Entries in iphone (67)


Now You Can Upload Photos and Videos to Websites from Your iPad

iOS 6 adds a much-needed feature—the ability to use Upload, Select File, or Choose File buttons and links found on websites for submitting files. Previously, when browsing websites that have a button for uploading files, nothing would happen when you tapped it on iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. Now with iOS 6, tapping that button on webpages brings up your Media Library where you can select an image or video to upload.

Because of this simple addition to the operating system, you can change your profile photo on social networks, upload photos to a blog, insert a photo on a Linoit canvas, and submit videos to websites from iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch without having to install an app.

This is a big deal for schools using iPads. Email has been a primary way for teachers to collect student work (which often might be an image or a video). Email can be challenging to set up in school environments, especially on shared devices. Furthermore, email has file size limits—most notably you cannot email videos longer than 50 seconds using iOS's Email app.

So being able to simply navigate to a website or course management system and upload is handy. I love that there's no need for a separate app, which is the way many sites have dealt with the limitation. For instance, the only reason to use the Edmodo iPad app (aside from it remembering your login) is to upload photos and video. And it has been a multi-step process to add media to an Edmodo post from a device's photo library. With iOS 6, you can simply upload directly to a post on Edmodo by tapping the File link. It's so great that the File link now works, even though it feels like it should have worked like this from the beginning.

A handy way to collect student work is with Drop It To Me. It's a free service that gives you a URL where others can upload files directly into your Dropbox account. Students do not need a Dropbox account, only the teacher receiving the files needs one. Before signing up for Drop It To Me, you to sign up for a Dropbox accountDrop It To Me works well for collecting videos from Apple devices. Drop It To Me has a file size limit of 75 MB, which should be large enough to accept a video that's six minutes in length. Students can simply go to a teacher's Drop It To Me page, input the page's password, and select a file to upload. The video then shows up in the teacher's Dropbox. However, because you cannot change the name of an image in your Photo Library, photos submitted through Drop It To Me overwrite each other because they have the same file name. 

It sure would be nice to also be able to upload other files types, like PDF, Pages, and Word documents. Apple doesn't give us access to a device's file system, so don't expect this kind of functionally any time soon. We're lucky they let us upload photo and video files...


Limit an iOS Device to Running a Single App

Apple has introduced Guided Access in iOS 6. It keeps your device in a single app and allows you to control which features are available. 

Locking a mobile device into a single app has been a request of parents and educators for some time. Using Guided Access to limit an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch to one app can be handy when you want a child to remain on task and focused. It is also nice for youngsters who might accidentally click the Home button.

To start Guided Access: 

  1. Launch the Settings App.
  2. Go to General and choose Accessibility.
  3. Turn Guided Access On.
  4. Set a passcode.
  5. Launch the app you want lock the device into.
  6. Triple-click the Home button.
  7. You can choose to disable touch or motion in addition to disabling the Home and volume buttons.
  8. Tap the Start button. 

To exit the app, triple-click the Home button and enter the Guided Access passcode.

iOS 6 is now available as a free upgrade for iPad 2, iPad 3rd generation, iPod touch 4th generation, and iPhone 3GS and newer.


Build Positive Behavior with ClassDojo Website or App

When I was a fifth grade teacher I made my own database to track student behavior on my Palm handheld. It was very effective because I could quickly take my device out of my pocket and with a few taps add a record to the database. In fact, my students knew exactly what I was doing if I looked at them and then started tapping on my device. My students knew I kept detailed records on how they behave in our classroom.
It was super handy to have all my anecdotal notes in a sortable database. It helped when I conferenced with students and parents because I had specific data collected over time. It certainly helped when completing report cards. And, for whatever reason, digital information is perceived by students and parents as more valid than if I had a paper notebook with my handwritten observations.
I used a Palm app (which is now an iOS and an Android app) called HanDBase. Years ago I wrote instructions on how to set up your very own class behavior database. Today, however, instead of buying the app, I suggest looking into ClassDojo.
I've been a fan of ClassDojo since I learned about it in the spring. Class Dojo is a free website and a way to track student behavior digitally. 
A teacher sets up a class on Class Dojo. Each student can have a cutesy monster avatar. After set up, start the class and can click any name to add a positive or negative behavior. The behaviors are tallied. If you choose to track negative behaviors, it's possible for students to have negative scores. The leader board can be private for just teacher use. However, the list of names and scores can be projected for the class to see. In fact, the leader board works well on an interactive whiteboard.
When class or the day is done, ClassDojo will show a report of the class' overall performance. Reflecting on individual and class performance and setting goals for next time can improve classroom climate. Teachers can always access a complete record for every class session for each student. 
Class Dojo has been very mobile-minded. The site works well on an iPad and through a mobile browser so teachers can use a smartphone to award behaviors when away from a computer.
And now ClassDojo has released an iOS app. The free app allows teachers to set up classes and monitor and track behaviors instantly. The app also has a random student picker.
So, before creating your own behavior-tracking database, check out ClassDojo and see if it meets you needs. 



