Tuesday, January 28, 2014

#6 Creating and Editing Docs

There are a couple of apps highlighted here that allow users to edit Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents. The first is CloudOn. Having a Dropbox account or similar account would make this the most useful as it's a place where all the documents I want to edit or save can be accessed from anywhere. Dropbox is a "cloud" storage spot where documents can be uploaded and accessed from any Internet device. A very functional app to have.

The second app is called QuickOffice which allows the same kind of editing features as CloudOn but the difference seems to be that QuickOffice uses your GoogleApps account to save and store documents. When I access GoogleDrive, I have the option to open the document in QuickOffice to do the editing. It worked on the documents that I tested. It's not a glitzy app but very functional. I'll keep it on my iPad.

#7 Content Saving and Sharing

I have to admit that I wasn't thrilled when I saw that Pinterest was the first app on this next mobile thing.  It's not that I don't like Pinterest; I've had an account for years, but I haven't used it much at all and the only reason for this is that I instantly recognized it as a huge time suck and I already spend enough time online. I have to admit that it's a great site and has plenty of uses both professionally and personally. I see a lot of great ideas for teachers on Pinterest and I think Pinterest would do for me what I had hoped Flipboard would do. So yes, I'm going to log back into Pinterest, get my board organized and figure out what's next.

The cool thing about Pinterest is all the people who share their boards so that as you connect with a board, others are accessible and then others and soon hours have passed by, hence the reason I've avoided Pinterest. But really, you can find great teaching ideas, crafty things, travel ideas and more. I just looked up Norway (where I'm going this summer- hurray!) and, oh my, I could spend hours looking at amazing fjords and beautiful Scandinavian architecture. I think I will.

(Oops- I'm out of order…I thought this was #6. Stay tuned!)

#5 Taking Notes

My favorite notetaking app isn't listed in the suggested apps so I'll start with Evernote. I LOVE Evernote- one of my top 10 apps for sure. I use it to clip webpages so I can save articles, recipes, directions and more. I usually use Evernote when I take notes at meetings or conferences because I can access them anywhere- my phone, iPad, computer or more. There is a web page interface as well as downloadable apps for devices and computers. I keep lists of books I want to read, shopping lists, some non-secure account information, places to visit with hours when I travel and so much more. One of the suggested apps in this area is Springpad which looks to be very similar to Evernote. If I didn't already use Evernote so frequently, I'd compare the two but I won't be switching at this point. 

Students could also create Evernote accounts and use this apps to create a repository of their notes, web articles and more. Notes can also be shared via email (or social media). 

Bamboo Paper has good possibilities. It's a drawing/notetaking app that allows you to import photos as well as create notes and graphics. I think it would be a great way for students to mark up a map or label the parts of a plant, for instance, or create a web. I wish that there was a text typing tool though. If I used this one a lot, I'd definitely buy a decent stylus. Pages can be emailed or uploaded to Evernote or Dropbox.

Dragon Dictation is pretty darn cool. It's a free speech-to-text app so you just have to speak to the iPad and it makes your words into text. I can't get Siri to recognize my voice worth a darn but Dragon Dictation did a good job of recognizing what I said, even reading a textbook. It only records words, not beginning or end of sentences with upper case letters or punctuation unless you say the proper commands as you read. The dictation can then be copied and pasted into other apps. This could be a fun way for younger students to do some storytelling. 

#4 Keeping Up

I was pretty excited about Flipboard when I first saw it, and I might be missing something, but I'm feeling a little less excited about it now, at least for school use. Flipboard calls itself an "online magazine" and it's pretty cool to customize my flipboard to access topics that are of interest to me. What I can't figure out is how to add specific websites. I was thinking it would be a great research springboard for students…put links to good websites for students but it is more topic based and it appears that the searches are only done through Flipboard. I can't find a way to add the BG homepage, for instance and the search tool shows no results.

Using this for my own use has possibilities. I love the look of the app making Facebook look so much more interesting and "magazineish". I tend to browse specific websites versus topics and I think there may be better options out there for me. I'll come back to this one.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

#3 Utilities

Red Laser: 5 stars! This is one of my favorite utilities on my phone and use it frequently as it fills my inner-bargain-shopper needs. It scans UPC codes and Red Laser scans the web for sites with the same product. I've used it when I've purchased items to get the lower price at area stores- most recently a freezer I purchased. It was an easy way to also view reviews which impacted the choice we made. I've used it when book shopping to check professional reviews before purchasing for our school library. There is a similar feature within the Amazon app that I use for book reviews to be more efficient.

Google: I was interested in trying the camera feature for searching. I took photos of my dog, a ceiling fan, a fresh flower, and my shoe and Google came back with the message that it didn't recognize anything, or it got stuck on the capturing message. Maybe this feature isn't ready for prime time but Google is an awesome search tool even without the camera.

StandApp: This is a fun app that reminds me to move regularly, and provides exercises as well.

iHome Sleep: On the other end of the spectrum from StandApp is the iHome alarm app. I love the features of this app but I probably won't use it because it has to be run in the foreground of the app, not the background and I'm not likely to remember that. Alarms need to be reliable and this one counts on me to remember to set my phone correctly before going to sleep. The phone also can't be locked. Fail.

Other favorite utilities: I recently installed the Minneapolis Parking Rules app. It saves me when I have to park in Minneapolis when I don't keep track of parking rules in the winter with snow emergencies. I've used the Voice Memos app to record students reading to review later. I like the CamView app because we have some web cams at home and I can access these from anywhere.

#2 Mobile Device Tips

I've had an iPhone and iPad for a number of years but it was interesting to view the videos with new tips and tricks for IOS 7. I can figured out many of the tips but I hadn't seen some of the sharing options. Because we use Apple Configurator with our school iPads, I'll have to look to see if some of these sharing features are enabled as we lose some of these functions with our building iPads.

For personal use, I love the new unlimited folder access to organize apps. I used to have pages of apps and like the organization of this. I could probably delete about half my apps and never miss them but at least they are organized!

I hadn't spent much time with the accessibility features because I hadn't thought that I'd need them but I like that I can choose features that make my phone more personalized.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


I've been using an iPad and iPhone for years and know that there is always more to learn, especially when using mobile technology with students. My district recently passed a technology levy so I want to be ready for the influx of technology and to use it effectively as a teacher and with students and to help others to do the same.

I have some teachers interested in joining me for the journey so I'm looking forward to getting started.