App Challenge Sheets


I’ve recently been inspired by the simple challenges created by Craig Badura that give app-using educators a simple but engaging task where they can learn a new app not just by reading about it but by making something. As reported by Tony Vincent at, other people have started following Craig’s lead and making their own App Challenges – including me now – see the links below to download my attempt that takes you through a ‘Book Creator’ project and a Skitch project…




LINK: App Discoveries Book Creator










LINK: App Discoveries Skitch





More info on my iBook about how we ‘do work’ in an post-PC, iPad world


Hi everyone – there comes a time when every iPad using educator needs to contribute back to the communities that have fostered them. I’ve certainly had a great time doing that with Slide2learn – and for me that time has also come in the form an iBook. Its the culmination of a few years of plugging away with mobile devices and thinking that gee, not only do these look and feel different to a traditional computer, they can also do much of what a PC can, and lots more beside.

I’ve also always struggled with just how does when do ‘work’ on a smaller screen with simpler interfaces and skill requirements? The answer that many similar educators (and Kate Maccoll was the first I heard talk about) have come up with is the idea of workflows that chain a series of apps together to produce the end product.

Here’s some of what I’ve written – see if this makes sense from your experiences:

“So if the iPad is not a PC in the 1980-2010 vein, what is it? There’s a good reason why Steve Jobs chose to first demo the iPad while sitting on a lounge chair (see image at right). I myself am sitting on my couch re-watching Star Wars at 11:54pm on a device that still has 32% battery left despite being in use throughout the day by myself and my 5 year old.

This extra long battery then is one of the key factors that effect how work can be completed with an iPad, and set it apart from the need of PC’s to be tied to a more fixed location. 

Another is the simpler user interface that allows one to focus fully on each piece of work in turn. This means that instead of using a small number of powerful desktop programs that each do almost too many things as on a PC, a user employs a series of simpler apps that each do one thing well in a productive sequence. 

A third factor is the way files are managed. While a PC requires the user to firstly remember when to save files as well as where the files where stored and in what folder, iPad apps automatically save ones work within the app itself. 

Finally, the other key factor is the way touch and features like auto-sensing screen orientation create a unique experience while using the iPad (“it fits me”), something that makes it feel like the most personal of computers yet.

In listing what sets the iPad apart, I’m not suggesting that it is a replacement for all PCs, not yet. We still very much need those ‘trucks’ to deliver the computing backbone that the new era of mobile computers relies on. 

The iPad may evolve into a modular device with add-ons and docks once mobile chips catch desktop ones that can become both, but that idea also misses the point. It’s different, not wrong. And to get the most out of it when completing work, we need to ‘think different’ about how we use it.” 

Coming to grips with this is one thing – but adapting to it can be something else. That’s where the idea of workflows comes in:

Instead of thinking about doing ‘work’ as we do on a PC, lets instead take advantage of the unique characteristics of the iPad to do something different.

We’ve seen that these characteristics are the iPads long battery life, ‘fits to me’ personal nature, simpler interface, and ability to have users focus on one task at a time. When taken together, and matched with the experience of more than three years of iPad use, a new model of computing is emerging.

Across the web, and in the terminology of iPad users, this model is becoming known as ‘workflows‘ – where a chain of apps is employed to link tasks together to create the required final piece of work.”

One such example of a workflow is photography where on a PC users might use 1 or 2 programs. On an iPad one could use 5-6 apps in a seamless flow that is often faster and more powerful. So using a chain of apps like Camera – Snapseed – WowFX – Afterlight – Over – you can go from this:

to this:

Anyway, here is the official description and link – you’ll see its $1.99 – thats only really to cover the time thats gone into it - but its free if you’re ever in my corner of the world and come visit OR you can make it to 2014 in Sydney :) Hope it may prove useful.

Book Description:

“The iPad is not a PC. As obvious as that sounds, if the only computer you’ve ever used was mainly a box on a desk, or ran a desktop operating system with a physical keyboard attached, its only natural that the ways you attempt to use a new device will be dictated by the old paradigm. Instead of just sticking with such an approach, this book looks at the different ways that the PC and iPad have been designed to work, and then detail new ways that the iPad can be used for workflows, not just work“.

Download for iPad via the iBookstore or through iTunes on the desktop HERE.

Will You Mini? 1st thoughts on the new iPad by a teacher

So the much awaited entry by Apple into the smaller tablet space has now been announced. You can as usual get all the details immediately at It does look, just like with the iPhone5, to be an amazing feat of engineering in regards to its fit and finish etc, areas that often set Apple products apart and for which people are prepared to choose time and again.

