iPad as the Teacher’s Pet: An Infographic

This infographic was created by @TonyVincent.  It is the most thorough, most informative, and most helpful iPad app infographic for education that I have seen.   This infographic is more than just a .jpg or .png file; it was uploaded to Scribd, so that the included links to the apps or other websites would work.

On Tony’s blog entry for this infographic he also posted links to download a 6-page version to print or a very large 24-page version to piece together to make a poster.

Doceri

Doceri is a “professional iPad interactive whiteboard and screencast recorder with sophisticated tools for hand-drawn graphics and remote desktop control,” according to its website.  Honestly, that is the best, most succinct definition of the software.  I really can’t say it better myself.  The only thing I can add is that it is available FREE on the App Store.image

There are two main ways to use to Doceri on the iPad: through the iPad alone (via AirPlay) or through a computer running Doceri Desktop. Doceri Desktop is simply the program on the computer that the iPad talks to in order to take control of the computer remotely. I’ve used both formats in the classroom; however, I prefer using Doceri with Doceri Desktop.

Despite the short lag time between doing something on the iPad and it showing up on the screen/computer, there are significant advantages to using the computer. Most notably, I was able to move around the classroom.

When I used my iPad alone, I was still tied to needing to be at the front of the room because the projector connected directly to my iPad.  I have the dongle that can do this; however, Doceri implies that you can present with just the iPad (via AirPlay), but I’m not sure how to get the image on the iPad to the projector without the dongle.  Upon further perusing the Doceri website, I found that AirPlay mirroring requires an Apple TV.

When I was able to use Doceri Desktop, I was able to move around the classroom because the connection to the projector was through the computer and I was utilizing the already in place school WiFi. The other significant benefit was the ability to access any data that my computer could access. This means I could access my hard drives, my cloud storage, and any network drives. If I used the iPad alone, all the content would have to already be on the iPad in the form of a presentation.

Doceri wasn’t created after the iPad; in fact, the company that created it began developing the software about 15 years ago. SP Controls began developing software for a “one remote” to control all devices in the classroom (and lectures, conferences, etc.). However, it wasn’t until the launch of Apple’s iPad that the software and the idea really came into fruition.

There are a number of good screencasting apps available on the App Store and a number available for Mac/PC. So what’s so special about Doceri? Why should you pay any attention to it? The answer is simple: it combines the strengths of screencasting apps with the strengths of interactive whiteboard apps.

Interactive whiteboards took whiteboards a step further by not only connecting them to the computer, but allowed/encouraged two-way communication between the board and the computer. It helped students “interact” with the material rather than just sit and receive the material. However, we know all students are not “created equal” and interacting with the whiteboard presents challenges, for example extreme anxiety or physical limitations. So why not take interactive whiteboards one step further? Let those who need to get up go to the whiteboard, but for those that it is an issue, bring the interactive whiteboard to them.

Doceri require iOS 5 or later, and I recommend a newer iPad. In theory, Doceri could run on on the original iPad; however, I think it may have some difficulty with the processing speed. Additionally, the Doceri website adds that the first generation iPad does not support AirPlay.  I have recently acquired an iPad with Retina Display (aka iPad 4) and I previously had a first generation iPad, thus my recommendation.

I have not tried out the screencasting aspect of the program yet; I have only used the two forms of creating, presenting, sharing. They have worked out well for me thus far.  I am very interested in the Flipped Classroom model and Doceri fits in well with that model.

When I used the iPad alone, I put images together on presentation slides and then presented using those images. I liked it better than PowerPoint or Prezi with respect I could draw on the iPad to draw the class’ attention to a particular place. However, it did have some drawbacks, the image I had on my iPad was a big larger than what was projected so occasionally my written notations would get cut off.

There was one big drawback to using Doceri Desktop that I’m not sure if I was doing something wrong of if the program isn’t developed enough to handle live notations. In other words, when I wanted to write something on my iPad when my laptop screen was live, Doceri created a snapshot of the desktop and then I could draw on the “desktop”. It was frustrating that I had to continuously exit out of of the snapshot in order to scroll down the page or to click anything on the page. Plus, it saved each snapshot as a separate image! After two classes, I had quite a few snapshots (I think 15) that I had to delete.  Upon further poking around the Doceri website, I found it was not me; Doceri takes a screen capture for annotating.  You cannot annotate live.

Another issue I had was attempting to enlarge a document to students in the back could see the text. It was possible to do, but it took a minute or two to switch the controls and enlarge the text. It was just enough time to derail the class and lose their attention.  Perhaps the projector needed to be further away as well; however, the room setup did not allow for it.

I liked using Doceri; however, I think there needs to be a few more tweaks to the software before I will be able to utilize it without it being cumbersome. Using a traditional whiteboard can be quick or cumbersome, and I do not want to use a technology that simply substitutes one problem for another. Technology in the classroom needs to “just work” as often as possible and be as fluid as me speaking. If not, students are focused on the technology and not on the knowledge/skills being taught.  There were many options available by using the iPad alone and subsequently, AirPlay; however, an Apple TV is required for AirPlay mirroring.  I’m not sure how many Apple TVs are in classrooms, but I’m assuming it’s not many.

I definitely will not delete this app, and I’ll keep an eye out for updates.