Monthly Archives: February 2013

Instashare: Free AirDrop-like File Sharing for iPads and Macs

Instashare

Instashare is a new app for iOS and OS X devices that lets you share files wirelessly for free over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. I’ve been playing with it on and off for the last week, and I have to say I have been impressed with its capabilities. More importantly, it could have some great uses for a tech savvy teacher in the classroom.

How does it work? Simple really. The Instashare app acts like a bridge between your devices. You send files from your device to Instashare, and Instashare sends it to a device within Bluetooth range, or on the same Wi-Fi network. Best of all, it works with almost any file on your iPad via the sharing menu. Simply select to open your file in another app, and then send it to Instashare.

It works with Pages, Keynote, Numbers, and anything you can put in your Camera Roll. It works with Google Drive, Notability and just about any other app that lets you open your final product into another app. Notable exclusions include the likes of Garageband and Educreations.

Free iPad Files Sharing with Instashare

In the classroom, this could certainly add flexibility to the use of the iPad. Imagine a collaborative writing project where each student writes a part of the story and then sends it to the next student via Instashare. The same could be done with a collaborative video project. If all students need access to a video shot on one iPad, the owner could share it with others so that they can work on the media in iMovie or other video apps.

Videos taking up too much storage? Students can share their iMovie or ExplainEverything projects with the teacher’s Mac, and then have them saved to a flash drive or burned to a DVD. Want to add a video from your Mac to a Keynote presentation on your iPad? No problem. Send it to your Camera Roll via Instashare. It could even be a useful way for students to hand in assignments to their teacher, although currently it does not support more than one transfer at the same time. Still, it does mean no printing, no email, no fuss.

The iOS app is free, and so is the Mac app (currently listed as BETA). A Windows app is in the works, and so is an Android version. It is unclear right now as to whether they will all communicate with each other, but I am sure that would be the plan. Transferring files from iPad to iPad was almost flawless for me and worked almost every time. Going from my Mac to an iPad was a little more inconsistent at times and occasionally produced an error message, but it is a BETA app so it will surely become more reliable in time as they continue to develop it.

So, if you are looking for a quick and easy way to transfer files between iOS devices, or to and from a Mac, take a look at Instashare. The free version of the iOS app is ad supported, but these can be removed for a 99c in-app purchase.

Advertisements

Not an ADE Today? Carry On!

The Apple Distinguished Educator Program

Today, Apple contacted hundreds, if not thousands, of educators who applied for the North American Apple Distinguished Educator program. 75 were chosen to be a part of this elite group, but the majority were left disappointed, and face a two-year wait before they can try again.

To those that were unsuccessful, I say take heart. You applied for the program because of a passion for learning, creativity, and innovation. You applied for this program because you were proud of your achievements in education. You applied for the program to challenge yourself and network with the best. None of that needs to change. Carry on.

Being recognized as an Apple Distinguished Educator is high praise indeed, but even if I don’t know you personally, I’d wager that you were already distinguished and well regarded for what you do. I saw countless ADE videos that were shared by candidates on Twitter, and around the web, and each was as inspiring as the next. North America’s Got Talent! Our schools and colleges need this talent. Carry on.

Your enthusiasm for teaching and technology will not wither overnight. The students and teachers you work with will continue to benefit from your knowledge and experience, and your stature in the education community will remain undiminished. You will still meet great educators that will challenge your thinking or inspire you to great heights, and the opportunity to share and showcase your talents will come again soon. Carry on.

So, if like me, you did not get the answer you were hoping for today, know that education is still better because of you. Know that you still make a difference in the classroom. Know that your imagination and invention is valued, and revered. Carry on.

Google Apps on the iPad: The Good, The Great & The Ugly!

Using Google Apps for Education on the iPad has not always been a pleasurable experience, but things are changing. Google is constantly adding new features and updates to its popular suite of online productivity tools, and many of these changes are geared towards making their services more accessible on all platforms. For instance, the new Create menu in Drive is a much nicer way to select the type of document you want to create when doing so from an iPad or other mobile device.

Recently, I have given a number of presentations on the best ways for educators to access Google Apps on the iPad, so I decided to share a slideshow of my current findings below. I have no doubt that I will need to update this presentation very soon, but I will be glad to do so, because it will mean Google has made yet more changes to make their apps more palatable on iOS and other mobile platforms.

