Sunday, April 15, 2012

iPads - The Basics

Many schools are just at that very exciting stage of introducing iPads for learning into their classrooms and for some teachers this poses an endless amount of questions such as, "Where do I start?", "Which Apps should I download?", "How do I get online?", "How do I find the degree symbol for temperature?", "Is there an App for that?", "How do I copy and save an image from Safari?" and so on.....

This blog entry aims to answer most of those familiar questions and point any beginners to additional 'how to' resources that may help you to find out more when you are ready.  Remember it is still relatively early days for introducing mobile technologies into the classroom to support learning, evidence suggests that this process is transforming the way students learn and even the currently available Apps are changing on a daily basis because many of them were not originally intended for education. It is your use and application within the curriculum that is helping App developers to refine and develop their ideas even further.  You might even recognise a gap in the App market and decide to have a go at creating your own.  Whatever your mission, embrace the journey and enjoy the experience!

Is there an App for that?
The next question tends to be "Which Apps should I download?"
My response to this is, there are so many so take it easy and dont go too mad.  Although many are free, remember if they do cost even a small amount, it soon adds up and before you know it you've overspent on the allocated budget.... my advice is "less is more."
Take it slowly and focus on an area of learning and think carefully about your workflow, what are your desired outcomes? Now search for an App to address that objective or requirement and gradually build your App store day by day or week by week.
There are literally thousands of Apps out there and it's ever increasing by the day. If youve not yet come across this Bloom's Taxonomy written by Diane Darrow I would recommend it as a great place to start.  It helps the practitioner to realise that there are more than just content-based Apps available. Infact, I find it's the tools-based Apps that bring real excitement to the learning possibilities.....

Check out other useful Apps and lesson ideas from the Links pop up menu on the right of the screen (Hover your mouse over the right side of the screen to reveal a black bar with more links).

Where do I start? Getting to know the basics ...
  • Shut down and Restart
    There are two key buttons on the iPad, the Home button and the Power button.  If you need to do a hard Restart on the iPad then press and hold the Power button for a few seconds until the 'swipe to power off' screen appears and swipe to power off. Then press and 
    hold the Power button to Restart.  Restarting gives you the 'Apple' logo screen, this may take a short while so dont worry, all is as it should be!
  • To Restart the iPad press both the Home button and the Power button at the same time until the iPad restarts and the Apple logo appears.
  • Toggle between and close Apps This is an amazing feature, deliberately designed to allow the user to access key Apps faster and so improve efficiency.  However, many users believe that you should close down any open and not required Apps displayed in the timeline because they are still running in the background and in turn this can slow down the functionality of the iPad.  This is not always the case and this feature was no accident.  Because you can only have up to five Apps visible at the bottom of the iPad screen, I like to use the 'Toggle' feature to access my frequently used Apps, it saves me a lot of time when working. 
  • Have a go yourself - double tap the Home button and scroll across the 'Open Apps' menu at the bottom to find your App.  To remove an App from this area, simply press and hold on an App to start the 'Wobble' and click the 'red minus' symbol, the App will now close. Then press the Home button to stop the 'Wobble' and close the 'Open Apps' menu.
  • Create folders and organise desktop
    After youve been using your iPad for a while you may find that you have downloaded so many Apps its now occupying three or more screens. This can make finding the App you want less efficient.  However, you can categorise similar Apps and create and rename folders to store them.  For example I have a 'children's books' folder, a 'book creator' folder, a 'teacher tools' folder, a science, maths, English folder and so on.
  • Search for an App
    Swipe the screen left to right (iOS6) until you can swipe no more and a Search feature is revealed.  Start to type the name of the App you want to use and it will appear in a list. Tap it to launch and use the App.
  • Screen Capture
    You can take a picture of anything on the iPad screen, handy for when you're searching the web or Google maps. Load the image that you want to save and then press the Home and the Power button for a second, you will hear a camera noise as the image is taken. Next open the photos App and find your image on the camera roll. From here you can choose to email, copy, print or delete it.
  • Volume Control and Screen Rotation locking 
    The side switch can be found on the top right hand side of the iPad. Press the top of the switch to increase volume and the bottom to reduce volume. Slide the small button above the volume switch across to mute (nb. not all sounds will be muted!) Or find how to use this side switch to enable screen rotation lock here.
  • More keyboard symbols 
    If you teach languages, science or maths it is likely you will need additional special characters or symbols.  It's really easy to find the correct one, simply press and hold the relevant letter on the keyboard and a pop up menu appears with a range of special symbols/ characters to choose from. For example, to use the degree symbol press and hold the number 0 on the keyboard, or to use the Cidilla in French press and hold the letter C. Tap the symbol you want to use to enter it on screen.
  • If you need to write in CAPS then double tap the shift key to switch on Caps Lock.
  • Battery Saver Tips 
    There are a few things you can do to get the most from your battery life:
    - Try reducing the screen brightness
    - When youve finished using your iPad press the power button to make it sleep or use a Smart iPad cover to achieve the same
    - Try closing some of the Apps you have open and running in the background
    - Run the battery down to below 20% then fully recharge to maintain good battery health.
  • Airplay 
    Read a previous post on iPad projection using Apple TV and Airplay here.
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