MacReach Show #21: School is Still in Session with iTunesU!

School may be out for the summer, but iTunesU is still in session! Christine DiPaulo and Scott Meech join me this week to talk about all the great content and resources available on iTunesU, and some really great summer travel apps!



Apps of the Week: Ten Great Travel Apps for Summer

Macs for All: Christine shares a great app for your Mac: Fluid! …definitely worth checking out!


The MacReach Show #20: The ISTE Wrap-Up!

It is always fun when I get to chat all things Apple with Kelly Dumont and Scott Meech! In our  episode this week, we share some of our favorite resources and moments from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference

MacNews: A billion iOS apps downloaded! Are you surprised? We’re not.

EdMac: ISTE Wrap-Up!

  1. Tony Vincent’s Project-Based Learning Session – Tony’s notes from the session
  2. IEAR Birds of a Feather session and a list of all of the apps shared
  3. Apple Distinguished Educators on iTunes… a great summer resource!

App Challenge: 10 great summer apps to play around with! Check them all out on

Macs for All: Visual flash instead of audio alert… useful for many!


Independence for All

With the independence Day holiday upon us I got thinking about ways students can be more independent.  Apple is releasing iOS 5 in the near future, and there are tons of new features that can help students gain more independence.  While not the answer to everything, Apple has added some features that continue to make their devices very compelling for those with and without disabilities.

Location Specific Reminders:  Apple will be adding a to-do list style reminder functionality to iOS 5.  These reminders can be set for specific dates, times, or locations.  I keep several to-lists, for me it works most of the time, but if I had a reminder to stop at the post office when I drive past it would help even more.  For those with disabilities it can mean the difference between a care giver following them around all day or allowing them some freedom.  Or how about having a student set a reminder so that when they are near their locker it tells them what books they need for homework that night.

Custom keyboard shortcuts: Most of us probably use a few key phrases when we text, or send messages.  iOS 5 will allow you to create custom phrases (autotext) that will replace what you type.  For example you can set omw to type “On my way!”.  I’m assuming that they custom phrases can be used in any app that you can type in, which could decrease the amount of typing students would need to do to complete work or assignments.

Custom Vibrations:  With iOS 5 you can create custom vibrations for all sorts of alerts or persons.  By tapping out a pattern on the screen, iOS will take it and turn it into a vibration.  You can set a different vibration for different contacts, alerts or notifications.

Custom LED Flash:  Along the same lines, iOS 5 will allow you to use the camera flash to create custom flashes.  Again they can be set for contacts, alerts or notifications.  Both of these features do seem to be aimed at persons with disabilities specifically.  They would be great for that student who needs kinesthetic input as well as audio or visual.

Assistive Touch:  This is a feature that has not been fully explained.  What I understand is that you can create custom gestures, that will do macros, while there doesn’t seem to be a way to link them to custom commands at this time.  This could be an extremely useful feature, but until more information is available we don’t know.

Multitasking Gestures: The iPad will get extra gestures to help you access the device.  Using 4 or 5 fingers and swiping up will allow you to bring up the multitasking toolbar, pinching with 4 or 5 fingers will bring you back to the home screen, and swiping left or right with 4 or 5 fingers will allow you to switch between apps.  This is one of those features that will allow more interaction for students who might need physical input.

It will be interesting to see how they features work for students, helping them to be more independent.


Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons:  ladybugbkt

iOS 5 information from:

Appleinsider: iOS reminders

Appleinsider:  LED Flash & more

iEatApples iOS 5 changelog

Mac Forums:  iOS 5 – All the little things

MacReach Show #19: EduTecher Talk

Summer is the perfect time to discover some new classroom tools, and the eduTecher Backpack app is a great starting place for educators looking for website tools to enhance teaching and learning. Adam Bellow joins in this week to talk about how his EduTecher Bakpack app came to be such a great resource for educators, and shares some other great summer learning opportunities!

– EduTecher on the web and in app form: explore, share, contribute great resources!

