Puffin Academy: A Flash Browser for iPad Schools

puffin flash browser for iPad

For a while, Rover used to be a default app on school iPads because it was a Flash browser for the iPad, and many curricular resources that were still being used in schools were reliant on Adobe’s Flash Player. Rover still exists, albeit in a different format, but it now has some competition in the form of Puffin Academy.

The Puffin app is already a well-known and reliable Flash browser that has been available for the iPad for some time now, but the Academy version is relatively recent. It is a filtered, educational browser and only specifically approved content is accessible through the app. Anyone who wants to have their content featured on Puffin Academy has to apply and be vetted before they are accepted as a content partner.

Curious as to what has already been approved? Check out the Puffin Academy Portal. Here you will find a selection of K-12 websites sorted by curricular subjects. This is essentially the home page of the browser itself, but it can be accessed via the link above to let you know what kinds of content is available.

puffin portal: ipad flash browser for schools

Puffin Academy whitelists sites, so only the websites that are specifically approved can be accessed from the browser. Any attempts to navigate to Google, Facebook, YouTube or other non-approved sites will result in a “Website Blocked” message for the user. This means that your students will be safe while using this app.

After a while, you will doubtless wish that this website or that was part of the Puffin Academy. Unfortunately, you can’t just add a website by emailing Puffin. They have a strict process for content providers who have to apply to have their content added. So, email your favorite educational Flash website providers and tell them about Puffin to see if they are willing to apply for their free listing on the Puffin Academy app.

Other advantages of Puffin Academy? Well, even though it is a Flash browser for iPads, Puffin Academy is rated suitable for 4+. Almost all other browsers in the App Store – Chrome, Dolphin, Mercury, Photon etc. – are actually rated as 17+ apps because they have the ability to access all available content on the web.

So, if you haven’t tried Puffin Academy yet, and you need a Flash browser for your classroom iPads, you should definitely take a look. It is free app, and the developers are committed to supporting educators with approved content in the classroom. Is it limiting? In some ways yes, but it can be a great introduction to the web while you are still working on developing digital citizenship skills with your students.

Helpful Links:

How to Hide iPad Apps and Put Folders in a Folder!

I do a lot of iPad trainings and provide support for educators with iPads on almost a daily basis. So, I get my fair share of complaints along the way. For instance, people who wish that they could “swipe to type” just like they can on their Android phone, or those that want to set certain apps as default apps. I explain that this is just the way things are on iOS right now. It might change in the future, but right now you can’t do that.

Today, however, I am happy to eat my words. Today I came across The iTeach Hub website and I learned two new things that I had previously told people were not currently possible on an iPad. So, I feel compelled to share what they are, just to put the record straight. After all, maybe they are new to you too!

UPDATE: These tricks may no longer work if you update to iOS 7.1 ūüė¶

1. How to Put Folders in a Folder (i.e. nest folders)

Wouldn’t it be nice to have one Language folder that had sub-folders for Fluency, Writing, Vocabulary and so forth? Well, you can, and it works. The video below explains all you need to know. Personally I had more luck double clicking the home button first and then selecting the folder, but it works the other way around too…

2. How to Hide the Settings App from Students

Most educators, therapists or consultants have fallen foul to students who have messed with the Settings on your iPad by accident, or on purpose. This trick is designed to fix that, and can be used with other apps too, like the Mail app for instance. Again, I had more luck with double-clicking first, and it should be noted that you can only hide apps that are on your dock to begin with. If you want to hide an app that is not on your dock, drag it to your dock first. The video below explains the rest.

These hacks work for now, but don’t be surprised if Apple removes this functionality in future updates to iOS. They have done that before. However, until that time, feel free to enjoy it while it lasts and share your newfound iPad knowledge with others. ūüôā

 

The Best Classroom Alternatives to the iOS Notes App

There is nothing wrong with the iOS Notes app. I know lots of people that use it, and like it, but it’s a little light on features. There are other apps that do more, a lot more in some cases, and they are all great apps for teachers and students to use in the classroom. So, without further ado, here are some of the best alternatives to the iOS Notes app.

