Swipe to Unlock Learning with @Swipe_to

swipe on any device

Do you Swipe? If you own a tablet or a smartphone, you are probably thinking that you do it several times a day. However, what I’m really talking about is a new online startup called Swipe. It’s an innovative, multi-platform presentation tool that works in any browser and on any screen size. Here’s how it works.

Do you remember the first time you saw Nearpod, and your jaw dropped as everybody’s screen simultaneously advanced to the next slide when the presenter told you it would? Well, Swipe works in very much the same way, but there is no app, just a solid HTML5 platform that works seamlessly.

You start by creating an account, and uploading your content to your first presentation deck. Swipe supports PDFs, Keynote files, JPEGS, PNGs, RAW files and more. (See a full list of compatible file types here). Next, name your deck, and rearrange the slides as you see fit by dragging and dropping. Want to add a video? Vimeo and YouTube videos can be interspersed among your slides simply by adding the URL to the video you want to show.

Swipe Dashboard

Continue reading “Swipe to Unlock Learning with @Swipe_to”

How to Download Music and Video Files to the iPad

Documents by Readdle

Have you ever needed to download music or video files to your iPad or iPhone? The lack of a dedicated file structure on the iPad is an often maligned feature that leads some to turn against the iPad as a tool for the classroom, but it shouldn’t. At least not when there are free apps like Documents by Readdle, which have been created to help fill that void. It is one of the few genuine five star apps in the App Store, and here’s why.

Let’s say you are looking for some music to add to an iMovie project that students have created to demonstrate some of their learning. Your options are, initially, a little limited. There are some built-in soundtracks with iMovie, but there are only a limited number to choose from and none are any longer than 1 minute and 4 seconds. So, you turn to the web and find a good selection of royalty free music that fits the bill, but how do you get it into iMovie?

Enter Documents by Readdle. Use the browser in the app to navigate to the page where the link to download the music can be found, and tap on the file you want to download. The pop-up menu will give you the chance to rename the file and to save it to a folder of your choice in the Documents app. Once downloaded, you can select the audio file you just downloaded and use the Open In… option to transfer to the file to iMovie where it can be added to an existing project, or a brand new one.

Best of all, this doesn’t just work with audio files. You can download videos, and drag them to a folder that transfers them to the Camer Roll on your iPad. You can also download images, Office docs, and even zip files (which can later be opened inside the Documents app). As a teacher, this flexibility is fantastic for any kind of multimedia project. Just be sure to check that your students are downloading media that they have rights to use, and are citing their sources accordingly.

Of course, Documents is not just an app for downloading files. It could be great for teachers who want to access or organize files on the go. It includes some basic PDF annotation, and the ability to connect and access your iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, and other cloud accounts.  You can also save email attachments, save web pages to read later, and protect everything with a passcode.

I use a number of Readdle apps, and have always been impressed with the quality of them, so this is one to add to my collection. The video below is a quick walkthrough of how to use the Documents app for downloading files.

Setting Default Apps on the iPad with Google

If, like me, you are a Google Apps user who loves to use their iPad, you may have longed for the ability to have your favorite Google services set as the default apps on your iPad. Well, you can, to a degree, and here’s how.

DriveGoogle+ on iOSgmailGooglechrome

Today I saw a post on Google+ by Chris Betcher, a Google Certified Teacher and Trainer, that reminded me how to do just that. It’s simple really, and there is no need for workarounds or even jailbreaking your device, because Google has done all the hard work for you.

Whether you realize it or not, Google has updated its iOS apps so that they can talk to each other. For instance, it you click on an email link while inside Chrome, the iPad will automatically open the Gmail instead of Apple’s Mail app. The same applies for links that lead to a file in Drive. Clicking the link inside of Gmail will open the file in the Drive app, instead of Safari. Found an interesting link in Google+?  Tap the share arrow, and you can open it in Chrome.

Setting Default Apps on the iPad

Apple doesn’t allow you to set default apps on the iPad, so how is this possible? Well, it is all down to a bit of clever engineering from Google. If you navigate to the Settings in Gmail or Chrome, you will find a menu option called Google Apps. Clicking that, allows you to choose a Google iOS app to open something that may normally be opened by Safari or the Mail app.

So, all that is left to do is to wean yourself off some of Apple’s default apps. Mobile Safari is a great browser, and the Mail app is very solid too. However, if you find yourself in these apps when you would rather be in Google’s apps, all you need to do is shift your focus to using the Chrome and Gmail apps instead.

