Category Archives: iPad

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!

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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?

Tips for Using an iPad with an External Keyboard: Shortcuts & More


Up until this week, I rarely used an external keyboard with my iPad. The on-screen keyboard was fine for what I needed to do and unlike a lot of people, I really have no problem typing on the screen. I can’t type as fast as I can on a standard keyboard, but I can type fast enough to churn out emails and blog posts with no real concerns. This week, however, I decided to try something a little different. I resolved to use the iPad as my only device for a week.

On a “normal” week I would spend my time switching between a MacBook, a Surface Pro 4, and my iPad for the tasks that I need to get done. However, I happened to read an article entitled, Stop Using A Laptop in 2017; It’s Time To Use A Tablet. In it, the author made a case that desktop operating systems are less relevant than they used to be, so that got me thinking. Could I use an iPad, and only an iPad, for a week? No reason why not, right?! The challenge was on, and I took a Bluetooth keyboard along for the ride.

External Keyboards for iPads

There are lots of Bluetooth keyboards available for the iPad, and by lots I mean LOTS. Some are better than others, but in theory just about any Bluetooth keyboard will work with an iPad. I have been using one at work for about four years now when I dock my MacBook Pro or Surface Pro 4 and connect it to a monitor. The one I like best is the Logitech K811. It has 3 easy-switch Bluetooth buttons that you can use to quickly move between multiple devices. With one tap you can use it to type on your iPad, press a button and you are typing on your phone, press another button and you can start typing on your laptop. It has backlit keys, good key travel and chiclet key spacing that suits the way I type.

I use my iPad with a simple tablet desktop stand because I like the convenience of being able to quickly switch between using the iPad with an external keyboard and using it without one. There are some great iPad keyboard cases available, but I know for a fact I won’t use a keyboard all the time so I if I don’t have to wrestle with sliding the iPad in and out of a keyboard case, I won’t. The stand lets me pick it up and go whenever I want. It also lets me choose whatever case I want to use, and to switch out my case when I feel like I need a new one.

If the K811 is too rich for your blood and you don’t really need the backlit keys, try the Logitech K380. It is less than half the price and also supports multiple devices. My wife loves a number keypad, (she won’t buy a laptop without one). If you are the same way, you might prefer the Logitech K780. It has an integrated phone and tablet stand and includes a battery that will last up to two years on a single charge! Other keyboards are available, but of late I am somewhat partial to Logitech, purely based on previous experiences.

iPad Keyboard Shortcuts for External Keyboards

One of the nice things that Apple introduced in iOS 9 was a range of keyboard shortcuts that are designed to speed up your productivity on an iPad. Like all keybaord shortcuts, these are only good if you remember what they are. However, if you only remember one iPad shortcut for external keyboards, remember this one. Hold down the Command (Cmd) key. When you hold down the Cmd key on an external keyboard connected to an iPad you get a cheat sheet of the keyboard shortcuts that are available to you at any given time. This list will vary depending on what app you are using, but it is an insanely useful idea and perfect for when you are still learning which ones you will actually use.

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Some of the ones worth committing to memory are the ones you reveal if you hold down the Cmd key on the home screen. These are universal keyboard shortcuts that work in basically all iPad apps and they are perfect for navigating your way around the iPad. They include:

  • Cmd + H = Return to your Home screen
  • Cmd + Space = Activate a Spotlight search
  • Cmd + Shift + 3 = Take a Screenshot
  • Cmd + Tab = Use the App switcher

Other useful shortcuts are ones that you may be familiar with from using an Mac. For instance, copy, cut and paste is the same on both devices, (Cmd + C, Cmd + X, Cmd + V), and the same goes for things like Bold, Italic and Underline. In text editors you can tap where you want the cursor to go, hold down shift and use the arrow keys to select text. You can also move around your text with things like Cmd + right arrow or Cmd + up arrow, and use the spacebar to scroll in Safari.

Conclusion

I have actually enjoyed using an iPad keyboard more than I thought. In the past I pretty much dismissed them as unncessary, (and in some ways they still are), but the recent improvements that Apple have made to iOS make them a much more compelling choice for if you have a lot of typing to do. So, if you haven’t tried one recently, give it a go. You might just surprise yourself with how useful an iPad keyboard can be.