1. Swiftkey Note (Free) РSwiftkey is a relative newcomer to the iOS scene, but it is a name that is well known with Android users for its innovative swipe to type keyboard technologies. There is no keyboard swiping magic in Swiftkey Note, but it still has a great feature for elementary classrooms Рword prediction! It will predict the words as you type them, offer you spelling corrections for misspelled words, and learn new words that you add to its dictionary. Better still, it is free, and you can sync all your notes to Evernote.

swiftkey note

2. Evernote (Free) РSpeaking of Evernote, it would be remiss of me not to mention it in a roundup of the best iOS notetaking apps. Evernote has been around for a while, but it has stood the test of time, and proven itself to be a reliable and feature packed note taking app. For me the key feature is the ability to access my notes on any device at any time, but the ability to add photos, record audio, and search through all my notes quickly is also very handy.

evernote

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How To Take A Screenshot on Macs, PCs, iPads, Androids and Chromebooks!

Screenshots are a useful, if not essential, skill for both students and teachers to have, but with so many devices out there, it can be hard to remember how to take a screenshot on an iPad, a Chromebook, a Mac or whatever else you might be using in your classroom. So, here is a quick rundown of all the native methods to do this, as well as a couple of recommendations for third-party services that will give you even more options.

Macs

The native screenshot tool on Macs is based around a number of keyboard shortcuts, but once you learn the ones you like best, you will be screenshotting all over the place. So, here is a rundown of what you need to know to take a screenshot on Macs:

  • Command+Shift+3: Takes a full screen screenshot and saves it to the desktop.
  • Command+Shift+4: Lets you select the area to capture, then saves to the desktop.
  • Command+Shift+4+Space: Click an active window to save it to the desktop.
  • Command+Control+Shift+3: Takes a screenshot of the screen, and saves it to the clipboard.
  • Command+Control+Shift+4: Lets you select the¬†area¬†to capture and saves it to the clipboard.
  • Command+Control+Shift+4+Space:¬†Click an active window to save it to the clipboard.

Mac Desktop

Windows 7 & Windows 8 Desktop Mode

Many keyboards will still have the PrtScn (Print Screen) button. Pressing this will copy a full screen screenshot to the clipboard where you can paste it into another application. However, a much more versatile tool is the Windows Snipping Tool. It lets you capture all, or part, of your screen and save or email the capture right from the app. It comes free with all Windows 7 and Windows 8 computers. Learn more here.

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How to Wirelessly Share Files With ANY iOS Device

Ever needed to send a file from one iOS device to another? You could email it, but not all student devices are set up with email, and some files (especially video) are just too big to email. You could plug the device into a laptop and transfer the files via USB, but that can be slow, and what if you accidentally sync your device with iTunes and start transferring apps you don’t need to or from your computer? Wouldn’t it be easier if you could just beam them from one device to another? Well, you can! Here are three ways to do it.

1. AirDrop – If you have an iPad Mini, a fourth generation iPad, or an iPad Air that is running iOS 7, you can take advantage of AirDrop. This proprietary technology was originally developed by Apple for Macs, but it landed on iOS devices in the Fall of 2013. Unfortunately, it does not work between iOS and Macs, but it is still a great feature to have. It is activated from the new Control Center, and is found in the sharing menu for almost all recent apps. Read more about AirDrop here.

airdrop

2. Instashare – Before AirDrop, this was my go-to app. It works great on anything running iOS 5 or newer and is free between iOS devices, unless you want to pay the 99c to remove the in-app ads. As a bonus, there is also a Mac and an Android app that lets you share files to those devices too. The Mac app, however, is $2.99. It used to be free, but everyone has to pay the bills right? ūüôā A Windows version is listed as coming soon. Once installed, look for Instashare in the sharing menu of your favorite apps.

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SlideIdea: An Innovative, Interactive Presentation App for the iPad

Looking for a different way to present content and engage students in your lessons? Take a look at SlideIdea Рa free app for the iPad that sets out to rival Keynote, Nearpod, Haiku Deck, Swipe and other presentation apps for the iPad. Here are 5 features that I think make it a great app for the classroom.

1.Slide Templates – With clean designs, and plenty of templates to choose from, you can be sure that your audience will not be bored by the same old PowerPoint themes. There are lots to like, and you can preview each one before you decide on the one you want. Templates are customizable to your needs and allow you to change things like the background colors and fonts.

SlideIdea iPad Presentation Templates

2. Widgets – Need a square frame for your image? What about a collage? The image widgets give you lots of shapes to choose from and can help your slides stand out from the crowd. If you don’t see the one you want, tap the download button to view more. The same goes for the shape tool. Polygons, lines, speech bubbles, and a variety of icons are just a tap away and each one can be customized for color, fonts, borders and more.

