How To Make iPad Screencasts on an iPad

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Recently, I had the need to create a screencast of an iPad app for a teacher I work with. Normally, I would just AirPlay my iPad to my Mac, and then record (and edit) my video with Camtasia. However, this time I felt like doing something different. I wanted to explore the options for doing this using an iPad, because I am increasingly of the opinion that there are very few things you can’t do with just an iPad any more. As it happens, there are a number of apps that will let you do this, so in this post I am going to demonstrate one of those apps, tell you about the process I used, and as suggest some others that you might want to take a look at if you decide to try this yourself. Here’s what you need to know.

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The iPad Classroom Gear Guide

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With an increasing number of iPads to choose from, and a selection of new ones released on a regular basis, it can be hard to decide which iPads you really need for your classroom. Is one iPad really any different from another? This quick guide aims to resolve that problem and help you pick between Apple’s current lineup of tablet devices – the iPad Mini, the 2018 iPad, the new iPad Air and the iPad Pro. (Prices are listed in US Dollars).

The 2018 iPad (32Gb or 128Gb)

Education Pricing: starts at $299 each, or $2,940 for a 10-pack.

There is little doubt that Apple’s latest 9.7-inch iPad is aimed squarely at schools and colleges. It was released in March 2018, and was built to meet a price point that would help it compete with the recent deluge of cheap Chromebook laptops. Essentially, that meant a few compromises along the way, but the new iPad is still better than the device it replaced, (the 5th Generation iPad), not least because it now supports the Apple Pencil. It also has a faster processor and retains previous features like Touch ID, a 10-hour battery life, a great rear camera, and it weighs just one pound. What more could you want? See the 2018 iPad on Amazon (affiliate link).

Recommendation: If iPads are the device you are looking for, then this is the one to get.

iPad Mini 4 (64Gb or 256Gb)

Education Pricing: $379 each, or $3,740 for a 10-pack.

Apple’s smallest iPad has a 7.9-inch screen and could be a great choice for younger students. It was released in March 2019 and is a significant update on the model it replaced. It’s priced at $379 for education, $80 more than the new iPad, but it is definitely more powerful and has upgraded components like the camera and screen. It also supports the 1st generation Apple Pencil. The new iPad Mini will work very well in any modern classroom, but for some it could be hard to justify the additional expense compared to the 9.7-inch mode. Buy the new iPad Mini for less on Amazon, (affiliate link).

Recommendation: The new iPad Mini is a great device, and it comes with more storage but it doesn’t offer any functionality that you can’t get in the 9.7-inch iPad. If portability is your goal, then this is the one you want. Otherwise, the 2018 iPad is cheaper and still very capable.

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iPad Air: 2019 (64Gb or 256Gb)

Education Pricing: $479 each or $4,740 for a 10-pack.

Apple resurrected the iPad Air line in March 2019 with a brand new iPad Air. It also resurrects a once familiar price point for iPads, selling at $499. Essentially is a larger iPad Mini that also supports Apple’s Smart Keyboard. It has a 10.5-inch screen and True Tone to automatically adjusts to the ambient light. Like the iPad Mini, it supports the first generation Apple Pencil. In short, it is positioned as a step in-between the consumer and iPad Pros. It could very well meet the requirements of your teachers and students. However, many schools will likely feel that the higher price tag is harder to justify, especially when the new iPad will still perform well in almost all other scenarios. See the 10.5-inch iPad Air on Amazon, (affiliate link).

Recommendation: If you think your students will benefit from a larger screen and more performance, the new iPad Air is a great choice. It is affordably priced and gives you most of what an iPad Pro is capable of.

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iPad Pro: 2018 (64Gb, 256Gb, 512Gb, 1TB)

Education Pricing: 11-inch $749 or $7440 10-pack, 12.9-inch $949 or $4720 5-pack

The 2018 iPad Pro is available with either an 11 or 12.9-inch screen. It was released in November 2018. This latest update to the iPad Pro line is essentially a re-imagining of everything that an iPad has grown to become. It’s also, very powerful. For instance, Apple says the new A12X chip is faster than 92% of 2018’s notebook computers, and has graphics as powerful as the Xbox One S. The edge-to-edge screen mirrors that of the latest iPhones, and Face ID has replaced the home button. The new iPad Pro also supports the second generation of Apple Pencil which attaches magnetically to the iPad for pairing and charging. See the 11-inch iPad Pro and  12.9-inch iPad Pro on Amazon, (affiliate link).

Recommendation: This iPad is the embodiment of Apple’s vision for the future of computing. It likely has more power than you will ever use, but if you need the best tablet that money can buy, your search begins and ends right here.

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Should You Wait For The Next New iPad?

Well, here’s the thing. There will always be a new model around the next corner. That’s how Apple, and other companies, make their money. If you see a good deal, or have to spend money by a certain date, then buy the one that makes most sense based on the information above. If you have the luxury of being able to wait a little longer, then do what I do, and consult the MacRumors Buyer’s Guide. They have a pretty good feel for what’s going on in the Apple universe and give you a handy Buy or Don’t Buy for each product in the lineup.

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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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