Author Archives: jonathanwylie

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

Getting Creative With Video in the Classroom

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While watching the Oscars tonight, I was intrigued to see a promotion that Walmart was running to celebrate the craft of film making. I don’t normally pay a lot of attention to  commercials, but these ads managed to catch my attention, and I think that they have some interesting potential for teachers who are looking to add some creativity to video projects in their classroom.

Walmart contacted four award-winning directors, Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Neighbors), Antoine Fuqua (Southpaw, The Magnificent Seven), and Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, The Kite Runner). They sent each of them a receipt with the same six items and challenged them to make a one minute movie that was centered around the six items on the receipt. You can learn more here, but take a look at the videos below to see what these talented directors came up with…

The three stories are very different, but they would be, wouldn’t they? I mean, if you challenged your students to do something like this, the results you got would likely be very different too. Wouldn’t they?  Because although the parameters are the same for every student, this is still a very open-ended activity that just screams for a creative outcome.

It’s a simple concept, but at the same time, a very powerful one, and isn’t this what we want our students to do more of? We want them to be unique, innovative, and think critically to solve problems. We want them to collaborate and to communicate their story in a way that entertains, evokes emotion, and connects them with a wider audience. Digital storytelling gives you that ability. Whether you are writing short stories or creating live action videos, it just goes to show that some of the most uncomplicated concepts truly can produce some of the most creative end products.

The Walmart videos reminded me of another great video project for the classroom from Don Goble. Again, the premise is simple, but the results are still endlessly creative. Students write a simple six-word story and turn it into a video with six unique camera shots. You can see an example of a six-word story from one of Don’s students below, but make sure you visit his website or read his free iBooks ebook to learn more about this idea.

So, the next time you are looking for a  digital storytelling idea for your students, consider one of these great examples, then be prepared to be blown away by the creativity of your students!

What You Might Not Know About Adding Video to Google Slides


Recently, Google added the ability to add Google Drive video files to a Slides presentation. It’s a great new feature for schools, but it’s not what this blog post is about. Confused? Bear with me, because there was an additional feature added at the same time that didn’t get a lot of attention. I found it by accident, and I think it is a useful option to know about it so I wanted to share it here in case you find it useful too!

When you add a video from Google Drive, you can right click on the video to get Video Options. These options let you choose the start and end points for your video. They also let you mute the audio or autoplay the video when presenting. It allows you to do interesting things. Jeff Bradbury even thinks that it could be a pretty decent video editor…in a pinch, while Amy Mayer showed us how to create a self-paced narrated presentation, (see below).

So, what’s new? Well, you can now use the very same video options with YouTube videos. Simply right-click on the YouTube video in your presentation and select Video Options, or click on your video and select Video Options from the toolbar. Now you can choose start and end times for your YouTube videos. You can play them without audio or have them autoplay when presenting.

This is not a life-changing update, but after all the excitement that was generated around adding Drive video to Slides, I thought that it was worth mentioning that you can do the same with YouTube too! Of course, none of this works on mobile apps yet, but hopefully that will be an update we will see in the near future.

How To Quickly Create a PDF on iPhone & iPad

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PDFs are an incredibly useful file format because they work on all devices and can be read with free or built-in software that you probably already have. In short, if you want to be sure that someone can read your content, send them a PDF. Easy, right? Well, it’s easy if you know how to create a PDF. Luckily, this is very simple to do on iPads and iPhones, but not everyone knows how to do it. So, here’s a little known trick that shows you how to create a PDF of a web page (and other content) on an iOS device.

The secret is, if you can print it, you can create a PDF of it. Don’t worry. You don’t need a printer, but if you can access the print menu from the app you are working in, the chances are good that you can create a PDF of the content you are viewing. In the example below I will show you how to create a PDF from a webpage in Safari for iPad, but I will include some other examples at the end of this post.


Step 1: Navigate to the website that you want to save as a PDF.

Step 2: Activate Safari’s Reader Mode by tapping the icon in the address bar. (This is an optional step, but it eliminates a lot of the clutter you find on most web pages and will also likely reduce the number of pages in your final PDF).

Step 3: Tap the Share menu and select Print.

Step 4: In the Print Options window, pinch outwards with two fingers on one of the thumbnail preview images to create your PDF, (see image below).

Step 5: Tap the Share menu again to save your PDF to a cloud account, email it to a friend, or AirDrop it to your Mac.


Of course, this method isn’t just limited to websites. For instance, you can select multiple photos from your Camera Roll and save those as a PDF. You can take a note from the Notes app and save that as a PDF. You can even use the steps above to convert a Word or PowerPoint document to a PDF when previewing them inside of Dropbox. So remember, if you can print it, you can PDF it!

Bonus Tip: A special thanks to Mark Thomas (@SuprTekTalk) who left a comment below after discovering that you can select which pages you want to include in your PDF by scrolling through the thumbnail previews and tapping on one to Stop after page 5 or Skip Page 7. If you select which pages you want before you pinch, then your PDF will only be as long as you need it to be. You can also tap Options and select Range to choose the pages you need. This is especially useful when working with longform web articles that you may not need in their entirety. Thanks Mark! 🙂

Here’s a video that Clay Reisler created for this process and posted on his blog, iPaddiction, after seeing this post.

How to Use Chrome to Scan QR Codes on iPads and iPhones

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Let’s face it. Sometimes less is more. If one app can do the job of two or three others, then one app will often be a better choice. It takes up less room on your device, you don’t have to remember how to use as many apps, and it’s generally just more efficient. So, when Google updated the Chrome app for iPad and iPhones, I was intrigued to notice that they had included the ability to scan QR codes. Here’s how it works.

Launching the Chrome QR Code Reader

If your Chrome app is up to date, and you are looking in the menu settings for a QR reader, you would be forgiven for being a little confused when you hear that you can’t access the scanner when the app is open. So where is it?

Currently, there are two ways to access the QR code reader in Chrome for iPhone and iPad. The first way is to use a spotlight search. You can open a search by dragging one finger down the home screen of your device. If you are using a keyboard with your iOS device, press Cmd + Space to do the same thing.

Once you have the Spotlight search Open, type the word QR and look through your search results. You should see the Chrome app icon with an option that says Scan QR Code. Tap that to launch Chrome’s QR reader. See image below.


The other way to launch the scanner is to use a device that supports 3D Touch. All you do is activate the 3D Touch menu by pressing and holding on the Chrome app. The pop-up menu that appears has a similar option that lets you choose to scan a QR Code.

Then all you do is scan the code. The content will then open in the address bar in Chrome. If the QR code contains a couple of sentences of text, then you may find it a little hard to read, but URLs work well. Just remember to hit return on the keyboard to visit the website in question, because Chrome won’t automatically load the website after you scan it.

The Chrome QR code scanner is a bit of a bare bones scanner. It doesn’t do things Iike keep track of previous scans or let you create your own QR codes. If that’s important to you, an app like Qrafter Pro may be more to your liking. However, if you just want a quick way to scan QR codes, and you already have the Chrome app, then this could be all you need.

Using QR Codes in the Classroom

One of my go-to people for ways to use QR codes in the classroom is Monica Burns. She wrote an article for Edutopia last year called QR Codes Can Do That? She also has a book for sale on Amazon called Deeper Learning With QR Codes and Augmented Reality: A Scannable Solution for Your Classroom. I also like this crowd sourced presentation from Tom Barrett that has 51 Ways to Use QR Codes in the Classroom.

How do you use QR Codes?