Overheard: ipads used as recording devices

Although, these days I am busy with the ipad developing an old school/new school scavenger hunt for the Grade 8 English class ( I will publish it when it is done), I haven’t done any ipad explorations with this blog in mind.

Imagine my happiness when the Mme. Science Humaines teacher came in today to borrow the ipad lab, saying she was going to use it in her class. Today she used it for research. The girls emailed themselves a document they made in keynote with their notes and next week they will film their group discussions with the ipads. That way, Mme Science Humaines, who cannot be in two places at once (I know. Slacker.) will have a better idea of the caliber of the talky talk.

A few minutes later, Ms. Drama Teacher came up to borrow a stack of books on costumes for her class tomorrow. She told me she has booked the ipad for the same purpose- the girls are going to give presentations and film themselves with the ipads! What a great, easy way to get the girls to see where they need to improve in their dramaticalness.

I love hearing how the ipad is being used around the school- if you have done something interesting, noteworthy, etc. either with your ipad or with the ipad lab, let me know and I will feature it on the blog!

NOTES: How to delete the automatic mailing

I went to the lunch room today at around 2 pm, hungry and grumpier than usual. So when the very friendly French Drama teacher said he had a challenge for me, I’m afraid I wasn’t very gracious.

He asked me if I knew how to stop the Notes app (built-in to your ipad) from emailing a version to his inbox every time he edited it.

I said, “Just don’t use it.”

Ha ha ha.

I want to publicly apologise to said French Dramatical teacher for being so flip. I am usually much more cheerful about challenges, really. It’s just that there have been a lot of them lately and I hadn’t had my lunch yet.

So. Tomorrow’s post is happening today.

Here is how to disable the function that rivals auto-correction for the hellishly annoying thing about the ipad prize.

But don’t worry – it is totally fixable.

Go to settings–> mail, contacts, calendars –> Gmail

Turn Notes off.

I know. Duh, right? I should have done that long ago. Except watch out- when I turned mine off, I lost all of the different Note pages I had gathered up to that point, so make sure you have copies of anything important.

Then, when you are ready to email or print your notes, just tap the arrow at the bottom of the page and email the finished version to yourself.

C’est tout. Tout fini. La fin.

RSS App anyone?

In my daily librarian meanderings, I look at a lot of blogs and websites. Some are so useful I go back to them again and again. Collection development, new trends in librarianship, in books, in education, friends, YA authors – you name it, I probably follow it.

IN order to keep up with all this information I use google reader as my RSS feeder (if you are not familiar with RSS feeds, they stand for Real Simple Syndication). You can RSS most sites that have this icon:

Google reader is a big part of my work life and my personal life and so, when I wanted to gather the blogs, and the websites I wanted to check in with regularly for the ipads, my first order of business was to create an ipad folder.
Problem. Viewing my RSS feed folder through google on Safari was, let us say, not ideal. How awesome would it be if I had an RSS app?
A quick search brought me directly to this:
MobileRSS HD Free ~ Google RSS News Feeder was so simple to use it almost made me cry ( I did spend all day yesterday trying to figure out why the hotwater tank on the second floor wasn’t getting any electricity- simple is good and tear-worthy).
I just entered my gmail address and my password and it downloaded all my feeds:
As you can see, all my folders are intact. I click on the arrow beside the subject of my folder and I can see the individual blogs or website:
  It also allows the same functionality as I have on my desktop. I can star it for later use, email it to people, add it to my delicious or share with my network of friends.
I am extremely thrilled. I might even populate that RRS feed with more stuff now that it is so easy to get on the ipad.
There are of course, other ways to aggregate your content on the piad, the more popular one being
Pulse: I think Ms. Brown, intrepid English Teacher and innovative ipad explorer showed this to me once and said it was one of her favourite apps.  The interface is grand, with stories from individual sources in nice, neat, scrollable rows.
You can also add your RSS feeds to it and then change the order of how you want your RSS feeds to appear.It took me about three times to get rid of the default ESPN feed though and it isn’t as intuitive. 
This is what happens when you click on a story.
Personally, I think I will use the first RSS feed for my Google reader, as the lay out is simple and allows me to navigate easier between the subjects. Still, I have to admit, I am getting seduced by Pulse’s interface….
A little drawback- some of the RSS feeds in Pulse will take you directly to the website and look like this:

Whoah, dude. Busy much?

As opposed to MobileRSS which gives you only the article in a clean, readable format:

I am getting old. I need a lot of white space.

Oh! And both Apps are free, so who needs ot choose anyway? I can use both!

