Free interactive iPad skills poster for teachers and students

Download this in PDF Format below.

Download this in PDF Format below.

This free poster serves two purposes to both inform and educate students and teachers about nine essential iPad skills which enhance teaching and learning through the iPad.

It informs by visually prompting and reinforcing these skills to teachers and students as a simple poster.  More importantly it educates teachers and students about how to perform and use these skills through the use of video clips and other online resources.

To access these resources you will need to download a free QR reader on your iPad and scan the codes on the poster.  One I can recommend is Qrafter but any QR app should do.

The 9 essential skills are.

  • Mastering control center
  • Sharing your screen
  • Splitting your keyboard
  • Using Spotlight search
  • Multitasking and screen splitting
  • How to take great photos
  • Using Cu, Copy and Paste effectively
  • Saving images and screen capture.
  • Connecting to the clouds

I hope you find this resource useful and please share it with others via social media and the web.

You can download this free high resolution poster by clicking here.

How Apple's new Classroom App will change the way teachers and students use their iPad's

Today's Apple iOS 9.3 comes with some minor updates for personal users that will obviously make the use of their iPhone and iPad more worthwhile.

One thing Apple did not make such a big song and dance about at today's event was the introduction of their new Classroom App.  

In my eyes this was the biggest news of all as it offers a completely new manner in which teachers and students use iPad's in the classroom.

Apple have clearly taken a leaf out of Google's Chrome for Education play book here in allowing teachers and schools to manage their devices in a logical manner, connect apps and students together to make learning on the iPad a far more collaborative experience.  Some of the new features include.

  • For the first time classroom teachers can assign shared iPad's in a logical manner which will keep a profile of settings and documents etc.
  • Assign and manage tasks from a central hub ( Similar to Google Classroom. )
  • Teachers can instantly force all iPad's in their classroom  to launch an app of their choice with just a tap.
  • Alternately they can lock students out with just a tap to regain focus on them.
  • Teachers can tap into a student's individual screen to monitor workflow.
  • Teachers can group students quickly based on iPad apps and student profiles.
  • Airplay functionality has been over hauled to enhance the way in which teachers and students share information across their Apple TV unit in the classroom.

Full details can found here but this is quite simply the biggest update schools have seen in the education scene from Apple since the iPad was released.

Whether or not this is enough to slow down Google's recent domination of the education market with Chromebook's is yet to be seen but it is a clear step in the right direction from Apple who almost had the education market cornered in the first few years of the release of the iPad.

Please note that you must upgrade your iPad's to iOS 9.3 for Apple Classroom to be installed.

I would love to hear your experiences of Apple's new classroom App

Why Adobe Slate should be your go to publishing app on the iPad in the classroom.

Over the last twelve months Adobe have produced some incredible free apps for teachers and students on the iPad.  

Adobe Voice has rapidly become my favourite presentation tool for students as it makes the competition such as Keynote and PowerPoint seem ugly, dated and unengaging for both the creator and the audience.   If you haven't seen it make sure you check out my complete guide here. 

To continue this run of innovative literacy apps Adobe have just released Adobe Slate which is aimed at filling in all the gaps of Voice  allowing students to create a presentation that requires a larger amount of text and imagery.  Something that Voice was designed to minimize.

Adobe Slate allows students to publish their projects online and in print to produce a product that looks like it belongs in Vogue or National Geographic.  

Students from years 3 up can easily create stories in Slate using an interface that makes it simple to add text, choose the right photo layout and apply curated looks and motion. Scrolling transitions make words and images move for an engaging and exciting read. Don’t just take my word for it click here to see what this blog looks like in a Slate.

I would recommend this app to anyone who is looking for a fresh way to express their ideas and thoughts on the iPad.  Download the app for free here and take a look at the video below for some evidence of it in action.

How Apple are hoping to rejuvenate the iPad's place in education in 2015.

Once upon a time the iPad changed the way in which we used technology in Education.  This shiny new device with a single button, easy to use interface and unrivaled 'App' store could do no wrong in the eyes of teachers and students and made us seriously rethink about what a computer was.

Since the iPad launched in 2010 we have seen the iPad's phenomenal rise and now it's slow fall as tough competition from Chromebooks and budget PC's and tablets closed the technology gap.  Poor decisions from Apple in regards to educational pricing and any significant improvements over six iPad generations aside from the obligatory faster processor, better camera and screen have left many schools questioning it's place in education as it is increasingly being used as a learning toy as opposed to a productivity tool.

Of all the big three tech companies (Apple, Microsoft and Google) Apple's future in education would be the most unenviable.  

