/TxTechChick/status/190188190810898432!/jackiegerstein/status/190188323241861121!/nooccar/status/190189174677192704!/ictliz/status/190192197075873792!/KirbyDietze/status/190195350802411521!/jmpriceaz/status/190224219127296001!/wfryer/status/190248823111684097!/lsheehy/status/190252082874429442!/jdog90/status/190252225543684100!/npratt/status/190256578522382336!/wfryer/status/190258280948445184!/tonyvincent/status/190259572882149376!/tedrosececi/status/190259915992989696!/lsheehy/status/190260209069993984!/nooccar/status/190260252464254977!/wfryer/status/190260725049069568!/kathycook1/status/190260831907348480!/wfryer/status/190261697154531328!/j_allen/status/190261833330982912!/AskAdam3/status/190262339776417793


Learning in Hand #25: QR Codes

Podcast LogoLearning in Hand Podcast Episode #25: QR Codes is all about those two-dimensional bar codes that are popping up everywhere. QR codes have lots of uses for education, especially in classrooms where students are equipped with mobile devices.

The video is fast paced. There are several QR codes you could scan during the video, but because of the pace, you will probably have to rewind and pause in order to scan.

View the 20 minute video on YouTube, on Vimeo, in iTunes, or download to see how QR codes can save time and and make classrooms a little more interactive and efficient.


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This is the Learning in Hand podcast. I'm Tony Vincent and this is the show where I share tips, how-tos, and ideas for using today's digital tools for teaching and learning. Episode 25: QR Codes, recorded March 2012, happens now!

Here's a bar code that get scanned at the grocery store. A bar code like this contains numbers, up to about 20 digits. If you really want to, you can make your own barcodes.

Supermarkets, businesses, and libraries have used bar codes for years because it saves time and is more efficient than typing in the digits.

Here's a QR code. It's like a bar code, but can contain much more information. QR codes contain up to a few hundred characters, and it's not limited to just numbers.

Watch this. I simply launch an app and point my device's camera at the code. Instantly, the QR code is deciphered. The text from the QR code is displayed so fast, no wonder it's called a Quick Response code!

QR codes are not limited to being just text--they can be hyperlinks. When I scan this code, it opens to my website, Isn't that great?

You can find QR codes everywhere. They are on signs, coffee cups, business cards, t-shirts, cupcakes, and bananas. You can even get a QR code tattoo if you want. Scanning these codes instantly displays information or takes you to website.

QR codes have been around since 1994.  Why is it that they have recently become so popular

Why the surge in popularity? Well, I'd say it's because now people are carrying around tiny scanners with them all the time--their mobile phones! Most phones, laptops, tablets, and iPod touches now have cameras, and these devices can run apps that transform them into handheld scanners.

You know, it's so easy to make a mistake when typing a web address. It happens to me all the time, especially on a mobile device with a small keyboard. In classrooms with iPads, iPod touches, tablets, or phones, QR codes can save loads of time and headaches.

And what's really great is that there are loads of apps for scanning QR codes that are free. In fact, it won't even cost you any money to make your very own QR codes either.

Currently my favorite QR code scanning app is i-nigma. It's available for iOSAndroid, Windows Phone, and Blackberry. Go to on your device to download it. 

While scanning works best on a mobile device, you can use software on Windows or Mac computers to scan codes. QRreader is free and uses a computer's webcam.  Simply hold up a QR code in front of the camera and it is scanned. QRreader can open URLs automatically in your web browser.

After you have a reader, it's time to get scanning. QR codes can be large or small. They can be printed or you can scan them on a computer screen. You just need to make sure that you are far enough away so the entire code is visible. A code cannot be scanned if it is obstructed. You need to be close enough so that the camera can see the detailing in the QR code.

Making a QR code is easier than you think and it won't cost you anything. Now, you'll most likely create the code on a laptop or desktop so that it can be pasted into a document, printed, or projected. There are apps and software that can do this, but I prefer using online QR code generators. Simply searching for "qr code generator" will give you lots to choose from.

