Apple Classroom vs. Google Classroom

Apple Classroom was released in March 2016, but from things I read online, or hear when talking to other educators, I feel that it still gets mistakenly compared to Google Classroom. I can absolutely see why that happens. Both products have very similar names, and both were created to help solve technology problems in the classroom. However, the truth is, these two products could not be more different. So, in this post, I wanted to take some time to run through everything that Apple Classroom can do, and compare that to Google Classroom, in order to give you some ideas on how you can use these useful tech tools at your school.

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iPad Screen Recording Tips for Educators

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The addition of screen recording in iOS 11 was a great feature for teachers and tech enthusiasts who wanted to show people how you can master the power of the iPad. However, it’s also a great way for students to show what they know. If your iPad is up to date, it doesn’t need any additional software, or devices, because this new recording ability is built-in to iOS 11. Screen recording on the iPad is a little different from screencasting on other devices, so in this post I am going to run through a few of my top tips for success when recording your iPad. Are you ready?

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Podcast Player Review: Castro 2

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I’ve used a lot of podcast apps over the years. Doggcatcher, Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Downcast, Overcast, Pocket Casts, and countless others have all found their way onto my devices at some point in their lifetime. Some of these podcast players were trusted servants for a long period of time, others not so much. As you may already deduced, I am kind of hard to please when it comes to podcast apps. However, things may be about to change. In this post I am going to take a closer look at my current favorite podcast player, Castro 2 for iPhone from Supertop.

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How to Record Your iPad Screen in iOS 11

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One of the features that educators have been most looking forward to in iOS 11 is screen recording. There are lots of ways to record your iPad screen, and I’ve written about some of those in the past, but native iOS screen recording is likely going to be the most convenient option for most people. However, it’s somewhat hidden in Settings, so here’s a quick guide on how to set it up and start recording your own iPad screencasts.

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11 iOS 11 Features for iPad Educators

Apple describes iOS 11 as “a giant leap for iPhones but a monumental leap for iPads.” Whether you agree or not, there are a number of fantastic new features available for iOS devices when iOS 11 is released. What’s more, many of these additions are only available on iPads and that is great news for those using iOS devices in the classroom. In this post I wanted to run through a few of my favorite new iPad features for efficiency, power and ease of use. Here’s what you need to know. Continue reading “11 iOS 11 Features for iPad Educators”

Find Apps That Won’t Work in iOS 11

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When Apple launches iOS 11 this Fall, they are ending support for 32-bit apps. This means that there could be some apps on your iPhone or iPad that won’t work unless they are updated to run as a 64-bit application. Some of these apps will be updated by developers, others will not, but you can plan ahead by seeing which ones are compatible and which ones are not. So, here’s a quick way for you to find apps that won’t work when you decide to upgrade to iOS 11.

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Create Apple Watch Faces With Canva

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Here’s a simple graphic design project that you or your students could quickly put together in next to no time – custom Apple Watch faces. These stylish backgrounds are easy to make and can be a great representation of your individual style, personality, interests, or even school spirit. Here’s what you need to know if you want to create your own Apple Watch faces.

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Everyone Can Code With Apple’s K-12 Coding Initiative

Apple’s coding curriculum for schools has been expanded and updated recently to include a full spectrum of offerings for students in K-12 classrooms. It even includes the ability to code smart toys like Spheros and drones. So, if you have access to Apple devices in your school, you should definitely take a look at what this program can offer teachers and students. Here’s what you can expect.

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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…

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The Apple Adapter Classroom Gear Guide

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If you use an Apple device, you are probably increasingly used to using dongles, adapters or whatever else you want to call them. They give you the functionality that Apple doesn’t natively include because of design constraints or a forward thinking approach to new technologies. However, there are dozens of Apple adapters available, and it can be hard to know which ones are the right ones for a given situation. This edtech gear guide was written to help remedy that problem.

The adapters below are ordered by price (from low to high) and include a number of likely scenarios for when you would want to use each one. Official Apple adapters will usually work best and these can be purchased in a number of different places, but third-party versions are available too. The list below is not an exhaustive list, but it does include the most commonly used dongles and adapters for use in Apple classrooms. Whenever possible, links are included to the official Apple product.


I want to… connect headphones to an iPhone 7 or multiple sets to an iPad/iPod Touch.

You need: Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter (Apple price: $9)

More information: This dongle lets you plug 3.5mm headphones into the iPhone 7, (a device that has no traditional headphone jack), however, it can be used with any iOS 10 device that has a lightning port. It can be used to add an extra headphone jack to iPads and iPod Touches, but a dual headphone splitter, or a multi-headphone splitter, would be cheaper (or more efficient) in the long run.


