iPad Projecting: Now It’s Easy

If you have a new iPad 2 you may wonder what all the fuss was about. Now built into the device is the ability to project whatever is on the iPad screen, no special apps needed. Together with the built-in camera, this newer iPad is fast approaching the point where it might replace your laptop. Not quite yet, but it’s certainly easier to carry around.

Tip for today: need a screenshot of what’s on your iPad? Hold the “Home” key down while you press the power button. After a white flash you will find your screen shot in the Photos app. Connect to your computer to send it to iPhoto.

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Chronicle Forums: inverted classrooms

The Chronicle’s Forum area has a new thread on the inverted classroom. Some are calling this hybrid, some flipped, but in general it is a discussion by people who have tried implementing these ideas into their own classrooms. A good thread to mine for do’s, don’ts, pitfalls, successes and practical advice:


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iPad 1: Projecting and Annotating with the First Version iPad

How do you use your iPad 1 with a projector? For example, how do you project a slide show, make annotations, and display what you type on a screen? Are there other apps that allow for other interesting classroom activities?

You have an iPad, a vga cable, and a projector. Plug it all in and what happens? Not much. You will not be able to see your iPad screen on a projector. That is, you can’t just plug it into a projector and have it display, or mirror, whatever you are seeing or doing on the iPad. Instead of building into the iPad  the ability to mirror its display, the projection function is available only at the application level. What does that mean for you? You will need to look for apps that include “vga” support, and those apps will display only certain screens in the app. Fortunately, the number of apps that support vga is growing.

Let’s start with some simple ones. If you want to display a web page on a projector, Safari won’t do it. The options are to use a different browser or another app that includes web browsing capabilities. Both Atomic Web ($.99) and Perfect Web ($2.99) are web browsers like Safari. Perfect Web has several additional features that make it well worth the $2.99. Tabs, hand gestures, and the ability to act like different kinds of browsers so you can display a web page to its best advantage are a few. Try it and you may never go back to Safari again.

Several apps include the ability to browse the web among their other functions. For example, GoodReader and iAnnotate are primarily designed for you to download, read and annotate PDF files but include the ability to display web pages as well. More on those below.

For displaying slide shows? Keynote is Apple’s slide show creator, and it does what it does elegantly and simply. However, while you can create and display your slides with Keynote (or import your PowerPoint or PDF files to edit and display) you cannot annotate your slides while projecting a slideshow. There are other apps that can. After trying out several I find myself returning most often to 2Screens ($4.99). This app allows you to call up ppt, pdf, rtf, even docx files and draw or write annotations on them. You can open several documents, then tab back and forth between these documents and a blank whiteboard to write additional notes. Notice I say write and draw, not type. The annotations that you can create with 2Screens are those which you do with a stylus or finger. There is a note feature built in so you can type and store notes in your slideshow. However, these notes are only visible to you–they are not displayed.

Any drawbacks? The annotations made in 2Screens are not saved with the presentation, but you can save a screenshot of each slide with its annotations. Another thing that might take some practise to get used to is the way 2Screens displays your ppt slides. You can choose to have it automatically create thumbnails of all slides. These are displayed to you but not projected, making it fairly easy to skip from slide to slide. Or, you can move from slide to slide by vertically scrolling. The practise part is necessary because you are ‘finger scrolling’ and so need to line the slides up to the screen as you go. It’s not hard, just something to be aware of. So, by all means, create in Keynote, but display and annotate in 2Screens.

If you want to do typed annotations on a slide show the choices are more limited. Infonet Presenter ($9.99) is similar to 2Screens in that you can open ppt pdf files and annotate them. It also lets you open a variety of image and video files, even xls files. You can annotate with finger/stylus drawing but it adds the ability to type in a text box that you draw on the screen. You can collect a variety of files and images, place them in a folder that you then use for a presentation. This is particularly nice if the slideshow is composed of many images; no more having to mess about with PowerPoint, dragging dropping and resizing, when you simply want to display lots of images. Just drag them all into a Librry in Infonet Presenter and away you go. This is a somewhat different approach to presenting material and the app as a whole has some quirks. So, worth a look but may not be precisely what you need.

So how can you project text as you type it? Surprisingly, presentation apps are not the best choice. Instead, take a look at some of the note-taking apps that are available. Some now come with vga support. My favorite at the moment is Noterize ($3.99), but PaperDeskLT ($1.99) is also worth a look.

Like the other annotation apps, Noterize let’s you open a variety of file types (ppt, pdf, txt, images or even snapshots of web pages) and then draw or write on them. If you insert a new blank page you can type on that page, or you can annotate a page with a text box into which you can type. There are several fonts and font sizes available as well as a handful of colors. You can even turn on audio recording and attach that recording to your notes. These notes can be exported to Google Docs, Facebook, Twitter, Box.net, Dropbox, Email, or opened in any iPad apps that support “Open In” for these file types. To save a copy of the note with the audio intact, you save it as a pdf+audio file that will be transferred and accessible through iTunes.