 I like because it is very basic. To make a code, first choose URL or text. Type or paste into the box and your code is created. Right-click to save or copy the image. Since the code is just like any other image, you can paste into documents like a PowerPoint slide, a Word document, or SMART Notebook file. Because it's an image, you can print the code out, save it for later, post it at a learning station, or show it your class right from the page itself.

So, what can QR codes do for teaching and learning? Lots, especially in classrooms where each student has a mobile device.

Start Class

Students get their devices and scan a code with directions. Perhaps it's a writing prompt, survey, or web page to read. Scanning a code gets students to turn on their devices and get ready for learning.

Link to Your School or Class Website

Include a QR code that leads to your school or class website on your newsletter letterhead so students, parents, and community can be quickly transported to your website.

Distribute Files

The URL you use for a QR code can lead to a file that's stored online. Check this out. When I scan this code, it opens a PDF in my web browser. On iPad, I can open the PDF in an app like PaperPort Notes where I can annotate it. So QR codes are a great way to distribute files to students. Not just PDFs, but PowerPoint, Keynote, Pages, Excel, and more can be access through a QR code.

One way to distribute a file is to place it in your Dropbox public folder. Copy the Dropbox URL of that file and paste it into a QR code generator. Now students can scan that code and access the file from your Dropbox.

Similarly, is a website where you upload a PDF, Office Document, or image and it will host that file and make a QR code so others can download it. In just a few steps, your file is online and accessibly through the code provides.

Review Books

Walk into some school libraries and you might find a QR code pasted inside the covers of certain books. Scan the code and you are taken to a book review by a student at that school. That means when students are interested in reading a book, they can scan the code to see what their peers think of it. 

Keep in mind that book reviews are going to be longer than the 250 character limit of a QR code. So, the QR code for a book review would be a URL of a webpage, blog, or wiki with the review.

Play Audio

Maybe the book review isn't a written one. Perhaps it's a video or book trailer. Or maybe it's an audio recording of a book review. A QR code can link to any URL, so the URL can certainly be one that belongs to a video or audio file. is an easy way to record and share audio. You simply use your laptop or desktop computer's microphone and record right from the web page. After recording, supplies you with a URL you can copy and paste into a QR code generator. When the code is scanned, the recorded audio is played in the web browser. Of course, audio can be used for more than book reviews.

A teacher can record instructions and give extra information using and a QR code. Or, can be used to record audio study guides, words of the day, interviews, reflections, skits--there are so many possibilities. And because supplies a URL, that URL can be made into a QR code.

Speak Text

QRvoice.netis a website that with one click, will turn what you type into audio and gives you a QR code. You've got to see this. I'll type something in and click the button. Instantly a QR code is generated. When scanned, the code takes me to a URL where a computer voice speaks what I typed. 

Point to Apps

If you scan this QR code, it will take iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch users to the App Store details page for the Evernote app. From this screen a user can download Evernote. I use QR codes for apps quite often in my workshops because it's so quick to flash the code on the screen so everyone can download the app without getting lost in App Store.

To make a QR code that goes to the App Store, go to the App's details page in iTunes. Click the arrow next to the app's price or install button and choose Copy Link. Then paste this link into a QR code generator to make your code.

Help & Tutorials

Place QR codes on worksheets that offer extra help. A worksheet of long division problems can have a code students can scan that shows them the steps for solving a problem like the ones on the sheet. Or, the QR code can go to a video detailing how to solve a similar problem. For instance, this code goes to a video by middle school student at that reviews the order of operations. The code could be put on an assignment as a reference.

The iPad app ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard is a great app for teaching concepts through video. Everything you write and say are combined into a video that's uploaded online. After upload, the video has a URL. So, of course that URL can be copied and pasted into a QR code generator. Codes to teacher and student made videos can be a great tutorial, reference, or extension to an assignment. has some free QR code enabled workshops. The code on this worksheet goes to a video on YouTube about improper fractions. This worksheet's QR code goes to a video about using apostrophes in contractions.

Update or Augment Text Books

Are your textbooks outdated?  Could they use a makeover? Paste QR codes in them! The codes can link to updated information, videos, and interactive websites to supplement and enhance the text.

