How to Share Files, Photos & Links via Gmail on iOS

gmail default for ipad

One of the more popular posts on my blog of late was a post I wrote about how to make Gmail the default mail app on the iPad. It worked great, but it was a workaround and you couldn’t help but feel that there must be a better way. Well, today there is, because Google updated the Gmail app to make it do (almost) everything that you need it to do in order to use Gmail as your default mail app on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Here’s what you need to know.

First, you need to make sure that both your iPad and the Gmail app is up to date. This only works if your iPad in on iOS 8 (or later) and version 4.0 of the Gmail app (or later versions). You can check your iPad software version by going to Settings > General > About and looking for the Version number. For Gmail, navigate your way to the App Store, and tap Updates to see if an update is available. Once you have that under control, we can begin…

1. Open the app that you would like to have Gmail available as your default mail client to share links, files or other information. Examples of apps might include Safari, Chrome, Photos, Flipboard, etc.

2. Tap the Share icon and swipe to the right-hand side of the top row of sharing apps until you see the More option, as in the image below:

share more icon ipad

3. Tap More, and scroll down through the list of apps until you find Gmail.

4. Tap the toggle switch next to the Gmail app to turn it green and activate Gmail as a sharing option on your iOS device.

5. The three horizontal lines to the right of the toggle switch will let you drag the Gmail app further up the list so that it is more readily accessible when you need it to share. Once you have it where you want it, tap Done.

activate gmail sharing ipad

That’s all there is to it. The next time you find a website you want to share, a photo you need to email, or a file you want to attach to a Gmail message, simply go to the share menu in the app you are working in, and tap Gmail to open a new email.

So, no more workarounds, no more headaches, and no more wishing for things to be different, because Google has made the changes that lots of people wanted to see and updated their app so that you truly can use it as the default email app on your iOS device.

How to Use the OneNote for iPad Drawing Tools

onenote draw tools for iPad

Recently, Microsoft updated OneNote for iPad to include the one thing that iPad users were missing most from their Windows versions of OneNote – Draw tools. Given the touch capabilities of the iPad, this is a very useful addition. For the classroom this means students and teachers have the option to use handwriting in OneNote, or annotate existing notes, images and more with the new drawing tools. Here’s how they work.

The drawing tools are accessed via the new Draw tab on the toolbar. If you don’t see a Draw tab, make sure your OneNote app is updated to the latest version. Tools available include a thin pen, a medium pen, a highlighter, an eraser, a selection of inking colors, pen thicknesses, and a variety of palm rejection options.

onenote draw tools ipad

To start writing, select the type of pen you want to use then choose a color from either the four default colors on the toolbar, or from one of the 16 colors that reside in the color wheel. Note that there are only four colors to choose from with the highlighter pens.

Next, choose pen thickness. You will see that line thickness varies depending on whether you choose the thin, medium or highlighter pens, but there is enough variety here that you will likely find the thickness you want from one of these pens.

The palm rejection options are a little more sophisticated than the horizontal guard you get in apps like Notability. In OneNote for iPad, there are different options for left and right handed people, and accommodations are made for a few different ways that you might hold your hand on the screen while writing on the iPad.

palm rejection onenote ipad

If you make a mistake, the eraser can come to your aid, but it might not work exactly the way you think it might. The eraser will remove entire lines at a time, as opposed to small parts of a line. For writing, this generally means the entire letter. Basically, everything you draw until you lift your stylus, or finger, will be erased in one fell swoop when you use the eraser tool. In essence, it works the same as the undo arrow. Both tools produce the same results.

To add text to your page, you don’t have to revert back to the Home tab. Instead, you can tap the text mode button to momentarily revert to typing. Once you are done typing, you can tap a pen to resume your drawing activities.

All in all it is a very successful implementation. In the future it might be nice to see the addition of a shape or line tool, but this is a great start and it adds some very useful functionality to an already great free app. The draw tools are perfect for annotating over pictures, screenshots, maps and more, but many will just use it for handwriting, and as research shows, there is nothing wrong with that.