Are you in a Google Apps school that uses iPads? Do you have any tips you would like to share on the best ways to use Google on an iPad at school? If so, leave a comment below.

Wallwisher is Relaunched as Padlet

Wallwisher now Padlet

Been to Wallwisher.com recently? If so, you may have noticed a change. The site has re-branded itself as Padlet. For now, the site can still be accessed at http://wallwisher.com, but Padlet is the future, so http://padlet.com will soon be the new URL of this popular collaborative workspace.

So, why Padlet? The developers say it is a nod to tablets as the future of computing, but also an almagamation of the words paper, wood and tablet – the ancestors of the original Wallwisher concept. Although the new name might take a little while to get used to, it does make sense, especially after the site’s last big overhaul to make it compatible with iPads and other mobile devices.

If you already have links to existing Wallwisher wall, or have some embedded on websites, they will continue to work as normal, even once they get renamed with Padlet.com branding. Otherwise the site looks just the same as it did a week ago with all the usual features you have come to expect.

While there are similar sites like Lino.it, Corkboard.me, and Murally, Wallwisher, or Padlet as it now is, has probably been around the longest, and there is good reason for that. Its evolution over a five year existence has kept it at the forefront in terms of features and ease of use for educators.

So, if you haven’t paid it a visit for a while, you should. There is a lot to like about this multi-platform collaboration tool, and the future looks bright.

 

The iPad Camera Connector Kit: For More Than Just Cameras!

iPad Camera Connector Kit

Apple’s official camera connector kit was created to help photographers transfer photos and/or videos from a camera to the iPad, but it really does much more than this. The kit comes in two parts – a USB connector, and an SD card reader. So, in theory, you can connect your camera via a USB cable, or, (if it uses SD cards), via the SD card reader.

Much of what follows is already well known in technology circles, but when I showed this accessory to a group of teachers recently, they had no idea of what else it could do. You see, it has long been known that there are a number of peripherals that you can connect to the iPad via the USB camera connector. Here are some examples of ones that have been proven to work:

  • USB Keyboards – Not all will work, but many will, and the ability to work on a full-sized keyboard, as opposed to the iPad’s onscreen keyboard, can be a major boon for some students with motor control difficulties, or those that may want to avoid hand fatigue when they write extended pieces of writing on the iPad.
  • USB Microphones – The iPad has a great built-in microphone, but when videoing, it does not always have the reach that you might want it to. So, things like a Snowball mic, and a long USB cable, can be a great way of extending the reach of the iPad’s audio recording abilities, and can even improve the quality of recorded audio too.
  • USB Headsets – This is probably less useful, but many believe that the audio you get from a USB headset is superior to anything that you might get from a 3.5mm audio jack. Personally, I think there is more to it than that, but it is still nice to have the option if you have a USB headset you are particularly fond of.
  • USB MIDI Equipment – Several USB MIDI devices can be connected to the iPad via USB and can be used in audio recording apps like Garageband. This could greatly expand the types of activities a music teacher may want to attempt in the classroom. A list of some compatible USB MIDI devices can be found here.
  • Other iOS Devices – Ever needed to transfer photos or videos from one iPad to another? A quick and easy way is to use the USB camera connector. The iPhone has a great camera, and so does the new iPod Touch, but editing video or images on that small screen is not ideal. Why not transfer them to the iPad instead!

Will all USB devices work? No. Only those that draw a very small amount of power, or some that are powered by a separate mains power supply. Also, a USB mouse will not work as there is no ability to use a mouse within the iOS ecosystem, and similarly a USB flash drive will also not be of any use here either. However, there are numerous devices that do work, so experimentation is not a bad thing. If you get a warning that the device is incompatible, don’t worry. That is normal, and may or may not be truthful!

If you have anything up to the 3rd generation iPad, you can get a camera connector kit (as pictured above) for $29 from Apple, or other authorized retailers. If you have an iPad Mini or a 4th generation iPad, you will notice that Apple decided to sell the Lightning equivalents separately, so they are $29 each, but you may only want the USB version. Most cameras in the last 4 years or so will have no trouble connecting via USB, and you can experiment with what else might work in your own time.

Feel free to leave a comment with any success that you have had connecting USB peripherals to the iPad.