                                                             

rAPPido Review: Are they getting it? Poll your class with eclicker

I heard about this when we were discussing the ipad in the school and was really intrigued by it. As I was engaged in one of my extremely unprofessional searches on Google (I typed in innovative ways to use the ipad in education) I came across this slideshow that reminded me of this use and led me to eclicker.

If you are confronting a class full of dazed looks, doodlers and sleepy heads, you can shoot out a quick poll to the class (assuming they all have ipads) and get the answers in realtime to verify who is understanding and who is not.

The eclicker host costs $9.99 and is necessary for the teacher to install. However, to answer a poll the students can download the eclicker app for free.

Some highlighted features:

  • Students can access it through any internet enabled device
  • You can poll up to 32 students at a time
  • You can edit questions on your ipad
  • You can add images to your questions

Friday Meanderings: two timeline apps and a nice frog dissection story

I am attempting to develop an information literacy session for the Grade 9 class to compliment their reading of To Kill a Mockingbird (confession here- I’ve never read it. Maybe I should get on that…) I already have a game that I played with last year’s Grade 9s called “Old School Research Quest” but I thought it would be fun for Old School to meet new school in the form of the ipad lab.

Here are my challenges:
1. The students will still have to find books on the shelves.
2. Once they find the information to a certain question in the book, to use that information to create a movie with it on the ipad.
3. Use QR codes to send them to complimentary sites.
3. Use at least one app for this project (besides imovie and qrafter).

Of course, that is a lot for just one session with them. I talked to Ms. Young English Teacher and we narrowed down the questions to about three or four key concepts she wants them to know about. The idea will be that it won’t be just about finding the information -but also using it.

Although the process has just begun, I’ve downloaded two timeline apps with the idea that maybe I could use it in my quest. Here is a quick review of the two:

Timeline eons:

PRICE: Free

Although it seems fancy at first, the timeline eons shows you where a certain event is placed within history and other events. For example, I was searching for The Great Depression. It gave me this result:

I clicked on Wall Street Crash and this is what I saw:

Although it is cool to see what was happening at the same time, there are no links to more information.

Still, the searchability is pretty easy, the interface simple and elegant and the instructions detailed and easy to follow and find.

It also begins with the Big Bang, which is about as far as we can go in time (that we know of, of course).

LineTime:

PRICE: 2.99$

LineTime takes you through 2000 years of history. It works primarily by pinching the screen to either span out or zoom in. You can go day by day or span centuries (you can go as far as milleniums, but they only cover two of those).

If your finger is tired from all that pinching, you can also search by keyword, which is what I did. I typed Great depression and it took me here:

I was searching in Decades mode

If you click on the image, you get a brief article with links to external sites. WARNING: some of the links lead you to the wikipedia page. Not there is necessarily anything wrong with that- just buyer beware.
(I just realised something- the new ios now allows me to take horizontal photos and not just vertical photos-Yay!)

Searchability? Pretty easy although I got confused with which way I had to pinch to span out. But that is because my brain has been put on backwards.

Interface: Again, simple and elegant. Easy to use.

Instructions? What Instructions? I have to find them… Let me see if I am successful… Nope. Couldn’t find them. I guess they think their app is so intuitive they don’t need a basic guide.

A little arrogant, LineTime, a little arrogant.

Nice Frog Dissection story:

Last Wednesday we had our third round of girls come in for the QR Code Scavenger hunt. I was a little confues with our schedule so we ended up having a few minutes left at the end of the session. We let the girls explore the ipad and all the ipads that our tech guru has installed on them. About half of them beelined directly to Frog Dissection where they slit the forgs open and perused with glee its internal organs.

If ever there was an argument for the ipad, I think that was it.

Tired of washing you acetates?

And no, there is no dirty connotation here (except for dirty acetates, of course).

Then just use this lovely free app called Showme! It functions as a whiteboard app and when you use the projector with it, it is just like the old school acetates.

This came up when the lovely science teacher, brows significantly unfurrowed now that she is working with the ipad2, was trying to find an ipad solution to her acetate habit. It took us about five minutes to find a whiteboard app in the app store, download it and try it out.

I went back upstairs to my library queendom and received a phonecall about five minutes after. It was the science teacher who wanted to tell me that she figured out how to save it and, if she wanted to she could upload it and share it on the Showme online learning community. She said that she even found a presentation on her subject, Moles! I then asked her if she meant the hairy kind found on the faces of hags or the blind, troglodyte animals.

She just looked at me funny.