Creating Interactive Presentations on Keynote for iPad

interactive keynote ipad

I was contacted recently by someone who wanted to create an interactive presentation on the iPad. Well, there are lots of ways to do that, but I wasn’t sure exactly what they meant or what they wanted to achieve over and above a standard presentation. Polls? Quizzes? Videos? Live broadcasts? As it turned out, it was none of the above. What they really wanted was to be able to recreate the effect you can see demonstrated in the video below:

So, how do they do that? It’s easier than you might think and really just comes down to adding links to images that will jump you from one slide to another based on where you want to go in your presentation. This technique has been around for a while and was probably first seen in desktop versions of PowerPoint. However, not everyone knows you can do this on an iPad, so here’s what to do if you want to try it yourself.

1. Start by creating all the slides that you need. It doesn’t really matter what order you put them in, so long as you know which one you are linking to when you start adding links. Make sure you think about the hotspots you want to use as the buttons to link you to a different slide. The hotspots can be images, shapes, text, or a combination of the three.

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Flipboard Launches a Brand New Version for the Web

Flipboard for the web

Flipboard has long been a staple on mobile devices, but last week it expanded its reach even further to add a web version. So, if you don’t have access to your favorite mobile device, or you want a break from a small screen, you can quickly and easily access all your favorite articles online via a laptop or desktop computer.

To get started, simply head over to https://flipboard.com and log in with the same account you use on your mobile device. In the top left-hand corner you can choose from a navigation menu that includes Cover Stories, Following and Explore. In the top right-hand corner you will find a search menu, a notifications bell, and your profile icon.

flipboard on the web

The flip animation that takes you from article to article on a mobile device has been dropped for the web version, but otherwise it looks very familiar if you are used to using the iOS or Android apps. Some articles will open in a reader view, while others will open in a new tab and load the source website directly.

Hovering over an article with your cursor will reveal additional options like the ability to share the article via email, Facebook or Twitter. You can also flag articles as inappropriate, click the heart to “like on Flipboard”, and flip any article into one of your curated Flipboard magazines.

share flipboard from the web

Not all the features from the mobile apps make it to the web version of Flipboard, but the important ones are here and additional functionality will surely follow as the web platform matures. The important thing is that it is here, and that it makes Flipboard a truly multi-platform service. This is sure to broaden its overall appeal in homes, schools and businesses.

If you are a Zite user who has recently converted to Flipboard, or are looking for reasons why you should, make sure you read How To Switch from Zite to Flipboard for helpful hints and tips!

10 Alternatives to InfuseLearning for Assessments

formative assessment tools for teachers

Yesterday, it was announced that InfuseLearning, the popular, free online formative assessment tool, will be closing its doors for good on April 3, 2015. Those that have used it know that it was a great tool for teachers who were looking to gather data on their students to help inform future instruction. However, of late, it did not work as well as it used to, and ultimately this looks to have led to its eventual demise. So, here is a roundup of some of the best alternatives to InfuseLearning.

1. Socrative – It has been around for a while, but the recent 2.0 update gave it a much needed facelift and some new features to boot. It’s free, multi-platform, and a great way for teachers to get data on how well their students understand the content. They also have a great resource page with training materials to help you introduce this tool to others.

2. Kahoot! – If you’ve been to an edtech conference in the last 12 months, the chances are good that you have already been part of a Kahoot! quiz. Kahoot is a gamified approach to assessment, and it definitely adds a fun factor to a traditional quiz. Like Scorative, it can be used on any modern device. Read more about Kahoot here.

kahoot

3. Google Forms – Google Apps schools have been using Forms to collect assessment data for some time now, and over the years Forms has evolved to become an interesting online quiz tool. There are a variety of useful question types that include the ability to add images and videos. Pair it with Flubaroo, and you have a powerful self-grading assessment tool.