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. 


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, learninginhand.com. 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 i-nigma.mobi 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 qrcode.kaywa.com 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 qr.kaywa.com 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, TagMyDoc.com 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 TagMyDoc.com 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.

RecordMP3.org 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, RecordMP3.org 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 RecordMP3.org and a QR code. Or,RecordMP3.org can be used to record audio study guides, words of the day, interviews, reflections, skits--there are so many possibilities. And because RecordMP3.org 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 Mathtrain.tv 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.

DoTryThisAtHome.com 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 bitly.com 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 bitly.com when you shorten the URL, it will keep track of how many times that URL was accessed. There are alternatives to bitly.com, including Google's URL Shortener at goo.gl. Many of these shorteners can generate QR codes on their own.

Delivr.com 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 BingoBaker.com. 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. Classtools.net 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 teacherspayteachers.com.  


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 QRstuff.com. 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 QRstuff.com. 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 QRStuff.com 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. QRstuff.com 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 QRhacker.com. It doesn't have as many data types as QRStuff.com, 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 learninginahand.com. 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 Edudemic.com. 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 Edudemic.com. It provides a yes/no checklist within Curriculum Compliance, Operational, and Pedagogy categories.

Mobile Application Selection Rubric is from eSkillsLearning.net 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


iOS Math Apps by Teachers

You've probably heard of apps developed by kids, like Bustin Jieber by twelve-year-old Thomas Suarez and MathTime by fifth grader Owen Voorhees and his slightly younger brother Finn. It's really great to see youth creating apps. It's also fantastic to see educators developing apps. I'd like to tell you about two new math apps and the teachers who made them.

William Gann is a fifth grade teacher in Willard, Missouri. He codes his own math apps with input from his students. He started with an iOS app to help practice rounding. His newest offering is a game called 32 where the objective to to combine given numbers to make an expression that equals 32. It's a great way for students to apply their knowledge of the Order of Operations. 32 is available for 99¢ as an iPhone/iPod touch app or as an iPad app.

William has developed other math apps, including ones that address multiplication, division, prime numbers, and more. Search for William Gann in the App Store to see all of his apps. Also, check out the KY3 News story that features William: Willard 5th Grade Math Students are using iPods with Some of Their Teacher's Own Apps in Class. 

Kevin Scritchfield teaches math at Sierra High School in California. He worked with a developer to make the first of what he hopes to be many apps. This first app is for iPad and is called Alge-Bingo. Kevin says the game is great for Pre-Algebra and Algebra I students who are just learning how to solve equations. He priced Alge-Bingo at 99¢.


32 and Alge-Bingo are just two of the many great apps for math out there, and it's nice that they are brought to us by ambitious classroom teachers.




Craving more math apps? I'm keeping a list of good and (mostly) free math apps on my Pinterest board.



Myths about iOS, iPad, iPhone & iPod touch

I have the pleasure of working with educators who get to use iPads and iPod touches with students. Wherever I facilitate workshops, I find there are some myths floating around about Apple's iOS devices, and I'd like to clear up some of the misinformation.

iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch do not have user manuals.

Gone are the days when you receive a thick printed user manual with your electronics purchase. Instead of an in-depth guide, Apple includes a glossy folded-up single sheet of paper called Finger Tips in the box. You can hardly call this a user manual. But, if you want a nearly 200 page user manual, you can download one online or in the iBooks app.

You have to have a credit card associated with your iTunes account.

A credit card is not required when you create an iTunes account. Apple would be delighted to get a credit card number from you, but they do provide a way to keep your credit card number to yourself.

