Get Creative in the Classroom with Canva for iPad

Are you a graphic designer? Me neither, but when I use canva.com it’s easy to convince people that I might be. Why? I’ve written about Canva before. It’s a website that allows you to create a variety of stunning flyers, posters and graphics for blogs and websites with a minimum amount of effort. I love it, especially now that they have now taken the wraps off the new Canva for iPad app.

canva for iPad

Canva for iPad is extremely easy to use, and if you have ever used the web version, there will be almost no learning curve at all. You start by picking the design template you want to work on, or enter some custom dimensions for a specific size. After that, everything is a simple drag and drop away from the design that you want to create.

using images on canva for ipad

You can search for images, icons, and shapes that you want to add to your creation using the search button in the top left-hand corner. There are hundreds of free, stylish elements that can be used in your image, as well as a variety of background colors and textures. There is also an amazing collection of designer fonts that you can adjust the size and color of, and the ability to add photos from your iPad. When your image is finished, it can be saved as a PNG or PDF and saved to the iPad, or opened into another app to use as part of another project.

So, if you are looking to design some new images for your classroom website, or need something to spruce up your blog, the Canva app is a great choice. It is also a great tool for students to create posters, infographics, postcards, flyers and more. Check out the video below for more information.

Keedogo: Child-Friendly iPad Keyboards for iOS 8

I’m a fan of the iPad keyboard. For me, it does everything I need it to, and it does it very well. It’s intuitive, predictable and got a whole lot better with iOS 8. However, I am an adult, and a proficient user of technology. Younger students may not find it as easy to use, and they may not be able to remember the hidden secrets and power-tips for using the iPad keyboard. Enter Keedogo.

keedogo keyboard

Keedogo is a third-party keyboard app that simplifies the keyboard interface and makes it more colorful and appealing for students who are learning how to type. It is optimized for ease of use. For instance, there are only two keyboard screens, as opposed to the three layers you get on the standard iOS keyboard. The exclamation point and the question mark get their own keys that don’t require the use of the shift key to activate them. It uses lower case letters, has the vowels highlighted in a different color and can be used in a QWERTY or ABC layout.

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Sway: A Brand New Multimedia Presentation Tool

Sway logo

Today, Microsoft took the wraps off a brand new, multi-platform presentation tool called Sway. It lets you create dynamic content that pulls media from a variety of sources like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and OneDrive. There are a variety of styles and layouts to choose from but if design is not your strong point Sway will suggest some layouts for you based on colors it finds in your media. Everything you do is built with a simple drag and drop interface and you choose a variety of navigation paths for your viewers.

Finished creations can be shared with a link, embedded on a website, or shared on social media. Better still, your Sway presentation will adapt to any screen size  so that it looks great on all devices. Check out more in the video below:

Find out more by visiting www.sway.com where you can sign up to be on the waiting list for early access and see some sample Sways. I for one can’t wait to try this. It looks like an incredible option for the classroom and will have broad appeal due to the fact that it works on all modern browsers and has dedicated mobile apps on the way. A more in-depth look at Sway with a demo of how to build one can be found below:

Source: Office Blogs

How (and Why) to Add Links in OneNote 2013

We live in a connected world, so the ability to add links is a valuable skill for students and teachers alike. Here’s how to add links to notes in my favorite note taking app – the Windows desktop version of OneNote 2013. 1. Typing a URL The first method is by and large the easiest. All you have to do is start typing the URL of the website you want to link to and OneNote 2013 will detect that you are typing a web address and automatically hyperlink it. If the URL is on the long side, you can copy and paste it into OneNote and you will see that it also gets automatically linked on your page.

type links in onenote

2. Hyperlinking Text If URLs take up too much space on your page, or just don’t look right with the rest of your text, consider highlighting some text and linking that instead. Once the text you want to link is highlighted, go to the ribbon menu at the top of the page and click Insert > Link. In the pop-up box that appears, type or paste the name of the website you want to link to in the Address field, and then click OK. You can access the same linking option by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl + K on your keyboard, or by right-clicking on the highlighted text and selecting Link…

hyperlink text in onenote

3. Linking to Another Section/Page Another useful linking strategy is the ability to link to another section or page in a notebook. This can be useful for creating your own table of contents. There are a few ways to do this, but perhaps the most elegant way is to combine it with the method above. So, start by highlighting the text you want to link to another section or page. Then right-click on it, go to Insert > Link, or press Ctrl + K, to open the Link options menu. Now, navigate to the page or section you want to link to by clicking the “+” sign next to the notebook that has the page or section you need. Click the location you want to link to, then press OK. You can also get the link to a page, or a section, by right-clicking on the page or section you need and clicking Copy Link to Page or Copy Link to Section.

link to a section or page

4. Linking to a Specific Paragraph Need something more granular than linking to a page? Try linking to a specific paragraph. This can be a great way to direct students to the homework questions, or to definitions in a glossary. All you need to do is click on the paragraph you want to link to, then right-click your mouse and select Copy Link to Paragraph. Once you have the link you need, you can highlight some text, open the Link options menu, (like we did above), and paste it into the Address field. Anyone who clicks on the link will then be taken to a specific paragraph on a specific page.

Link to a paragraph in onenote 2013

Need an example of how all this linking can be put to good use in the classroom? Check out my lesson on the Microsoft Educator Network: Choose Your Own OneNote Adventure Stories.

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