My feeling however for schools is that the US$329 price ($369 in Australia) is too high to really trigger a mass takeup. Perhaps it will come down in price over the next couple of years, but for now – although the cameras are better, in other respects its identical to the iPad2. For iPad buyers, that leaves the smaller size as the main differentiating factor – which may be great for being out and about, and maybe for P-3 students?

I’d be very Interested in the thoughts of P-3 teachers on if they’d prefer the smaller size or the full size iPad. Also – how many would choose the mini purely to save $50 or so over the iPad2 (which I’m very surprised they kept around)? Maybe if you were buying a lot?

There is one factor however that is highly in the mini’s favour – step outside of comparing the 16gb mini and 16gb iPad2 and it becomes a different comparison. Many schools I work with I know are finding 16gb too small nowadays – so with the mini you can get a 32gb mini model for $479 when the only other iPad with that option is the full iPad at $649 – that is a major difference beyond just the size.

(Also consider however that refurbished 32gb models of the larger 3rd gen retina iPad are also selling at only US$469 [or US$379 for 16gb] now as spotted by


Kids Apps: as selected by miss 4

As tested and selected by my Miss 4 1/2 – a 3 1/2 year iOS veteran.
Nearly all of these have iPad and iPod touch/iPhone versions, and are in the free->$5 range (some also have free ‘lite’ versions you can try out).

Special mention:


This was the first app our then 9 month old used. Very simple of course, just tap the image that links to the sound being made. Ask what the name of the old iPhone that she uses is tho, and even to this day she will reply ‘Clara’ .

Her top choices (based on which apps she independently goes back to and spends the most time on):

Puppet Pals

- choose characters, move them with your finger and talk – and Puppet Pals turns it all into a movie. Great for imagination and developing oral language.

My PlayHome

- interact with 5 spaces in a play house – amazing level of detail and interaction possibilities.

Art Maker by Playschool

- free and provides great picture making options and scenes

Ansel & Clair

- a little more advanced, but even at age three this was a hit with lots of sections and animations to explore on a journey around Africa

Park Math or Draw and Tell, or anything by Duck Duck Moose

- all apps by Duck Duck Moose have great graphics and animation as well as songs and hidden interactions.

Red Writing

- aimed at Australian kids, it includes the right school font used by each state as kids practice letter formation

Montessori Crosswords

- allows kids to explore letters and sounds as well as to see how to use them to build words


- just a simple look around and find animals with some quiz questions, but this one has proved very popular on a recent week away.

Seuss Band

- Great for co-ordination and getting a sense of the fun of playing music

Talking Carl!/id417373312?mt=8&ls=1

- the original talking creature app – repeats what you say in fun and interactive ways – very good for developing oral language skills

iWrite Words

- a letter tracing and word making app with fun activities like tipping the device to slide the letters around

Me Books – Lady Bird Classics

- animates old classic books and allows you to record as many animal sounds or readings of the story as you like yourself.

Monster at the end of the book…starring/id409467802?mt=8&ls=1

- just pure fun as you drive Grover more and more crazy as the story unfolds

A little more advanced:

Pirate Treasure Hunt

- younger kids may require help as there are some great problem solving puzzles

Bartelby’s Book of Buttons volume 1 & 2

- a step beyond Pirate Treasure hunt with an involved story and puzzles that prove a great challenge for kids when they are ready.

Also – Moms with apps is the best parent site for keeping up apps aimed at kids:

iPad 2: whats in it for education?

So, version 2 of the device that has spurred the tablet computing market into the mainstream over the last 12 months (15 million sold) has been announced. Despite being a consumer device, it has seen massive adoption by professionals in business, medicine, and education. In Australia, there are iPad trials occurring in nearly every state, with over 500 deployed officially in Victoria alone. So it only follows that there will be great interest in the next version (to be released in Australia March 25). Here are the top 3 things that iPad 2 has going for it as far as education is concerned:
1. Screen Mirroring – Almost from day one of the release of the original iPod touch, the number one question that educators have asked is “can I display the screen on a projector or tv?”, and the answer has been “no”, then “no, but yes if you use a document camera”, then “yes some apps can, but its still limited”. Now FINALLY, the iPad 2 (and presumably all iOS devices going forward) will support full screen mirroring of everything via the VGA cable or the new HDMI cable. For showing apps and using the iPad as a shared whiteboard etc, this is a huge leap forward.
2. Lighter – apparently the new iPad is 15% lighter – just enough of an improvement to make it more usable by students. I know my first generation iPad does get heavy even for my adult arms after 15mins or so – for primary school students especially, the weight drop might be just enough to allow for extended mobile use of iPads without as much hand/arm strain.
3. Price drop of the old model – for now at least, the iPad 1 has had its price dropped by large amounts – up to AU$200 on some models – so its a great time for schools with limited budgets (ie all that I know) to do a learning and management plan, then purchase iPads at the cheaper price point.
So what does the iPad not have yet for education? As mentioned above, the iPad is a consumer device – its not been designed with the needs of education in mind specifically. So we still need a good system for managing and syncing more than a few iPads. We also need clarity around education use off apps and iTunes content. The hope is that the app volume licensing program available in the US will be extended overseas and enhanced with provision for iBooks and music/movies as well as apps. For Mac users, the next version of the Mac OS (due in around 6 months) will reportedly include iOS device management built in. Until then, proceed with caution; join an online iPad in education community, and create a good learning/management plan as always!
Planning resources: – beginners guide for iPad, iPod touch and iPhone in Education (updated regularly)
21 Steps to 1-1 – planning guide for deploying technology in education (this one is laptop specific – adapt for your device)
21 Steps to iPad success – Victorian Education department version of 21 Steps guide specifically for iPads
iPad in Education networks:
> Slide2Learn iPad/iPhone/iPod touch learning community and events.
> iPad4Edu iPad for Education Question and Answer site.

