Mobile Reach #37 – and Silver Surfer

Mobile Reach #37 – & Silver Surfer  Chad, Judi and Tammy interview
Danny Maas (@dannymaas)
 and Daniel Espejo (@danielespejo), who are the creative minds behind the (@ed_apps) website.  Find out what their site has to offer those looking for educational apps on this episode.  We also invite them to share out some apps they are using for productivity.

Show Host: Chad Kafka (@chadkafka)

Co-Hosts: Judi Epcke (@jepcke), Tammy Lind (@taml17)

The Mobile Reach Show Notes

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aRTs Roundtable #17: Apps We Use Daily


This week on the aRTs Roundtable we talk to about the apps we use to simplify our teaching on our own mobile devices and computer. These apps have transformed how we teach the arts and organize our lives in the educational setting.

Show Host: Carol Broos

Show contributors:   Trisha Fuglestad and Jennifer Kolze

Show wiki: wiki



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Mobile Reach #24 – LIVE From edCampChicago!

Mobile Reach #24 – LIVE From edCampChicago!  In this very special edition of Mobile Reach, we put the normal show format on hold and turn the show over to the “Mobile App Share Out” session that took place at this past week’s edCampChicago event.  Educators went around the room and shared out apps they are using in the classroom or for personal or productivity needs.  Give a listen and check out the SHOW NOTES links if you want to see the full list of apps that were shared out…

Show Host: Chad Kafka (@chadkafka)

Co-Hosts: Judi Epcke (@jepcke), Tammy Lind (@TamL17)

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Mobile Reach #20 – It’s Actually Pronounced…

Mobile Reach #20 – It’s Actually Pronounced…  This week, we are very fortunate to have a special guest host with us that many of us have followed virtually and admired for his work with mobile devices in the classroom.  You’ll have to listen to learn who!  We have some great discussions centering around CES news, the upcoming Mobile Learning Experience 2012, and share a plethora of apps!  We also debate how some apps are “actually pronounced.” Come check it all out!

Show Host: Chad Kafka (@chadkafka)

Co-Hosts: Judi Epcke (@jepcke), Tammy Lind (@TamL17), Tony Vincent (@tonyvincent)

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EdCeptional #26 – Codebreakers

We are excited to be back for our first podcast of 2012 and talking about QR Codes. There are so many exciting, fun and free ways to create and use QR codes in the classroom, and we spend a few minutes discussing and trying them out. Make sure you check out the show notes for links to all the ideas and tools.


Show Host: Anne Truger (@atruger)

Show contributors:

Patrick Black (@teachntech00)

Tricia Lazzaro (@tlazzaro11)

Deb Truskey (@debtruskey)

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Top Apps for Professional Development

Apps for Professional DevelopmentI was recently asked to lead a professional development session for a school that is starting to roll out iOS devices for teachers and students. Over the course of the year, staff at this school will be receiving a significant amount of professional development to help them better utilize the technology that is available to them. The focus of my session was iOS Apps for professional development. I scrolled through my iPad and made a list of the Apps that I use on a regular basis to help me learn and develop as an educator. Here’s what I came up with:
*Note: if you would like a printable copy of this list, click here
Communication Apps

Twitter App (free)

Twitter is one of the most active and beneficial social networks on the web. All educators would be wise to join the conversation. If you haven’t used Twitter yet, I would recommend that you read these excellent blog posts:

Google Voice (free)

Text and call for free! Also allows you to read transcribed voicemail messages or listen to them.

Skype (free)

A beautiful app that allows you to make and receive VOIP calls on your iOS device.

HeyTell (free)

A fun “walkie-talkie” app for quick voice communication. Works over WiFi. Our IT team uses it to communicate with each other because they are always holed up in some random IT closet throughout the building.

Consumption Apps

FlipBoard (free)

A beautiful app that turns your RSS reader (such as Google Reader) into a magazine. Quickly and simply browse through blog posts and news articles as if you were flipping the pages of a magazine.

Zite (free)

Similar to FlipBoard, however instead of just providing a beautiful interface to view content you select, Zite tries to introduce you to new content sources based off of sources you currently read.

QR Code Readers

Quick-Response codes are the strange black and white boxes that have begun appearing everywhere. This little box is a coded website URL. Scanning the code with a QR code reader will take you to the associated web page. QR codes are a great way to quickly lead people to a specific website without having to type in the URL.

  • RedLaser: free native iPhone app, simple and lightweight
  • Qrafter: free, the most robust of all of the QR scanners. Saves scans and includes sharing options
  • Scan: free, simplest to use. Scans automatically load in integrated web-browser

Diigo (free)

Diigo is a social bookmarking tool that allows you to save, categorize, and share your favorite websites. Use Diigo to bookmark a site you found using your computer so that you can pull it up later on your iPad.

