I had applied to become a Swivl Pioneer and tonight was the introductory webinar. The company now seems to be focusing their technologies on individualized classroom observations, i.e. teachers using a Swivl set-up to observe up close individual student work. The Swivl+ app connects to devices at student workstations which then feed into the primary video of the teacher (student video is not necessary; by using Swivl microphones the same can be achieved with audio only). Teachers then use these closer perspectives of student work to assess the impact of lessons, classwork, engagement, emotion, etc. It seems both overwhelming and intriguing at the same time. I think my biggest question is how to manage that much video. The reason I prefer reading is that I can change my pace: I can skim or slow down based on relevance or interest. With video, I’m largely stuck (I know that I can change the speed). So I’m interested to get to know the system better.
March 22, 2017
February 25, 2017
With the advent of the Apple Pen, notetaking apps become even more versatile and provide even more potential. I’ve been using them for a while, but sparingly because they’re somewhat cumbersome with a stylus and, to be honest, I’m not in the position to take notes in that way much anymore.
I’m at a coaching conference, however, where I am taking notes in that way (with the Apple Pen; amazing) and so I thought I’d revisit notetaking apps.
Here are the ones I (re)looked at (and I didn’t include pretty standard ones like Evernote, (Apple’s) Notes, and OneNote):
What I was looking for was something that would let me integrate images and text / notes. I have a handout for the conference workshops that I wanted to include, reference, and annotate in my notes.
I’ll start with Concepts and, to be fair, it is not strictly speaking a notetaking app. It is more a drawing / design app. With that said, its interface is complex, one that I suspect would be more familiar to a designer but complex enough that I couldn’t figure out how to change the color to one that I wanted.
SuperNote seems to have potential. It is along the lines of Noteshelf. But it was difficult to integrate the image; it added it as an attachment rather than having it be part of the note itself.
Noteshelf had changed its icon so when I opened it I realized that I had used it before. Noteshelf’s strength is creating notebooks of similarly formatted notes. I remembered that I used its photo feature to take a picture of a scrabble score card so I could keep score on the iPad and repeat its use (without having to worry about running out of scorecards).
Similarly, I’m trying to find a good app to take notes during a game. I had thought about how I would design a template and then transfer it somewhere, and I’m thinking that I will use Noteshelf to keep those game notes, i.e. I will create the template, import it into Noteshelf, and keep my game notes there.
But for versatility and functionaliy and simplicity of use, really Notability is hard to beat. It has just the right number of and flexibility with tools, it can integrate images well (I’ve used it plenty for home improvement projects where I photograph something and then use Notability to add the dimensions / measurements), and it exports to a .pdf.
So in the end, Notability is my recommendation for a notetaking app, though Noteshelf is a close second for a different kind of taking and organizing notes.
December 25, 2016
On the 23rd, of course the Friday before December break, we had the requisite post-test pre-vacation party. Food was brought in, good times were had by all. I didn’t want it to be completely void of content, however, so I decided we would post to social media about the party. I copied the food vocab […]
April 4, 2016
I have never been a fan of Apple’s Mail, either on the Mac or especially on iOS devices. I used it early on when, in OS X, it was the only (obvious) option, but, once I shifted to Gmail, I used (and liked) the Gmail interface. It’s not particularly slick, but it’s functional and easy. I especially like Gmail’s columns / categories (Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates, Forums). I have more email addresses than I care to admit forwarding to one Gmail address, so those columns provide a good baseline of organization.
I avoided Apple’s Mail on my phone and iPad from when I first got them. I was on Gmail, liked its web interface, and so just used it via iOS Safari. I would see on the App Store, in MacWorld, through various promotions, different mail clients that tout greater efficiency and organization over Mail. I tried a number of them but found them too slick, e.g. swipe slowly to archive and quickly to trash (I archived a lot more things than I wanted). I did like some of the organizational tricks (at least a couple had a feature that would redeliver a message at a future date, say the agenda for a meeting that isn’t for another week, and CloudMagic has a version of this (see below)) but not enough to override my familiarity with Gmail.
I heard about CloudMagic (can’t remember where) and, as I’ve done with similar email clients, gave it a shot, figuring that I would not take to it any more than I did the other clients I tried. But, a month or so later, I have conferred on CloudMagic the ultimate compliment: I have replaced Safari with it in the dock on my phone; it is now, with Messages, Phone, and Calendar, among the Big Four.
CloudMagic presents a relatively straightforward interface (and I will say at this point that it does not maintain Google’s columns / categories, even in a sidebar-way like Gmail presents on iOS Safari; the linearization of my inbox isn’t great but, since I don’t use any phone client for hard core emailing, I can get past it). Messages appear with a search bar above, the account name / label above that, a compose button at upper right, and a menu button at upper left: clean and straightforward.
The menu button brings up a list of folders / storage that mimics whatever your account has. The settings button is at the bottom right of this menu.