First log out of any iTunes accounts you might be signed into. Then simply tap to download any free app in the App Store. When prompted to log into an account, choose Create New Account. When asked for a credit card, choose None. The None option only appears if you create an account by first trying to install a free app. If you try to create an account in any other manner, Apple will not present the None choice and will require a credit card number for the account. Read my previous post, iTunes Account Without a Credit Card

If you have already given iTunes a credit card number, you can log into your account and click to edit your payment information. You should be able to select None for Payment Type.

You can buy an app once and install it on all devices in the classroom or school.

While it is technically possible to purchase an app once and install it on an unlimited number of devices, Apple's Terms and Conditions states:

If you are a commercial enterprise or educational institution, you may download and sync an App Store Product for use by either (a) a single individual on one or more iOS Devices used by that individual that you own or control or (b) multiple individuals, on a single shared iOS Device you own or control. For example, a single employee may use an App Store Product on both the employee's iPhone and iPad, or multiple students may serially use an App Store Product on a single iPad located at a resource center or library. For the sake of clarity, each iOS Device used serially by multiple users requires a separate license.

Individual consumers can sync an app to multiple devices, but Apple expects schools to purchase an app for each and every devices upon which it is installed. In order to buy multiple licenses for apps, there's the App Store Volume Purchase Program. Not only can educational institutions buy in bulk, but the Volume Purchase Program often gives a 50% discount.

The Volume Purchase Program is only for paid apps. Free apps can still be downloaded one time and installed on as many devices as you'd like. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I often share apps that have temporary become free. Simply document that you downloaded an app to a school account when it was free and you can treat it like any other free app (i.e. install it on class sets of devices). Read my blog post, Things to Know about Apps & Apple Devices, for more about apps in classrooms.

Once you fill 12 home screens of apps you cannot install any more.

It's true: you are limited to a dozen Home screens. You can fill those screen with apps, folders, and web page icons. However, once filled you can still install more apps. The catch is that the apps won't have icons on your Home screen. To launch an app that doesn't have a Home screen icon, you'll need to search for it. Access search by clicking the Home button (or swiping right) while you're on your first Home screen. Note: when you have filled all 12 screens, Safari no longer gives you the option to add a webpage to the Home screen.

You need a Mac to sync multiple devices.

For simplicity, I highly recommend syncing a class set of iPads or iPod touches to one computer. That computer's iTunes Library will have all apps, audio, video, playlists, podcasts, and iTunes U content in it. When you make a change to the iTunes Library, that change is mirrored onto all the devices upon the next sync. 

You can sync multiple devices simultaneously to one computer. There are cartstrays, and cases designed for this task. These syncing solutions all suggest using a Mac for syncing. The problem is that some schools don't allow Macs and some teachers are afraid they won't know how to use a Mac.

Yes, you can use a Windows PC to sync multiple devices. However, Windows computers tend to have problems syncing more than a few devices simultaneously. A Macintosh would be my syncing computer of choice because it does indeed work better (but a Mac can still choke on syncing 20 devices all at the same time). But if a Mac isn't an option for you, a Windows PC will be ok. You will have to babysit it more, perhaps by connecting just a few devices at a time instead of a whole cart at once.

I'm hopeful that syncing is less of an issue when iOS 5 comes out this fall. Wi-Fi Sync will work with Mac or Windows. Apple's website brags:

Wirelessly sync your iOS device to your Mac or PC over a shared Wi-Fi connection. Every time you connect your iOS device to a power source (say, overnight for charging), it automatically syncs and backs up any new content to iTunes. So you always have your movies, TV shows, home videos, and photo albums everywhere you want them.

Apps stay open after you leave them and this drains the battery and slows down the device.

You can view the most recently used apps by double-clicking the Home button. The apps appear at the bottom of the screen. You can flick left to see more apps. All of these apps are not actually running. They appear on the list simply because you launched them lately. Yes, some apps run in the background, like Pandora for playing music or Twitter for receiving notifications. But, most apps do not actually run in the background. They simply stay frozen until you switch back to using them. You can remove an app from the list by touching and holding the app icon until it begins to jiggle and then tapping the red minus button.

I met a media specialist who would manually go through and close all apps that appear in the recents list at the end of each school day. She thought that all of those apps in the list were running and therefore draining the batteries in her school's iPod touches. I can only imagine how much time it took her each day to accomplish this. Alternatively, she could have simply powered down the iPods. When powered back on, an iPod touch's (and iPhone's and iPad's) memory is completely cleared. However, the recent apps list is not cleared, which made this media specialist feel she had to do it manually.