Note: In case you were wondering, this blog post was created entirely on an iPad! Also, some of the links in this post are affiliate links to online stores. If you purchase anything at one of these stores after clicking a link, I will receive a small credit, at no cost to you, in order to help fund the development of this blog.

Getting Creative With iPads in K-12 Classrooms

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My iPad is a bit of a mess right now. Too many apps are in need of a folder for some kind of organization. As I began that process today, I noticed that I have an abundance of apps that were designed for creative purposes. I wasn’t surprised that I had all these apps, (they are absolutely my favorite type of apps), but I was surprised at how many new ones I have added this year. So, I thought I would take some time to share the ones that mean the most to me and to group them in some kind of order that might make sense on my home screen.

Feel free to add your own suggestions to the comments at the end because you can never have too many creative apps! These are not the only creative apps on my iPad, (that would be a very long list), but it is a good chunk of them. (Note: this post contains iTunes affiliate links).

Creative Video Apps

Creative Photo Apps

  • Pic Collage Kids – a safe, fun, collage app that is very versatile
  • Annotate – Handy editing tools like crop, draw, arrows, text, emoji and blur
  • Photoshop Lightroom – the mobile version of Adobe’s Lightroom editor
  • Photoshop Mix – cut out, combine & blend pictures to create multilayered images
  • Photoshop Express – fast, powerful, and advanced editing now with collages
  • Pixelmator – a powerful, full-featured, layer-based image editor
  • Superimpose – create superimposed or juxtaposed photos on your iPad
  • Snapseed – a complete and professional photo editor developed by Google

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Coding in the Classroom with Swift Playgrounds

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The recent release of iOS 10 unlocked a creative coding opportunity for iPad classrooms called Swift Playgrounds. It’s an iPad app that lets you solve interactive puzzles that are designed to help you learn the basics of how to code in a programming language called Swift. It is aimed at students aged 12 and over and is part of Apple’s Everyone Can Code initiative. So, if you are looking for new ways to start coding with students, this could be a great new platform for you to explore. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Swift?

Swift is an open source programming language that was developed by Apple engineers and released in 2014. It was created to help developers build apps for iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS. Swift has its origins firmly rooted in another programming language called Objective-C, but Swift is generally considered to be more concise. The app, Swift Playgrounds, was developed to help introduce a younger audience to the finer points of programming with Swift, and to help foster a new generation of programmers for Apple devices.

Getting Started With Swift Playgrounds

Swift Playgrounds is only available for iPads running iOS 10 or later. You also need at least an iPad Air, or an iPad Mini 2, because these are the oldest devices that are capable of running the app. The iPad 2, the iPad 3, the iPad 4 and the original iPad Mini are not compatible Swift Playgrounds because they either can’t be upgraded past iOS 9 or lack the hardware necessary to run the Playgrounds app.

Once you launch the app you will see lessons at the top of the screen and coding challenges underneath. If your students have never programmed with Swift before, the lessons are the best place to start because they introduce you to the basics that students will need in order to attempt the challenges. Continue reading

Creating Photo & Video Slideshows is Easy With Quik for iPad

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I love iPad video editor apps like iMovie and Splice, but sometimes all you really want to do is quickly throw some photos together in a slideshow, save it as a movie, and share it with others. In this past, this has undoubtedly taken more time than it should, but Quik for iOS changes everything. With this free app you can create a professional looking video with music and titles in almost no time at all. Here’s what you need to know.

How to Create Video Slideshows With Quik for iPad

1. Start by tapping the Create button and selecting the images and/or videos that you would like to include. Tap OK when you are ready to move on.

Select photos videos Quik

2. A video will immediately start playing with the media you selected automatically matched to an upbeat music track. If you like it, then you’re done! Click Save to share your video. To explore more options, keep reading!

3. Tap the paint bucket icon in the top right-hand corner of your screen to choose a new theme. Scroll horizontally to see all the themes that are available. Each one has a selection of filters, fonts and animations that will give your movie a unique and stylish look. Tapping twice on a theme will let you fine tune the effects.

Quik themes

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