PaperDeskLT is a similar product, simpler and less fully-featured than Noterize but contains the basics: text, drawing, audio that can be stored on the iPad or stored and synced with an account at paperdesk. It takes a slightly different approach to vga display: you need to create the notes as a “vga whiteboard” to display them, that is, when creating a new note you can choose the standard notebook or a vga whiteboard.  You cannot simply display any notebook that you have created.

Other notable vga apps? Penultimate ($1.99), the handwriting and annotating app is a delight. No typing, but everything else works simply and smoothly. As mentioned above, iAnnotate ($9.99) and GoodReader ($2.99) both have vga display capabilities. Both are wonderful at storing and organizing your files. GoodReader annotations are particularly good because you can send the annotated files to yourself or others by email, with the annotations stored directly on them. Another plus is the way you get files into GoodReader. I find the apps that have to talk to iTunes are just annoying. GoodReader can access files by webdav, through a web browser, by email, etc. And, once the files are in GoodReader you can project them or a simple “Open in” command lets you open the files right in 2Screens for projecting and annotating. Fast. Easy.

imageAnd then there is AirSketch ($7.99). All of the apps mentioned above work with your projector by plugging your iPad into the projector itself. AirSketch takes a different approach. You connect a laptop to the projector, fire up a browser (must be HTML5 compatible, like Firefox, Safari, Chrome), direct the browser to the address AirSketch tells you, then walk away from the laptop. You carry the iPad around the room and write on the iPad screen from wherever you are. What you write will be projected onto the laptop screen and be projected form there. You can open pdf files, open ppt files that have been saved as pdf, or open images and annotate all those as well. Since the display is your laptop, you can even fire up a screencasting program on that laptop and capture what you are drawing or writing on your iPad as it is being displayed on the projector. The educational possibilities are obvious: project a piece of code, a formula, some grammatical errors or writing, pass the iPad around and have students annotate what’s on the screen up front. Have students draw graphs on the iPad and project those. This one definitely deserves a look.

So, there’s a quick round up of some of the current vga enabled apps. If you are a UVMer and would like to see any of these in action just let me know. I’d be happy to show them to you. And for a little screencast of AirSketch in action, here you go: AirSketch

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Projecting from your iPad: GoodReader

Thanks to Kevin Trainor for pointing this out: GoodReader has added vga output to their application!

If you have tried projecting from your iPad you already know that there are very few things that you can actually project. That is, you can’t simply plug your iPad in and have all screens display. Keynote slideshows, yes; web pages in Safari, no.

It was with great delight, then, to discover that GoodReader, the pdf and file reading app ($2.99) can not only project pdf, html, doc, and text files but can also project web pages. You can use the “Browse the Web” feature, go to a web page, and display the results. Not only that, you can go to a site like Blackboard and display it but you can also edit your course.

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The interwebs ruined my brain

Cathy Davidson of HASTAC has written a sensible article in response to the recent flurry of gloom and doom reactions to how the internet is ruining our brains. She also has a book forthcoming: “Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work and Learn”

It’s sensible because she reminds us that much of what is happening is not neurophysiological but sociological, and because she is more interested in what we do now than in bemoaning how we have gotten here. Here’s an example:

“Do kids pay attention differently now? No. Because they didn’t learn any other way of paying attention. Do they pay attention differently than their parents did? Probably. And their parents paid attention differently than theirs.  The brain is always changed by what it does.  That’s how we learn, from infancy on, and that’s how a baby born in New York has different cultural patterns of behavior, language, gesture, interaction, socialization, and attention than a baby born the same day in Beijing. That’s as true for the historical moment into which we are born as it is for the geographical location.  Our attention is shaped by all we do, and reshaped by all we do.  That is what learning is.  The best we can do as educators is find ways to improve our institutions of learning to help our kids be prepared for their future–not for our past.”


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Consumption or creation? Bb and blogs

The phrase “a computer is just a tool” is often used to suggest that they are neutral, that the choices we make about the technologies we use have no impact on scholarship or teaching. Disagreeing completely with that idea,  I love when such assumptions are challenged as in this thought from Luke at http://lukewaltzer.com/on-edtech-and-the-digital-humanities/:

“Our original focus was on nurturing student-centered learning by merging WAC and WID principles with the possibilities opened up by online publishing, in making more visible the pedagogy (both successful and not) at work in our classrooms, and at supporting an alternative to the proprietary course management system that still predominates across CUNY. Blackboard is itself an embodiment of the university culture that Neary and Winn rightly find so troubling: students cycle through a system that structurally, aesthetically and rhetorically reinforces the notions that education is consumption, the faculty member is a content provider, the classroom is hierarchical, and learning is closed. Less and less though do we have to convince listeners that open source publishing platforms and the many flowers they’ve allowed to bloom can create exciting possibilities in and beyond the classroom; we can show them link after model after link after model after link.”

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Snagged from the cloud recently

Mark Sample has posted a list of digital humanities sessions at the upcoming MLA (2011). Topics include distribution of labor in digital humanities, Computational Methods of Literary Research, publishing, research, writing, our online image, and many more.

