iPad: three intriguing early apps for the classroom

If a major technology company like Apple can launch a new mobile device and only 1 month later find itself selling more of them than it does of its desktops and laptops, and when a recent survey showed that more kids owned mobile phones than books, I’d say perhaps the move to a world of ubiquitous computing is getting closer.


The reality of this move (the coalface as teachers like to say), is the emergence of tablet devices, and as I’m currently testing one, please be prepared for a few posts around what I find.

My investigations of the iPad from the perspective of how it can enhance my teaching (as opposed to how it might be used by students) have led to me playing with three intriguing types of apps that I thought others may be interested in, two of which have the common feature of working via the video out cable of the iPad:

1. ‘Whiteboard’ type apps that allow you to draw on the screen but have the results shared up on a big screen. This brings all kinds of collaborative planning/ visual definition applications to mind as I think about classroom use. Some of these apps even allow audio to be recorded while the session is going on – brilliant for students who need to review what occurred. I’m testing JotBook and PaperDesk in this category (both have free lite versions).

2. Apps that get around the ‘must be implemented by individual apps’ limitation of the iPad video out by combining multiple functions. Basically, they allow you to show all kinds of file types, from powerpoint/ keynote, PDFs, Word, images – and even web pages via built in browsers – all from within the one app. As a teacher, I can imagine this allowing me to load all the files I need into the app via iTunes sync (or later via email if I’ve forgotten something), choose during the lesson/ workshop what I want to show, and during the session, switch to the web if need be as I need to also. The app I’m using is Big! Browser.

3. Note taking/ audio recorders – that do pretty much what the Livescribe Smartpen does – records audio while you take notes and allows you replay the audio by tapping on sections of your notes so you hear what was being said at the time the text was written. SoundPaper seems to be the best one in this category at present if you can see the potential for rich, searchable meeting notes for yourself, or automated podcasts of each lesson for students to review.

More to come…

iPad: first thoughts from an educator

Well, here it is- the much hyped iPad itself.


Several observations have occurred to me in the last hour since taking the obligatory unboxing shot above that I’d like to share:

1. My 2 1/2 year old, who is a 2 year iPhone veteran, upon first seeing it, took one look and told me it was an iPhone.

2. Despite the gorgeous gorgeous screen, this is currently my favourite view of the iPad:


It may seem strange, but this shot of it as a blank slate is how it most appeals to me, just empty ready for whatever I choose to (load on) make it. I think this personalization potential is really the thing that marks such devices out from others currently being integrated into classrooms.

3. It’s heavier than I expected. And it’s taking me a while to figure out to hold it. Do I prefer landscape or portrait? Actually most apps seem to have different functions according to the view. Do you lean it on something, or curl your fingers around it? How will it be used by the smaller hands of students.

4. The keyboard is brilliant in landscape on ones lap (it’s how I’m typing at present). I’m not a touch typist on a desktop keyboard, but I can type faster on this because A. It has auto-correction, and B. where the words appear and where my fingers are typing are so close, whereas when typing on a laptop or pc, I’m looking back and forth, back and forth from keys up to screen and back.

5. I can’t believe mobile safari still can’t be used to enter and edit text in some web pages, like say edublogs or etherpad. Writing this post in email and serving out by posterous is great, but I really wanted just to load edublogs.org like i would on my desktop and write. This is a big limitation, and potentially limits it’s use by students accessing me education departments LMS.

Finally, on my homepage are all the iPad specific apps I’m dying to try out to see what they offer on this new platform – consider these my fave iPad apps for now. iBooks and Adobe Ideas I’m especially interested to explore in terms of use by students.

photo 3

More to come…

Sent from my iPad

Presentation tool goes super mobile too

This is the IPEVO Point2View document/web camera. I’ve just got one after reading this excellent overview at Learning in Hand so I can show device screens (XO laptop, iPod touch) via projector in several mobile learning workshops I have coming up. Excited at how small and mobile even this kind of digital tool has become.

Posted via web from Jonathan Nalder’s posterous

Slide to Learn – guide for teachers (Beta)


For about 5 months I (with help from friends) have been writing a guide to using the iPod touch, iPhone and now iPad in education. Nearly every day I get an email or query as to how to approach deploying these devices in schools. I’m passionate that hard-working teachers not fall into the ‘shiny-things’ syndrome and just spend school money on whatever is the latest cool gadget – although I am secretly stoked that finally, most are actually looking at mobile devices rather than dubiously fixed IWBs.

To help answer some of the questions that these time-poor teachers have, there now exists THIS guide – www.slidetoLearn.info . It takes its name obviously from the ‘slide to unlock’ home screen of iPod touch, iPhone and iPad devices – a nice metaphor for unlocking potential. My favourite description of this platform is that it is a ‘blank slate’ ready to become whatever the user/ student/ teacher wants. Sure its not a perfect platform (no true video-out, can only act as clients of a desktop pc) – but its flexibility and ease of use put it at the head of all mobile eco-systems at present. (I’ll be happy to write an Android guide if I ever am able to get some devices).

The guide has five main sections – and is still in beta and receiving feedback – so please feel free to comment/ email back.