Monthly Archives: August 2015

Screenshots and Annotations Are Easy With the New Snip for Windows

snip beta

The Windows Snipping Tool is a useful app, but a limited one. There are, after all, many better alternatives like Skitch, Snagit, or even the OneNote Clipper. Today, Microsoft added another to this list. It’s called Snip. Although currently still in beta, Snip allows you to take screenshots, add annotations, record audio, and save your clips with anyone you want. In short, Snip is everything the Windows Snipping tool should be. Here’s how it works.

Once installed, Snip hides discretely on the side of your screen, just like Snagit. When you are ready to capture your screenshot, simply hover over the Snip toolbar to select the type of capture you want to execute. There are three basic tools you can use to capture a screenshot – the crosshair selection tool, the camera, and the whiteboard.

snip tools

A quick click and drag with the crosshair selection tool is all that is needed to make your first capture. Once you are done, the Snip editor will open giving you options for annotations that you can add to your screenshot. Although you absolutely can add annotations with your mouse, the drawing tools in the editor are largely aimed at those with touchscreen devices. However, there is the option to record audio on top of your screenshot and save it as an MP4 video file. T

This pseudo-screencasting option is an interesting option for educators and certainly opens up a lot of possibilities. In fact, if you look on the Snip home page, you will find several examples by students and educators who used the recording feature to talk about student work, explain a homework assignment, or teach poetry.

snip editing tools

The whiteboard is idea for explaining a concept and can be used in conjunction with the recorder to make screencasts that are similar in appearance to something like Educreations on the iPad. There are not as many options while recording, but the end product is somewhat comparable. The whiteboard is particularly useful for Math and Science teachers who may want to record a brief video that includes mathematical equations or cell structures, neither of which is easy to accomplish in a text based program.

Clicking the camera button will let you take a picture with whatever cameras you have on your device. Captured images can be edited with the aforementioned annotation tools. In the classroom students could use this option to talk about some art work they created, to tell digital stories, or describe areas on a map.

Snips can be shared quickly and easily. They can be copied and pasted into another app, shared by email (this didn’t work for me), or saved to your device. Videos have the additional options of being able to be shared via a link, or embedded in a website. All snips, past and present, are stored in your Library, which you can access via the book icon on the toolbar.

Snip is still in beta, so be prepared for the odd glitch here and there. However, in the time that I have had to play with it, Snip has performed very well and Microsoft have informed me that new features are on the way soon. Better still, Snip will update automatically so you will always have the latest version. Check it out for yourself in the video demo below, or head over to https://mix.office.com/Snip to try it out yourself.

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How to Make Professional Looking iPad Screenshots

iPad Screenshots Title

When creating materials for professional development with teachers, I always try to ensure that my visuals are clear, well-designed, and easy on the eye. So, when I do iPad training, I often turn to a variety of screenshot apps in order to achieve these goals. The apps below are some of my go-to apps and are ideal for creating tutorials or eye-catching graphics for iOS devices.

One of my favorite apps is Screenshot – Frame Maker. It is a simple app, but a clever one. It automatically detects your device type and orientation and provides an appropriate frame. You can adjust the margins and choose whether you want a reflection on the screen or not. Framed screenshots can be saved to Dropbox or the camera roll, and shared by email, Twitter, or Facebook. You can also copy the image to paste into other apps.

Screenshot – Frame Maker is free, but if you want to create more than five images, you need to spend 99c on an in-app purchase to unlock unlimited exports. However, only real screenshot images can be used in this app. You can’t just add any picture from your camera roll. The only small issue I have with this app is that there is no option for an iPad Air frame, even if you use an iPad Air screenshot. You can choose between the older iPad 2 style frame or the iPad Mini. Given that the iPad Air design is a lot like an iPad Mini, this is the frame I choose most often. An example is included below.

Screenshot frame maker ios

A similar app that is also well worthy of consideration is Screenshot Maker Pro. It includes several options that Screenshot – Frame Maker doesn’t offer. For instance, you can add any image to your device frame, not just screenshots. You also have a choice of devices that you want to use. As well as iPads, you can also choose from every version of the iPhone, the Apple Watch, the Macbook Pro or an iMac. Screenshot Maker Pro includes several angles for these devices, lets you add a drop shadow, and even a ground reflection.

This app is free for up to two framed screenshots. After that, you need to pay the $2.99 in-app purchase to unlock unlimited exports and remove the ads. Images can be saved to your camera roll and then shared to other apps on your device. I enjoy using this app, but again, there is no frame for an iPad Air, so I am thinking that there must be a reason for this. An example with the iPad Mini frame is below.