Go to Google Forms

Google Forms, part of Google Docs, is a great way to collect information. However, the URL Google provides for your form is comically long. No one would ever type this. This URL can be copied and pasted into a QR Code generator. However, since the URL is so long, the QR code will be very dense. Dense codes don't scan as well as simple codes. I suggest using a URL shortener on long URLs before turning them into a QR code.

For example, this is a survey teachers might give parents at curriculum night. I'll copy the link. Then I'll go to and paste the link into the box. Then I'll copy the shortened link and paste that into the QR code generator. Yes, it's an extra step, but it really will make scanning your code easier.  Plus, if you are logged into when you shorten the URL, it will keep track of how many times that URL was accessed. There are alternatives to, including Google's URL Shortener at Many of these shorteners can generate QR codes on their own. is a QR code generating website that automatically shortens the URLs you input. If you sign into an account, Delivr provides detailed statistics about how many times the code was scanned, when, and where.

Point to a Bingo Card

Want to turn those devices and computers in your classroom into expensive Bingo boards? You can! Scan this code. It takes you to a Bingo board full of weather vocabulary. The squares are randomly positioned each time someone accesses the URL. In a classroom, I could have my students scan the QR code and tap the center Free space to mark it. Then I would say a definition and students would mark the word for that definition. Then I'd say another definition and so on until Bingo is called. It makes for a great review game.

Anyone can make a Bingo board at Simply type in all of your words and click Generate. You could print a set of cards, but even better is using the supplied URL to play online. Copy that URL and paste it into a QR code generator and you've got a QR code to leads to that Bingo board. And it's so cool that each time it's scanned, it generates a different board!

Enhance Field Trips

Teachers are making field trips more meaningful by placing QR codes around the location or on objects. The codes can link to information, give instructions, or even ask students to submit observations through a Google Form.

While on a field trip or at school, it's easy to make a QR code scavenger hunt. Or, you might like to pronounce it, SCANvenger hunt. has a QR Treasure Hunt Generator designed for inputing a series of questions and getting a QR code for each. 

Praise Students

Ok, this next idea is a stretch, but like many QR code uses, it brings some novelty and kinesthetics into the classroom. Instead of writing out feedback on student work, a teacher simply writes a number. That number corresponds to a QR code on a poster in the classroom. The student finds the matching QR code and scans it to receive the feedback. For example, I've got the number 51 written on my paper. So I'll scan QR code #51 on the poster and it tells me "Couldn't have done it better myself."

A teacher in North Carolina is offering her 75 Ways to Say a Good Job QR code enabled poster for free at  


QR codes are not limited to text and URLs. They can be used for other kinds of information. For example, if you scan this code it will start an email message from you to me. I created a code that contains my email address, the subject, and the beginning of the message. You can continue editing the message before sending.

I made this code at I selected Email Message as the data type and entered an email address, the subject, and body text. This can be handy for collecting student or parent feedback.

Update Twitter

QR codes can be used to post to Twitter. In fact, if you are a Twitter user, scan this code. It opens the Twitter website and fills in the tweet for you. All you have to do it tap Tweet! It's really fast if you are already logged into Twitter in your web browser. Like an email message, you can edit before you send off the message. 

I made the Twitter update QR code at I selected Twitter as the data type and chose Twitter Status Update for the Content and typed the text of the tweet.

Explore More Data Types

Check out the other data types that supports, including Google Maps locations, calendar events, and contact details. Contact details is the one I used to make the QR code on my business card.

Customize QR Codes

QR Codes don't have to be black and white. Codes that are colorful can work just as well. let you choose a foreground color before you generate a QR code.  

You can get fancier with code creation. Want a colorful QR code with maybe your school or classroom mascot or logo? Go to It doesn't have as many data types as, but it does allow you to change the pixel roundness, foreground and background colors, and even add a logo or image to the middle of the code.

I've found that color coding QR codes can really help me as an educator manage all of the codes. Color can also be an indicator that there's a different QR code on you projector screen. This happens often in my workshops---QR codes I show on the screen all look alike. So I change the color so my audience knows there's a new code in front of them. 

