iBooks Review: Student Guide to the iPad and ios6

At our first iPad meeting earlier this fall, a teacher brought up the fact that the Grade 7 class did not know how to use their iPads very well. Oh, they were awesome at playing games and downloading apps that age your face or allowed you to draw with friends, but in terms of using it as an educational tool they were, as we say here in Quebec, nul.

Now this should not be surprising to us. Or at least not to me, it is a logical extension of how students use the computer. They are awesome at Facebook. But still need me to show them how to double space a Word document.

So I was very excited this morning when I came across the iBook, The Student Guide to iPads and io6. Here is the description:

The Student Guide to iPads & iOS 6 was written to help middle-school and high-school students become proficient with basic iPad operations to support learning.

The price? free.

You must download from iTunes, not the app store as it is an ebook. Once purchased, go to iBooks and look in your purchased folder:


Here is the Table of contents:


It is a short, easy-to-read guide that covers the very basics. There is a very small multimedia component (I think I saw only one movie) but I am not sure the subject matter warrants anymore than that. The instructions are very easy to follow as they are written with middle school and high school kids in mind:


The text in red are hyperlinks to the relevant section. I used the Notes section to show how this can be useful- the notes app is not meant to be used for class notes or any other written text, but for miscellaneous items such as agendas, etc. The screenshot provided gives a good example:


This might be a good model for us to use in terms of implementing an iPad orientation session for incoming students. I think the big lesson we have learned in this, our first year of 1:1 iPads, is that the students also need training.

NOTE: This is also a great resource for those teachers who still do not feel comfortable with the device. Have a look!

Augmented Reality in PE

via Mr. Robbo

Here is an interesting use of augmented reality in a PE:

If I am understanding correctly, the aura functions a little bit like a QR code that brings you to a website or a video of the image.

Ideas of how Aurasma could be used in PE:

  1. Take a picture of a product, eg. Kraft Peanut Butter and link it to a video of the

    Price: free

    student evaluating the nutritional value of that product.

  2. Take a photo of an exercise infographic and have it link to a video showing the right form.

Okay. I’m tapped out. I don’t actually know what happens in PE therefore my bucket of ideas as to how to use this app is very very small. Phys Ed teachers- want to help me out?

However, I have already talked about the potential of Augmented Reality in this post and I do have some evil schemes for Aurasma as I plot an English project on Persepolis. [insert evil laughter here]

rAPPido review: iBrainstorm

Price: free

As the English department can probably tell you, one of the hardest parts for students when writing an essay is organizing their thoughts. Most students want to dive right in – start writing before they have any idea of what they want to say. Focusing on the before part of writing- of gathering all your points and then lining them up so they flow nicely into each other- does not get enough play.

I was thinking about this when I came across this review of the app ibrainstorm:

iBrainstorm is a free brainstorming application for the iPad and the iPhone. The app allows you to record brainstorming sessions using a combination of free hand drawings and sticky notes. You can share and collaborate with other users of iBrainstorm. Sharing notes and drawings between users in a local setting is a simple matter of “flicking” an item to another user.-free4teachers.com

So I decided to give it a whirl.

The interface is a basic cork board-esque background:

Nice, simple, and relatively intuitive.

The first thing I did was name my project (I get too many untitled documents from students. It is annoying):

And then I started brainstorming some possible scenes:

To add a sticky note, you tap on the square with the plus sign. I wanted to have my scenes  in yellow and my settings in blue.  Apparently you are supposed to be able to change the colour of the sticky note, but that option wasn’t working when I was trying this app out (just tried again and still not working- hmmm.) Hopefully this is just a temporary glitch.

You can also tap the pencil and draw:

You can collaborate with other people on a project- just tap the vibrating phone icon and it will “listen for devices”:

I think it must listen for a device that is running ibrainstorm, because it didn’t find any…I am trying right now to connect to iPads -I am still getting the wheel of death… Hmmm. Another strike against ibrainstorm- Although it looks like it should be very intuitive and minimal, the options they do provide don’t work.

You have the option to send your brainstorm session via email or save it to your photos:


Although I like the interface- it provides a simple and intuitive blank slate with which to visually map out your ideas, I am not so happy with the so-called collaboration option- as I write this my devices are still trying to connect to each other (I gave up). As well, the relatively simple yet essential option of changing the colour of your sticky notes doesn’t work.

In terms of collaboration, I would suggest syncspace, which also happens to be on the iLab iPads. It works better and the real-time collaboration actually happens in real time.