Posted via email from Jonathan Nalder’s posterous

Notetaking app for Education: Review of Underscore Notify

iTunes Link:

One of the most popular categories of iOS apps is that of notetaking, for obvious reasons. It is one of the areas where nearly all the benefits of working digitally come together to provide real enhancement of the teaching/learning process. There are several really good ones – Penultimate is beautiful for handwriting, Soundnote is great for recording audio notes that are mapped to typed notes, Smartnote lets you add all kinds of widgets and graphics to enhance your notes. But far and away the most useful, most comprehensive notetaking app I have ever used is Underscore Notify – I know I’m making this sound like I work for them – not the case. I’m just one grateful educator. Here’s a quick overview of its features:

- Type notes anywhere on screen; multiple font and text colour etc options
- draw, highlight etc again with multiple pen and colour options
- import PDF files or other documents to annotate and highlight
- import images as backgrounds or to illustrate notes
- use the built-in web browser to clip webpages straight into your notes
- use the built-in maps function to clip google maps straight into your notes
- add audio recordings to your notes
- built-in web server – you can share your screen live to anyone with a web browser
- VGA out- you can display your screen live as you create your notes or present pre-made pages
- hand-writing recognition (with PhatPad in-app purchase) – translates handwritten notes into typed text.
Of course just having all these features is no good if the app is too messy or complicated for them to be easily used, but Notify has a great inbuilt help function and tutorials (although these load from a website) meaning that it doesn’t take to long to puzzle out all of its extensive functions.
The obvious use of this app is for notetaking right? And certainly from the features above you can see how powerful it would be. But here is my usage scenario to illustrate how I think Notify can be by a teacher:
Because the VGA out / web-server allows you to share your screen, I have enjoyed success using Notify to present and facilitate a teaching session. I draft up a series of pages (slides) as an outline and fill them with some images, info etc, but as the session goes on, Notify allows me to add in web pages, maps, extra documents, whatever that enrich and extend the lesson – all right within the one app and immediately viewable by everyone who is participating. The dynamics that this allows fits in very well with my ideas of how the 21st century classroom should operate – flexible and adaptable.
Even better, its US$1.99 price AND the fact that its universal (pay once for the iPad and iPod touch version) makes it a no-brainer to download and try. It does experience crashes on my iPad (probably due to low memory), but seemed to always have saved my work when I restarted. The sheer number of features does give it a learning curve also, but as I’ve said, the help and tutorials sections are very good. Overall, 8/10

Posted via email from Jonathan Nalder’s posterous

#LWF11 Festival of Learning & Technology: My Best Of

I recently had the great opportunity to attend the Learning Without Frontiers ‘festival of learning and technology’ in the UK in January of this year. The conference itself had three streams of Handheld learning, Game based learning, and digital safety. I of course had been interested mostly in attending the handheld learning sessions, but it was in fact the lineup of amazing short talks (what we used to call ‘Keynote’s in a pre-TED talks world) that ended up having the most impact on my thinking.

