The One App I Can’t Live Without

app you cant live without

Recently, at the #iPadU conference, I was challenged to think about the one app I couldn’t live without. This was harder than I thought it might be. I mean, there are a lot of apps I really like, but are there any that I couldn’t live without, or at least be able to find some kind of passable replacement for? After some consideration, I decided that there was such an app, and that it really was quite unique in what it offers students, teachers and just about everyone else. That app, is the Camera app.

In many ways it is more than just an app, because it is now an essential hardware feature, but many people forget that when the iPad was first introduced in April 2010, there was no camera. Even today, there are those that still laud the introduction of the original iPad as a new era for computing, but for me, the iPad 2 was far more important than the one that came before it. When the iPad 2 was announced a year later, it had a two cameras – one on the front and one on the back.  The addition of these cameras opened up a whole new world for what was actually possible with an iPad, and quickly turned this mobile tablet from a consumption device to a creation device. It transformed the iPad into something infinitely more appealing and opened the doors for developers to create some amazing apps. Continue Reading

How to Use Microsoft Forms in Office 365 Education

How to Use the New Microsoft Forms

Have you seen the new Microsoft Forms? One of the most popular articles on my blog in the last 12 months was related to its predecessor – Excel Surveys. Not only did that post get a lot of views, but it also got a lot of comments from people with questions about the features of Excel Surveys, or more importantly for some, the features it did not have. You can still use Excel Surveys, but Microsoft are in the process of transitioning to something better – Microsoft Forms. This version includes automatic grading and built-in student feedback. Here’s what you need to know.

Getting Started

You can find the homepage for Microsoft Forms by going to forms.office.com, or you may see Forms listed in the Office 365 App Launcher. Both links go to the same place. Technically, Forms is still in Preview but you can sign in with your Office 365 Education account today and start creating surveys and quizzes. The new Microsoft Forms work on desktop and mobile browsers.

Once you are logged in, click the New button to create your first form. Replace Untitled Form with a title of your choice, and add a description underneath if you want to provide any directions or information for students or parents who are filling out your Form.

Building a Form

Tapping the Add Question button gives you access to the question types that are available to you in this new version of Microsoft Forms. The options include:

  1. Choice: for creating multiple choice questions! Tap or click the slider to allow people to select multiple answers. You can also tap or click the ellipses button to shuffle answers.
  2. Quiz: a multiple choice question that you allows you to select a correct answer for automatic grading. Tapping the comment icon on each answer choice lets you add student feedback for each selection. Multiple answers and shuffled answers are also available to you when working on Quiz questions.
  3. Text: to collect short (or long) text answers use the Text question type. Tap or click the ellipses button to include number restrictions like greater than, less than, equal to, and more.
  4. Rating: for adding a star or number rating. Could be useful as part of an exit ticket or for voting on class favorites. Ratings can be out of 5 or 10, and tapping the ellipses button will allow you to add a label at either end of this Likert scale.
  5. Date: a question type that only allows for an answer in date format.

Microsoft Forms Question Builder Continue Reading

5 Creative Graphic Design Apps for iPads

iPad Graphic Design Apps

Are you ready to harness your inner designer? Today it is easier than ever thanks to a variety of easy to use graphic design apps for the iPad. These “text on photos” apps are increasingly popular and many of them do a great job of simplifying the design process for non-designers. They could be a great platform for exploring visual literacy and visual design in the classroom, or simply to spice up your social media presence. I myself have quite a few of these kinds of apps on my iPad so I thought I would take some time to share five of my favorites together with some of the reasons I like them.

1. Canva (Free with in-app purchases)

If you’ve heard of any of these apps before, you probably heard of Canva. It is available on the web, and for the iPad, and is a great way to get started creating fun, fresh looking images. Canva has a number of templates you can use (some free, some paid) and bucket loads of inspiration. I particularly like the icon gallery and the free image search, although I will often use sites like Unsplash too and bring those into Canva. This app is perfect for social media graphics, posters, presentations, blog post images and even infographics. There are also some great lesson plans for teaching design in your classroom that were written by educators like Vicki Davis, Monica Burns, Steven Anderson and more. The only real downside to Canva is that you need an account to use the app and that it is designed to be a service for those 13 and older.

canva for ipad

2. Adobe Spark Post (Free)

Adobe Spark Post is a relatively new app for the iPad, but it has been available for iPhone users for a while now. In many ways it is quite comparable to Canva, but it has a few neat features that are well worth exploring. For instance, if you have a graphic you want to share on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, Adobe Spark Post can automatically adjust your design so that the image is optimally sized for each social network. It also lets you change themes and color palettes at the touch of a button or add life to your design by saving it as a stylish animated GIF. There is a library of public domain images that you can search through and use in your designs, but you can just as easily use photos from your Camera Roll too. It is a lot of fun to play with and can also be accessed on the web at spark.adobe.com. A free Adobe account is required to use any of the Adobe Spark apps.

Adobe Spark Post

3. Word Swag ($3.99 with in-app purchases)

I have been using Word Swag for a little while now, but I was hesitant to purchase it because it was $3.99 AND has in-app purchases. As it happens, there is a LOT you can do with just the initial purchase. You really don’t need to buy anything extra, and some of the in-app purchases are actually free right now and have been for a some time. Word Swag integrates with Pixabay so that you can search for Creative Commons Zero images that you want to use in your design, but you can also choose from a number of solid, textured and gradient images without any searching at all. There are a huge variety of font styles to choose from and a variety of filters and font color effects. However, there is no real way to crop or resize your image. There is a Twitter Preview Area, but that is about the only guidance you get before you share online. That said, it is still a great app that produces some stunning images, and if you like inspirational quotes, you will love the built-in quote generator. Word Swag is also available for Android.

