Quick Tip: The Scanner in Your Pocket

Have you ever needed to quickly scan a document to either save it or send it to someone else? One way to scan a document is to use a multi-function printer to scan the document to a pdf and either save it to your computer or email it to a recipient.  Alternatively, you can get a scanning app for your phone which allows the phone’s camera to do the scanning. Many apps are available that can turn your phone (or tablet) into a portable scanner. Some are free, some are not, and the apps vary in quality.  Did you know that you already have an app that can do this if you have an iPhone, and it comes with your phone? The app is called Notes.

Many people use Notes to scan documents by opening the app, telling it to create a new note and then from the menu choosing “Scan Document” from the list of options.  This process works well.  However, you do not need to do all those steps to do capture a scan.  Instead of tapping the Notes icon, long press it. From the menu that appears choose “Scan Document”.  The scan saves automatically as a new note.  You can export the scan to use it in a variety of ways via the share sheet.

Padlet, an Online “Bulletin Board” for Collaborative Class Projects

I am always interested in finding new instruments to use in student generated content projects.  Padlet is a device-neutral application that allows the displaying of information on any topic.  It can be used like a traditional bulletin board or for such activities as blogging, publishing podcasts or videos, bookmarking, making brochures and posters or as the base of a discussion board.   You can use Padlet as a publishing tool or just as a private notes app. This is a great application because it allows the collaboration of multiple people adding content to a padlet. Another nice touch is that work is autosaved as it is generated so work is not lost when students forget to save as can happen in some wikis.

You can choose who sees your padlets from the general public to just members of a class or even making your padlet completely private for your eyes only.  In a collaboration application, you determine the level of access by assigning individuals read only, read-write, moderator or administrative access.  Padlets can be collaborated on by a single class, multiple classes within the same institution or by classes at multiple institutions.  How fun would it be to have your class interact with experts via a padlet mechanism?  The uses for this app are endless.  Here is a link to an article on using Padlet for blogging in the classroom.

Some of the things you can include in a padlet are documents, images, hyperlinks, audio and video files. Files can be uploaded from a computer or mobile devices, and content from the web such as a YouTube video can be embedded into your padlet.  In turn, you can embed padlets into webpages, blogs or an LMS; export them as pdf files, images or a host of other files; or distribute them the old-fashioned way by printing them.

Padlet is available for use in a browser, and there are apps available for iOS, Android and Kindle devices.  There is a basic free padlet account available which allows you to have three operating padlets, however,  uploaded files must not be larger than 10 MB.  The basic plan is not a trial, but rather, an account that does not expire.  Padlet Pro is $8.25/month (or $99/year) with unlimited padlets and upload available for files up to 250 MB in size.  On the free plan, you can delete a padlet you no longer need to start a new one to keep within the three padlet limit.  For a collaborative project,  you can generate one padlet to be used by everyone in the class.    If you refer others who then sign up for a padlet account, you will be given an additional padlet for every three people who join from your referral.  If you are interested in signing up for a free account, you can help me out by using my referral link.

How to Make Quick Screen Recordings with iOS Devices

Have you ever wanted to make a quick little video to show someone how to do something on an iPhone or iPad?  Or perhaps write out a quick note that can be emailed to a student showing how to solve a problem?  The former can be done on any iOS device, while the latter uses an iPad Pro and Apple pencil.  With this combo, you can record the screen as you draw on it and email the short video to the student.  This is all possible just using features available in the iOS 11 and 12 operating systems.You can choose to make a silent screencast, one that only records system noises or one that allows you to record your voice while making the screencast.  All you have to do to begin making screen recordings is to activate the screen recorder in the control panel of your device.

To make the screen recorder available, go into SETTINGS and open the CONTROL PANEL entry.  Open CUSTOMIZE CONTROLS and choose SCREEN RECORDING.  This will put the screen recording button on the control panel so you can activate screen recording with two gestures, the swipe that opens the control panel followed by a click of the record icon. That’s all there is to it!This will allow you to make silent screencasts or ones with system sounds if your device’s ringer is on.  Adding voice to the recording is easy. Instead of tapping the record icon, you need to 3D touch or long press it.  This will bring up the microphone icon.  Tapping on the icon will turn the microphone on (tapping also turns it off if it is already on).  After engaging the microphone, tap  “start recording”.  This will start a short count down.  When the count down reaches one, screen and voice recording will begin.  Your recording will be saved to the device’s Photos album.  From  the album, you can share the recording in a variety of ways including by email.

There are lots of hidden features in iOS.  Do you have one that you have discovered that is useful?



The Magnifying Glass You Have With You

When you are out and about, have you ever wished you had a magnifying glass available to read small print, remove a splinter, etc? One of my hobbies is genealogical research which often requires reading documents written with poor handwriting or the unfamiliar penmanship styles of previous time periods.These documents are more easily decipherable if you can magnify them. Good news! If you have an i-Phone, you have a potential magnifier in your pocket!  You do not need an app to use your phone as a magnifier since this is already available in iOS as an accessibility feature.  All you need to do is activate it in settings, and the iPhone will use the camera to make it work as a magnifying glass. Unfortunately, I do not know if a similar feature is available on Android devices.

To activate the magnifier, open SETTINGS, choose the GENERAL option.and then open ACCESSIBILITY.  Click on MAGNIIFIER and turn on this feature.  When you want to activate the magnifier on a pre-iPhone X model, click the HOME button three times.  On the iPhone X, activation occurs on three clicks of the SIDE button.

Have you found other generally useful features in the accessibility menu?  If so, I would love to learn about them.