Using Google on the iPad can sometimes be a bit of an ordeal, but in case you haven’t tried it, the experience is very much the same on Google’s Android tablets. You can set default apps on Android, but if you use Chrome to access your Google Drive you will still be forced into the mobile view and warned that you are using an incompatible browser when in the Desktop view. Still, progress has been made, and Google’s commitment to mobile devices is clear, even if the support is not coming quite as fast as some of us might like it to! 🙂

For more information on setting Google’s apps as default apps on the iPad, watch Chris Betcher’s video below, and check out this follow-up post on how to set Gmail as the default mail app on iOS.

What’s New in iWork for iCloud for Apple Classrooms?

Hot on the heels of the recent updates to iOS versions of iWork and iLife, Apple have today announced some new features for their iWork for iCloud suite of online productivity tools. Recently I wrote about how educators could share and collaborate in iWork for iCloud, but as useful as this was, there were still some areas where you would hope for some improvement. Today, Apple addressed some of those issues.

iwork for icloud

The biggest changes are in relation to collaboration on documents. You can now see who is collaborating on a document with you, and where they are in the document. You can also jump to where a collaborator is in the document by clicking on their name in the collaborator list. In addition, printing and folder support has been added. 

Of course, Google has had these features for a while now, but Apple’s willingness to play catch up is clearly evident and hopefully a sign that they are looking to match or better the best that Google has to offer. A full list of changes can be seen below:

Pages, Numbers, and Keynote for iCloud beta:

  • Collaborator list: View the list of collaborators currently in a document.
  • Collaborator cursor: See cursors and selections for everyone in a document.
  • Jump to collaborator: Instantly jump to a collaborator’s cursor by clicking their name in the collaborator list.
  • Collaboration animation: Watch images and shapes animate as your collaborators move them around.
  • Printing: Print your documents directly from the Tools menu.
  • Folders: Organize your documents in folders.

Numbers for iCloud beta:

  • Reorder sheets: Change the order of the sheets in your spreadsheet, right in your browser.
  • Links: Create links using the HYPERLINK function.

Keynote for iCloud beta:

  • Skip slides: Right-click any slide in the navigator to skip it during playback.

 

Source: Apple via Engadget

What’s New in Pages, Keynote and Numbers for iOS Classrooms?

Recently, I wrote about the latest updates for iMovie, iPhoto and Garageband. However, the iLife apps were not the only apps to get a refresh. Pages, Keynote and Numbers also received important updates. These touch optimized office apps are default apps for a lot of iPad schools, simply because they are great for creating digital content. So, in this post we take a look at just what you can expect in the latest updates for Pages, Keynote and Numbers.

Pages

pages for iOS

• Stunning new user interface designed to match iOS 7
• Over 60 Apple-designed templates
• Your most important text formatting options are right in your keyboard, and always just a tap or two away
• Use comments and highlights to share ideas and feedback with others
• Animate data with new interactive column, bar, scatter, and bubble charts
• Use AirDrop to send your document to anyone nearby
• Quickly and easily share a link to your work via Mail, Messages, Twitter, or Facebook
• Anyone with a shared document link will always have access to the latest version of the document and can edit it with you at iCloud.com using Pages for iCloud beta
• Turn your documents into ebooks by exporting to ePub
• New unified file format across Mac, iOS, and web makes documents work seamlessly everywhere
• Turn on Coaching Tips for guided in-app help
• Pages is now available in Arabic and Hebrew
• Improved support for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean

Keynote

keynote for ios

• Stunning new user interface designed to match iOS 7
• New animations and effects including updated Magic Move, Clothesline, and more
• New Apple-designed themes
• Animate data with new interactive column, bar, scatter, and bubble charts
• Use AirDrop to send your presentations to anyone nearby
• Quickly and easily share a link to your work via Mail, Messages, Twitter, or Facebook
• Anyone with a shared document link will always have access to the latest version of the presentation and can edit it with you at iCloud.com using Keynote for iCloud beta
• New unified file format across Mac, iOS, and web makes presentations work seamlessly everywhere
• Turn on Coaching Tips for guided in-app help