Screenshot Maker Pro

Of course, once your screenshot is saved to the iPad, you can continue to add to it by adding annotations in a free app like Skitch. It lets you add shapes, arrows, text and more to your framed iPad screenshots. It even has a handy blur tool that lets you obscure sensitive information like email addresses or passwords. Skitch is an extremely versatile app, so it is no wonder that it is so popular with educators using iPads in the classroom. Take a look at the example below to see some of the things you can do with Skitch.

screenshot annotated with Skitch

Unfortunately, a byproduct of creating all these awesome framed iPad images is that your camera roll is now chock full of redundant screenshots that are doing nothing more than taking up precious space on your device. Thankfully, there is an app for that: Screenshots – Find, Share, Hide, and Delete Screenshot. This useful app will find all the screenshots in your camera roll and let you delete the ones you don’t want in just a couple of taps. Screenshots is a universal app that works on iPhones and iPads.

So, whether you are putting together some training materials, or looking for some graphics for a flyer or a website, these iPad screenshot apps should definitely be on your shortlist.

Related article: How to Take a Screenshot on an iPad and Annotate it!

Padlet for iPad is Now Available!

padlet for ipad

The schools I work with use all kinds of different devices and different platforms with which to enhance teaching and learning in the classroom. There are very few tools that are used in all of these districts, but one that is popular no matter where I go is Padlet.com. Why? Because it is a free, cross-platform app that works very well regardless of the technology you use. It has always been an website that made sense for iPad schools, but the release of a dedicated iPad app means Padlet will work better than ever on your favorite tablet.

If you are a regular user of Padlet, (formerly known as Wallwisher), you will instantly be at home with the intuitive user interface on the iPad. Everything looks pretty much the same as the website version, but is more responsive due to the touch-optimized version that Padlet has created for the iPad. Simply tap the gear icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen to start setting up your first Padlet, or choose an existing Padlet from your dashboard if you have used Padlet in the past and already have a log in.

Padlet for iPad

Adding posts to a Padlet wall can be done by tapping the plus sign or by double tapping on the screen. The posts look just like the ones you get online with a title and a body for more text. You can add a link from the web to a website, photo, video, document, song or just about anything else. Alternatively, you can take a photo or video with the iPad, or choose a photo or video from the iPad’s camera roll. I don’t know if there is a limit to how long a recorded video can be, but the 60 second video I took worked just fine.

Because this is the iPad version, there are a number of gestures that are included to help you navigate your Padlet on a touchscreen. You tap a post to expand it, pinch to resize it, a long press and drag will move it, and double tapping any post lets you edit or delete it. Of course, some of these gestures only work if you have the correct permissions to edit and changes things on the Padlet board you are working on.

Sharing is handled a little differently on the iPad than it is on the web version, simply because you use a different menu, but you will largely have the same options. To share, tap the ubiquitous iOS share icon in the bottom right-hand corner, and you will see that there are a number of apps that you can open to share the link. However, on the bottom row, there are a number of additional options like view/copy link, generate embed code, export as an image, and export as a PDF. Perhaps most useful for the classroom, when your iPad is projected to a large screen, is the View QR Code option. This displays a large QR code that students could then scan with their iPads to visit your Padlet. If the QR code opens the link in Safari, students should see the option to open the Padlet app, (if installed), which will in turn open the board you linked to in the Padlet app.

Sharing a Padlet board on the iPad with a QR code

So, overall, there is a lot to like about the new Padlet app and it is definitely worthy of a place on your iPad if you do a lot of brainstorming or back channels in your classroom. It doesn’t really give you access to anything you couldn’t do before, but the interface is cleaner than a browser, and it works quickly and efficiently in the app. I haven’t used the app extensively yet, but it seems like it does everything that you would expect it to. Download Padlet for iPad here and feel free to share your thoughts on this app below.

10 Tips for Windows 10

10 tips for windows 10

Have you upgraded to Windows 10 yet? Microsoft are offering it as a free upgrade for consumers running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, but is it really worth it? In a recent article for Hubpages I wrote about 10 Top Tips for Teachers Using Windows 10. Together, I believe that these features are a compelling reason to make that upgrade worthy of your priority list.

Being a brand new operating system, there are obviously a number of new additions that have been added to improve on the functionality of Windows 8.1, but there is a lot that is familiar too. To that end, many pundits are calling Windows 10 the best of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. The features that I most appreciate, from an educator’s point of view, include:

  • Web Notes: Annotate the web with the new Microsoft Edge
  • Reading View: A clean, uncluttered view of websites
  • Virtual Desktops: A way to group and access your favorite applications
  • Continuum: Mobile when you want it, desktop when you need it
  • Wireless projection: Freedom to roam the classroom

Web Notes in Microsoft Edge

So, if you are new to Windows 10, or need some tips on how to make the most of it, be sure to check out my 10 Top Tips for Teachers Using Windows 10. You can also check out my companion article, Microsoft Edge: Performance & Style for Students & Educators!

If you’re already using Windows 10, I would love to hear what your favorite features are, and how you are thinking about using it in the classroom. I for one think that it has a lot of potential and believe that it should go a long way to heal some of the wounds that were inflicted by Windows 8.1. What do you think?