I've shown you just a few of the many inventive ways teachers and students are using QR codes. It seems that every week there's a cool new QR code tool. No matter which tool you use, do test your QR codes before publishing them to make sure they work exactly as you intend. 

QR codes can save time and and make classrooms a little more interactive and efficient. Of course, QR codes are just one tool in a teacher's toolbox. QR codes themselves aren't magic, but how they connect students, teachers, and information can be magical.

That's it for Episode 25. For more about mobile learning, visit And please consider recommending me to facilitate a workshops at your school or speak at your favorite conference. Thank you for watching!


Ways to Evaluate Educational Apps

I am conducting a series of workshops in Florida and was asked to share a rubric to help teachers evaluate educational apps as part of the workshop. In 2010 Harry Walker developed a rubric, and I used his rubric (with some modifications by Kathy Schrock) as the basis for mine. (Read Harry Walker's paper Evaluating the Effectiveness of Apps for Mobile Devices.)

I kept in mind that some apps are used to practice a discrete skill or present information just one time. Others are creative apps that a learner may use again and again, so it's a challenge to craft a rubric that can be used for a wide span of purposes. I tried to make my rubric work for the broadest range of apps, from drill and practice to creative endeavors, while stressing the purpose for using the app.

My rubric also emphasizes the ability to customize content or settings and how the app encourages the use of higher order thinking skills. Admittedly, there are good apps that are not customizable and focus on lower order thinking skills. Factor Samurai, for example, is a fantastic game for identifying prime and composite numbers. It would be nice if the app had flexibility to adjust difficultly, but it's still a good app if it is relevant to the learning purpose.

Here's what I chose to spotlight in my rubric:

The app’s focus has a strong connection to the purpose for the app and appropriate for the student

App offers complete flexibility to alter content and settings to meet student needs

Student is provided specific feedback

Thinking Skills
App encourages the use of higher order thinking skills including creating, evaluating, and analyzing

Student is highly motivated to use the app

Specific performance summary or student product is saved in app and can be exported to the teacher or for an audience

An app’s rubric score is very dependent on the intended purpose and student needs. The score you give an app will differ from how others score it. Again, apps that score low may still be good apps. But, it is handy to score apps if you are making purchasing decisions and/or have multiple apps to choose from.

Download the Education App Evaluation Rubric.

Perhaps more useful than a rubric is a checklist, so I developed one. I based my checklist on one created by Palm Beach County Schools and The checklist addresses both instructional and technical aspects of an app. For simplicity of purchasing, my list favors free apps and apps that do not have in-app purchases. Don't get me wrong, there are certainly fantastic paid apps.

The bottom line is what makes an effective app is one that does what you need it to do. And it's even better if it does it an inexpensive and engaging ways. There probably isn't an app that would receive all checks on my list, but in general, the more checks, the better the app is for education.

Here's my list:

  • Use of app is relevant to the purpose and student needs
  • Help or tutorial is available in the app
  • Content is appropriate for the student
  • Information is error-free, factual, and reliable
  • Content can be exported, copied, or printed
  • App’s settings and/or content can be customized
  • Customized content can be transferred to other devices
  • History is kept of student use of the app
  • Design of app is functional and visually stimulating
  • Student can exit app at any time without losing progress
  • Works with accessibility options like VoiceOver and Speak Selection
  • App is free of charge
  • No in-app purchases are necessary for intended use of app
  • App loads quickly and does not crash
  • App contains no advertising
  • App has been updated in the last 6 months
  • App promotes creativity and imagination
  • App provides opportunities to use higher order thinking skills
  • App promotes collaboration and idea sharing
  • App provides useful feedback

Download the Educational App Evaluation Checklist.

I welcome your comments as my thinking about what makes a good app, my rubric, and my checklist are all a work in progress.

Other educators have also put thought into evaluating educational apps. I'd like to point you to more rubrics and checklists.

Critical Evaluation of an iPad/iPod App is a yes/no checklist and has a place to write a summary of the app. It's by Kathy Schrock.