Word Swag for iPad

4. Over (Free with in-app purchases)

If you are hesitant about paying the $3.99 for Word Swag, try Over. I know it has a lot of in-app purchases, but again you get a decent amount for free, and you can collect free artwork every day just by accessing the free artwork gallery in the app. Over has some pretty robust photo editing tools that can be used to tweak photos from Unsplash, Pixabay, or from your Camera Roll. It has filters, blurring tools, shapes, fonts, artwork and more. However, I think it was a paid app when I first downloaded it so I am not sure how many of the features I enjoy are now listed as in-app purchases. For instance, features like the crop tool that lets you size an image for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & much more, is currently a 99c add-on, but I know I never paid for that. Still, there is a lot to like in the Over app and I do find myself going back to it more than I thought I would. It is a versatile app with some interesting creative options. Over is also available for Android.

Over for iPad

5. Studio Design (Free)

Studio Design is an app that I came across while researching what I was going to include in this blog post. I haven’t used it a whole lot, but based on the time that I have spent using it, I think it is worthy of inclusion here. It does many of the same kind of things that other apps in this category do, but perhaps most interesting to me was the ability to remix designs from other people. When you do this, the camera on your device opens with the fonts and other layers overlaid on your screen so that you can compose and take your own picture. For me, that had a lot of interesting creative opportunities and it models good digital citizenship because  published designs include a credit for the original designer. The app is 100% free, does not require you to set up an account, and has plenty free artwork that you can download. Studio is also available for Android.

Bonus Pick: Notegraphy (Free)

Looking to display some longer forms of text? If so, Notegraphy is worth a look. Simply type or copy and paste the text you want to beautify, then choose from a number of stylish themes that can be used to showcase your words. It is a little more restrictive than some of the apps above in terms of features, but there is something to be said for simplicity. It can also be used on Android and on the web at notegraphy.com.

Further Research

Some other apps that I have not yet had the chance to try, (but would like to), include Typic, Uptown & Co, Retype, Typorama, Rhonna Designs and Path On. Have you tried any of these graphic design apps for the iPad? If so, which ones are your favorites?

How to Use Twitter #Stickers & Edit Photos in Tweets

how to use twitter stickers

Earlier this week, Twitter introduced Stickers – a new way to add personality to the images you share from your phone or tablet. Stickers may see whimsical, but they are a fun way to add interactivity to images and they are yet another way you can edit photos before publishing them online. Why bother? Knowing how to use images correctly in tweets is useful because according to Twitter’s own stats, tweets with photos have seen a 35% increase in visibility and retweets. So, in this post I am going to show you how to use Twitter Stickers, as well as some other useful tips and tricks related to editing and sharing photos on mobile devices.

How to Use Twitter Stickers

The first thing to know is that, as of today, Twitter Stickers only work on the iOS and Android versions of the official Twitter app. Once you have that idea cemented in your mind, the rest is very easy.

  1. Tap the compose icon in the top right hand corner to begin your tweet
  2. Next, tap Photo to capture a new image or swipe up to choose one from your device
  3. Tap the smiley face to see the stickers that are available to you
  4. Browse the categories of stickers by tapping the icons on the bottom toolbar
  5. Tap a sticker to add it to your photo
  6. Resize or re-position the sticker by pinching or dragging
  7. Add more stickers by tapping the smiley face in the bottom right-hand corner
  8. To remove a sticker, press and hold on it, then drag it to the trash can

Twitter Stickers on the iPad

Once you have added stickers to a tweet, they inherit a visual tag. Other people can tap on your Sticker to see a timeline of tweets by other people who also used that sticker. You can also search under the #Stickers hashtag to see creative examples like the ones below:

stickers1

stickers2

How to Edit Photos in the Twitter App

You may already have a favorite photo editing tool for your mobile device, but if you don’t, or you just want to make some last minute adjustments, the Twitter app can help. Editing tools are available by tapping the pencil icon on an image after you have added your photo(s) to a tweet. You will then see a number of options that will let you tweak the image to your taste.

  • Magic wand: A one-click fix for lighting and color
  • Filters: A selection of color adjustments to add style or mood to an image
  • Crop Tool: Resize or rotate and image for your tweet

Once you have made the adjustments you need, click Save to store the settings. Note that your original photo remains as it was before. Only the photo you tweeted includes the image adjustments that you make in the Twitter app.

Twitter Photo editor ios

5 Top Twitter Photo Tips

  1. Twitter displays images best when they are in a rectangular 2:1 ratio. Images that are sized 1024×512 pixels will often work best, but apps like Canva and Adobe Spark Post can size images automatically so that they will look their best on Twitter. You can also use the wide crop in Twitter’s photo editor (see above) to get a similar effect.
  2. You can tag up to 10 people in a photo without sacrificing any characters from your tweet. Simply tap the Who’s in this photo? link to add the names of others you would like to notify about your tweet. This is great for tagging people in a photo, but is even better for notifying others about your tweet when you run out of characters in the tweet body.
  3. If a picture is worth a 1000 words, what is a GIF worth? Sometimes these animated images are all you need to say exactly what is on your mind. The GIF button is right next to the camera icon in your tweet composer and can be used with Twitter.com or mobile devices, but you can’t tag people in a GIF.
  4. You can add up to four images to a Tweet. Each photo can be edited and each photo can have stickers on it. You can reorder images by removing them from a tweet and selecting them again in the order you want them to appear. Photos can be up to 5MB and must be in the GIF, JPEG or PNG image format.
  5. GIFS and photos can also be sent in a direct message to other users. However, there are some restrictions. Stickers can not currently be applied to photos that are sent in a direct message, and you can only send one photo at a time.