Research Apps:

Google Search App (free)

Provides access to Google search (text, voice, and image), Calendar, Docs, Google+ and much more. A must have.

WolframAlpha ($2.99)

WolframAlpha is an amazing “computational knowledge engine” that provides answers to mathematical questions. This is a great tool for mining data or running large-scale comparisons or calculations.

Document and File Management Apps:

QuickOffice HD ($14.99)

Document management and editing app that integrates with Google Docs, Dropbox, Evernote, MobileMe and several other services. Enables you to quickly and easily move documents between services or save them locally to edit when you don’t have a web connection. One of the few apps that supports the creation and editing of PowerPoint presentations.

Genius Scan (free)

Take a photo of your receipts and easily organize and email via PDF. This is a great app for anyone who travels or submits a lot of expenses for reimbursement.

DropBox (free)

Cloud-based storage that you can access from most web-enabled devices. Dropbox is the go-to solution to move files onto and off of iOS devices.

Utility Apps

iTalk (free)

Simple and basic voice recorder. Records interviews or voice memos simply and effectively.

App Discovery: Discovr Apps (free) | AppMiner (free)

Sometimes finding the right app for a specific need can be challenging. These two apps attempt to help by suggesting relevent apps based on those you currently have or on suggestions that you submit.

Dragon Dictation (free)

This is a very useful speech-text app. I know individuals who use it to write email messages instead of typing them on their iPad.

GoTasks (Free)

Simple, no-frills to-do-list that integrates well with Gmail Tasks feature.

Education Apps

Attendance ($4.99)

A highly rated gradebook app for iPod/iPad. Integrates with Dropbox. Allows users to take pictures of students to help with attendance taking. Can integrate with popular LMS such as BlackBoard.

Socrative (Free) Teacher App | Student App

A new, and very popular tool that allows teachers to create dynamic assessments. Students use the Student App to turn their iOS device into a “clicker” device. Socrative is a web-based service that works on virtually any device with an Internet connection.

CommonCore (Free)

This well designed app makes browsing common core standards simple and intuitive. Look for significant updates as the standards for additional disciplines are released.

Discovery Streaming (“Web App”, requires subscription)

Browse through the Discovery Ed video library on your iPad. Videos can be streamed directly from the device. App does not install through the App Store. Click here to visit the mobile optimized DE site.

Screen Sharing Apps

Remote Desktop Solutions

Splashtop Remote Desktop ($2.99) | Doceri Remote (free)

Allows you to control and view your desktop on your iOS device. Great for teachers who like to roam around the room while they teach.

ScreenChomp (free)

Simple whiteboard app that allows the quick authoring of white-board videos. Records audio as well as the screen. Utilities include multiple pen colors and clip art. Easily upload videos to Facebook or

iBrainstorm (Free)

Drawing tool (does not record video or audio). Supports live screen sharing so that someone multiple people can view the same screen. Finished drawings can be sent via email or exported to the camera roll.

Mobile Reach #17 – Classroom Uses

Mobile Reach #17 – Classroom Uses – This week, we switch our format around a little to give some more concrete ideas for using specific apps or devices in the classroom.  We also share out mobile-y news as well as apps that have caught our interest.

Show Host: Chad Kafka (@chadkafka)

Co-Hosts: Judi Epcke (@jepcke) & Tammy Lind(@TamL17)

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Mobile Reach #13 – iOS Cream Sandwich

Mobile Reach LogoiOS Cream Sandwich – The group shares recent news and thoughts related to the mobile environment including the iPhone 4S release, the passing of Steve Jobs, and the announcement of the Galaxy Nexus with the new Ice Cream Sandwich Android platform.  They dive into the features of iOS 5 that have been experimented with over the past week since the release.

Show Host: Chad Kafka (@chadkafka)

Co-Hosts: Judi Epcke (@jepcke) & Tammy Lind(@TamL17)

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The complete show notes are on the EdReach Wiki.

Steps in the Right Direction

There is no shortage of blogposts or news articles about the positive aspects of the use of mobile devices in schools. You’ll find quite a few right here on EdReach. The article Principals Call for Mobile and Social Technologies in Schools from THE Journal has me hopeful for those schools where mobile technologies are banned or are in short number.

The article explains that the National Association of Secondary School Principals  (NASSP) has written a position statement encouraging (practically mandating) the use of social networking and mobile technology in schools. The position statement is inclusive of ALL students and is open to many types of mobile technologies: tablets, netbooks, smartphones, laptops. It also recognizes students as integral partners in the creation of acceptable use policies.

