The second writing objective I had was to find effective way for students to work on daily or weekly journals and writing projects. Again, I use Evernote for collaborative projects but for journals I tried to find other options.Online there are two good collaborative writing resources of Type With Me and QuietWrite. Type With Me is an online space that any web browsing device can access to write together as a group whether creating a writing piece or just jotting down notes on a shared project by sharing out a link or emailing invitations. Files can be imported or exported. In QuietWrite, you will find many of the same features of the latter but you can also create an account for extra features such as: export to a WordPress blog or post for public viewing with a QuietWrite link. For iOS apps, I found iDiary for the Elementary students and PaperDesk Lite and iJournal for upper level students. iDiary is great for all types of digital projects including ijournaling. The app stores up to 6 password protected personalized journals per device. Each personalized journal has a child-friendly interface that is intuitive for younger students to operate with little instruction. They can customize the color, name and avatar for their journals. There are options for sketching, typing, importing photos, pre-defined stickers and exporting as a photo or email. I’ve used this and then exported a page as a photo to place into an eScrapbooking or Travelogue project. PaperDesk Lite and iJournal are better for older students and adults. PaperDesk Lite allows you to save a few journals (paid version offers more) but you can add as many pages as needed within the journals. This option also allows sketching, typing and importing of photos but also allows the user to record audio notes, change out paper type, import PDFs to annotate and export to options like Google Docs. I couldn’t find a password protection option but have to look into the paid version to see if its an option. If you want a password protected option for your older students because devices are shared in most schools, then iJournalis a good option. At $2.99, it’s missing some of the features such as recording notes and adding photos (except one as an avatar can be added) but it does offer some features to create a personalized and protected journal your older students will want to write in.
The third option that is right now my absolute favorite is Cloud Browse. This is another browser app that was priced at $2.99 when I purchased it recently. Although the browser itself does not have a lot of advanced features found in other browser apps such as Ultimate Browser that has the ability to open multiple tabs, emulate other browsers and share out content in social media platforms, it does do one thing very well…. play Flash and Java content. I was able directly within the browser look at websites with flash movies playing such as Wiffiti.com. Even better, I was able to go to the same site, Cool Math, and successfully play flash and java-based games such as Snorzees or Lemonade Stand without any special setup or additional steps to follow which means it would be intuitive for the teachers and the students. It isn’t completely perfect either as it can suddenly knock you out and close the app on occasion and it has to constantly connect to a server due to how the app is set up. The way the app works is a company by the name of Always On Technologies has to host a desktop Firefox browser on an independent server. For the basic $2.99 app, you have a 10 minute connection to their server and then it can drop and you need to refresh which can be annoying when conquering the final level of that game you were playing. They offer an upgrade to the service which states will take care of these minor glitches but the upgrade is currently a little steep for most educators at $5.99/month. I’ve been using the basic app just fine and don’t intend to upgrade currently as its competition, the release of HTML5, could make the need for such apps obsolete and perhaps their premium prices might drop. For now, I will remain using the $2.99 basic app happily watching my flash content and playing Flash games on my iPads.
What do you use to view Flash or Java content on the iPad? Join my blog and let me know.
ReelDirector, from SynapticLight, is found in the iTunes App store for $1.99 and is worth every penny if not more. I was able to take the frames the students created in FlipBoom plus regular photos that I had and import them onto the storyboard area of ReelDirector. From there, I could add in more photos, videos and create transitions between slides if desired. I like the transition customization tool’s interface. Simple feature but nicely done.
Adding sound is another welcomed feature. In the other apps, I couldn’t add sounds easily or couldn’t add them at all. Students were frustrated by this. With ReelDirector, students (or teachers) can record their own voice frame per frame or across the entire story. They can also add music and from there I found another great tool. If you don’t have music on your iPad, don’t worry…. they have a feature for that too. Maybe you don’t have music on your iPad but you do on a PC or Mac. There is a button titled “My Music”. From there, click the plus sign over the wireless signal icon and it directs you to type in a URL, or web address, in the browser of your computer. On the following screen, there are simple directions to choose the music file on your computer and then upload. You’ll see the music transferring on the iPad within the ReelDirector app. Now you can send music to your iPad directly over the wireless. Nice feature and simple to use.
Editing, compressing and rendering are icing on the cake. Before editing was just an eraser in other apps. Now I have a crop, subtitle, text and closing credit tools. To edit music or sounds added, just touch and hold and then you can either delete or slide and move the sound to where you want it. There is the option to fade sounds in and out and adjust the volume. The ability to pan and zoom in on a still photo adds another touch. The students like zooming in on a still picture and then panning out as if the still photo was moving.
There are a few items to comment on although they didn’t impair use very much for us. To play your movie, even if you are still working on it and want to add more, you’ll need to render it. You can still edit it again but a preview play would be nice instead of just for the panning in a particular slide. You can preview when looking at the Zoom and Pan in feature but allowing the students to record themselves and quickly preview their story with their narrations from where they are would allow them to work more productively. Also, it doesn’t automatically import videos from the video library. In the help topics, it is mentioned to go to settings under the Photos app and choose “include video as well”.
Whether you use an iPhone, iPod, iPad, Android Smartphone, PC, or Macbook in your daily journey or (like me) all of the above, this is the app for you. I used to have the irritating issue of taking notes for different meetings and projects only to store them in some folder and then find myself somewhere needing those notes but without that folder. I tried typing things on a laptop or netbook but this could be cumbersome and many times there was an impromptu meeting with no laptop in sight. Now, I never worry. As soon as I’m done taking notes, I take a picture with my phone or iPad and instantly upload them to an Evernote Binder. You can also email photos or documents with a provided Evernote email address. With Evernote, my notes for all meetings and all projects are with me no matter where I am and what device I have with me.
The other time-consuming task was finding websites related to a specific project and keeping them organized with my other notes and files for that project instead of in my bookmarks. With Evernote, there is a toolbar add-on that automatically captures any website and adds them to an Evernote notebook with all of the files you’ve collected for a project or meeting. There are more add-ons and other features with the paid version that I’m sure are worth looking into but I’ve been quite happy with the free version from evernote.com.
Have you used Evernote? Tell us about it!