SchooliPads.com has been lacking updates recently, but long time readers will recall that the same thing happened last year as we approached the end of school. Things get too crazy and new iPad lesson ideas tend to dry up as the year concludes. We will get some more content posted as soon as possible including some summer updates. Things will then kick into high gear right around late July or early August in preparation for a new year and a new round of professional development and lesson planning. Stick around!
Microsoft has just recently released iPad apps for Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote. These aren't just sloppy ports of the Windows programs, either. These apps were designed from the ground-up to work efficiently on the iPad and with touch controls. I was able to download them and check them out, and here are my impressions.
So, you are a foreign language teacher with a dozen different classes of elementary, middle, or high school students struggling to learn Spanish, or French, or whatever. You are actually pretty lucky when it comes to utilizing the iPads. Very few subjects benefit from this technology as much as a foreign language class. You can do research on foreign countries, look up photos of different cultures, find recipes for ethnic foods, use translation and dictionary apps, check out video lessons on pronunciation or watch episodes of foreign TV shows, and find a huge wealth of language-learning apps to help your students practice inside and outside of class. And out of all the language-learning apps available, Duolingo is one of the most impressive I have encountered thus far (and it's free).
Today I just wanted to do a quick post pointing you towards a handy app I used this past week. A coworker of mine had used Amerigo to rip some video clips off of CNN.com, but they were saving as a format that the iPad could not read. The clips were useless: they couldn’t be viewed on the iPad or incorporated into other apps (such as Pinnacle). She needed a simple way of converting the ripped files into a format that could be used in iOS.
Conveniently, there is a very straightforward app called Convert Videos available in the app store for just $3.99.
Many teachers want to show students how to run blogs or create published web content as part of their curriculum (especially in middle and high school). I have already discussed the rather convoluted method of maintaining a class blog using WordPress, but there are simpler and more creative solutions available, as well. Storehouse, for example, is a free app that allows students to publish and share semi-private photoblog posts. They are really easy to make and they look great.
While internet content filtering is important, it doesn’t necessarily block advertisements embedded in websites, Google searches, YouTube videos, or inside apps. Most advertisements are harmless (but annoying), but do kids really need to be exposed to an onslaught of commercialism while at school? Many ads can disrupt classwork or might conflict with the school’s mission, vision, or code of ethics.
So we want to block the ads, but Safari on iOS doesn’t let you just download an AdBlock plugin like you would for a PC or Mac web browser. A few alternative browser apps have adblocking, but they aren’t the default and we can’t force students to use them. But don’t worry: we have a solution.