Plickers: Classroom Clickers without the Clicking

If you taught for a while, you have probably at least seen a classroom set of clickers somewhere on your travels. These student response systems were all the rage for a while. They looked like TV remote controls and were designed as a way that students could respond to a quiz or oral question by pressing a button to indicate the answer that they chose. Each clicker was unique to that student so that the teacher could see who answered what and when.

plickers

Fast forward a few years and today you can experience the future of classroom clickers – a free tool called Plickers. Now, if you are imagining a high-tech handset with an HD touchscreen, WiFi and a built-in camera, you would be wrong. Plickers uses paper. Yes, you heard that right, paper! Oh, and your students don’t need any electronic devices to take part in your assessment.

plicker code

So, how does it work? Each student is given a card with a unique visual code. The code has 4 sides, each lettered A, B, C, and D. The student holds the card so that the letter they choose to answer the question with is at the top of their card. The teacher uses the iOS or Android app on their smartphone to slowly scan the room. The app recognizes the cards, records who the teacher assigned them to, and captures the answer that the student chose. The app will only record each student’s answer once, so you need not worry about a second scan skewing your data.

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Puffin Academy: A Flash Browser for iPad Schools

puffin flash browser for iPad

For a while, Rover used to be a default app on school iPads because it was a Flash browser for the iPad, and many curricular resources that were still being used in schools were reliant on Adobe’s Flash Player. Rover still exists, albeit in a different format, but it now has some competition in the form of Puffin Academy.

The Puffin app is already a well-known and reliable Flash browser that has been available for the iPad for some time now, but the Academy version is relatively recent. It is a filtered, educational browser and only specifically approved content is accessible through the app. Anyone who wants to have their content featured on Puffin Academy has to apply and be vetted before they are accepted as a content partner.

Curious as to what has already been approved? Check out the Puffin Academy Portal. Here you will find a selection of K-12 websites sorted by curricular subjects. This is essentially the home page of the browser itself, but it can be accessed via the link above to let you know what kinds of content is available.

puffin portal: ipad flash browser for schools

Puffin Academy whitelists sites, so only the websites that are specifically approved can be accessed from the browser. Any attempts to navigate to Google, Facebook, YouTube or other non-approved sites will result in a “Website Blocked” message for the user. This means that your students will be safe while using this app.

After a while, you will doubtless wish that this website or that was part of the Puffin Academy. Unfortunately, you can’t just add a website by emailing Puffin. They have a strict process for content providers who have to apply to have their content added. So, email your favorite educational Flash website providers and tell them about Puffin to see if they are willing to apply for their free listing on the Puffin Academy app.

Other advantages of Puffin Academy? Well, even though it is a Flash browser for iPads, Puffin Academy is rated suitable for 4+. Almost all other browsers in the App Store – Chrome, Dolphin, Mercury, Photon etc. – are actually rated as 17+ apps because they have the ability to access all available content on the web.

So, if you haven’t tried Puffin Academy yet, and you need a Flash browser for your classroom iPads, you should definitely take a look. It is free app, and the developers are committed to supporting educators with approved content in the classroom. Is it limiting? In some ways yes, but it can be a great introduction to the web while you are still working on developing digital citizenship skills with your students.

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Access the Google Drive Template Gallery on an iPad

Recently, I was asked if it was possible to access the Google Drive Template Gallery on the iPad. The Template Gallery is a great repository of ready made Google templates for Docs, Presentations, Spreadsheets, Drawings and Forms. Teachers can add documents to the Template Gallery for students to use and adapt for their own assignments.

I had never tried it on the iPad before, so I had no reason to doubt that it wouldn’t work, but I was wrong. If you open Safari and navigate to http://drive.google.com/templates you are immediately greeted with a 404 error. The Template Gallery will not load.

404 Template Gallery Error

So, here’s how to fix it. Instead of using Safari, download and open the Chrome iOS browser. If you navigate to http://drive.google.com/templates in Chrome, and you will find the same 404 error. However, the fix is not far away. Tap the Settings icon in the top right-hand corner, and select Request Desktop Site.

request desktop site

The site will then reload and display the Google Drive Templates Gallery just like it does on a laptop or desktop computer. Better still, if you pick a Docs or Spreadsheet template, Chrome will automatically switch you over to the Drive app (if you have it installed) and you can then edit, save and share your new document.

Drive templates in Chrome

Just be aware that if you select a Document template that has tables in it, this type of document will not display properly in the Google Drive iPad app because the Google Drive iPad app does not currently support tables. I hope this changes in the near future!

Still, if you have trouble accessing the Google Drive Template Gallery on the iPad, try this quick trick with the Chrome iOS app to access the files you, or your students, need.