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iPad App Evaluation for the Classroom

​There are millions of apps available on the Apple appstore and it's so easy to get lost in the "needle in the haystack" search for what's good out there.  So how do you evaluate an app for for its instructional validity and soundness?

Langwitches Blog/Globally Connected Learning has a great way to evaluate apps with transformative use of the iPad in mind. Read about it here:

And also take a look at their evaluation checklist:

This is a great way to look at apps for their instructional value to help avoid apps that are purely "game-like" in nature.

Limited Flash for the iPad

Even though most websites have gotten with the program and "buried Flash", there are still a few out there that require that you have Flash to view certain things on their websites. Some of our educational software that resides in the cloud (on the internet) requires Flash so that makes it kind of difficult to cooperate on the iPad.

There are now several alternatives available for those sites where you absolutely have to have Flash.

  • rover.gifRover - ​free education app that streams educational Flash content to your iPad.  It already has some of the common educational sites with Flash content bookmarked - Like Discovery Education, Funbrain, BrainPop, Khan Academy (yes, Khan Academy will stream through Rover past our content filter)
  • photon.gifPhoton Flash Player Browser for iPad - not Free and not incredibly fast but does the trick if you need something that requires Flash to play on your iPad.  Cost $4.99.
  • CloudBrowse - not Free but also streams Flash content in addition, you can see java content that will not load on other browsers.  Cost $2.99.  Note:  the app is not free and you can upgrade your secloudbrowse.gifrvice.  The "free service" that comes when you purchase the app only gives you 10 minutes of browsing time.  You can subscribe and get unlimited browsing for a fee of $4.99/month or $5.99/month for premium service.
  • OnLive Desktop - This is a great app because it provides you with FREE PowerPoint, Excel, and Word 2010 for your iPad (2GB online storage).  It looks like a Windows 7 desktop when you open it up - and you have Internet Explorer within onlive.gifthis app.  However, you the free unsubscribed version of this app will only let you visit the onlive site through the app. If you purchase a monthly subscription, you get "lightning-fast speeds with full-featured Adobe Flash".  The subscriptions for this start at $4.99/month and range up to $9.99/month (although I don't think that is quite ready).  On a side note, get this app fast. I hear that Microsoft is suing OnLive because they have not properly licensed their software.  So I'm not sure how long it will last.  Since it is a cloud service, if they lose, then your app will probably stop working.

So long story short . . . if you need Flash on your iPad, there are ways to do it.

Socrative - Use your iPads as Interactive Clickers (classroom response devices)

​One of the greatest things about the iPad is its versatility.  You can use it for so many different things depending on the apps you download.

A recent find that I want to showcase is Socrative.  Socrative turns your set of iPads into a set of Interactive Clickers. There are actually two apps to download - a student and a teacher edition.  The teacher edition gives the instructor the ability to create interactive quizzes from his/her iPad.  Once created, the teacher can activate the quizzes for their students. All the students need to know is the teacher's "room number" (that's assigned to you when you set up your account).  You can create a quiz that is time sensitive, one that teacher-paced (where the teacher releases the questions as he/she is ready), one that is student-paced, a space race (run a quiz as a game), or an Exit Ticket (check the pulse of your class at the end of the period).  There are many options.  Teachers can also create the quizzes on their computer.  There is also an option to import quizzes.  I think the key to managing the data for your students is to always include as your first question, "What is your name?" The software is kind of basic but it is FREE.

The student version of the software is very straightforward.  The student does not have a login. He/she just enters the teacher's room number and waits for the quiz or quizzes to be "run".  When the quiz is activated, the software will immediately allow the students to begin taking the quiz.

When finished, the software compiles the information by question and the data can be analyzed and emailed.


NC WISE and the iPad

​Someone shared with me on a email listserv how to access NC WISE on an iPad without remoting to another computer this week. It involves an app called Cloud Browse. The app costs $2.99. It is a little clunky and takes a little patience but with some practice it works. One should note that there is no F7/F8. You have to use the query menu and the enter/execute commands from the same menu, but other​ than that it works pretty well.​​​ ​Also you need to know that it only works in ten minute intervals unless you subscribe to the monthly service.

UPDATE: you can even run reports from this app if you have the Adobe Reader free app installed.

Make your own QR codes 
Fantastic site for QR history, information, software links, examples, readers and create your own. All free! Create your QR based on data type, key the data, pick your color and watch your code 'evolve'. Download, print or email the file when you pleased with your QR code. 
Another great free resource. Fewer data type options and no color choices but you can alter the code size. Click Generate under the size options to generate the code. To save the file (it does not have download listed) click on the picture and choose Save Picture As to get the file. Icon in upper right hand corner lets you download the reader if you need one.