Numbers

numbers for ios

• Stunning new user interface designed to match iOS 7
• Brand-new Apple-designed templates
• Animate data with new interactive column, bar, scatter, and bubble charts
• All-new calculation engine for fast performance
• Use AirDrop to send your spreadsheet to anyone nearby
• Quickly and easily share a link to your work via Mail, Messages, Twitter, or Facebook
• Anyone with a shared document link will always have access to the latest version of the spreadsheet and can edit it with you at iCloud.com using Numbers for iCloud beta
• Export to CSV
• New unified file format across Mac, iOS, and web makes spreadsheets work seamlessly everywhere
• Turn on Coaching Tips for guided in-app help

Now that both the iWork and iLife apps are free, Apple have some compelling reasons for schools to choose iOS devices. On top of that, the new iWork for iCloud adds yet another dimension. There are also some big updates for iMovie, iPhoto and Garageband, so it will be interesting to see what the future holds for these popular apps.

What’s New in iMovie, iPhoto and Garageband for iOS Classrooms?

As you probably already heard, Apple is making both the iLife and the iWork apps free to all users who activate an iOS device after September 1, 2013. However, in addition to making these apps free, Apple also gave them a new look and updated each one with a raft of features to make them more useful than ever before. In this post, we take a look at what’s new for educators in iMovie, iPhoto and Garageband.

iMovie

imovie for ios

  • All-new, streamlined design
  • Share clips, movies, and trailers to iMovie Theater and watch them anywhere
  • Full-screen Video browser with quick clip sharing
  • Adjustments Bar for easy access to audio and video controls
  • 16 new title styles
  • Three new transitions — Slide, Wipe, and Fade through black or white
  • Two new trailers — Indie and Family
  • Slow motion
  • Cutaway, picture-in-picture, and split-screen effects
  • Add just the audio portion of video clips to a movie
  • Detach audio from video in the timeline
  • Duplicate audio or video clips
  • Trim, split, and reposition music and sound effects
  • Adjustable audio fade-in and fade-out
  • High-frame-rate video recording
  • Share via Mail and Messages
  • Use AirDrop to send video clips and iMovie projects
  • Import media via iTunes File Sharing
  • 64-bit support

iPhoto

iphoto for ios

  • All-new streamlined design
  • Create and order professionally printed hardback photo books
  • Order pro-quality prints in a variety of sizes, including square and panoramic
  • Create custom slideshows that can be interactively controlled during playback with touch gestures
  • New photo effects, including Drama, Camera Filters and improved Black & White
  • Advanced search controls for filtering photo views by multiple criteria, such as Favourites, Tags and Flags
  • Share photos directly from iPhoto using Messages
  • Add national flags and currency widgets to web journal layouts
  • Improved support for panoramas in web journal layouts
  • Photos in the Camera Roll can now be deleted from within iPhoto
  • White balance controls now include an “Underwater” option
  • Panoramic photos are displayed as wide-format pano thumbnails in grid views
  • AirDrop photos, web journals and slideshows to other iOS 7 devices
  • New image processing system for improved rendering and performance
  • 64-bit support

Garageband

garageband for ios

  • All-new streamlined design
  • Create a song with up to 32 tracks* using Touch Instruments, audio recordings, and loops – Requires devices with the A7 chip.16 tracks available on iPhone 5c, iPhone 5, iPhone 4s, iPad (4th generation), iPad (3rd generation), iPad 2, iPad mini, and iPod touch (5th generation)
  • Record compatible Third-Party music apps using Inter-App Audio in iOS 7
  • Drag and drop audio recordings to create Sampler instruments
  • Support for AirDrop in iOS 7
  • 64-bit support

Have you updated your iLife apps yet? Which changes are you most excited about? Be sure to check out the updates for Pages, Keynote and Numbers, because they also got some very worthwhile upgrades too.

An Inside Look the New Snagit for Chrome!

As part of the Snagit for Chrome Beta testing group, I have had the chance to spend a few days with an early build of TechSmith’s latest product ahead of its official launch on November 19. I also attended a hangout with three of the developers yesterday as they answered questions and gave us a look at what to expect in the future. Here’s what we know so far!

Snagit for Chrome is based on the Snagit app for Windows and Mac that many educators know and love. It comes in the form of an extension and an app. The extension lives in your browser bar with the rest of your Chrome extensions, and is used to take screenshots of whatever you want to capture inside of Chrome. The app is launched as soon as your screenshot is captured and allows you the ability to add annotations or view previous captures.