Showme features:

  • You can record over your whiteboard
  • Add images
  • email it to yourself
  • upload to facebook, etc.
One little thing: although it is very easy to “write” with your finger, a stylus for the ipad would be a good purchase. The rumour is circulating that Mr. Multimedia found an ipad stylus at his local dollar store so they are definitely available and for cheap.
Basically, it can be used the same way you use a chalkboard or a whiteboard without the white chalk marks on your butt or needing to spend hours at the sink cleaning your plastic sheets.
If you are currently using another whiteboard app or any other tool to help you deliver your lectures, let me know and I will feature it.
Thanks Science Teacher!

A Reconnaissance Trip into Keynote

So I finally bit the bullet and purchased key note for my ipad as I was conversing with Mr. Multimedia yesterday and he was mentioning how many of his students want to do their projects on the ipad.

In order to stay ahead of these young whippersnappers (or at least on par), I thought I would try to get a couple of slides together.

The Challenge:

1. Build a couple of slides (What? I’m busy so leave me alone.)
2. Add images
3. Add shapes.
4. Play around with the text box.
5. Add animation.
6. Add sound (this is the big one as I have heard rumours, since corroborated that keynote on the ipad doesn’t allow you to embed sound directly).
7.  If I can’t add sound, find a way to get both.

1. Relatively easy (as I had just updated to ios5 the other day, Keynote automatically took me to their tutorial, which I would highly recommend you try- it shows you how to do things and then gets you to try it. I learned many things, such as how to select two things at once and move them at the same time).

2. Adding images was also very simple. Just go to the little image at the top and add media. I went to my Camera roll and retrieved the screenshots that I needed. OH! I also used the replace option on the image given in the slide template- very handy indeed!

3. I wanted to highlight a section of my picture, so I went back to the icon with the picture box and chose shapes this time. I chose the circle.
Then to the i for the  style options–> Fill I was able to select NO Fill.

 I then turned the borders on, coloured it red (I like red) and tapped the image icon to get out of the screen. I did the same for my little line that linked my text box to the circled section.

4. The text box gave me a little difficulty (at one point the keyboard would not show up) but I finally managed to make the text smaller and move it around the screen. The difficulty I had was that I inadvertently made the slide zoom out when I was trying to move my picture and I couldn’t see half of my slide. Being the swift learner that I am though (no sniggering please) I figured it out and zoomed back in.

5. Animation. The animation functions pretty much the same way as it does in powerpoint though the nomenclature is a little different. Select the object you wish to animate and then click on the diamond shaped icon beside the image icon. It will take you to the following screen:

The + sign will let you animate the object at the beginning of the slide and the – at the end. You can choose your effect (I am partial to the anvil), the order as well as whether or not you want the animation to happens before or after the others or by click:

6. Add sound. Ahh. This seems to be Keynote’s Achille’s heel. There is no way to create a soundtrack to your presentation through the ipad keynote. Why, is beyond me- all the tools necessary to do so are available. It is one of those anomalies of reason- a black hole in the order of things.

However, there is a way around it, though the animations will be lost. Take screen shots of your slides, then go to imovie. Insert the slides via the camera roll and then click on the icon of the microphone to record. I had to zoom my slides a little (done by pinching the image) so that imovie showed the whole slide:

I also had to retake my voice recording about 5 times, but that was because I realised too late that I speak with a lot of umms and ahhhs.

Here is the final version:

Okay. Maybe not a work of genius, but it gets the point across.
Thus our reconnaissance mission concludes successfully!

rAPPido App Review: Three Free Math Apps

It is no surprise that my two daughters are not math geniuses. Oh, they do alright, but they have the genetics of two artsy fartsy parents to contend with. Let us just say that the multiplication table has not been a priority in our household.

I can feel the glare of all the math teachers right now. Is it true that every time you diss the multiplication table a mathematician dies?

I hope not. No dissing intended.

In fact, quite the opposite. I have downloaded two free math drills that are very basic- perfect for your child up to Grade 7 (then they better know it or else the Math teacher grows fangs).

The first one I came across was Math Quizzer. It has the look of an old fashioned chalkboard and you have the choice of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. The answers are multiple choice and your kid  can do as many as she wants.


The second is Math Drills Lite. This one actually makes you find the answer by yourself. It also allows you to do mixed sessions, gives you a counting line option as well as lets you change the settings. It also gives you brief sessions of ten, with the sound of a motor revving when you’ve completed all ten correctly. How fun is that?

I also just downloaded another free app called MathWordProblems .

Took this screenshot from their website. It was already facing this direction. I swear.

Originally designed for the iphone, it is a tiny screen. I wish I was a better judge of whether it is useful or not- but there are several factors that impede me. First and foremost, I am not very good at Math. Secondly, I am not sure how things are taught today and don’t know if this app would be more confusing than  helpful. If you are a math teacher, could you give mathwordproblems a whirl and tell me what you think? I tried to complete the first problem to do with eggs but even though I knew the answer, I couldn’t figure out the steps and it wouldn’t let me continue (oaky. I admit I didn’t give it much time.)