Cathy Davidson of HASTAC continues to delight with some musings on several Mozilla/HASTAC projects mentioned at the first international Mozilla Drumbeat Festival on “Learning, Freedom, and the Open Web.” Of  interest is the Classroom Organizer, Anne Balsamo’s idea for a tool “that almost instantaneously allows students [in a large enrollment class] to organize by interest-group, preference, or another specialized method in order to pursue a project or an idea in a small group setting.”

Ray Tolley’s blog “eFolios in the UK and Europeon” contains a post that reminds us of the questions an organization should ask “before you launch into implementing ePortfolios at your education institution.”

A new blog, Alternative PhD, has been set up for “Alternative Academics” or those graduate students or post-grads who are following or considering a non-traditional academic path. This seems to be a new theme among digital historians and humanists. As Bethany Nowviskie puts it, these alt-acs (#alt-ac) represent a “broad set of hybrid, humanities-oriented professions centered in and around the academy, in which there are rich opportunities to put deep — often doctoral-level — training in scholarly disciplines to use.” (On a personal note, it’s nice to finally have a tag for for what I’ve been doing for the last 15+ years.)

Is it a book or an app? Yes. Stephen Elliott’s book/app “The Adderall Diaries” blurs the line by combining a built-in online reader’s club with the book.

And last, links to more links: ProfHacker’s Teaching Carnival is a “snapshot of the most recent thoughts on teaching in college and university classrooms.”

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Sustaining Digital History

The Sustaining Digital History project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants seeks to “build a scholarly community for the practice of the emerging field of digital history.” They hosted a meeting on Oct. 1 to bring together authoirs, peer reviewers and editors of several history journals to “consider the questions of hosting, collecting, imprinting, and indexing digital scholarship…and examine models for incorporating digital scholarship in existing print-based history journals.”

The Chronicle‘s Wired Campus blog has posted an article on the meeting and there is also a blog for the project.

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Using etexts in the classroom

A recent request for ideas on using etext versions of books in the absence of available paper-based versions for a literature course sparked a quick few ideas. The question was framed as “how could students engage in those texts in the same way that they would if they were on paper?” Given our upcoming roundtable on eBooks and eReaders (CTL event) I thought a more challenging question might be “how can we take advantage of the ‘digitalness’ of etexts to engage with them differently.” I thought I’d post a few ideas here both for reference and to generate some more ideas.

So, how would you use etexts in the classroom? Here are some to get started:

1) Annotations: pdf annotating applications let you highlight, add notes, underline, or otherwise mark up pdf files. The annotation feature is free in Preview (the pdf reader that is on every Mac) or there are other free annotation apps for other platforms. Annotations can be useful for student’s own note-taking, or, depending on your class, as a way to share student comments among students or with you.

2) Take advantage of the nature of etexts. While pulling quotes from a text is a longstanding tradition, copy/paste makes this easier. For example, if you traditionally ask students to write a rambling reflection about an entire article, consider asking for a reflection on the portion of the article that resonates most closely with them and have them include the section. This might result in less rambling and more focus.

3) Consider using some text analysis tools. A simple place to start is wordle.org. Paste in a chunk of text and see what words the author uses most frequently. Do any themes emerge? (Or, have them analyze something they have written: do they reuse some words too frequently? )

4) Word search: similar to #3, have students choose a word or words then search for that word through one or more texts. For example, a real question that I researched lately using Google Books: how does Jane Austen’s writing about clothing differ between her novels and her letters? Or, a combination: writer x uses the a particular word frequently. How does that compare to how writer y uses that word? (Compare Emerson and Thoreau for example, or Emerson and Alcott)

5) Wikipedia or blog activities: does the book or its author have a wikipedia page? No? Have the class create one. Is someone ‘out there’ (an individual, another class) blogging about this book or its author? Report on it back to the class, comment on the blog, or otherwise engage with the blog writer. Cross-course conversations can be scintillating.

6) Create a book: if your university uses WordPress for blogging, the students can post their writing there, then, with the help of a plug-in, Anthologize (still in beta but quite useful regardless) (http://anthologize.org/), they can create pdf “books” of selected writing. So, create a class sourcebook of best summaries, or reaction pieces, or resources collected from around the web, or something that can be used (and annotated, etc.) by the next class.

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iPad App: inkling

Inkling, a new app and textbook producer, was mentioned recently in the Wired Campus blog from The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Kaya, Travis. “Classroom iPad Programs Get Mixed Response” Sept. 20, 1010)

What is it? An app for buying, reading, and annotating textbooks which includes searching, highlighting, notetaking, and the ability to share those notes online with others. Textbooks, or individual chapters, are purchased through Inkling. They are downloaded to your iPad but can be deleted and restored direct from Inkling.

Positives: beautifully produced books, easy navigation, nice interactivity with self-help sections, slick annotating, includes page number markers that map to print version so that you can reference as needed.

Negatives: very few textbooks currently available, propietary format for books that is not yet public (i.e. you can’t create your own), they are still textbooks with all the pedagogical implications that implies.

Inklings addresses two issues central to academic use: what will textbooks look like in the mobile learning world and, as annotating seems to be a major requirement in any educational app, what standard practices will arise as the “best way” to enable annotating.

Check it out: http://www.inkling.com/about

At the very least you can get a free (abridged) copy of Strunk & White’s Elements of Style.

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