Both are super easy, lots of fun, and offer endless possibilities for classroom application!

Darlene Epley

So What in the World is a QR Code and How Can I Use it in My Classroom??

Everyone has probably seen these things around but you may not know what they are . . . QR codes. First of all, QR stands for Quick Response Code.  This is an example of one below - this one, if scanned by a QR reader, will take you to this very site (not too helpful since you are already here - LOL).


To use a QR code, you must have a QR Reader (a scanner of some sort).

Here is another sample of a QR code that takes you to a site outside of our website (this QR code is actually a URL related to QR codes):

So why are these things so popular and exactly how are they helpful to you as an educator? Well, first of all, these codes are basically 2 dimensional barcodes - similar to what you are accustomed to seeing on most commercial packages in one dimension. You can get more information on these coded, scannable images than the typical UPC codes. The next time you are at the grocery store or your favorite big box store, pick up a few items and you'll see that most of your major brands have replaced their traditional UPCs with these codes. If you have a smartphone, download a QR Reader app (you can find a free one listed below) and see what information pops up on the item that you scan.
Not only can product information be stored in a QR code, other information can be linked here.  QR codes can be used to take you to a URL (website), provide a service (like download a newsletter, a resume, a business card, instructions for something, etc.) - applications are widespread!
Now what does this have to do with education and instruction? Well . . . there are lots of resources out there for QR codes and instruction. I'm going to give a few websites at the end of this blog post for you to explore. I'm just going to give you the 20,000 ft view of things so that you can understand how this all fits in with instruction. 
Most educators who have harnessed the power of QR codes in their classrooms have used QR codes in ways similar to that of a scavenger hunt - a quick way to get students to places on the web without the trouble of typing in URLs. They've also used QR codes to get instructions out to students regarding activities and assignments.  Some educators have taken some great ideas of the past, such as webquests, and transformed them into newer more exciting activities using QR codes by replacing the components of the webquest with QR codes that function much in the same way. Students can use their phones or mobile devices to interact and get involved in the lesson in different ways than before.
Other innovative ways to user QR codes might include taking surveys/polls, assigning homework assignments, flashcards, forms, feedback, and digital portfolios. 
Anyone can make a QR code.  Just do your own Google-search for QR code creator and you can create your own in about 20 seconds for a URL.  If you need to make one for a text file, it's not too difficult. You can download an app for you smartphone or mobile device/tablet (free apps are available).
Here are some great resources if you are interested in exploring some things that other folks are doing:
iPad Apps for QR codes:
  • QR Reader for iPhone (works on both iPhone and iPad) - there is a free version
  • Easy QR (Free Version) - available for both iPhone and iPad

Also, check out on iTunes U the video library Teacher Technology Tools (4 episodes) by Craig Van Ham:

  • QR Codes for use in the Classrooms


A Couple of Great FREE Apps for the iPad

We've been working with many teachers over the past few weeks and have discovered quite a few new "must have" apps that are absolutely great for new users to the iPad. I wanted to share three apps with you that I think are great tools for teachers.

One that is unbelieveable - and I can't believe it's free - is OnLive Desktop.  You'll need to go their website and set up an account first ( and then search the Appstore for this app.  Brace yourself!  This app looks like a Windows 7 desktop, comes with 2 GB of storage, and best of all includes a FREE copy of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2010.  To use it, you must have a persistent wi-fi connection.

iTunes U is the second app I want to share with you this week.  iTunes U has been out for a long time but the app was just recently released for the iPad/iPhone/iPod.  With this app, you can search for COMPLETE courses, books, videos, and other educational content from major universities, schools, and educational institutions (like NCDPI) - FREE. You have access to courses at Stanford, Yale, MIT, Oxford, Duke, etc. and can take these courses - you can see the notes, assignments, updates from instructors.  There are more than 500,000 free lectures, videos, books, etc. available.

You will spend hours just looking through iTunes U. 

The third app is iBooks.  iBooks was just recently retooled (and now called iBooks2) to compete with the Nook and Kindle apps.  The reason I wanted to spotlight this app is because of the great FREE book call iPad User Guide for iOS5. For those of you new to the iPad, this is a great book to help you get aquainted with your new device. It covers just about everything you can think of regarding the functionality of your device. Once you download iBooks2, click Store, then Top Charts, and this book should appear on the right under the "Top Free Books".  If you don't see it, scroll down and click "Show more".  When I posted this, it was listed at #3 but depending on the popularity of the day's rating, it may change in its ranking.