EduBloggerCon unconference

-iste Conference (International Society for Technology in Education)


Who Needs Textbooks When You Can iAuthor Your Own iBooks?

With more and more app developers designing innovative apps like The Elements: A Visual Exploration and Our Choice, it is clear that traditional textbooks are no longer needed as mobile learning devices become common classroom tools. Students can easily have access to updated information in a variety of different ways, whether it is through text, images, audio, or video. There is an incredible amount of content-specific apps, podcasts (have you seen iTunesU?), and eBooks available. And of course we can’t forget the wealth of information available just by having access to the Internet. It is incredibly easy for educators to differentiate instruction based on learning styles and needs with these kind of technology tools in their teaching toolbox. Why not take it a step further and think about individualizing content for students? Or let students individualize their own content? You can create your own textbooks. Create your own novels. Create your own portfolios. Create your own projects. Create your own reports. Create your own books. Create your own incredible multi-media content and call it whatever you want.

It is actually quite simple to become a modern author these days by using an ePub template to create an iBook that can be viewed on an iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad in the free iBooks app. Recently, I was lucky enough to be a guest on a Classroom 2.0 LIVE show where I had the opportunity to demonstrate how quickly and easily you can create your own iBook with embedded audio, images, video, and web links to make a personalized multimedia creation of your choice. The fantastic people at Classroom 2.0 LIVE are kind enough to archive all their shows, so the webinar will be available on their website for any educator, administrator, student, or parent to watch at any time. Once you learn the process, the possibilities for creating your own mobile content are endless. You can also access all of the resources that were discussed and shared throughout the session; there are some excellent links in the LiveBinder about ePubs and iBooks. The summer is the perfect time to play around with technology, have fun, and think about how you could develop some really fun and creative learning experiences.

LiveBinder Resources: Excellent collection of resources shared during the session… all kinds of great links to ePubs, iBooks, and related topics!

Watch the “iAuthor an iBook” show

MacReach Show #18: Great Apps!

It’s an all-app episode this week on the MacReach! Kelly Dumont and I attempt to answer some great questions from new iPad 2 owner and EdGamer, Zack Gilbert. We cover some great apps, well worth taking some time to play with over the summer! Here’s what we covered this week:

  • Question 1: “Do you think iOS 5 will help with Google Docs?”
  • Question 2: “Isn’t there an educational discount for the iWork suite apps?”
  • Question 3: “What are the best Twitter and FaceBook apps for the iPad?
  • Question 4: “What are some general teacher apps that you recommend?”

Great EdApps discussed in this episode:


MacReach Show #17: Yup, the iCloud is iAwesome.

Apple did not disappoint at this year’s World Wide Developer Conference. EdGamer, Zack Gilbert, joins Kelly Dumont and myself for a special WWDC edition of the MacReach Show as we take a look at the impact of Lion, iOS 5, and the iCloud in education. We all appsolutely agree with Scott Weidig when he says that the upgrades are magical. What a great way to kick off the summer!

iCloud for Education

iCloud stores your music, photos, apps, calendars, documents, and more. And wirelessly pushes them to all your devices — automatically. It’s the easiest way to manage your content. Because now you don’t have to.

With it being the last week of school for many, not everyone may be aware of the possibly landscape changing announcement Apple made on Monday at it’s World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC). Widely anticipated was information on the next version of OS X: Lion. Additionally, expected was information about the next update to iOS: iOS 5. However, hints and rumors about what the giant data center in North Carolina could be for always led to the conclusion “iTunes in the cloud“… Personally, I believe that few people would have guess that Apple would offer for free a completely automated backup and versioning system that could encompass Pages, Keynote, and Numbers (and much more). The fact that it appears iCloud will also seamlessly background sync all of these documents to Lion and all linked iOS 5 devices is nothing short of… Magical…

Imagine a flipped classroom where both personal and district owned iPads are linked to an iCloud account. The teacher shares an assignment template up to iCloud, and within seconds all student devices receive the information regardless of whether they are at school, home, a friend’s house, the library, or even a Panera. Class schedules and assignment calendars are always updated with the latest information. Digital stories can be published and reviewed by the class instantly. Having a classroom developed ePub textbook instantly accessible to students who can then collectively annotate, highlight, bookmark and review the material… Magical…

Of course there will be challenges, but what are your thoughts about the possibilities of iCloud in education?