Be Professional: Turn off you Facebook Notification

A teacher was using her iPad as a whiteboard in her class when suddenly a facebook notification appeared on her screen. I am not sure if it was an embarrassing notification – I didn’t ask- but we can all imagine how it has the potential to be. Not to mention the fact that having a facebook notification appear in the middle of demonstrating the plus que parfait doesn’t seem very professional.

First of all. When an app asks you if it can send you notifications, think before allowing. Do you want this showing up at inopportune moments? (I mistakenly allowed CBC news to send me notifications. As soon as a story broke, whether it be during an exam, or four o’clock in the morning, my bloody iPad would start to sound the alarm.  All because Conrad Black made another stupid comment or Harper decided we didn’t need science centers. Which is terrible. We do need science centers. But I could have waited until after my first cup of coffee to receive that little conservative missile).

Second of all, if you happen to be a little tap happy that day, and allowed it before actually looking at what you were allowing, fixing it is easy.

Go to your settings. Right above the General setting, you will find notifications:


See if the app is in your notification centre:

If it is, tap the app you do not want to receive notifications for and swipe it off:


Easy Peasy!


How to share a photo stream

Via appadvice.com

I received this message earlier in the week and had no idea what it was:

Luckily I found  this site by Dom Esposito in my RSS feed.  His instructions are clear and concise and he gives you the option to either read the instructions or to watch a handy dandy video.

I know an art teacher who will be very happy tp see this new feature…Her students can use the iPad to take photos or do an art project then gather them all into one photostream and share with their teacher! So, so easy!

I tried it by taking a few screenshots on iLab 18 and sharing the photostream with myself:

Click edit and then select the photos you want to add to the photostream. The tap the share icon:

Then I emailed it to myself:

iLab 18 was feeling French today…

And voilà! It is in my camera roll!




Don’t Panic, but there’s two more versions of the iPad….

Sigh. This rush to launch the newest apple product has left me positively winded. Smaller! Better! Higher resolution!

yadda yadda yadda.

I comfort myself by repeating over and over this soothing mantra:  It’s okay. My device still works fine. I can still use it. I am not yet a dinosaur.

Here are some articles that talk about the impact the newest launch by Apple will have on education:

iPad mini announcement shows Apple’s focus on books, education

Read more…

Is the iPad mini Right-priced for Education?

Read more…

Apple iPad mini: Winners and Losers

(the author places the education market clearly in the winner side)

Read more…

Although I have just taken a cursory glance at the response to the new iPad mini, most of the tech talkers agree that Education is the biggest winner, of all the stakeholders for the following reasons:

  • Lower price
  • Smaller thus easier to use as an e-reader
  • New version of iBooks and iBooks author:

[ the new version of iBooks author is] an app that will make creating textbooks that work with iOS devices even easier for publishers. Textbooks are a big market into which Apple has expanded. The iPad mini is positioned to be a great educational device, where students can dump their textbooks, watch videos, take notes, and more.

-Phil Hornshaw

As you can imagine, these issues are debatable:

  • The lower price is not low enough
  • The small size also means harder to word process, etc.
  • The textbook industry is so far behind in coming up with a viable textbook publishing model that the fact that it is easier to make the e-textbooks is a moot point. (this one is my contribution.)

What do you think?

rAPPido Review: Teen Book Finder by Yalsa



Price: free

For librarians, autumn is not just a time of bright leaves and cool winds, of whirling dervish students breezing in on a wave of panic. It is also a time where the publishing industry gathers their troops and begins to publish the best-of lists as well as the shortlists for the literary awards. Which means I make a visit to one of my favourite and most informative site, YALSA (the Young Adult Library Services Association) to see what books I am missing from my collection. To my great delight, they have developed an app that searches all the books on all their lists of teen books, from the awards to the best-of lists!

My librarian heart is seriously going pitterpat.

The first page you see when you download the app is the hot picks of the day:

There are many ways in which you can search:

For example if you go into genre, you see an alphabetical list of books tagged with that specific genre:

A word to the wise: the Young Adult genre covers 12 to 18. As you well know, there is a vast distance between the two ages. The books reflect this diversity. There is a good example of this in the following screenshot, where you have A Clockwork Orange (obviously for almost adult teens) just above A Monster Calls (a book about a young boy who is dealing with the fact that his mother is dying of cancer).

Here is the bibliographic information they provide:

YALSA tells you what list it appeared on as well as a summary of the book. I happened to love this book so I added it to my favourites:

I tried to use the “find it” option, but it could not find a library with it in it, but I have it in my library so there must be some missing widget/software/something I need to get in order for the two to connect…

If you click on the award icon in a book’s bibliographic record, they will give you some information about the actual award:

This is a simple, well-designed app to recommend to your avid readers as the YALSA lists and awards cover best teen fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, best adult books for teens and even audio books.