Google's marriage of highly effective and cheap Chromebook's with Google Apps for Education productivity suite has bought them hundreds of millions of converts, and they are now the single biggest player in education.  The zero cost model of Google Apps for Education has been a roaring success for Google which will pay long term dividends when today's students are running tomorrow's economies.

Microsoft took a double hit in schools from the iPad initially and then Chromebooks.  They have regained some credibility with the integration of surface tablets and Office 365 for Education.  Surface tablet sales have grown year on year since release unlike the iPad which have fallen over the last two years.

Currently Apple's options for students are either an overpriced tablet or an overpriced laptop.  iTunes U is a poor curriculum delivery platform in comparison to Office and Google Apps and iCloud offers very little in the way of innovation and collaboration for educators.  The iPad is a train wreck when running Google apps for education and Office although both Microsoft and Google have deployed apps on the iPad to allow access to their productivity / learning platforms.  

In an attempt to re-energize the iPad's future in education Apple are planning to allow schools to manage iTunes accounts for students improve the deployment process for the iPad. 

They are also revisiting the manner in which iPads are managed when used by shared users in a school.  Unfortunately it does not look as though Apple are prepared to allow multiple logins on a single iPad yet, but we can live in hope.

The full details of this proposal can be read at 9to5Mac and it is expected to be rolled out in September 2015.  

Education is a huge space for technology companies and I am sure Apple will be working towards a product or policy change that will place them back at the top of the class.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.


Adobe Voice Teaching Guide and Learning Template for Reluctant Writers

For those of you who have reluctant writers in your classroom, you will appreciate how difficult it can be to get work from them demonstrating a clear understanding of what you have been teaching them.

Finding alternatives to written work is not always easy to come across especially if there are deeper issues than the student simply being a reluctant writer such as a diagnosed learning condition.

To counteract this issue I find Adobe Voice on the iPad to be an incredibly easy to use and powerful tool which as the name suggests relies mainly on visuals and images to share knowledge as opposed to writing down line after line of text.  Download it here.

The other great thing about Adobe Voice is the polish it adds to presentations that make them far more engaging than your traditional PowerPoint or Keynote presentation.

Simply giving students Adobe Voice and directions around a specific topic can sometimes leave them confused and seeking further clarification.

To remedy this I have created a template which you can download here that will ensure your students stay on task and have a clear direction about what they are supposed to be doing.  Best of all the template can be adapted to any age group or topic area.

For those of you who have no idea about Adobe Voice or what it can do I have put together this simple video that incorporates my template and also explains the functions and features of Adobe Voice and how you can incorporate this into your classroom right now.

It is suitable for students aged 6 to 96 and is dead easy to use if you follow my guidelines in the video tutorial below.

I would love to hear your feedback or thoughts around this so feel free to leave a comment below.

5 great classroom management apps for the iPad

An iPad or tablet is almost an essential item for any modern day teacher due to their versatility and simplicity to use whilst doing that important part of your job… Teaching students.

Today we are going to look at five tools teachers can use to make the process of managing your classroom a little easier and possibly more engaging to your students.  

I am sure that you have other recommendations, and if you do I would love to hear them in the comment section below.


Random name selector:  

A Fun classroom management tool for Teachers, that will engage and entertain students. The Random Name Selector is a Fun (and fair) way to select students for that special task or to answer that question.

Has anyone not answered yet?, did everyone get a turn? Bring your Classroom Management into the 21st century with the Random Name Selector.

Simply create your class group. The App will then randomly select students from the highlighted group. All names will be displayed before a name is displayed for a second time.

Class Dojo

Class Dojo takes the concept of rewarding good behaviour and positive actions in your classroom to a new level by turning it into a video game format.

When setting up Class Dojo every student creates an avatar which is linked to their teachers’ account.  From there the teacher provides the student with feedback, digital badges, rewards and level ups when they complete a task or display great behaviour.  

An excellent concept for modern day students that can be completely customised by the teacher.

Decide Now:  

It doesn’t get much simpler than this but your kids will love it especially if you use it through an Apple TV or large screen.

You simply create a list of options such as some different types of games you could play as a class and then this app turns that into a large spinning wheel.

Once again a fair and easy way to make decisions in the classroom

Silent Light

This is a visual noise monitoring tool that allows students to see how they are actually performing in the classroom.  They can accumulate points for periods of sustained acceptable noise levels and also see what the learning intention is at the same time.  ie:  working as a group on our history projects.

Time Timer

This is an innovative and visually appealing timer that will be of great use to special needs students who have trouble staying on task.  Specifically designed for use in the classroom with loads of customisable options.  Enough Said.