SlideIdea Widgets

3. Screencasting – The built-in screencasting tool lets you record your voice as you flip through your slideshow and will then save it to the app or your SlideIdea web account. As you are recording, you can use some basic annotation tools to draw the viewer’s attention to specific content on the slide. This could be great for students who want to practice a live presentation so that they can play it back for peer or self-assessment.

Screencasting an iPad Presentation

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My BIG List of iPad Coding Apps for Kids!

December 9-15, 2013 is Computer Science Education Week, and this year their big push is to get coding incorporated into school curriculums everywhere. There are lots of reasons why kids should be coding, but none more than the fact that there are more resources than ever to help students and teachers get started, regardless of their previous experiences with computer programming. So, in honor of the #HourOfCode project, here is my BIG list of iPad coding apps for kids. There is something here for students of all ages.

bee botBee Bot PyramidcoddyKineScriptilogo

Bee-Bot (Free) –¬†The new Bee-Bot App from TTS Group has been developed based on our well-loved, award-winning Bee-Bot floor robot. The app makes use of Bee-Bot’s keypad functionality and enables children to improve their skills in directional language and programming through sequences of forwards, backwards, left and right 90 degree turns.

Bee-Bot Pyramid ($0.99) –¬†A fun educational Numeracy game which encourages directional language, sequencing and problem solving. The Bee-Bot app teaches children how to direct and move their Bee-Bot character by giving it a set of sequential commands that they programme in, by pressing the keypad buttons.

Coddy Free or Coddy Luck (Free or $1.99) –¬†CODDY FREE is an original educational tool with the MAIN OBJECTIVE of creating a sequence of steps so that the pencil Coddy can draw a pattern you have chosen from the menu or created by yourself.¬†DO YOU THINK IT IS EASY?¬†There are max. 220 rows to be filled in and there are 7 basic commands to be used. NOW, CAN YOU MAKE IT?

KineScript Lite or KineScript (Free or $1.99) –¬†KineScript is a visual programming language that children can learn a code and share it. It’s easy to make a scene with built-in sprite characters, stage images and sounds library.¬†Drag a script and build the script block to control the flow and to change the behaviour. You can build animations, games and stories easily to share them by email.

i-Logo –¬†LOGO was created in 1967 for educational use, is a computer programming language with functional programming capability.¬†This version of LOGO is an interpreted language, but isn’t a lite version.¬†Functional programming with global and local variables is implemented.

Continue reading “My BIG List of iPad Coding Apps for Kids!”

15 Engaging and Creative Ways to Use iPads in a K-12 Classroom

If you are looking for unique and innovative ways to use the iPad in your classroom, then you have come to the right place. In this post I teamed up with Stephen Lai and Meg Wilson to bring you 15 ideas that will help you think outside the box and bring new levels of creativity to your iPad classroom.

1. Use your iPad as a document camera! – @jonathanwylie

With the Stage Interactive Whiteboard and Document Camera app, and the help of a dedicated, or DIY, mount you can easily use your iPad as a document camera. Better still, you can annotate over anything you set under the camera, and even record what you show. Got another $10? Make your own microscope attachment for up to x175 magnification! It is a great way to use iPads in the classroom.

Stage Interactive iPad app

2. Review academic topics! – @sly111

Quizlet is a completely free app that allows you to create flashcards for your students. Interactive games can also be done on the web. Project them over Airplay for a great review opportunity as a class! An optional Teacher account with extra features is available. Students can also practice individually at home for review for upcoming tests. You do not necessarily need the app, as it is a web-based service as well. Run it on your browser.

3. Collaborate with other classrooms! Р@iPodsibilities

We should never let our students think that their classroom is just the four walls around them. It is essential that students know that the world is their classroom, and the iPad is a great way for students to connect and collaborate with students anywhere in the world. Whether students video conference with FaceTime or Skype (both free) to discuss a book in they read together in Subtext (a social reading app), or to do a Mystery Skype, the iPad opens doors to collaborative learning experiences for students of all ages.

4. Create a special effects movie! ¬†–¬†@jonathanwylie

One of my favorite new apps is the Doink green screen app. Recreate your favorite Sci-Fi movies or your own mini blockbuster with the aid of a green sheet and this innovative app. Film your scene in front of a green screen, then layer your background on top if it to create an awesome special effect! Export your video to the Camera Roll and it is ready to be edited further or combined with more clips in iMovie. You might also want to take a look at the Action Movie FX app.

green screen app

5. Use your iPad as a “game show” style soundboard! – @sly111

Play review games (with the aide of technology or without) and use special sound effects in your classroom using iPad apps such as the Game Show Sound Board. Younger students will love these special audio effects.