Also, if you are math teacher with an ipad, I would love to hear how you are using the ipad in the classroom. Give me a shout and I will feature you on my blog!

Updating and Syncing your ipad: A Friday Fright Tale

I have a very impulsive husband. I love the man, but he reverts to the equivalent of a child that can’t stop pushing the elevator button when it comes to new tech. So when I first brought the ipad home, needless to say I was not the first to get to it. Before I could think about it, he had attached it to my computer at home. My computer at home which is synced with his library. The one that has all my music, my audiobooks, my podcasts, my photos. My computer that shares its itunes library with his computer.

So when I finally began to play with it mainly for and at work, I wanted it to be synced to my desktop in the library, not at home. Every time I synced my ipad, which honestly, was only to transfer photos from ipad to desktop and vice versa,  I would get messages saying there are songs in my library that I do not have the authorization for on this computer. I would erase and sync, erase and sync and still get some error messages.

And in true me form, I would totally ignore them and go my merry way. I didn’t pay attention to the syncing settings. Didn’t really care what made it on my ipad or didn’t. Until yesterday, when I tried to update my apps and wasn’t allowed because I had not updated the ios on my ipad or updated my itunes library.

So before I could even start playing with my ipad, I had to update the ios.

Imagine the scene in a horror movie when the Prom Queen knocks on the front door of the abandoned shack. The door creaks open on its own. Your heart beats a little faster. She takes a tentative step inside.

That is how I felt when trying to decode the messages itunes was shooting at me with every click. I wish I had taken screenshots of all the messages I got so I could give you a visual of this minefield. The climax of fear though, came when I got the message that if I performed the update, I would lose all my apps that were not synced in my computer.

The prom queen’s foot is hovering on the steps that will take her upstairs now.

And I realized that I had never synced my apps to my computer. I have just been happily purchasing them from the apps store on my ipad, not thinking about back up. Luckily, the only ones I have purchased have been Pages and eprint, but still. I would lost a whopping 13$ in addition to a whole lot of time as I would have to go and re-purchase all the free apps I have bought in the last while.

The Prom queen is going slowly up the stairs now.

So, thinking of all these things after I had started the update, I did what the itunes told me not to do (once again in a nice, grey message box) and stopped the update. I then went to the apps tab and paused.

The Prom Queen is on the landing now, debating whether she should open the door to her right.

Of course the Prom Queen opens it (She is not very bright).

I finally hit the sync button, shoulders hunched up in a terrified flinch, when another message comes up telling me that if I don’t want to lose my apps, I should sync them to the computer. So I did. I then updated my software…

Wait a minute. There is something behind that door.

The screen on my ipad doesn’t look right. And I still can’t update my apps… I just shut off my ipad and will restart it. Hopefully this will help.

I will save this post and come back to it later with an update…

Okay. I tried again, and this time it worked. It backed up all my apps, and updated the ios. I could even update my apps from the computer (though I have to do it again from the ipad because I didn’t sync it after the back up was done).

Oh. And when I went to see how this affected the ipad, I realised the update was for the new icloud, which means that now, all my devices will be able to sync wirelessly. I will let you know how that works out.

So to conclude our horror story,

The Prom Queen opened the door to the dark, dark room, and called out, “who’s there?”

A tall, hunched figure began to emerge out of the darkness. Queenie backed away in horror her back against the bannister. But the figure kept coming closer and closer, not heeding her screams for help.

Paralyzed with fear, she watched helplessly as the figure entered the pool of moonlight seeping in through the hall window.

She let out a gasp and then a squeal of surprise- it was the ghost of Steve Jobs, handing her an ipad and showing her out to sync her devices through the ether!

All’s well that ends well. Wait. No, Like isn’t that Shakespeare?

Monday update:  although the software update was a success, it was like sanding the floor or painting a room- it looks good but leaves a hell of a mess to clean up. All of my beautiful folders I so painstakingly created are messed up and I have to re-organize my whole screen. Also there are some new features that I can see at a glance- Newstand (which has the same shelf as ibooks) and something called reminders. Click here to get to know your new features better (which I will probably do in subsequent posts).

Tip from Ms. Reich– If you don’t see all of your purchased apps on your screen- do not panic! Go to the apps store –> purchased–> not on this ipad and they should be there, waiting for you to re-install them.

Think of it as replacing the furniture and vacuuming the layer of dust after the contractors have left…