Snagit for Chrome App

Annotation tools are a little basic right now, but they do the job, and a text tool is definitely in the works for a future release. Captured screenshots are automatically saved to a folder in your Google Drive called TechSmith, and to a Library view in the app itself. There is a share button in the bottom left of the screen that generates a link for you to share with others so that you don’t need to go to your Drive to get that. You can even go back and edit your annotations and the changes will sync to Google Drive automatically.

Snagit for Chrome Library

What else do you need to know? Snagit for Chrome will work in all instances of the Chrome browser, so that includes Chromebooks too, and it will also be free for all users. Paid upgrades may be available further down the line, but the core tool will always be free. Right now, it does not include the ability to capture video or audio. TechSmith say that there are just too many limitations on Google’s side to allow that to happen right now, but they will add that functionality as soon as it is made available to them. Another limitation right now is the ability to capture the omnibar, tabs and the bookmarks bar. You just can’t do that right now, but that may also be an option in the future.

Speaking of the future, TechSmith has all kinds of great ideas for future implementation, some of which includes the ability to collaborate on a shared screenshot, or the addition of a free draw tool. Better still, they are dying to hear what features educators want to see in future versions of Snagit for Chrome, so you can leave your best ideas over at http://feedback.techsmith.com and get notified when they are approved for inclusion in the next version.

Want to try out the new Snagit for Chrome Beta for yourself? You can! Sign up for the Beta test group right here, and take a look at the video demo below from TechSmith. It includes a lot of great discussion and has questions and answers from educators like me! 🙂 (The demo starts around the 12m 45s mark). Otherwise, the full launch is scheduled for November 19, so mark the date in your calendars!

Overall, I really like Snagit for Chrome. Right now it shares a lot of the same functionality with rival extensions like the Awesome Screenshot tool, but it is the potential of this product that excites me the most. When you have the backing of a company like TechSmith, you know that they will not be resting on their laurels. New features will be arriving thick and fast, and Snagit for Chrome will get better and better as time goes on.

Are you excited by Snagit for Chrome? What would you most like to see included in future versions? Leave a comment below, and be sure to share your feedback with TechSmith too.

Take Control: Customize the New Google App Launcher

App Launcher Customizer for Google

The famous black bar is gone, and has been replaced with a new icon based app launcher. Personally, I like it, but I know there are still some that are having trouble letting go of that iconic horizontal menu. However, there is a great Chrome extension that will help make that transition just a little bit easier – App Launcher Customizer for Google.

Once installed, you have the option of adding or removing any of the standard apps that appear by default in the new app launcher. You can choose from over 170 Google apps and services, and sort them so that they are organized just the way you want them. It’s as simple as dragging and dropping.

App Launcher Options

However, that’s not all. You can also add custom bookmarks so that you can save some of your most often used websites alongside your most often used Google services. Simply click the Add Custom Shortcut button and add the URL of your choice. Best of all, your settings are synced via Chrome sync so you can enjoy your new custom layout in any Chrome browser you happen to be signed into.

Essentially, App Launcher Customizer for Google does the same thing that Big G Black Bar Sorter did, (it’s now removed from the Chrome Web Store), but is still a very useful extension to have, and one that could make your life just a little bit easier every time you are online. The video below has a walkthrough of what you can expect when you install this new app.

How to Preview a Page as a Viewer in Google Sites

When working on a Google Site, the view you get as the owner, is sometimes going to be different to the view a visitor gets when they access your website. Google has a built-in option called Preview page as a viewer, to deal with just this problem. It shows you exactly what your Google Site will look like to someone who does not have access to your site as an editor.

Best of all, it is very easy to do. Make sure you are signed in to your Google Site, then click More > Preview page as a viewer, (or use the keyboard shortcut g then p). Your site will then open in a new tab, minus the editing bar you normally see across the top of your page. Instead, you will see a small yellow rectangle at the top of the page that says “Preview page as a viewer”. If you have asked Google to optimize your site for Mobile visitors (More > Manage Site > General > Mobile) you will also see the option to switch to a mobile preview, but in my experience, this is often not a pretty sight!

preview page as a viewer

Why would you want to preview a page as a viewer? Well, if you are anything like me, you may occasionally (read: often!) forget whether or not you changed the sharing settings on an embedded Google document. In the editor view on your site, everything looks fine, and it displays just like it should. However, visitors who do not have access to a document see a placeholder denying them the ability to see it without first requesting access. It is an easy problem to fix, but a quick preview of the site as a viewer can help alleviate problems like this before they arise.