I want to… plug a traditional USB device into a new Apple MacBook.

You need: USB-C to USB Adapter (Apple price: $9)

More information: If you own one of the newer MacBook laptops, you will be missing standard USB ports to plug in Bluetooth mice, a SMART board, or other USB accessories. This adapter restores that ability.


I want to… connect my new MacBook to the internet with an Ethernet cable.

You need: Belkin USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter (Apple price: $26)

More information: The Ethernet port has been missing on MacBooks for some time now. This adapter is for MacBook and 2016 MacBook Pro users who want to connect to the internet with a wired connection.


I want to… connect my older MacBook to the internet with an Ethernet cable.

You need: Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter (Apple price: $29)

More information: This is the same adapter as the one above, but it works with older MacBooks that don’t have the USB-C inputs by converting a Thunderbolt port to an Ethernet port. You can also use the Apple USB Ethernet Adapter or the Belkin USB Gigabit Ethernet Adapter that comes with 3 integrated USB 3.0 ports.


I want to… connect USB devices to my iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.

You need: Lightning to USB Camera Adapter (Apple price: $29)

More information: The Lightning to USB Camera Adapter was designed to help you transfer photos and videos from a digital camera to an iOS device. However, this handy dongle also allows you to connect a USB microphone for better audio recording, a USB keyboard for better typing, and some other low power USB accessories. It’s a handy adapter to have because of how flexible it is. You can’t use it for all your USB devices, (a mouse and a flash drive will not work), but it’s compatible with more than you think.


I want to… connect my older MacBook to a VGA projector or external monitor.

You need: Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter (Apple price: $29)

More information: The majority of projectors used in schools today seem to have a VGA connection. A VGA connector is the trapezoid shaped port with pins on the male side and holes on the female side. This adapter lets you use a VGA cable with your MacBook so you can connect it to a projector, monitor or TV that has VGA connectors.


I want to… connect my new MacBook to a VGA projector or external monitor.

You need: Belkin USB-C to VGA Adapter (Apple price: $29)

More information: This dongle lets you continue to use a VGA projector with the newest MacBooks by converting one of your USB-C ports into a VGA connector.


I want to… connect my iPad 2 or 3 to a VGA projector or external monitor.

You need: Apple 30-pin to VGA Adapter (Apple price: $29)

More information: Many schools still have some iPad 2s in circulation. If you are looking to connect one of these to a a projector, monitor or TV that has VGA connectors, then this is the adapter you need.


I want to… connect my iPad 2 or 3 to an HDMI projector or external monitor.

You need: Apple 30-pin Digital AV Adapter (Apple price: $39)

More information: Displaying an iPad 2 on an HDTV or HDMI projector can be achieved with the aid of this (pricey) adapter. It includes a secondary 30-pin port that allows you to charge your device while displaying it on an external screen. Consider using it to show a looping slideshow on TVs that are mounted on walls around your school.


I want to… connect my iPad 4 (or later) to an VGA projector or external monitor.

You need: Lightning to VGA Adapter (Apple price: $49)

More information: Another pricey adapter but a must have if you want to show your iPad on a SMART Board, projector or TV via a VGA cable. Needs no wifi access and is generally very reliable. Includes a lightning port to let you charge your device while it is on screen.


I want to… connect my iPad 4 (or later) to an HDMI projector or external monitor.

You need: Lightning Digital AV Adapter (Apple price: $49)

More information: This is the HDMI version of the adapter above. It works in exactly the same way, but connects to HDMI devices as opposed to VGA. Also includes a lightning port for charging while your iOS device is displayed on screen.


I want to… connect my Apple TV to a VGA projector or external monitor.

You need: Kanex ATV Pro X HDMI to VGA Adapter with Audio Support or the Kanex HDMI to VGA Adapter with Audio for Apple TV 4th generation (Apple price: $49.95-59.95)

More information: The Apple TV only comes with an HDMI output, so if you want to connect it to a VGA projector or a TV or Monitor that has a VGA connections, then you need one of these adapters. The Kanex ATV Pro X HDMI to VGA Adapter works for 2nd and 3rd generation Apple TVs while the Kanex HDMI to VGA Adapter with Audio for Apple TV is designed to work with the newer 4th generation Apple TVs.


Need more help?

Unsure which dongle or adapter you need? Want to double check that you picked the right one? Leave a comment below, or drop me an email via the contact page, and include as much information about what you are trying to achieve and the devices you want to do it with. If there is an adapter out there that fills that need, I’ll tell you what it is, and where you can buy it.

Note that some Apple adapters are currently on a limited sale until April 1, 2017.