The Mobile App Review Checklist is from Palm Beach County Schools and It provides a yes/no checklist within Curriculum Compliance, Operational, and Pedagogy categories.

Mobile Application Selection Rubric is from and is a simple chart with criteria like aligned to Common Core Standards, Levels of Difficulty, and Various Modes of Play.

iEvaluate Apps for Special Needs is a detailed rubric specific for selecting apps for students with special needs. It's by Jeannette Van Houten.

iPad App Assessment Rubric for Librarians is from the Chicago Public Schools Department of Libraries. It's a Google Forms template you can use to collect app assessments.

Maybe more significant than evaluating the app itself is evaluating how the app supports instruction that infuses technology to create a powerful learning environment. The Arizona Technology Integration Matrix is a rubric for teachers to assess their level of technology integration across five elements of meaningful learning environments.

Arizona's matrix is based on the Florida Technology Integration Matrix. Like the Arizona version, Florida's features detailed explainations, videos, and lessons.

Please feel free to link to other rubrics and resources in the comments.


I've Been Waiting for This! AirPlay Mirroring to a Mac (no Apple TV required)

Update: Reflection has been renamed Reflector. It is available for Macintosh and for Windows PCs.

I am so excited for a new Mac app called Reflection! It shows my iPad's screen live on my computer screen wirelessly!

In the past I've used different ways to show iPad's screen on a projector to an audience. I've used a document camera, a Point2View webcam, Apple's VGA adapter with an old-fashioned VGA switch, and an expensive Ephiphan VGA2USB signal grabber.

All of these past methods require iPad to be stationary. In an effort to keep iPad truly mobile, some educators are using Apple TV to mirror iPad's screen to a projector. Read Apple TV in the Classroom - The New Smart Board to learn how iPad and Apple TV offer a cost efficient alternative to expensive interactive whiteboards.

Wireless mirroring to Apple TV is made possible by AirPlay, a feature of iPad 2 and iPhone 4S. It's built into iOS, so there's no software to install. But, this method does require an Apple TV (version 2). If your projector doesn't have HDMI input, then you'll need to use an HDMI to VGA adapter and find a way to use wireless speakers since VGA does not carry audio.

As someone who travels, it's not ideal for me to carry around an Apple TV and VGA adapter and hope that I can set it up on the network at the school or conference. I'd love to use AirPlay mirroring, but I don't want to mess with an Apple TV. What I really want to do is mirror iPad's screen to my laptop. Since my laptop would be connected to the projector, then mirroring iPad to the laptop would allow it to be shown on the projector screen without cables, adapters, or any other pieces of hardware.


Finally a Mac app has been released that does what I've been wanting. Reflection turns your Mac into an AirPlay receiver. AirPlay is what Apple uses to send  and receive the video and sound from an iPad 2 or iPhone 4S to Apple TV. With the Reflection app, there is no software to install on the device since AirPlay is built in iOS devices and no Apple TV is required.

Reflection literally takes less than two minutes to setup. Here are the directions provided on Reflection's website:

Download Reflection and copy it to your Applications folder. After launching the app, double-tap the home button on your iPhone 4S or iPad 2 and swipe right on the multitask tray until you see the AirPlay icon next to the volume slider. Tap this and select your Mac from the list. Last, toggle the "Mirror" switch…voila!

Mirroring is great for modeling device use by the teacher. This is what I end up doing lots during my workshops. A live demo is much more effective than static screenshots. With Reflection and AirPlay, I'm not tethered to the front of the room using my iPad. I can move around with iPad and even hand it off to others while everyone else can see its screen live on the projector's screen.

Student devices can be mirrored as well. A student can activate mirroring from his device to the Mac running Reflection to instantly share ideas and their work. A student might have a graph made in Doodle Buddy to show the class. Mirror it! Another student might have made a book trailer with PuppetPals HD and wants to play it for the class. Mirror it! Groups of students made ShowMe screencasts to teach the rest of the class how to reduce fractions. There's nothing stopping them from mirroring!