In 2010 Apple's Scott Forstall was asked how you close applications when multitasking in iOS 4. He said, "You don't have to. The user just uses things and doesn't ever have to worry about it." Users do not have to management background tasks.

Apple's own support page states, "Double-clicking the Home button displays a list of recently used apps. These apps are not necessarily actively in use, open, or taking up system resources. They will instantly launch when you return to them. Certain tasks or services can continue to run in the background. You can distinguish most of these by checking the status bar."

So, in theory you shouldn't ever have to close apps. One exception when I do close an app from the recents list is when an app is acting weird. Another is when I'm done using my TomTom GPS navigator app. TomTom runs in the background and constantly uses power to detect my GPS location. It will shut itself down after a while, but it can eat a lot of battery power before closing itself. But, most people should never have to worry about it. If your device seems to be slowing down or the battery is draining faster than usual, simply do a power off and power back on instead of worrying about apps that may or may not be running in the background.

For a very detailed explaination about the misconceptions about multitasking, read Frasier Speirs blog post.

For longer battery life you should occasionally drain the battery completely.

We all want healthy batteries in our precious devices. There are certain things we can do to make sure batteries live a long life. For instance, never store your device in a freezing cold or very hot vehicle. Furthermore, be sure to exercise the battery by occasionally discharging and charging it.

Before modern lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries, old-fashioned nickel-cadmium batteries experienced a "memory effect" where these batteries would lose capacity over time if they were recharged before they were completely drained. Batteries in your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch do not suffer from the memory effect. You can charge these devices at any battery percentage and it will not affect its charge capacity.

I have spoken with numerous teachers who have been stressed out trying to completely drain iPads batteries because Apple told them to. Indeed, Apple's page on batteries states, "For proper reporting of the battery’s state of charge, be sure to go through at least one charge cycle per month (charging the battery to 100% and then completely running it down)." Notice that Apple doesn't claim this is for the battery's health; it's simply so the battery meter is more accurate. Personally, I never run down my batteries on purpose. It's great if it happens by normal usage, but I'm not going to drain my battery for the sole purpose of pleasing the battery meter. My meter seems to be pretty accurate even without a monthly drain. On top of that, batteries have a limited number of charge and discharge cycles. Repeatedly draining a battery uses up some of those cycles. 

The screen scratches easily.

Handhelds' screens used to be made of plastic that could scratch easily. Today's devices, including iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, and most Android handhelds, use glass screens. While glass sounds like it would be fragile, Apple uses a material like Gorilla Glass, which is designed to be resistant to scratches, drops, and bumps of everyday use. Watch a YouTube video where someone runs a metal key over an iPad's screen, and you'll see it causes no scratches. Certainly, your device's glass screen can scratch, but not very easily.

Keys and other objects you might think would scratch the screen don't because of the inability of softer material to scratch harder material. Glass falls between 6 and 7 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. In general, materials with a lower hardness will not scratch a material with a higher hardness. Most metal is less than 5 on the Mohs scale. But, be careful with all your diamonds around your touchscreen because diamond scores a 10 for hardness.

As a cat owner, this is exciting: Friskies makes Games for Cats. They are free web apps that work well on iPad and Android devices. Friskies says, "The bare glass screen on the iPad stands up to our cat's claws with no problems." That's because fingernails, horns, claws, and other keratins are below 3 on the Mohs scale (and remember that glass is 5). Friskies does warn that a cat's claws will damage add-on plastic film covers.

Some feel more protected by placing those stick-on screen covers over their touchscreens. Often those stickers have annoying bubbles and they make the screen less sensitive to touch. I find them to usually be ugly and a hindrance. Apple does too because in 2010 they removed all screen protectors from their retail and online stores. Now, if it's likely a device will be dropped, then a screen protector just might keep the glass from cracking because of an accident. Furthermore, I know some teachers who love anti-glare screen protectors, particularly when using a device under a document camera.

The bottom line is that I don't want you to feel guilty for not using screen protectors. Your devices' screens are most likely going to be A-ok.


More Opportunities Belong in Learning Environments

I have the honor of keynoting the Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine's MAINEducation 2011 conference. I wrote the short article below for ACTEM's Electronic Educator September 2011 newsletter.

As a former Nebraska fifth grade teacher and current Arizona resident, I've been envious of Maine's ten year old laptop initiative. The state understands the power of integrating technology and learning. In fact, that's what Mobile Learning is all about—using tools at hand for educational and productivity uses.

