Microsoft Office for iPad (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote)

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.

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Locking Down Student iPads vs. Trusting Students to Behave

When our school began its 1-to-1 iPad program for our fifth through eighth grade students, we were faced with the same decision every school faces: just how much do we lock down these devices? We had already written up a solid acceptable use policy (that all students and parents had to sign), we had robust internet filtering at the school, we could monitor the iPads via Meraki, we had turned on age restrictions for all features, and we had collected the appropriate insurance money for repairs. But we still had to decide: what do we lock down on the device itself? Facetime? iMessage? The App Store?

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Apps in the Classroom – Duolingo

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).

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Apps Outside the Classroom – Convert Videos

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.

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Apps in the Classroom – Photoblogging With Storehouse

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.

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Blocking Ads on Student iPads

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.

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Apps Outside the Classroom – Remind101

Although most schools probably have a robust email contact system in place by now (we use Mail Chimp), you might not have individual email lists for each teacher and classroom. Most teachers just manually collect email addresses at their “Meet the Teacher” info night and set up their own system.

Well Remind101 ($Free) is a nice little app that will help you safely and securely contact parents or students.

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