There is one swipe available: trash, archive, and mark read/unread (whichever it is not). I do wish (and I have looked, though might have missed it) that there is a preference or setting that could customize these choices; I’d much rather a file option than a mark read/unread option, but I can live with that. I appreciate the simplicity of the approach, rather than the perhaps more common and more heralded fast swipe / slow swipe for different options.
The star function is a common one and you can of course isolate based on your starred messages (as well as your inbox, which I use, and your unread messages. Tapping and holding the star, on the other hand, brings up a delay option whereby you can hold a message for a fixed period of time. I would like to see a few more options here but this is a handy feature for organizing email (if a bit unintuitive being hidden behind the star).
The lock screen and out-of-app functionality of the app is adequate, if not perfect. Messages of course appear on your lock screen if notifications are enabled and a swipe to the left allows archiving or deletion (a swipe to the right takes you to the app). The only potential annoyance to this (which might, I admit, not be unique to CloudMagic) is that messages will not actually archive or delete without inputting your passcode or fingerprint (if enabled), which makes the process a bit less efficient. Other messages in the same group of notifications, however, can be deleted without reauthenticating.
More useful is the functionality of notifications when using the phone. They appear at the top of the screen and a swipe down allows for archiving and deleting.
I think I’ve covered the range of at least basic functionality of CloudMagic. I’ve been using it consistently for at least a month now, which is about three weeks and six days longer than I used any other iOS mail client. And I no longer use Gmail via Safari on my iOS devices. I still do (via Firefox or Chrome) on my Mac; there is a CloudMagic app in the app store, but I’m not sure it’s $20 better than the web-based Gmail interface. But I recommend the iOS app, especially if you are a dissatisfied (Apple)Mail user.
March 22, 2016
With the iPadPro I received a video adapter to project the iPad. I decided to try that today to project the movie I’m showing my English class. I have digital copies of most of my movies that I bring with me on a portable hard drive; this particular movie I did not have and so needed to use Netflix for. The adapter worked great. I plugged in the iPad Pro and its screen was on the big screen. But when I went to project Netflix, the adapter (or, better, Netflix) prevented it from projecting. The message was one of those ‘This monitor isn’t supported by this adapter’ type messages.
Now, on the one hand, I get it. Netflix doesn’t want to be (and likely legally can’t be) a movie projection service, whereby their content can be easily delivered to a room of 25 (or more) people. There are plenty of apps that don’t allow mirroring or projection for that very reason. On the other hand, I can project the same movie from my computer without a problem and, more important, if the iPad is limited in functionality, as it is in this particular instance, in a way that is not outlandish, that is it’s not unreasonable to expect it to do this, it becomes less viable as a 1:1 device. In our case, the iPad Pro is not being considered for teacher use, so this particular instance might not be as essential, but, if the students have it, it seems logical that teachers will eventually have it. So, the fact that the Pro can’t project certain apps limits its functionality in school.
February 4, 2016
So I will begin by crediting my colleague HP who, inadvertently but certainly not unwillingly, gave me this idea. She had mentioned to me a project she had heard about whereby students use Instagram and hashtags to post aspects of a project for French, and we ended up talking through what that might look like, how that might look, etc.
I was bringing my Classical Literature class to the Harvard Art Museum today for the first time; in past years, I had brought them to Boston’s MFA. The MFA provided docent tours for the class, while Harvard does not and I was the only chaperone who could reliably give a tour on ancient art. So I wanted (really, needed) something for the not-with-me-group to do while I was giving the other half the tour. And a scavenger hunt seemed a logical choice.
The problem was I wasn’t quite sure what that would look like, especially since I had not been to the newly renovated Harvard Art Museum yet and wasn’t too familiar with the collection. I had done a scavenger hunt years ago at the Worcester Art Museum, but I knew that collection very well and could easily come up with specific things to be found.
I quickly realized that the Instagram hashtag approach could be the solution to my problems. I would create an open ended scavenger hunt that students would conduct by taking pictures with their smart phones and posting them to Instagram with a scavenger-hunt-specific hashtag. Each group would then have their own hashtag to distinguish one group from the other.
Here is the scavenger hunt itself:
This seemed about right length wise. Not every group finished, but that’s ok; I would have rathered too much to find than too little. And all of the groups seemed excited about it. In fact, the scavenger hunt ended up being more engaging and interesting than my tour; next year, I suspect that I might just do the scavenger hunt, but wander and offer specific information about specific pieces as I run into students scavenging.
And here are some of the Instagram results. The hashtag for the scavenger hunt was #hamftscavhunt (harvard art museum field trip scavenger hunt), and you can see some of the hashtags the groups came up with.
January 6, 2016
Check out these instructions for removing Apple’s default (and heretofore unremovable) apps: so agree about Stocks, Tips, etc., and happy to be rid of them. One tip about the instructions: when moving the app to the third new page in the folder, you have to let it go on the second page, then re-tap-and-hold for the third page to appear. (I was sliding to p.2 and then still sliding to a p.3 that wasn’t appearing.)
Thanks, Buzzfeed. Very useful.