The first reaction from those in other states when Maine's laptops are mentioned is, "How can they afford that?" School systems are scraping together as much money as they can to put technology in students' hands. At the same time, most of them ban students from bringing their own computers and devices into their own learning environments. 

Sure, there are some legal and networking reasons for being reluctant to let students bring in the very technology that schools are struggling to finance. But, there are many more reasons for allowing students to learn with their own personal tools. As a learner I would feel angry, deflated, belittled, and offended if I could not use my phone, laptop, tablet, and online tools as I see fit in my learning environment.

More and more schools are empowering their students by turning their frowns upside-down on personally owned devices. With smartphones, iPads, handhelds, laptops and the like always available to students, opportunities for learning increase.

Opportunities for Personalization. Students access content, software, and apps that meet their needs. In the case of Apple and Android devices, there are about half a million apps to choose from. Learners deserve a choice in what and how they learn, and mobile learning can facilitate personalized learning.

Opportunities for Expression. Students can express themselves and share what they have learned in so many ways, including audio recording, moviemaking, and document creation. There are even great online tools for making animated cartoons and super cool apps for creating digital puppet shows.  

Opportunities for Productivity. Mobile technology gives access to tools for organization and for getting things done efficiently. In addition to the typical note taking, calendar, and planner uses, savvy students enter their notes directly into a flashcard app for easy studying. Talk about being productive!

Opportunities for Access. Having technology readily at hand makes its use a commonplace occurrence instead of a special event. There's no seeking permission to go to the computer lab or waiting for the cart of laptops to be wheeled in. Most adults don't have those kinds of roadblocks to technology, why should students?

Opportunities to Use Real-World Tools. Personal and mobile devices are certainly everywhere today. People in the real world use technology for real tasks everyday. I think that school should mirror the outside world as much as possible because "playing school" fails to prepare learners for the reality of life. 

It's true. Technology in schools is typically bought, owned, and controlled by the school. Many are focused on deploying class or one-to-one sets of iPads, iPod touches, tablets, and laptops, but I think this mindset is an intermediate step to eventually having students provide their own technology. Not just because of expense, but because students will have their own technology they'll want at their fingertips. The technology they will bring will be highly portable and what students do and create will be digital and shareable. It will be MOBILE, and that's a good thing because More Opportunities Belong In Learning Environments.

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iPad/iPod/iPhone Accessories, Add-Ons & DIY

One of the sharing sessions at Mobile Learning Experience 2011 was dedicated to accessories, add-ons, and do it yourself projects for mobile devices. I took along many of mine to share.


Disclosure: I do not accept free or special deals on products. However, I make a little money if you follow a product link and buy from Amazon.


Speech Input in Dictionary and Translate Apps

Speech InputSpeech input is finding its way into more and more mobile devices and apps. Dragon Dictation for iOS came out in December 2008 and is probably the best way for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch users to speak into their devices and have it turned into text. The dictated text can then be pasted into other apps. Perhaps future versions of iOS will include speech-to-text across all apps.

iOS's rival mobile operating system, Android, introduced a voice-enabled keyboard with version 2.1. Any time the keyboard is on the screen, Android users can simply tap the speech input icon (or swipe across the keyboard) and then say what they want typed. The device displays the spoken words on the screen.

Android Keyboard

An app that takes advantage of speech input is the Merriam Dictionary app for iOS and Android. Users can search words by voice. This means that you don't have to know how to spell a word to look it up! The app also will pronounce the word, provides synonyms and antonyms, and contains sample sentences. Unfortunately, the free app also contains advertisements.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary App

An even more amazing app that features speech input is Google Translate for iOS and Android. The app translates words and phrases from more than 50 languages. For many languages, you can speak your phrases and hear the corresponding translations. Not only could this be useful for learning a language, but it could be a helpful communication tool for teachers, students, and parents who speak different languages. Translations can be displayed full screen by holding the device in landscape. Tapping a translation gives you the option to copy the text for use in other apps. As the comments to this post indicate, beware when relying on technology to communicate. You may not be expressing what you actually mean or the translation could turn out to be gibberish or offensive.

Google Translate

Of course, for speech input to work your device must have a microphone. Those with older iPod touches without built-in microphones can use Apple Earbuds with Microphone or very affordable mics from Amazon and DealExtreme. (sorry first generation iPod cannot use any kind of microphone). Going forward, pretty much all mobile devices will have built-in microphones because of features like speech input.

Microphone for iPod touch