So now schools, at least high schools, have permission and an obligation to make this happen. The NASSP is even so bold to suggest that administrators model the use of mobile and social technologies. There will still be those who oppose these ideas and cite reasons it won’t work:

We don’t have the bandwidth

Bandwidth is addressed in the “Policymakers should” section of the NASSP position statement. Perhaps they are a little too hopeful to suggest funding should come from government sources. They also advocate access for student-owned devices.

We don’t have the money

Money is always a tricky point for schools, but the NASSP has a few statements to address money. They urge district leaders to provide “financial support” to schools and suggest policymakers provide a “funding stream” for infrastructure and devices. There is also encouragement to allow students to bring their own devices. Let’s hope the money comes through like they envision.

The teachers don’t want them/know what to do with them

The NASSP is suggesting districts provide professional development on the effective use of these tools; even recommending principals participate! Some districts may feel their budgets can not support this. There are low-cost and no-cost solutions. Much information can be found online on the effective use of social and mobile technologies. Principals and district administrators can form their own networks to seek out schools and districts who are having success in these areas. Involving students in the planning and implementation of effective uses for social and mobile technologies is another no-cost option. A professional development swap, someone provides training at your district and one of your teachers provides training in their district, is a very economical way to provide quality experiences for teachers.

REDUCE filtering? Are you nuts? What about CIPA?

No one is suggesting districts remove all filters, but to see where things might be loosened up. A district can still be in compliance without locking everything down.

The absurd part of these objections is they are the same ones heard twenty, ten, even five years ago from teachers and administrators; same complaints just the technology changes.

The information within the position statement is not earth-shattering, but the authorship of the statement is significant. Will this position statement have an impact on the implementation and use of mobile and social technologies is high schools? I certainly hope so. For some districts, this may be the impetus to begin to provide students with the opportunities for an education consistent with their 21st century lives.

Perhaps middle school and elementary school principals will be inspired to craft a position statement appropriate to the needs of their students. (I hope this principal sees the light!)The NASSP has certainly provided a good model to follow.


Teacher StratEdgy: More on QR codes

We have talked quite a bit about QR codes on the EdCeptional Podcast and the crew and I thought it would be good to elaborate more on them.  Quick Response (QR codes) were developed originally for the car industry as a high speed way to track inventory.  They’ve taken off recently for many reasons (easier to read by camera phones & their free!).  Think of them as a way to connect the physical world with the digital.

There are 4 types of QR Codes, a code can contain one of the following – a URL, a block of text, a phone number, or a SMS message.  Any QR Code reader on a smartphone can read and display the text embedded in a QR code.  Some of the most popular QR code readers are Red Laser or i-nigma.  Both of these are available for iOS devices and Andoid devices.

It’s also easy to create QR codes.  There are many sites that you can use to create them.  One of the easiest is Kaywa.  Just pick the type of code you want to make, fill in the boxes and click generate.  The code is created and you can save it to your computer.  If you are looking just to have a QR code for a URL you can use a shortener like or  After you shorten a link they create the QR code for you that you can save.

So how can you use QR codes?  Why would you want to?  One reason is that it removes the keyboard from the equation.  Allowing students with difficulty typing to gain access to the computer.  Here are just a few ideas for using QR codes:

  • Sam Fecich shared how she created a QR Code easter egg hunt.  Kids scanned codes and followed the clues embedded in them to find an easter egg hidden in the school.
  • I’ve been creating QR codes that link to specific YouTube playlists so students can access them during leisure time.  You can read QR codes using any laptop/computer webcam using a free program called Desktop QR Code Reader
  • Have kids read books into the computer, post those files on a school website, then create a QR code linking to the file, and when a student checks out the book, they can use the QR code to hear the book read to them.
  • Instead of assigning homework, assign the students to check out a code which leads them to a YouTube video about a topic being studied
  • Chris Bugaj shared a great idea for students/adults working in job sites.  Create videos about a job including directions and safety information, then students can scan the code and see the information before they start working on the job
  • Many students have difficulty or are unable to give their vital information in an emergency.  Instead of expecting them to be able to share, they could be taught to share a card with a QR code on it.  One side would read “Please help me, use your smartphone and a QR reader, like Red Laser, to scan this code and it will text my parents”.  Create a QR Code (using Kaywa) with a parent cell phone number and simple message.  This way student information is not just on them, but they can still get help.

These are just a few ways to use QR codes, and I know there are more.  Take a moment and share your ideas for using QR Codes in your classroom.