iPads vs. Macs & PCs in Education: Pros & Cons

It’s a question you will often hear debated when schools look to buy new devices. iPads? Macs? PCs? Chromebooks? Which is best? The short answer is, it depends. None of them are bad devices, at least not any more, so it usually comes down to what is the best fit for students, teachers, and the ways that a school is looking to advance teaching and learning with technology.

For this post, I joined forces with Stephen Lai, from teachingwithipad.org. Together we compiled some of the more popular advantages and disadvantages associated with using an iPad when compared to a Mac or Windows laptop.

Why iPads?

1. Speed – We have all become accustomed to how fast our iOS devices wake from sleep. They rarely need powered off and the instant on gratification you get is hard to beat. In fact, if your laptop doesn’t have an SSD drive, the iPad will beat it every single time whether it is opening an app, waking from sleep, or performing some basic tasks.

2. Apps – Cut price iOS apps are getting better all the time and they are looking to rival expensive desktop software. Finding quality educational apps that will consistently enhance teaching and learning is the tricky part, especially when there are so many apps available, but it doesn’t take long to find the best ones. So, spend time researching and talking to colleagues about which apps are worth the money, and which of the free ones are really free!

3. Camera – According to Chase Jarvis, the best camera is the one you have with you. The iPad camera will never rival that of a dedicated DSLR, but it sure beats the webcams on a Mac or a PC! It’s a one-stop solution that lets you shoot, edit and share photos and videos captured on your iPad. It is also capable of producing special effects like stop motion movies or even green screen captures. This kind of creativity makes it perfect for a modern multimedia classroom.

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How to Add Clip Art to Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms & Drawings

At a recent Google Drive training, a participant asked me if there was a way to insert clip art into a Google Doc. They knew how to insert images, but they wanted an image bank of those cartoon-like clip art images, just like in Microsoft Word. Can it be done? Indeed it can. Here’s how.

Start by opening the document of your choice and going to Insert > Image to open the Google Image browser. Then select “Search” from the menu on the right-hand side.

insert image

Next, enter the type of image you are looking for in the Google search box. Results that are shown are labelled for commercial use with modification, so they are perfect for classroom use. In this example I am going to search for a picture of a dog.

dog image search

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Plickers 2.0: Classroom Clickers Reinvented

plickers

Back in March of this year I did a short write-up on Plickers: Classroom Clickers Without the Clicking. Plickers is an innovative assessment tool for the classroom that lets teachers ask questions and poll their class with the aid of one device and a collection of visual code cards. It is perfect for the one iPad classroom, or just about any classroom where the teacher owns a smartphone. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should, not least because they just launched version 2.0 of their popular service, and it has never been better!

So, what’s new in version 2.0? Quite a lot actually. Here’s a look at what else to expect:

  • Create full questions and answer choices – take advantage of your keyboard to write questions on the web and add them to your Library
  • Plan questions for multiple classes – easily manage and reuse questions across classes from your Library
  • Teach with Live View – Display questions and answer choices and share real-time results while scanning student responses
  • Keep things organized – Edit, archive, and delete; search and filter – we’ve got more options for you to manage your stuff
  • Work offline (or online!)Plickers will keep your data in-sync across the mobile app and website

Plickers in the Classroom

Join the iPadography for Educators Community on Google+!

ipadography

If you are an iPad teacher and you’re going back to school, here’s another opportunity to expand your PLN and learn some new tricks – the iPadography for Educators Google+ Community. It is free for anyone to join and is aimed directly at teachers who are looking to do photo and video projects in an iPad classroom.

I started it just before the summer and it has steadily grown to include a host of great educators. In the community you can post, or read about, lesson ideas, amazing apps, iPad accessories, and more. Got a question? Feel free to post that too.

All you need to get started is a Google account and an active Google+ profile. Both are free. So, whether you are already doing great things with photos and videos in the classroom, or are just looking for some new ideas, this community is for you! It’s a space to share, brainstorm, and innovate. It’s also a great way to connect with like minded people.

Visit the iPadography for Educators Google+ Community here!

 

 

Google Slides for iPad: A Good Start, But It Still Needs Some Work

Today Google finally delivered on their promise to release an iOS version of Google Slides. It is free, available in the App Store right now, and joins Docs, Sheets and Drive as part of Google’s productivity apps for the iPad and iPhone. Is it any good? Here are some initial thoughts I had after trying it out this afternoon.

Google Slides for iPad

It is great to have the ability to create and edit Google Presentations on the iPad, but you probably won’t rush to uninstall Keynote, PowerPoint or even Haiki Deck just yet. Why? Well, although you do have some basic formatting and editing features built-in, Slides still lacks some basics that you might expect to find in an interactive iPad presentation app.

For instance, you only get one theme to choose from when you create a new Presentation. That theme is not even a theme really because it is just a collection of white slides. Another drawback is the inability to add images or video. There is no option to browse the camera roll for media, or even to copy and paste images from other sources.

When you come to present, you can see your speaker notes in the editor mode, but not in presentation mode. That’s a little odd. There are also no annotation tools or laser pointers that you find in the presentation modes of other apps. There are also no transitions or animations.

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Roomle: Sketchup Style 3D Modelling for the iPad

If you have ever longed for an iPad app to do 3D planning and modelling then Roomle is definitely worth a look. It lets you design, build and furnish home or office spaces with ease, and it produces results that will instantly impress. It’s a free app, and it could be a great way for students to explore some 3D modelling on the iPad. You might even use it to create your own learning space.

You begin your design in 2D and draw out a birds-eye view of the room or building you want to design. Walls are easily drawn with a drag of your finger with measurements and angles included to give as much realism as possible. Pinching the screen lets you zoom in and out of your floor plan as required.

Roomle: Sketchup for iPad

When you have your basic layout drawn out, it’s time to add the details. The app has a library of different furniture and construction elements that can be added to your design. Chairs, tables, plants, flooring, appliances and more can be added. You can also add doors, windows, fireplaces and staircases. The library of objects may not have everything you want, but with hundreds of objects and accessories, there is a great selection that will doubtless have most of what you need.

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How to Collect Data with an Excel Form & Office 365 for Education

Google Apps for Education schools have Google Forms for surveying staff and quizzing students, but you needn’t feel left out if you are using Microsoft’s Office 365. An Excel Survey does very much the same thing, and it’s easy to set up. You can even do it with a free, individual OneDrive account if your school does not use Office 365. Here’s what you need to know.

Excel surveys are created online. So, you first need to log in to your OneDrive for Business account and click “new”. Select “Excel survey”, then give your document a name and click “OK”.

create excel survey

On the next screen you can enter a title for your survey and a short description or introduction for those that are filling out your survey. You can then click on the box that says to “Enter your first question here”. This opens a pop up box that gives you more options to do just that. So, enter your question, a question subtitle/help text (optional), and choose the type of question you want to ask. There are currently seven types of questions:

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