4. Excel Surveys – Not a Google school? Microsoft offer their own version of survey tool called Excel Surveys. It is available to Office 365 schools, or anyone with a free personal Microsoft account via Office Online. It lacks some of the more useful options found in Google Forms, but there is still enough to make it worth a look. Read more about Excel Surveys here.

5. Plickers – If devices are not plentiful in your school, then Plickers is exactly what you need. If you’ve never used it before, you will be amazed at how it works. You print out a collection of four sided QR code-like markers for students. They select the answer they want to give by rotating the card to the letter they want to submit, and the teacher scans the cards with a smartphone or tablet to record student responses. Read about Plickers here.

plickers.com

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Google Makes TeleStory & Toontastic Free for Everyone

toontastic free telestory ipad

In surprising news today, Launchpad Toys announced that they had been acquired by Google. Ordinarily, this may not be of much interest to educators, but as of today, Toontastic and TeleStory are completely free for iOS devices and that includes all the in-app purchases that were previously a paid upgrade! Both apps are great storytelling apps for any classroom that uses iPads. Both apps are current favorites with educators, but their newly free features are about to earn them a whole lot of additional fans.

GOOGLE buys launchpad toys

Toontastic, if you have not previously tried it, is an amazing digital storytelling app for the iPad. Teachers everywhere love this app because it is simple to use and has a built-in story arc that actively encourage students to build a well-structured story. I have seen Toontastic used in Kindergarten all the way up to high school. Such is the versatility of this app. It is also great for one iPad classrooms because several students can collaborate on the same story on just a single iPad by taking turns to out different characters in the story. Completed cartoons can be shared online or saved to the Camera Roll for use in other projects. Take a look at the new trailer for Toontastic in the video below:

Telestory is available for both the iPhone and the iPad. It’s an augmented reality video camera that lets students run wild with their imagination. It lets kids write and record a story in a number of fun themes like a news report, a space adventure or a spy movie. Using augmented reality, students become a part of the story themselves with a variety of fun video effects, and can even switch between cameras to vary the action. Great fun, and an incredibly motivating way to tell a story on the iPad. The new trailer for Telestory is below:

Looking for more ideas on how to use these apps? Check out LaunchpadEDU. It has stories, ideas and tips from other educators that are already using Toontastic and Telestory with their students. You may even end up on this page yourself if you share the way your class uses either of these apps!

Google is now making a habit of purchasing popular paid apps and making them free for everyone to use. Snapseed and Word Lens are two recent examples of this so who knows what might be next on their shortlist. In the meantime, if you are an educator who uses iPads in the classroom, go check out the newly free editions of Toontastic and Telestory. Both are well worth your time.

How To Do Green Screen Photography on an iPad at School

Green Screen Photography for the iPad

There are lots of great learning opportunities when you use green screen effects in the classroom. I’ve written about some of those before, but almost all of them involved green screen movies. What about green screen photography? Is that possible on an iPad? It is, because there’s an app for that.

Recently I was reminded of the ability to do green screen photography when I read a blog post by Dr. Wesley Fryer. He did a green screen photo booth at the Fall Festival of the school he works at in Oklahoma. Great idea. So how do you do it? It all starts with the Green Screen app by DoInk. The rest is easy! Here’s how it works.

1. Start by collecting the background images you want to use in place of the green screen. You can get lots of free, high-quality images on sites like Unsplash, Pixabay, Morguefile or Pexels. Once you find the images you need, save them to your camera roll by pressing and holding on the photo and selecting Save Image.

2. Set up your green screen, and make sure it is evenly lit with no dark or light areas. You don’t have to mount your iPad on a tripod for green screen photography, but if you have that ability, you absolutely should because you will get a sharper image more often.

3. Next, open the Green Screen app and toggle the Video switch to Image. This changes the operation of the app from green screen video to green screen photography, (see below).

Switch from video to image

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