Continue reading “15 Engaging and Creative Ways to Use iPads in a K-12 Classroom”

How to Share and Collaborate with iWork for iCloud in the Classroom

If you watched Apple’s latest special event, you will no doubt have heard the news about new iPads, new Macbook Pros, and even the new Mac Pro. However, amid all the hardware announcements, Apple revealed the ability to work collaboratively on iWork documents. So, how do you do that, and are there any restrictions? Here’s what I found out so far…

iwork for icloud

Q. How to Share an iWork Document

You can share documents you created on the iPad, the Mac, or online at icloud.com in very much the same way. Just look for the new share button on the toolbar, click it, and choose to share your document. You can copy the link, or email it to someone. On the iPad you can also tweet it, post it on Facebook, or send via an iMessage. When the document is shared you will see a green triangle on the corner of the file in your document manager view.

The shared link works in most browsers, and although Safari, Chrome and IE9+ are the officially supported browsers, I did get iWork to run well enough in Firefox and even on a Samsung Series 3 Chromebook. So, it should be easy enough for students to share a link to a document with a teacher/classmate and have them make the changes they need. Apple notes, however, that to share an iWork ’09, or Microsoft document, you need to open it in iWork for iCloud beta first.

share a document in iWork

Q. How to Collaborate on an iWork Document

To collaborate on a shared document, you simply click on the link that is sent to you by the document owner. After that, you are free to work at the same time on the same document together. However, real time collaboration is a hard thing to crack with an online office suite, just ask Microsoft. Nevertheless, Apple has done a pretty good job so far.

When two people are working on an iWork document inside a web browser, the changes occur very close to real time. It is not quite as slick as Google Apps, but it’s close, and the lag is minimal enough not to be a real issue.¬†If two people happen to be working on the same paragraph at the same time, iCloud will temporarily store both versions and ask the owner which version of the document they want to keep.

However, things are a little different when you are working between a browser and say the iOS version of an iWork app. You won’t see real time changes in this scenario, at least not yet. Instead you need to wait for iCloud to sync on the mobile device before changes are pushed to and from the web. Once iCloud syncs, the changes will be viewable on an iOS device, but sometimes I found you have to exit the app and return to it later to force an iCloud sync. Hopefully this will get snappier before too long.

collaborate with iwork for icloud

Q. How to Stop Sharing an iWork Document

The time may come when you no longer want or need to have your document shared with another student or teacher. No problem. You can quickly and easily rescind sharing privileges by opening the document, and clicking on the Share icon. Then click (or tap) Stop Sharing. The link you shared previously will now no longer work, and the green sharing icon in the top right hand corner of the document will be gone. As the owner of a document, you can stop sharing from your Mac, iPad or the web.

stop sharing iwork document

Restrictions with iCloud Sharing

Apple are new to the whole cloud sharing arena, and although this product is a great start, there are definitely some things to consider before you go live with this in the classroom. These are not necessarily the only issues, but these are the biggest ones I have found so far:

  • No sharing permissions. When you share a document you can’t set the link to be “view only”. Those in possession of the document link will always be able to edit your document. Recipients do not even need to have an iCloud account. Bear that in mind if the link gets sent around social networks, and remember what you need to know in order to stop sharing ¬†document.
  • Collaborators are anonymous. Say you shared the link with four people. You have no way of knowing exactly who is in the document with you at any one time. Google has a handle on this. Apple does not.
  • No comments or chat. The document chat window that Google has is a great way that teachers and students can instantly communicate back and forward on a given document. Even if they are not in the same document at the same time, comments can be used to leave feedback. Apple has neither of these features yet.
  • No revision history. If you are tracking changes in a document, you cannot share the link via iCloud. This is strange, because once the document has been shared with others, you will likely want to be able to check and see who did what on a given document, a la Google’s revision history. So, because iWork for iCloud does not support tracking changes, you have to turn that off on the Mac or the iPad before you can share.
  • No iPads online. If you get sent a link to a shared document and try to open it on the iPad, you will be greeted with a screen that politely informs you that you cannot be a collaborator of said document on your iPad. To edit, you need to open the link on a Mac or PC. Alternatively, you can edit a copy of the document. But if you do that, no edits will appear to the person who shared the original document with you, because it is a copy of the original document.

ipad sharing

Summary

Remember that this is version 1.0 of a Beta product. There will be improvements, there will be bugs, there will be changes, but right now if you are thinking about using it in the classroom with students, you need to be aware of its capabilities and its restrictions. iWork for iCloud has a huge amount of potential, and could one day offer some real competition to Google, but like the first draft of an essay, there are still a few things to work on.

