Free McGraw Hill Apps for iOS – Limited Time Offer

Free McGraw Hill Apps

In celebration of the forthcoming Digital Learning Day, McGraw Hill has a number of apps free in the App Store right now – the majority of which are usually paid apps. They are mainly aimed at elementary aged students, but definitely worth taking a look to see if there is anything you might want to use in your classroom. These apps are free as of the time this post was published, but will go back to regular prices after Digital Learning Day on February 6.

How to Update Books in the iBooks Store

Updating apps is easy. Your iPad puts a nice red circle notification on the App Store icon, prompting you to open the App Store, tap Updates, and see which of your apps are ready for the latest version. Updating books you have downloaded from the iBooks Store is just as easy, but not necessarily as obvious. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to do it.

Right now, there is no red circle notifications on the iBooks app to tell you that books you have downloaded are in need of an update. Hopefully that will change in a future iOS update, but for now, the only way to see if any of your books have been updated is to open the iBooks app and look for a number next to the Store button in the top left hand corner, (see image below). This number indicates the number of updates available for books you have purchased from the iBooks Store.

iBooks Store Update Notification

Tapping on this number will open the iBooks Store, at which point you will tap the Purchased tab on the black bar at the bottom of your screen, (see image below).

Finding iBooks Updates

You are now looking at your purchase history for the account you are logged in with at the iBooks Store. At the top of the screen, you will see two tabs. The first one, Books, is selected by default, but if you tap Updates, you can see a list of books that are waiting to be updated. You can update them one at a time, or do what most people do and just tap UPDATE ALL.

Updating iBooks in the iBooks Store

That’s all there is to it. The truth of the matter is, if you don’t visit the iBooks app very often, you may not even know you have any updates waiting for you. So, if you have a growing collection of texts from the iBooks Store, try to make time every so often to check in for any updates that the author has pushed out for your favorite reads! For more iBooks tips, make sure to read my earlier post with some of my favorite iBooks tips for teachers.

The NEW Animoto for Education

Animoto, the popular online video creation service, been around for a while now. In fact it has been “in the works” since 2005. I first used it almost four years ago, and I have revisited it many times since that first experience. Why? Because there are few tools that are quicker, easier to use, and capable of producing such a high quality finished product. I love showing it to teachers.

The site is updated regularly with new features, and it even has its own mobile app for iOS and Android. Best of all, Animoto has a free account for Educators. Today, they relaunched their site with a great new look and a new logo too, so I thought now would be as good a time as any to take another look at how useful this tool can be in the classroom.

Making an Animoto video is a very simple process. You start by choosing a style for your video. There are plenty to choose from, and each will add its own personality to your finished product. Next, choose some music. You can upload music of your own that you or your students created in something like Garageband, or you can browse through the library of songs that are built-in to the Animoto editor. Photos and videos can be uploaded directly to the site, or imported from a variety of social media sites. Lastly, you can add text slides, to help tell your story and give context to your media.

Animoto video editor

At this point, if you wanted, you could render your video and download or share it with others. However, there are a number of tweaks you can make to enhance your video. For instance, the spotlight tool will give more prominence to images you deem worthy of it. You can duplicate slides, rotate them, and change the order of them by dragging and dropping them. You can choose a starting point for your music, and pace your slides to the length of music you chose. After you are done with all the tweaking, you can preview the video to see if it is all that you hoped it would be. If not, simply return to the editing screen and change your style, music, or media until it is perfect. Videos can be downloaded, embedded and shared on social media sites.

Animoto Education

So, if you have not tried Animoto recently, or at all, you should definitely take a look to see what is there. Just be sure to sign up for the educator account (a $30 value) because this will remove the 30 second video limit you get with the free accounts. Once signed up, you will be given a class code that you can share with students. When students register for an account, they use this code to get the upgraded education edition of Animoto. Want to create your own student accounts? Animoto has a solution for that too.

Do you use Animoto in your classroom? What do you (or your students) like about it? Feel free to leave a comment below with your experiences.

5 iPad Apps to Help Students and Teachers Collaborate

There are not an abundance of apps for the iPad that really encourage a worthwhile level of collaboration between students or between students and teachers. There are several that would allow students to share an iPad and work on something together on one iPad, but what if you want students to be working on their own iPads at school, at home, or at a time of their choosing? The following 5 apps are designed for just that, and help take advantage of the iPad as a collaborative tool.

1. Rabble Browser – Spend a lot of time online with your class? Rabble Browser may be ideal for you. This app lets a teacher, or student, host a collaborative web browsing experience on the same wi-fi network. There is a chat window to collaborate and discuss ideas, a file browser that lets you share files with the others in your sessions, and a bunch of restrictions that let you lock the client app view, enable navigation, disallow chat, and allow voting. The app is robust, and a great way to collaborate with iPads in the classroom. Rabble Browser is currently $2.99.

Rabble Browser

2. iBrainstorm – In days gone by, sticky yellow notes would litter a desk or whiteboard to record a brainstorming session. Today, most of us do this digitally. The iBrainstorm app was created for this purpose, but it has a neat trick that is sure to wow first time users. There are two apps needed to collaborate with iBrainstorm – the host app (the iPad app) and the companion app (an iPhone app, which also runs on the iPad). You can have one iPad app and four clients connected at once. Students type on a yellow sticky note on the companion app, and then flick it towards the iPad and it appears like magic on a corkboard for the host to rearrange, edit or delete as required. iBrainstorm is free, and according to their Twitter feed, they are working on a native iPad companion app.

3. BaiBoard HD – Need a collaborative whiteboard space? Look no further than BaiBoard HD. It is packed full of features. Multiple iPads can connect to the same space. You get a choice of drawing tools, colors and line thicknesses. You can add photos, stencils and even documents that you want to mark up in real time. There is a chat feature and a push to talk function, the ability to save snapshots of your work at any given moment, and the option to share a URL for others to view the progress even if they don’t have an iPad. Boards can also be “watch only” if required. In short, you get an amazing amount for free and the developers are looking to improve the app wherever they can. Try it!


4. Subtext – Ok, so what if you wanted to collaborate and share a story or longer piece of text? Take a look at Subtext. It allows you to search Google Books for free or paid books, and the teacher can create small study groups for students working on a given book. Students, and teachers, can highlight sections, leave comments, and create conversations about the text. You can link out to the web and provide additional online content to add to the narrative or put things in a better context. It also integrates well with Edmodo and will import all your groups if you use your Edmodo login. Subtext will even let you share any ePub documents you have, or have converted to that format. Subtext is free and well worth checking out.

5. Ask3 – This new iPad collaboration app comes from the makers of Camtasia, Snagit, and Screenchomp. It offers students and teachers the ability to collaborate using video screencasts. Teachers create an account and can invite students to join their class with a unique class code, (no need for email addresses). Once the class is created, you create short screencast videos and share them with your class. Students watch your video and can leave a comment at any point in the video. These comments are shared publicly with the group, but can be used to help reinforce learning or clear up any misunderstandings. Students can even create a video of their own and add that as a comment to your video lesson, so it could be a great way to add some interactivity to a flipped classroom instructional model.


Do you have favorite apps for collaborating across iPads? Which ones do you use the most, and why? Leave a comment below with your favorites, and make sure to check out my iPad Apps page for more ideas on iPad apps for the classroom.