The best iPad covers for students, teachers and schools

The iPad is almost almost a must have device in any modern classroom.  Whether they are being used in a one to one environment or shared amongst a class of students and teachers.

One thing that is too frequently overlooked and quite often skimped on is the purchasing of a good quality cover that will see out a good number of years of service and virtually come out of it's case in as good of condition as the day you purchased it. 

This is not an unrealistic expectation as the iPad itself is a very strong device with next to no moving parts that will cause you problems provided you buy a good quality case and use common sense along the way.

What is the likelihood of an iPad breaking without a cover?

The short answer is quite high in schools.  You might get lucky for a while especially if it doesn't stray too far from the couch and carpet... But if you use your iPad on areas with hard flooring such as tiles, hardwood or concrete surfaces it is not so much a case of if, but when?  Especially when they are being used by kids the majority of the time.

What is the most common way to break an iPad?

Take it from me.  I have seen thousands of these things in classrooms and homes and heard a similar horror story from nearly almost every school.  iPads can break a number of ways but the most common way is when they are dropped on a their corner onto a hard surface...  Screen cracked...  And that will set you back around $100 to get that fixed.  It is important that you know this fact because it should be your number one consideration when purchasing a case.

Should I buy one of those cool Apple Magnetic Fold up cases?

Definitely not.  I would go as far as to say these are the most impractical case for a student on the market as they offer zero protection to the edges of the iPad when dropped.  They get grubby fast and don't offer much versatility in the way you can position your iPad.  Steer well clear of this one.  It is like wearing a T-Shirt and shorts for protection in a motorbike accident.

Do I need those plastic film screen protectors?

Whilst some people prefer to have these, they are not so necessary on newer iPads as the screens have improved over time.  A good case should cover you but for an extra couple of dollars you can up the ante further.

What should I pay for a good quality cover?

Essentially anything over $50 is a rip off in my eyes unless you are getting a good quality Bluetooth Keyboard built in.  You shouldn't have great expectations of a $5 cover protecting your $500 new iPad.  Between $15 - $40 is a reasonable expectation and today we will be working within those parameters.

Which one should I get then?

You literally have thousands to choose form if you trawl the net, and you could drive yourself insane doing this.  Today we are going to break this down to three highly popular and battle proven covers that have been on the market long enough to prove their worth in classrooms.

Let's take a look.

The Ultimate All Rounder - Fintie Apple iPad Air Case

Okay so this is the biggest seller on Amazon that ticks all of our boxes.  It's a great price for one coming in at under under $20.   It offers plenty of versatility in the way it can be positioned and has a range of protective features all round such as softened edges, leather full bound case and it is not too intrusive on the screen to cause the user frustration. 

Plenty of colors to choose from for personalization too.  This would be a very smart investment for any student, classroom or school and they have been around for a number of years with great reviews.


The Super Tough iPad Case Winner - Kensington SafeGrip Rugged Carry Case.

So whilst there are many options in this field you need to remember that the iPad needs to be used as a teaching and learning tool and not as just some indestructible object to be thrown against walls.  Which this will handle might i add.

This cover is ideal for a group of prep, kinder or special needs students who need a handle, extreme protection and durability. 

The best keyboard - Durable Case combo New Trent Airbender 3.0 New iPad Air Case

The Airbender 3.0 is my current iPad cover and I can personally attest to the quality of it's build and good looks.  The wireless Keyboard makes the iPad far more versatile for older students and offers plenty of options in the way it can be positioned.

So there you have it.  Three worthy considerations for your next iPad in the classroom.  Even if you don't choose one of these be sure to take note of our safety advice and let us know of any success stories and disasters you may have had with iPads and covers. 

Google Slides arrives on iPad alongside other Drive upgrades


I have written a couple of articles around the issues of using Google Apps for Education on the iPad as it has been a poor cousin to a PC or Chromebook if you are a serious Google productivity user.

Today Google went someway to improving this position by releasing slides for iOS which gives you the ability to create presentations collaboratively and syncs in well with Google Drive for iOS.

This is the first time we have seen the ability to use images in any real capacity with an iPad and Google Apps and as such it should open up a number of opportunities to be a little more creative and collaborative.

Alongside with this release we also see an upgrade to docs and sheets that now allows the ability to import Microsoft Office files and edit them on the iPad too.  This will be useful for many who are either new to Google Apps or just love MS office a little too much to let go completely.

Google Slides is now available from the App store for free and would be a must have for GAFE users who own an iPad.