The Best Free K-12 iPad Apps You Might Never Have Heard Of!

Looking for some new iPad apps to use in your classroom this year? New apps are released every week, but which ones are really worth your time? Which ones could truly push the boundaries of teaching and learning in your classroom? Sometime I am surprised at what apps people have not discovered yet, but often I am equally surprised at what I see other teachers using.  So here is a quick rundown of the best free K-12 iPad apps you might never have heard of!

StageTellagamiOur StoryToDo MathThinglink

Stage Interactive Whiteboard and Document Camera – While it may win the prize for the longest app title in the App Store, it is also a genuinely useful app that helps add yet another useful feature to your iPad. It turns it into a document camera, complete with annotation tools for your to mark up objects over a live view camera. The app is free, but there is an optional $1.99 in-app purchase if you would like to record your live session as a video.

Tellagami – If you haven’t tried Tellagami yet, you have got to give this free app a try. It lets you create a Voki-esque talking avatar video. Videos are limited to 30 seconds, but are highly customizable. You can type the text for your audio and have it read by a voice of your choice, or use your own voice. Backgrounds, facial expressions, and gender can also be changed. Videos can be saved to the camera roll for use later in apps like iMovie.

Our Story (for iPad) – This excellent digital storytelling app is simple to use and easy to achieve great results with. Created by the Open University, it allows you to add photos from your camera roll and add text and/or audio to them. It’s perfect for elementary teachers who are looking to introduce their students to digital storytelling for the first time. A good alternative app here is 30 Hands.

ToDo K-2 Math Practice РWith activities that are aligned with Common Core State Standards, ToDo Math may be a great option for early years teachers looking to help their student practice some basic math facts. Skills include counting, writing numerals, addition and subtraction, but it has some nice additional touches. For instance, at the end of each level, students are also asked as to whether the questions were too easy, just right, or too hard, and subsequent questions are then adjusted accordingly depending on how they answer.

Thinglink – Welcome to the future of images, proclaim Thinglink, and I think they might be right! With Thinglink, you can add interactive elements to a picture. Web links, YouTube videos, camera roll videos, and text can all be hidden under hotspot targets on an image so that students can give multimedia description of their images.

showbieTouchCastDuolingoMoldivCargo-bot

Showbie – Still struggling with getting student assignments from their iPad to yours? Revolutionize your iPad workflow with Showbie, a (mostly) free service that was built for just that purpose. It is slick, easy to manage, and works ¬†effortlessly. It’s the kind of app that Apple should have built for teachers a long time ago, but they didn’t. It can be used at all grade levels because students do not need an email address to sign up.

TouchCast – With Thinglink, you add interactive elements over a picture. With TouchCast, you add interactive elements over a video! They are called vApps, or video apps, and include the likes of Twitter feeds, web pages, photos, news tickers, polls and more. You can also add filters to your video or experiment with the green screen effect. TouchCasts are shared online.

Duolingo – Looking to introduce a second language to your students? Duolingo might be a good place to start. This popular app starts with the basics, but soon has you translating more and more difficult texts. It might not replace Rosetta Stone yet, but it has a clean, fresh look, and includes gamification elements to boot. Most importantly, it makes learning fun. With Duolingo you can learn Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, and English.

Moldiv – This photo collage editor may have in-app purchases, but it offers so much for free that you may as well forget that they are there. Choose from around 80 frame layouts for your photos, and add stylish fonts or labels to your collage. You can change the background color of your collage and even adjust the spacing, margins and roundness of your collage corners. Finished collages can be saved back to the camera roll or send to other apps for sharing or further edits.

Cargo-bot – Interested in teaching your students about programming, but not sure where to start? Cargo-bot may be just what you need. The premise is simple. Move crates from one side of the screen to the other. The execution, however, is less simple. It starts off easy with some in-app prompts, but soon gets more complicated and requires you to think like a programmer to complete your task in hand. Alternative free programming apps include Hopscotch and Daisy the Dinosaur.

Is your favorite on this list? Do you have an app which you like that most teachers don’t know about it? Feel free to share your comments below.