Monthly Archives: March 2017

Apple’s New iPad for Education: What You Need to Know


Apple has released a new version of the iPad that could be working its way into schools near you soon. It replaces the iPad Air 2 and is simply called iPad. It features an A9 processor and is available in either 32GB or 128Gb versions. The new iPad has a retina display, Touch ID, and a 8MP rear camera capable of 1080 video at 30fps. It weighs 1lb and comes in Silver, Gold, or Space Gray.

Although this new iPad is not directly marketed at schools, the $329 price tag is the cheapest full-size iPad that Apple has ever made. This seems like no coincidence, especially given the rise in popularity of Chromebooks. A recent report suggested that Google now has 58% of the market share for school devices while Microsoft and Apple make up the remainder. This new iPad sits firmly within the typical price range of a new Chromebook, and that’s before the educational discount that schools typically get when purchasing directly from Apple. This means bulk purchases could be as low as $299 per unit. Interesting, right?

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Of course, there is still the issue of device management when it comes to using iPads in schools. Although Apple has made some big strides here in recent years, it is still not on par with Google in terms of how easy it is to manage a fleet of Chromebooks, so many schools resort to third-party mobile device managers like Meraki or Jamf Pro to get the features they really need.

However, if your school is already managing iPads or you are just looking to get the best bang for your buck, then the new iPad is hard to ignore. This is further evident when you consider that this iPad is now cheaper than the iPad Mini 4, (the last of the remaining iPad Mini line). The new iPad may only be a minor spec bump over the iPad Air 2 that it has replaced, but I think a capable, low-priced tablet is something that Apple should have done a while ago and I would expect that there will be a good number of schools that start to take a look at iPads again as a device to support learning.

The iPad line has not always received the love that it could (or should) have had over the years, but I expect that this year we will see some movement here. This iPad is likely just the first of a few new iPads we will see in 2017 because of the much rumored impending updates to the iPad Pro series. New software is also on the way with WWDC slated to unveil the next major version of iOS. I am hopeful that we will see more iPad specific features in iOS 11, but only time will tell.

So, what are your thoughts on this new offering from Apple? Too little too late, or is this what you have been waiting for all year?

Learn more about the new iPad here.

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Coaching Conversations on The Edtech Take Out Podcast


In a recent episode of The Edtech Take Out, Mindy and I did something we have wanted to do for a long time. We interviewed some instructional coaches from the schools we work with in order to get their take on what it is like to do what they do. It was a great conversation so I wanted to share it here as an example of some of the amazing things that are happening in classrooms near me.

The role of an instructional coach is increasingly important in Iowa schools right now. We have more coaches now than ever before because the state has provided funds to help schools build capacity to succeed with a coaching model both now and in the future. I know other states are also making good use of instructional coaches so the conversation we had is relevant to educators everywhere.

On this episode we were lucky to have Anna Upah (@AnnaUpah), Andrea Townsley (@townsleyaj), Andrew Fenstermaker (@a_fenstermaker), Jeff Vaughn (@JeffSixth) and Frank Slabaugh (@FrankSlabaugh). We asked them four questions:

  1. What are the best things about being an instructional coach?
  2. What are the big rocks or challenges that you are looking to tackle this year?
  3. What tools, technologies and ideas are popular with teachers in your districts?
  4. What advice would you give to those who are new to the role of coaching?

You can listen to their replies, along with the rest of the episode by visiting the Edtech Take Out podcast website, or by subscribing to the podcast on iTunes or Google Play Music.


Are you new to podcasts? Wondering what all the fuss is about? Fear not, I have just the information you need to get started:

Annotate Photos & Screenshots Using the iOS Photos App

ios markup tools

There are a number of decent annotation apps for the iPhone & iPad. I know, because I have used a lot of them. However, I almost never use a dedicated app any more. The tools that I need are actually built-in to iOS, and they cover almost all of my image annotation needs. I’m talking specifically about the Photos app. It has some great options for marking up images and screenshots, but not everyone knows where those tools are. So, here’s what you need to know.

Markup Tools in Photos for iOS

To access the annotation tools in the Photos app, open an image and tap the image adjustment sliders in the top-right hand corner.

File Mar 03, 9 42 28 PM.jpegNext, tap the circle with the three dots on it to reveal the Markup toolbox. Tap Markup to access the annotation tools in the Photos app.

File Mar 03, 9 46 56 PM.jpeg

A menu of annotation tools will then appear, (as in the screenshot below). They include a pen tool, a loupe, a text tool, a color picker, a line thickness selector, a text formatting tool and the all important undo arrow. In essence, these are really the only tools you might want, with the possible exception of a blurring tool.

iOS Screenshot 20170303-213747 01.png

Annotation Tips & Tricks

The pen tool has built in shape recognition! If you draw a rough square, circle or even an arrow, you have the option to convert it to something a little more refined by tapping the shape recognition box that appears at the bottom of your screen after you draw your shape.

The loupe is used to magnify part of an image. You can adjust the size of the loupe by dragging the blue dot in or out. You can also adjust the magnification level by rotating the green dot clockwise or anticlockwise along the circumference of the loupe.

Text can be formatted to appear as one of three fonts, (Helvetica, Georgia, Noteworthy). You can adjust the size and the way the text is justified. All these options appear when you tap the Aa icon in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. If you want, you can add a line border around text by selecting the text and tapping the line tool to select the thickness you need.

The undo arrow is your friend. Sometimes it can be hard to select or move an annotation around the screen without adding accidental ink to the image. When that happens, a few quick taps of the undo arrow will quickly return things to the way they were.

Classroom Uses

While you might not be annotating images in every lesson you teach, there are definitely some times where you might want to mark up a photo or screenshot. These include:

  • Creating software tutorials or walkthroughs
  • Annotating maps in Social Studies
  • Drawing attention to text on a blog post or news article
  • Annotating draft designs for suggested improvements
  • Reporting app or website errors

Dedicated Annotation Apps

If the Photos app doesn’t meet your needs, consider some of these great options from the App Store. Each has a slightly different take on iPad annotation, but all are interesting in their own right. Take a look below:

  • Skitch is one I have used in the past. It is still available in the App Store, but was abandoned by its parent company Evernote a long time ago. Needs an update.
  • Annotate Text, Emoji, Stickers and Shapes is another decent option. It doesn’t have  a lot of tools, but the simplicity makes it reliable and easy to use.
  • PointOut lets you position a pointer for a zoomed in view of any image. Different layouts, borders and filters are included.
  • Pinpoint has gone through a few iterations in its lifespan, but it remains a good option for some basic free annotation tools.
  • Annotable offers some unique and powerful annotation tools too, but in-app purchases hide some of the better features.
  • Annot8 – Lets you spotlight and blur areas of your image and includes the ability to crop, rotate and straighten your images.

Bonus Tip

The same annotation tools are available in the Mail app and in the iTunesU app. Read Mark up PDFs with Apple’s Mail App for more information on how to do just that!