Show Me the Showbie! An Easy iPad Workflow Solution

ShowbieHave you tried Showbie yet? If you have iPads in the classroom, and you’re struggling with how to have students submit assignments, you need to take a look at it. This free service lets students submit assignments to the teacher, who can then grade them and return them to the student all on the iPad. Here’s how.

Start by downloading the free Showbie app, and create a teacher account. Next, add a class, and take note of the class code. Teachers can create as many classes as they need. Tell students what your individual class code is so that when they sign up, they can join your class and be able to submit assignments to you. (Note: no email addresses are required for students to sign up and use the Showbie service).

Once everybody is signed up, the teacher adds an assignment to the shared folder in their chosen class. This automatically populates it in the student’s account. The assignment can be a text note, an image, a recorded voice message, a 1 minute video, or something that you have created in another app and sent to Showbie via the “Open in another app” function. Need to show a longer video? Host it on YouTube (or add it to Dropbox) and paste the link to the video in the text box for students. Some have even added the video to a Keynote file (100 MB max size) and uploaded that.

Showbie Media

Students submit their assignments by logging in to the Showbie app and selecting the class, and then the assignment they were sent by their teacher. They can turn it in via a text note, image, recorded voice message, a 1 minute video or again something that they created in another app.

When the teacher next logs in, they will see how many assignments have been turned in for each class and they can choose which ones to grade. Their comments can be left in one of the multimedia elements discussed above, or by opening the file into another app like a PDF annotator and then sending it back to Showbie.

Currently, there are three levels of Showbie accounts, all of which are free. But, be aware that the standard teacher account will limit you to 100 assignments. If you need more than that, and you surely will over time, you should encourage your school to sign up for a school or district account which has unlimited assignments.

Premium features are on the way, and will be an additional cost, but Showbie has said that everything that is currently free will remain free, and that these paid extras will be something over and above what they already offer. It might not be the perfect solution for all scenarios, but for most of the time it will work just fine.

Do you use Showbie? If so, and you have any experiences to share (good or bad) feel free to share them in the comments below.

Instashare: Free AirDrop-like File Sharing for iPads and Macs

Instashare

Instashare is a new app for iOS and OS X devices that lets you share files wirelessly for free over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. I’ve been playing with it on and off for the last week, and I have to say I have been impressed with its capabilities. More importantly, it could have some great uses for a tech savvy teacher in the classroom.

How does it work? Simple really. The Instashare app acts like a bridge between your devices. You send files from your device to Instashare, and Instashare sends it to a device within Bluetooth range, or on the same Wi-Fi network. Best of all, it works with almost any file on your iPad via the sharing menu. Simply select to open your file in another app, and then send it to Instashare.

It works with Pages, Keynote, Numbers, and anything you can put in your Camera Roll. It works with Google Drive, Notability and just about any other app that lets you open your final product into another app. Notable exclusions include the likes of Garageband and Educreations.

Free iPad Files Sharing with Instashare

In the classroom, this could certainly add flexibility to the use of the iPad. Imagine a collaborative writing project where each student writes a part of the story and then sends it to the next student via Instashare. The same could be done with a collaborative video project. If all students need access to a video shot on one iPad, the owner could share it with others so that they can work on the media in iMovie or other video apps.

Videos taking up too much storage? Students can share their iMovie or ExplainEverything projects with the teacher’s Mac, and then have them saved to a flash drive or burned to a DVD. Want to add a video from your Mac to a Keynote presentation on your iPad? No problem. Send it to your Camera Roll via Instashare. It could even be a useful way for students to hand in assignments to their teacher, although currently it does not support more than one transfer at the same time. Still, it does mean no printing, no email, no fuss.

The iOS app is free, and so is the Mac app (currently listed as BETA). A Windows app is in the works, and so is an Android version. It is unclear right now as to whether they will all communicate with each other, but I am sure that would be the plan. Transferring files from iPad to iPad was almost flawless for me and worked almost every time. Going from my Mac to an iPad was a little more inconsistent at times and occasionally produced an error message, but it is a BETA app so it will surely become more reliable in time as they continue to develop it.

So, if you are looking for a quick and easy way to transfer files between iOS devices, or to and from a Mac, take a look at Instashare. The free version of the iOS app is ad supported, but these can be removed for a 99c in-app purchase.

The Goodreader iPad Workflow Solution

GoodfraderAt a workshop today, I got talking to a High School teacher (@MrsMoses227) who uses the Goodreader app for her iPad workflow solution. It wasn’t a method I was previously familiar with, but it worked very well for her, so I thought I would share it here for anyone else that might be interested in following a similar path.

Goodreader, if you don’t already know, is a powerful PDF reader, but that is only half the story. It allows you to view almost any file type you can think of, watch movies from a variety of formats, and even unzip compressed folders. You can connect with numerous cloud accounts, copy, move, rename or transfer files, and send them to other apps. Finally, there is an intuitive number of annotation tools for marking up PDFs, and tabbed file viewing. So, you can see why it is often referred to as the Swiss Army knife of productivity apps on the iPad!

So, what did this teacher use it for? Well, she asks her students to email their assignments as a PDF. These emails go to her Google Apps Gmail account, which she can access through Goodreader, because Goodreader can also connect to a variety of email servers through POP or IMAP. The app doesn’t show all your emails, just those with attachments that Goodreader can view. She opens the students’ PDFs in Goodreader, annotates them accordingly to grade the paper, and emails them back to the students as a flattened copy, right from the Goodreader app.

As a workflow option, it is not necessarily all that new, because you can do very much the same thing with Notability and a shared Google Drive or Dropbox folder, but being able to collect the assignments right from her email, grade it, and return it all from the one app, is still a very efficient solution. You can even streamline it further by using Gmail filters to send each class’s assignments to a specific folder so you don’t have to worry about cleaning out your inbox afterwards.

Do you have a preferred iPad workflow for your students? What have you had the most success with and why?

iPad Workflow Solutions for Educators

Recently, I attended ITEC 2012 -Iowa’s premier technology conference for educators. David Pogue and Marco Torres were the keynote speakers, but there were dozens of other excellent breakout sessions over the course of this three-day event.

I myself had the opportunity to present twice, so I opted for a couple of iPad sessions that I had been wanting to talk about for some time now, and I have included the slides to the first of these two sessions below – iPad Workflow Solutions for Educators.

A digital workflow for the iPad, or the process of getting student work to and from the device, has long been a subject of some consternation among those who use iPads in the classroom. Why? The reason is simple. Apple did not build  the iPad for a school environment. It was designed for an individual. As such, it was designed to be managed by an individual, with little real thought about how that individual could interact with other users.

Thankfully, this is beginning to change. Apple is less restrictive that it once was. It has loosened the reins a little with iOS and it is now actively working to help develop mobile device management software like Apple Configurator. My presentation at ITEC was designed to reflect that, and it includes some of the latest changes and developments that have been made to the iOS ecosystem.

So, feel free to take a look at some of the options that are available to you if you use iPads in the classroom. A fully digital workflow is possible on the iPad, but it is not always as intuitive as it might be. The slides here do not always tell the whole story, because of the nature of a slideshow presentation, so if you want or need any further information on any of these methods, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below.