(Collage created in Moxier Collage on iPad)
So, I’d like to share here which of these talks I found the most inspiring, and hope they may provide the great start to your year that they did to mine: (I’ll include direct viewing links as well as links to download the podcasts via iTunes).
Iris Lapinski – Apps for Good, a problem solving program for young people that leads to their apps being created using Android. Features students themselves talking about the project.
Theo Gray – Creator of the Elements App; Co-founder of Wolfram Alpha; spoke eBooks, creating media, and about the disruption caused by technology.
Bill Rankin – ACU mobile connected initiative. ACU in Texas, USA was the first university to deploy iPhones and iPod touches to all students and faculty, and they now have three years of data showing the initiative to be a success. Bill talked also about eBooks and the future of books and textbooks.
Abdul Chohan – ESSA Academy school UK – this schools was a failing school, until a re-boot saw iPod touches widely and smartly deployed.
Tony Vincent – Learning in Hand – Tony expertly goes through just what’s possible with mobile movie making.
Stephen Heppell ‘Education is the next cartel that people and technology will break’. Inspiring and disruptive as ever, Stephen was great at cutting through to inspire thoughts about what education should look like.
Jimmy Wales, co-founder, Wikipedia – A great opportunity to hear directly from the founder of such a central plank of the digital revolution share his thoughts on the power of information.
David McCandless – Infographics –
Just wanted to take this opportunity to say a huge thanks also to everyone who SMS’d and TXT’d in to support my shortlisting in the Primary Innovator Award category – the win was a  great surprise, and just goes to show the strength of the great networks I’m privileged to be a part of.

Posted via email from Jonathan Nalder’s posterous

Actual real-life teachers reporting on how iPads fit (or not) into schools

Hi everyone – well the amount of schools looking at trialing the iPad has just exploded since the device came. There is of course a bit of ‘shiny objects syndrome’ going on – but here is a series of links to some trials that are happening right now that we can all learn from:

Epsom Primary – current Vic DET iPad trial school

US iPad school pilot program wiki

iPad in schools Q&A site

UK detailed blog of unfolding ipad trial:

10 intriguing iPad apps for Educators

Amidst all the hype, here is a look at 10 intriguing iPad apps that may just be useful in your classroom.
This video was created 100% on an iPad alone.Apps:Time BOM, The Australian, SIB Romeo & Juliet, Popplet, AudioNote, Caster, ReelDirector, Mover+, TypeDrawing, 2Screens, and Paperdesk

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iLearn personalised learning unit: Journal 4


This will be the final journal of my current ‘how to learn’ unit before we hit the end of the educational year. Remember the intent of the unit was to shift the emphasis from me teaching to students learning, and especially to students taking responsibility for their learning. The unit has been aided by mobile, ubiquitous devices (in our case, the iPod touch) – chosen because of the power of such devices to put learning tools right into each learner’s hands.

First, I’ll report on how the last weeks of the unit have been going. As alluded to in the last journal, school events such as swimming and compulsory PD I had to attend have really impacted on how much time I’ve had with students, such that we will not complete the unit. Now, two things – first, this is still ok as I’d built the critical thinking/ making learning decisions throughout. Secondly, in reflecting on this I’ve realised that all units suffer from interuptions – I just need to plan less – or maybe not – perhaps I actually should keep planning ambitious units but just plan in agility for the sub-parts.

Agility really has shown itself to be the key to the success of the unit actually. Because even though I planned for reflective points every two weeks, some students only needed one week, some three to work through the ‘solution’ (app) they had found (duh!). To help manage this complexity, rather than go back to a one-size-fits-all unit, in this phase I introduced a data-base tracking where each student was up to. By displaying this at the start of each session via data projector, I could begin each lesson discussing with students exactly where they were up to. This database also includes a cell for student comments – I quiz students constantly about their app – what, how, why questions linking it back to their decision making and chosen focus area. These comments then form the basis of the review that students write once they either complete an app, or decide its not helping them.

So as we near the end of this ‘proof of concept’ run through of this unit, I must ask – did it work? I’ll answer for myself, and for the students. For me, what I’ve found is that this unit has been very hard work. Thrilling yes, exciting, but also – going uphill – ie. creating rather than just using an exisiting program, and stepping back rather than always stepping in. These are not always natural teacher behaviours, and despite knowing in my head lots about student-centred learning, the power of what is established (both for myself and my institution) has shown itself to be very strong. But I do believe in personalised learning, so I’m committed to this now.

For the students – I’ve had comments like – ‘why are we doing this?’, and ‘do I have to come?’ – exactly the kind of questions that students have always asked in regards to being part of learning support. Does this mean it wasn’t the revolutionary change the world unit I had thought? I hope I never did expect so much of it – what I did differently though when asked these was respond back with a question this time – putting the emphasis back on student decision making. I see that it will take more than one unit though to have students take full responsibility for their learning. But now they have successfully completed pro’s and con’s charts for example, they have begun to learn critical thinking. Some students have completed these independently to such a degree that I am sure they will be able to do this.

As for 2010, I’ve already started planning two additional units with the same approach but building on what I’ve learned. And I’d like to set up some ‘critical friends’ as part of this – email me jnxyz at mac dot com if you are interested!