Reflection is also great for making screencasts of what you seen iPad or iPhone's screen. You can use fancy or free software to record what's on the Mac's screen. However, the easiest way may be using QuickTime, which is on every Mac. Read how to record your screen with QuickTime. I foresee lots of tutorials and app reviews being made this way.

How about another use for Reflection? Teachers can monitor what students are doing on their devices. At least three devices can be mirrored simultaneously to one Mac. I don't know the limit because I only had three devices to test at the time. Each device that mirrors shrinks the others on the Mac's screen. So even if you could mirror a whole class set, the screens would be far to small to view. But, certain students who might be on iPad "probation" may be required to mirror to the teacher's computer for monitoring. The teacher's computer wouldn't be projecting--it would just be for the teacher to oversee what's happening on the device. 

One more idea for you: With Reflection and Airplay, you can turn an iPad or iPhone into a wireless document camera. Simply launch the Camera app on the device and what's seen by the camera is seen on your computer screen and projector. You can prop iPad off a box or crate or buy or make some contraption and point it at a book, student art, magazine picture, science experiment--anything that shows up on the camera can be projected for an audience.

What else might you need to know?

  • Currently only iPad 2 and iPhone 4S support AirPlay mirroring.
  • Reflection requires a Mac running OS X 10.6 or higher.
  • You can try Reflection for free, but it will shut down after 10 minutes.
  • A single license for Reflection is $14.99. It's $49.99 for 5 licenses.
  • You can choose to have an iPad or iPhone frame to be displayed around the screen. Or, you can choose to go full screen on the Mac. Full screen doesn't scale to take up the entire display unless you set it to a low resolution.
  • When mirroring, rotate the device's screen and it will appear rotated on the Mac as well.
  • The Mac and the device must be on the same Wi-Fi network.
  • You can set Reflection to require a password from the device before it can AirPlay to your computer. This is important so that not just anyone can suddenly have their iPad show up on your screen.
  • Since a device's screen is streamed across WiFi, slower or busier networks may not perform very well, especially when there are lots of moving graphics onscreen.
  • AirPlay might not work on your school or organization's network. If it doesn't work, you could set up a computer-to-computer network on your Mac and connect iPad to that network.
  • You cannot control iPad from your Mac. Clicking or typing on the iPad in Reflection will do nothing.
  • Install Reflection on your Mac connected to your Smart Board or ActivBoard and you'll be able to mirror your device on the whiteboard. However, you cannot control iPad through the whiteboard. The only way to interact with iPad is through its touchscreen or using a Bluetooth keyboard.
  • Some apps do not mirror. For example, the Videos app will show only the video over AirPlay and display the controls on iPad's screen. Similarly, PaperPort Notes displays the document over AirPlay, but the app's tools are only visible on iPad. This works the same when mirrored with an adapter as well.
  • The gestures performed on iPad's screen cannot be seen through AirPlay, so your audience cannot see your tapping, touching, swiping, pinching, etc.

There used to be a Mac app that did something similar to Reflection called Banana TV. However, development stopped on Banana TV because Apple kept changing aspects of AirPlay with each new iOS update. The developer couldn't keep up. Hopefully Reflection will continue to work with future updates because it's what I've been waiting for!

Update March 22, 2012
In the last couple of weeks I've used Reflection for several workshops and for screencasting. There are still some bugs to be worked out, in particular how large iPad appears on the Mac screen. I found that the image of my iPad's screen would often freeze on the Mac. That's not a good thing when I am happily demoing an app and I think the audience is following along.  I also found that some apps cause Reflection to suddenly quit. Apps that record audio seem to cause the shutdowns. This might not be Reflection's fault. The Sock Puppets, PuppetPals, and i Tell a Story apps also causes the AirPlay connection to drop on an Apple TV. 

Released the same week as Reflection is similar software called AirServer. It's very similar to Reflection and the cost is a little less. AirServer has a 7 day free trial.

Update May 7, 2012
AirServer now has a version for PCs!  This means Windows computers can be used for wireless mirroring. Read more in my post Wireless Mirroring from iPad to PC Now a Reality