MacReach Show #16: Summer Kicks Off With the iCloud!

Kelly Dumont and I welcome Andy Crozier to talk about the iCloud, iWork, and lots of apps!



App Challenge:

  • We take a look at how the DocScanner app can make you more productive, in and out of your classroom.

Macs for All:

  • The built-in text-to-speech option in Safari, is a great tool for many people… a quick and easy tip from Andy!

iBroke My iPhone and Lived to Talk About It

Preface to post: I am passionate about using iDevices to improve the learning experience, and I personally consider my iPhone to be my lifeline. To people who know me well, this is common knowledge.


As my iPhone 4 slowly slid off a stack of papers just out of my reach, I had the perfect view as I watched it drop and land face down. I heard gasps escape from every person in the crowded room. My first thought: it’s fine, I’ve dropped it before. My second thought: I have a case for a reason. Even as I got up and leaned over to pick up the iPhone, I assured everyone that, “it was fine, really.” Unfortunately, when I picked my iPhone up I saw that it was not fine: my iPhone’s front screen was severely cracked. It technically still worked, but I had shards of glass in my thumb from swiping. The room full of teachers watched me carefully, waiting for my reaction. I could almost hear everyone thinking about how they were about to console me. I calmly told the shocked crowd that, “it was no big deal, it’s just a phone. It’s replaceable. Anyways, it still works.” And I thought I meant it. I felt sort of numb to the situation. I continued to do exactly what I had been doing prior to The Drop. I could feel the awkward stares, and I knew people were puzzled by my lack of reaction. That was period two.

By the time I walked into period three, the news about The Drop had spread. My students offered hugs and sincere sympathy at my loss. Was it true? How did it happen? I reassured my students that this was not what we were to be concerned about, and began class. Once the students were taking some notes, my co-teacher pulled me aside to ask how I was doing. I told her that life happens, and then added a very sarcastic “I’m sure I will live” before refocusing my attention back on the students.


Things started to change period four. I had the same questions about The Drop from period four’s students, yet my responses were very different this period. How did it happen? “I dropped the stupid phone,” I told one student. Another student overheard my answer and quickly asked me, “Did you just call your iPhone stupid?” I unnecessarily snapped at the student to get back to the classroom task assigned. Later as my students left forth period, I heard murmurs of “she’s just mad because she broke her iPhone.” And I was.


Period five was lunch and the topic of conversation turned to Memorial Day weekend plans. (No one dared to bring up The Drop.) As I listened to others’ plans, I was quickly reminded that I had plans of my own: hosting my baby sister’s bridal shower in a different part of the country. I had to race out of school that day to catch a flight for the celebration. As the matron of honor, it would be my duty to be the contact for eight bridesmaids and many other guests traveling into town. Thinking about this, my thought process about my iPhone started to change again. I left the lunch room and called Apple to see how I could replace my iPhone 4 immediately. After hearing about the obscene cost to replace my iPhone 4 and knowing that iPhone 5 is right around the corner, I started bargaining the with Apple representative. Can you see on my account how many Apple products I’ve bought? Isn’t there ANY way we can work out a better deal? All of a sudden, I felt desperate to replace my iPhone before I had to get on that flight. How could I manage traveling without my iPhone? I hadn’t even printed my airline ticket… it was on my iPhone.


I was late to period six. Halfway through the period, another teacher stopped by to speak to me, “I heard about The Drop. Why don’t I take over here and you can go handle your phone issue. You look really upset about it.” I took her up on the offer without thinking twice. I called store after store in the area, desperately looking for someone to replace my front piece of glass in a hurry. After trying six stores, I hung up my office phone and stared blankly at a wall for about twenty minutes. Why bother at this point? There was no way I could ever get it fixed before I had to leave town. I let out a deep sigh, said ‘whatever’ and went back to class. I was pretty much silent and very moody for the rest of the school day.


