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.

Continue reading “How To Take A Screenshot on Macs, PCs, iPads, Androids and Chromebooks!”

Setting Default Apps on the iPad with Google

If, like me, you are a Google Apps user who loves to use their iPad, you may have longed for the ability to have your favorite Google services set as the default apps on your iPad. Well, you can, to a degree, and here’s how.

DriveGoogle+ on iOSgmailGooglechrome

Today I saw a post on Google+ by Chris Betcher, a Google Certified Teacher and Trainer, that reminded me how to do just that. It’s simple really, and there is no need for workarounds or even jailbreaking your device, because Google has done all the hard work for you.

Whether you realize it or not, Google has updated its iOS apps so that they can talk to each other. For instance, it you click on an email link while inside Chrome, the iPad will automatically open the Gmail instead of Apple’s Mail app. The same applies for links that lead to a file in Drive. Clicking the link inside of Gmail will open the file in the Drive app, instead of Safari. Found an interesting link in Google+?  Tap the share arrow, and you can open it in Chrome.

Setting Default Apps on the iPad

Apple doesn’t allow you to set default apps on the iPad, so how is this possible? Well, it is all down to a bit of clever engineering from Google. If you navigate to the Settings in Gmail or Chrome, you will find a menu option called Google Apps. Clicking that, allows you to choose a Google iOS app to open something that may normally be opened by Safari or the Mail app.

So, all that is left to do is to wean yourself off some of Apple’s default apps. Mobile Safari is a great browser, and the Mail app is very solid too. However, if you find yourself in these apps when you would rather be in Google’s apps, all you need to do is shift your focus to using the Chrome and Gmail apps instead.

Using Google on the iPad can sometimes be a bit of an ordeal, but in case you haven’t tried it, the experience is very much the same on Google’s Android tablets. You can set default apps on Android, but if you use Chrome to access your Google Drive you will still be forced into the mobile view and warned that you are using an incompatible browser when in the Desktop view. Still, progress has been made, and Google’s commitment to mobile devices is clear, even if the support is not coming quite as fast as some of us might like it to! 🙂

For more information on setting Google’s apps as default apps on the iPad, watch Chris Betcher’s video below, and check out this follow-up post on how to set Gmail as the default mail app on iOS.

Is Google Play for Education a Superior Version of Apple’s VPP Store?

android-edu-2

At the Google I/O developers conference today, Google announced plans for the new Google Play for Education. In many ways, it sounds a lot like what Apple do with their Volume Purchasing Program for iPads, but Google are looking to take it to a whole new level with some very interesting features for educators looking to manage Android tablets in a school environment. Here’s what they have to say:

Schools will enjoy the ease and portability of tablets together with highly engaging educational resources. And whether it’s one classroom or one thousand, schools can easily manage tablets, and discover, purchase, and distribute content and apps with ease.

Now, I appreciate all that Apple have done with the VPP Store and their efforts to provide management software for iPads with Apple Configurator, but how many school districts can say that this is a process that they manage “with ease”. Critics may well point to the fact that this has yet to be proven, but if you have had any experience with managing Chromebooks in a school setting, you already know that Google has already shown that it has the knowledge and expertize to break down the barriers of device management and make it a seamless, user-friendly experience.

In their information for Android developers looking to add their apps to the new Google Play for Education, Google offers some insight into what else we can expect from the new education storefront.

Google Play for Education provides a simple and secure environment in which educators can buy apps in a way that’s easy for schools — through purchase orders. Your apps must support this environment by ensuring that they:

  • Sell all content and services through Google Play for Education
  • Permit Google Play to offer teachers limited free trials before purchase (through business terms only, no development work is needed)

In addition, it’s highly recommended that your apps:

  • Disable in-app purchase in any UI accessible to students.

More information is included in their “safety first” section:

To participate, your apps must be designed to be usable and appropriate for the K-12 market. The basic requirements that your apps must meet are:

  1. Apps and the ads they contain must not collect personally identifiable information other than user credentials or data required to operate and improve the app.
  2. Apps must not use student data for purposes unrelated to its educational function.
  3. Apps must have a content rating of “Everyone” or “Low Maturity” (apps with a “Medium Maturity” rating are allowed, if they have that rating solely because they allow communication between students).
  4. App content, including ads displayed by the app, must be consistent with the app’s maturity rating. The app must not display any “offensive” content, as described in the Google Play Developer Program Policies and content-rating guidelines.

Apple undoubtedly has some of the same kind of requirements for iOS developers, but one or two of the recommendations above stand out as being somewhat unique to Google. For instance, the chance for teachers to get a free trial before they buy, or the recommendation to disable in-app purchases. I am sure there are many iPad schools that would love to have those options.

I’m a fan of the iPad. I love its potential for the classroom and I know first hand that it is one of the most versatile devices a school could buy. However, managing these devices is in no way as easy as it could be. Without a dedicated IT dept, it can be very frustrating for schools who are looking to push out apps and update devices.

So, the new Google Play for Education might be the best thing that happens to the Apple Education program, because for the first time in a long time, Apple has some competition, and may just be forced to raise the stakes further in order to compete. Let the games begin!

Can the Amplify Tablet Make Some Noise in the Mobile Learning Market?

Amplify Tablets

There’s a new tablet in town – courtesy of Amplify, an educational media company backed by News Corp. The Amplify Tablet, unlike a lot of popular slates, has been designed exclusively for the education market, and now goes head to head with devices like the LearnPad and the Kuno.

A tablet tailored specifically for the schools is an appealing prospect for a lot of educators. Apple’s iPad is the dominant player in this sector, but it is not without its drawbacks. Managing apps and imaging devices, for instance, requires a dedicated techspert, and Apple haven’t done a whole lot to make that easier.

The device itself looks to be based on the ASUS Transformer Pad TF300TL, and it runs Android’s Jelly Bean software. It has a 10-inch screen, a 5MP camera, and an NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 quad-core CPU with 4-Plus 1™ architecture and 12-core GPU. The battery life is rated at 8.5 hours, and it comes with headphones and a protective case.

teacher featrues amplify tablet

Teacher features include the ability to block apps on student tablets, conduct quick polls, spot check understanding, see what a given student is using on their tablet, or even send a message to all students to move their eyes to the teacher. They can also build and share lessons with students. The tablet comes preloaded with Encyclopaedia Britannica, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Google Apps for Education, Desmos graphing calculator, EverFi’s digital literacy curriculum, Project Noah science tools, Common Sense Media and education-specific tools that allow teachers and students to take advantage of millions of multimedia resources aligned to the Common Core Standards. However, you can of course add to this software selection.

Perhaps most interesting of all, is the ability to manage all of your school’s Amplify tablets from a secure online dashboard. From here you can manage devices and configure them en masse or on an individual student basis. Devices can be tracked, locked or wiped from this online management console.

So, how much does it cost? Maybe less than you might think. The Wi-Fi tablet is being priced at an introductory rate  of $299, (from now until June 30, 2013), plus a $99 per year subscription fee for two years. Over a two-year period, that puts it right up into the same price category as an iPad, so it will be interesting to see if it can stand out enough to sway schools away from Apple’s tablet, which is already well established in schools. I am trying to schedule a demonstration of the Amplify tablet next month, so if I get that confirmed, I will return with more thoughts after I get some hands-on time with the device.

You can find out more by visiting http://amplify.com or by watching the video below.

BlueStacks App Player: Android Apps on your Mac or PC for Free!

So here’s an interesting idea. What if you could use mobile apps in the classroom without actually having any mobile/tablet devices? Well, you can, thanks to BlueStacks. With the BlueStacks App Player you can run a huge number of Android apps on your Mac or PC, and right now, you can try it for free.

BlueStacks App Player

It’s an interesting proposition, and one that could have some very real advantages for the classroom. In theory, you get the best of both worlds – access to a huge and growing app store, and the power and flexibility of a desktop/laptop computer when you need it. You could even run these apps on an interactive whiteboard, and interact with them in almost the exact same way you would on an Android tablet.

How does it work? Right now, there are four app stores that you can search through for apps of your choice. You can browse the app stores themselves, or search for an app title across all four stores and choose where you want to download it from. Apps are added to a central dashboard area (see pic above) and can be launched from there after they have been installed on your computer. Do all apps work? No. Snapseed, for instance, did not install properly for me, but many other apps I tried like Evernote, Zite, Twitter, Pulse, and…yes…even Angry Birds Star Wars, worked just fine! 🙂 I didn’t perform an exhaustive test of available apps, but it looks like most of the well known ones you could want would likely be able to run on the BlueStacks App Player.

Angry Birds Star Wars

So, by now you are probably starting to get interested, maybe even wondering how you can sign up. Well, you absolutely can at the BlueStacks website, but I would be remiss if I did not add a word of caution. In theory, this could be a great thing for educators, but right now, it is more of a proof of concept than anything else. BlueStacks is in Beta. It is currently free for anyone who wants to test their innovative creation, but you do so at your own risk.

The apps themselves can be a little frustrating. Unlike the iOS App Store, many Android apps are simply not designed for large screens. Many are still optimized for a smartphone display, so they can be just plain awkward to use in their skinny, rectangular aspect ratio on the BlueStacks App Player. Some can be forced into a tablet sized view, via the settings, but others stubbornly refuse or crash when you try this.

There is also the issue of media. If you have an app like the Aviary Photo Editor, and you want to edit some photos you have on your computer, it is not as simple as just clicking browse and finding the photos you need. There is some behind the scenes work that needs to be done to achieve this, but like I said earlier, this app is still in Beta, so the developers will still be working out some kinks and improving the user interface as they go.

BlueStacks App Settings

A final issue for education would be management. If this app was to be used in a school that was 1:1 with Macbooks or PC laptops, the school IT department would want some way of enforcing restrictions, and a way to push out apps to students and staff. This is not currently an option, and may never be an option.

BlueStacks is a very enticing idea. It looks like it could open the doors to a much more open and flexible learning environment in the classroom, but right now it remains to be seen how stable, reliable, and easy to use it really could be in the classroom with students. Have you tried it? Do you think you would use it? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.