The school day ended, and I headed up to the airport. Once I was in my car, the tears came. How could I do something like this on a day like today? I knew it was silly to cry over a phone, but I was stressed about how I was going to make it through a very busy weekend without my iPhone. It felt good to shed a few tears over The Drop. By the time I went through security, I was finally able to offer a smile to the security person as she commented and joked about my phone’s cracked screen.

Once at the gate, I didn’t have to worry about finding a seat near a plug. As I sat and looked around at all the other people using their smart phones, I realized that this was the longest I had gone without checking my iPhone. I remembered the days when I didn’t have a cell phone at all, and I had survived just fine. I had travelled many times in my life without an iPhone, and I could do it again. About 5:00 p.m. that evening, I had finally accepted that I broke my iPhone and could even attempt to make light of it: I sent out a tweet about how I had been sucker-punched by gravity. It was good progress for me after a very trying day.

Some Thoughts.

It is true that we live in a digital world, and that we heavily rely on technology. But when did I become so unbelievably dependent on technology? How had a broken electronic caused me to go through the five stages of grief? I know I am not alone. So many people are stricken with grief when they lose, break, or have their technology devices stolen. Was I upset because I love to use technology and couldn’t? Or was I upset that I didn’t have the tools that I needed for the weekend? I know that I enjoy technology, but have I gone overboard? I’m truly left wondering, am I too dependent on technology? And more importantly, are our students?



MacReach Show #15: APPsolutely Comical!

Kelly Dumont and I cover the good and the bad this week in the world of Apple… and have a few laughs along the way!



  • It is APPsolutely comical! We take a close look at using Comic Life and PhotoComic on the iPad… does price really matter for similar apps?
  • App Comparison: Comic Life vs. PhotoComic

App Challenge:

  • With a range of comic creation apps available to choose from, we had a lot of fun coming up with at least 9 ways to use these apps with students. We left the tenth spot open to hear what you have to say… how can your students use a comic creation app like Comic Life?

Macs for All:

  • Kelly shares a great tip for organizing windows and workspaces on your Mac: Spaces

MacReach Show #13: Apple is Taking Over!

WOW… Apple apparently knows what they are doing! Scott Meech and Kelly Dumont join me for a conversation about how Apple is taking over in the world of tech…

Mac News:


App Challenge: We find 9 ways to use the App of the Week with students! Check out the #iear community to hear more ways to use it :)

Macs for All: Screenshots!

Think Different: The Unconference Learning Experience

Educators around the nation are getting together to discuss what is going on in education, and they are doing it on their own terms. With edcamps popping up all over the country, unconferences are becoming a very popular choice among educators when it comes to professional development. An unconference is different than most conferences because it is a conference that is run by the people who attend it: educators show up on a Saturday to a donated space and decide on the day’s agenda when they arrive. This model lends itself to a powerful learning environment because the attendees are the presenters and the topics are based on the issues of interest and need that day for that group of people. There is an unspoken understanding between the attendees that it is perfectly acceptable to move freely from one session to another, because the goal of the day is for each person to leave feeling like they benefitted from all of the sessions they attended. As the organizers behind edcamp NYC like to say, the purpose of an edcamp event is to “Learn. Unlearn. Relearn.”

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending edcamp Boston, where I spent the day learning, unlearning, and relearning from forward-thinking educators and discussing what I am most passionate about: using technology to individualize and change students’ current learning experiences. I had the rare but exciting opportunity to meet some awesome members of my Personal Learning Network and discuss a variety of resources, tools, and strategies to help improve the educational experience for students. Towards the end of the unconference, I saw an interesting tweet from Lindsey Barlow: “Such a great day of learning at #edcampbos Makes me think-Could our students learn in an edcamp structure/setup?” This is a great question that leads to some serious follow-up questions:

Can students be trusted to have control of their own learning? And maybe an even bigger question… can educators give up control of students’ learning? Is an unconference model appropriate for students? Are there appropriate times for students to have this type of exposure to learning? After thinking a good deal about where my own learning takes place and the many different ways I choose to learn, I can definitely say that I learn best when I have an active role in the planning of my own learning experiences. The unconference was evidence that other educators agree with me. But do students feel the same way? Apparently some do, as I had the chance to sit and chat with high school student Ben McNaboe, who attended edcamp Boston to try to better prepare himself for college. He  spoke a good deal about his excitement to go back to school and share what he had learned with his peers, and I must say that I felt the same way about the day’s events. I left the unconference thinking about possible answers to some very thought-provoking questions. What I realize is that these questions certainly require educators and students to get creative and think outside of the box for solutions.

It is no secret that I love using Apple technologies. I admit that I have been called a fair share of names because I am so passionate about using Apple products (iManiac, Apple Freak, iCrazy, just to name a few). Risking the possibility of more name-calling, I took a moment at an edcamp Boston session about mobile learning to share Apple Inc’s old commercial “Think Different”. The commercial is a great example of why I value Apple’s innovative products and core philosophy about thinking different:

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

The commercial’s powerful words remind me that it is OK to step outside the box, regardless of what people think, or what they call you. It reminds me why educators gave up a Saturday with their families to learn from each other. It reminds me to keep listening to what students are saying about how they learn. And it reminds me why I am writing this post right now.

Think Different


MacReach Show #12: Summer’s Coming & the iCloud is Right Around the Corner

Judi Epcke and Kelly Dumont join in this week to share their thoughts on Apple’s possible iCloud, summer tech plans, and some great ideas about using iPads with students.

Mac News:

EdMac: A about storing and/or utilizing school technology during the summer…

App Challenge: This week Judi recommends an awesome App of the Week. It was super easy to come up with some fantastic ways to use the app with students… and this week, YOU have a chance to win the app by telling us how you would use the app with students!

To enter, you can do one (or both!) of the following:

1. Share here! Post a comment below about how your students would use the app.

2. Join the conversation on Twitter! Send a tweet about how your students would use the app and tag the tweet with #MacReach #IEAR

One lucky winner will be drawn randomly on next week’s episode! For even more information about the app, you can find a great review on

Macs for All: A quick spotlight on the Spotlight Search function… one more great tip from Judi!


Continue Reading …

MacReach Show #11: iPhone Madness! …and Great Apple Resources

Kelly Dumont and Scott Meech join me for an episode filled with iPhone talk, Apple education resources, and tons of fun!

Mac News

Is Apple tracking you?

The white iPhone is finally here! ….does anyone care?

Tough Covers: How to protect your iPad from a 500ft drop out of a plane.


There are so many great Apple education resources out there, we wanted to highlight a few of them:

Hottest Apps Used by Apple Distinguished Educators: App Reviews by ADEs

Apple Education Seminars and Events: seminars, webinars, and all kinds of other professional development (and most are free to attend!)

Apptivities: a website dedicated to the “Application of Apps!”

App Challenge

It was easy to come up with lots of ideas for our App of the Week! Here’s a hint… it’s quick, easy, and fun to use for many ages!

Macs for All

Quick access to Zoom on your iOS devices through the programmable triple-click home button… good stuff.

MacReach Show #10: Kids and Macs

Jonathan Furst and James Crawford join me this week to discuss how their students are using Apple technologies to make movies and create digital stories. Other topics discussed include:

MacReach Show #9: Mobile Learning at Its Best!

Last week’s Mobile Learning Experience 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona was a fantastic conference filled with educators learning about how to use iPods touches, iPhones, iPads, and other mobile learning devices to change education for the better. In this episode, Tony Vincent joins me to discuss the Mobile Learning Experience, QR codes, a few of our favorite Apple technologies, and so much more…



MacReach #7: The Great iPad Debate

This week’s episode is filled with great stuff! After a super crazy week, I felt compelled to start MacReach by commenting on the amazing power of PLNs and Twitter.

Other topics covered in this week’s episode: