Archive for the ‘apps’ Category

Quickoffice Pro HD and Keynote for word processing and presenting, plus two more apps

August 22nd, 2012 Comments off

Quickoffice Pro HD ($19.99)

Pros:  stable app; friendly interface; direct link to variety of cloud storage services; can easily use this to create and to perform some light editing of Word, Powerpoint, and Excel files

Cons: limited functionality compared to desktop version of Office; limited formatting options, e.g., only 12 fonts; unfortunate tendency to slightly reformat Powerpoint presentations that have been created on desktop or laptop computers; can use the app to convert files to PDFs (though it’s hidden in the print function and exporting takes another step or two)

Keynote ($9.99)

Pros:  stable app; relatively rich formatting options, e.g., 58 fonts available, not counting weight options for many of those; well integrated into the iPad, e.g., easy access to Photos and photo stream; great if you have other Mac computers with the latest OS to take advantage of most recent iCloud sharing options; can easily export files as PDFs for Air Sketch

Cons: limited options for exporting documents (no cloud services apart from iCloud); interface for file management is limited


I’ve used Quickoffice as my main iPad word processing app since I began working with iPads nearly two years ago. I love the interface–it’s simple, logical, and hasn’t changed much in all that time. I use it to open email attachments and to do some light editing on Dropbox documents. I also use it to create rough drafts. Essentially, it’s a cloud-storage friendly app that allows me to do some basic drafting and light editing, and as long as I don’t have to worry about formatting or anything terribly complicated, all will be well.

Keynote is a more recent acquisition. I started using it routinely when we offered our first iPads and Presenting workshop. I enjoy creating presentations on the iPad because I’m able to easily access Photos and photo stream and embed hyperlinks to videos and to web pages. I also like the presenter notes feature with Keynote, which gives me access to my notes on the presentation without making them visible to the audience. Keynote is a much richer presentation application than the PowerPoint portion of Quickoffice. I’ve found that the limited options in Keynote for exporting documents can actually work to my advantage if I’m trying to turn my presentation into a PDF for use with Air Sketch. It is an option within the export function in Keynote, rather than being hidden in the Print function within Quickoffice. [Thanks to Dr. Chris Lynn for suggesting I give Keynote on the iPad a try.]

So, depending on what you need to do, both Quickoffice and Keynote are perfectly serviceable and reliable.

[I have not worked much with the Excel portion of Quickoffice or with Pages and Numbers, Apple’s versions of Word and Excel. If you have experience with these apps, please feel free to comment below.]

quickoffice file interface

Look at those file management options in Quickoffice! Drag a file to cloud storage, email it, delete it, share it in social media, distribute it wirelessly (the blurred out bit at the bottom of the window). Nice.

keynote file interface

Not many options here in this file management interface. Well, until you get the little thumbnails jiggling, then a few more show up, but I find that vaguely aggravating.

An additional note on word processing on the iPad: it helps to have modest goals. For example, I must use the track changes function in some of the work that I do. While there are apps that provide track changes functionality, OnLive Desktop and Office2 HD, both are buggy. OnLive Desktop is free (woo-hoo!) but it is critically dependent on robust wireless because you’re working with a virtualized version of the full Office suite. It also requires some maneuvering to get your documents into the virtual space in which you can begin to edit them, and this maneuvering can only happen on a desktop or laptop computer. OnLive is also undergoing some difficult financial times, so there’s that. Office2 HD ($7.99) is an app that resides on the iPad. I’ve not worked much with the app apart from trying to use track changes as I edited an 80-some page document. MUCH crashing ensued. Perhaps with a smaller document, all would be ducky? I will experiment and let you know. What is wonderful about the iPad, obviously, is its small size and how quickly it wakes up. I’d much prefer to use it than my aged, ailing, and heavy laptop. I’m willing to put up with some slightly awkward workarounds for these reasons. But for my work that requires track changes, these apps don’t seem to be the solution.

-Rebecca Johnson

eTech’s Fall iPad Workshop Schedule–part 1

August 17th, 2012 Comments off

eTech iPad Workshop Series

The eTech iPad Workshops are designed to provide Arts and Sciences faculty, instructors, and staff with information that can help them incorporate the iPad into their teaching, research, and work life. These one-hour brown-bag workshops are held at noon on Tuesdays in the eTech Conference Room in the Bureau of Mines. For all workshops, bring your iPad and please make sure that you know all relevant user names and passwords associated with your device (i.e., Apple ID and password, AS and MyBama user names and passwords, Dropbox, etc.). Workshops will be limited to 10 participants, we will schedule additional workshops by request.
Contact eTech by email to reserve your spot—etech[at]

August 28:  iPad 101
We’ll take you on a tour of the settings menu, give you an overview of transferring files to and from your iPad, and give you a brief introduction to some of the popular apps in the College of Arts and Sciences.

September 4:  App of the Month—Dropbox
We’ll show you how to get a Dropbox account, how Dropbox is integrated into a variety of apps, and how you can use it to transfer and share files.

September 11:  iPads and Presenting
We’ll take you through a number of presenting options, including Keynote and Air Sketch.

September 18:  An Overview of iOS 6
In early September, Apple will release the newest version of their mobile operating system. We’ll provide an overview of the new features in iOS 6.

September 25:  iPad App-stravaganza
We’ll cram as many app overviews as we can into 40 minutes, followed by 20 minutes of discussion of these apps and any others that participants would like to share.

October 2:  File Transfer, Cloud Storage, and Your iPad
How do you transfer files with no USB drive? We’ll show you how with iCloud, Dropbox, iTunes file transfer, GoodReader, and FilesConnect.

October 9:  App of the Month—GoodReader
Like a Swiss Army knife for your iPad, GoodReader can be used to annotate pdf’s, transfer files, share files wirelessly, and more.

October 16:  iPad Accessory Showcase
By popular demand, we’ll provide a hands-on showcase of a variety of accessories for your iPad, including microphones, keyboards, styluses, and camera connectors.

October 23 through the end of the fall semester:  TBA

Categories: advice, apps, beginner, iPad 101 Tags:

Air Sketch Tips from the iPad 101 Workshop

May 30th, 2012 Comments off

Air Sketch  picture of the Air Sketch icon

($9.99) Air Sketch allows you to mark up a presentation saved as a PDF and do so wirelessly, freeing you from the podium in the multimedia rooms. You can also use it as a wireless whiteboard. Be aware that to use the untethered option, Wi-Fi must be available. As in other apps, you can zoom in and pan using two fingers. Tip: Write smaller and more detailed text while zoomed in. Also, the eraser shrinks when zoomed in, allowing finer control. And see this post for how to use Air Sketch with Tegrity to record your presentation.

screen shot of the application tools in Air Sketch

Air Sketch Controls

These controls appear along the bottom of the application window.

  1. This button provides the server address of your iPad. Type this number into the URL field of a browser on the multimedia computer. Hit return, and your iPad will appear in the browser window.
  2. As you markup the whiteboard or a PDF, you can take a snapshot of what is currently on the iPad.
  3. All of your snapshots are kept in this folder.
  4. You can set the background image for Air Sketch here. It pulls from your Camera Roll or Photo Stream.
  5. You can share your sketch/annotated presentation here via email as a PDF or a JPG, or you can save it to your photo library (Camera Roll and/or Photo Stream).
  6. These are the Undo and Redo buttons.
  7. You can select various line weights and colors here. There is also a highlighting tool.
  8. An eraser
  9. This clears the board.

Tips from the Air Sketch website

How to open a PDF file in Air Sketch

  1. Email the PDF file to yourself or use a File Manager App that supports the “Open In . . .” feature, such as Dropbox, to transfer it to your iPad.
  2. Open the PDF file within Mail or the third-party file manager app to view it.
  3. Tap “Open In . . .” and select Air Sketch.

Working with PDF files

  • Air Sketch works with one PDF file at a time and doesn’t store or manage PDF files directly.
  • Tap the page number on the PDF page controls to quickly jump to any page.
  • Tap Share-> Email as PDF to email the entire annotated PDF document.
  • Note: There appears to be a limit to the size of email attachments on the iPad. We’ve (the “we” here are the app developers) found that documents under around 10MB (or PDF files up to around 75 pages) tend to be sent ok, but sending larger ones may fail. This appears to be an OS limitation and happens in other apps as well, which we hope will be addressed in a future upgrade.

For more additional information about Air Sketch, visit qrayon’s website, the developer of Air Sketch:

Related post: Using Tegrity with Air Sketch on Your iPad

Using Tegrity with Air Sketch on Your iPad

May 30th, 2012 Comments off

Jason Miller, eTech’s sys admin, came up with a neat little trick the other day. One of the difficulties of lecturing with the iPad is that for those faculty and instructors who use Tegrity, the campus lecture-capture tool, Tegrity cannot capture a lecture directly from the iPad. The Tegrity app is for watching recordings, not creating them. So, what’s a Tegrity-using, iPad-carrying faculty member to do?

Tegrity captures lectures on a multimedia room computer by recording anything that happens on that computer along with audio from the podium mic or the multimedia room’s wireless mic. So if you’re presenting a PowerPoint, showing a movie from the computer’s disk drive, or pulling up a website, you’re going to capture it with Tegrity. The key here is how Air Sketch on the iPad works with the multimedia room computers. Because you’re streaming what you’re doing in Air Sketch through the multimedia room computer’s browser, you’re able to record that on Tegrity. I used Tegrity to record an Air Sketch presentation earlier today, and it worked great.

For additional information on how to use Air Sketch, see Air Sketch Tips from the iPad 101 Workshop. You can also contact eTech for additional assistance. For more information on Tegrity, contact the Faculty Resource Center at elearning[at]



Safari Tips from the iPad 101 Workshop

May 29th, 2012 Comments off

Safari is the default browser for the iPad. Open new tabs using the “+” symbol at the top right of the browser window. Close tabs by tapping the small “x” symbol on the left side of the active tab. Another feature within Safari is the Reader option that is available on some sites. It allows you to read just an article from a website without all of the surrounding stuff. Look for the Reader button in the right side of the URL field.  Safari browser Reader button

screen shot of the Share options within Safari on the iPad

Add Bookmark
Add a bookmark to give yourself an easy way of checking back with a favorite website. You may add a bookmark to the Bookmark list, to the Bookmarks Bar just below the URL field in Safari, or to any sub-folder you may have created within Bookmarks.

Add to Reading List
This feature allows you to save particular pages from a website or articles to read at a later time. See Reading List below.

Add to Home Screen
This feature adds a website link in the form of an icon to your iPad’s home screen. Consider creating a home screen icon for MyBama, the eTech iPad blog, or other frequently visited websites.

screen shot of the Safari bookmarks menu on the iPad

Bookmarks (illus. above)

Within the Bookmarks button you will find your Reading List, your browsing history, the ability to clear your browsing history, and a list of any bookmarks or bookmark subfolders you may have created. Bookmarks can be synced using iCloud (as long as your office or home computer are running iCloud with Lion OS for the Mac or Windows 7) making bookmarks that you save on your home or office computer instantly available on your iPad (and visa versa).

screen shot of Safari Reading List from the iPad

Reading List (illus. above)

Reading List allows you to save particular web pages for viewing at a later date. This feature also syncs with iCloud so that your Reading List will be available to you on all of the computers you are running that have Safari and iCloud enabled. Currently, Reading List within Safari has no offline reading options, though those are rumored to be in development.

-Rebecca Johnson

Categories: apps, beginner, iPad 101 Tags: ,

Summer iPad Workshops for the College of Arts and Sciences

May 23rd, 2012 Comments off

Beginning next week, May 29, we’ll begin a (nearly) weekly series of workshops called eTech iPad Basics. These are designed to give Arts and Sciences faculty, instructors, and staff the information they need to help them incorporate the iPad into their teaching, research, and work life. These workshops are held in the eTech Conference Room at noon on Tuesdays and are limited to 10 participants. Please contact eTech by email to reserve a spot: etech[at]

eTech iPad Basics: iPad 101

iPad 101 is for those who are new to the iPad or in need of a refresher. We’ll take you on a tour of the settings menu, give you an overview of how to transfer information to and from your iPad, show you how to create a presentation in Keynote, how to track changes in OnLive Desktop, how to use Air Sketch to present a lecture without being tethered to the classroom podium, and how to annotate a PDF with iAnnotate.  May 29, June 26, July 17, August 7

eTech iPad Basics: iPads and Presenting

In this workshop we’ll take you through three presentation options: OnLive Desktop, Keynote, and Air Sketch. We’ll also take a look at Mobile ArtStor.  June 5, July 10

eTech iPad Basics: Getting Stuff onto and off of Your iPad

With no USB drive, how do you transfer files to and from the iPad? We’ll show you how with iCloud, Dropbox, iTunes file transfer, GoodReader, CloudConnect, and remote desktop applications.
June 12, July 3

eTech iPad Basics: iPads and Research

This joint workshop with Melissa Green of the UA Libraries looks at two reference management tools, RefWorks and Zotero, and how they can be used on the iPad. We will also look at other electronic resources available to iPad users through the libraries.  June 19

-Rebecca Johnson

iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch Apps for (Special) Education

February 7th, 2012 Comments off

Jason Miller found an extensive list of apps, arranged by category, that might be useful with special needs populations, particularly younger children. This list was created by Eric Sailers, a former speech pathologist who now develops iOS apps. Let us know if any of these apps have been particularly useful to you in your work.

iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch Apps for (Special) Education

-Rebecca Johnson

A Series of iPad App Reviews/Recommendations from ProfHacker

November 10th, 2011 Comments off

The ProfHacker column from the Chronicle of Higher Ed is one of my favorites. Here are a few links from recent posts having to do with iPads, apps, and annotating.  I’m going to try out UPAD, according to the recommendations in this first link. I’ll let you know how it goes.

App Reviews from ProfHacker

iAnnotate App Review from ProfHacker


Strategic Interaction: The Impact of Mobile Technology (iPads) on Learning

October 24th, 2011 Comments off

Here is the video link of Dr. Emily Ritter’s presentation, in which she describe how she, Dr. Park, and Dr. Vonnahme looked at the impact of iPads on a student-centered activity designed to teach strategic thinking. The blog posts describing this activity can be found at these links: Part 1 and Part 2.

Dr. Andrew Goodliffe-How the iPad transformed my teaching

October 19th, 2011 Comments off

[editorial note: The video embedded in this post is of Dr. Goodliffe presenting at the iPad Initiative feedback session for Dean Robert Olin, held on September 13, 2011. Dr. Goodliffe’s blog post summarizing his work with the iPad is below.]

How the iPad Transformed My Teaching from UA College of Arts & Sciences on Vimeo.

The iPad has had a significant impact on how I work. There are three main areas in which I have been impacted, the first of which I did not anticipate.

1)   The iPad’s lack of an obvious file system was an initial major hindrance. However, this forced me to look at new ways of doing things. I started out small – one of my favorite applications (Air Sharing) presented me with the option of a file system inside an app. GoodReader presented something similar (though unlike most people, I far prefer the former app). Within both programs I started to see mention of Dropbox – I had used this a little before, but had not realized the potential. I have now fully embraced this program. It is now my default file system on the iPad. Most of my day-to-day files are now on Dropbox. This means that these files are also available on my iPad and hence easily available to share with students in both formal and informal settings. If students are having problems with a concept, I typically have PowerPoints, images, etc., that can easily be pulled up and shared. This has been transformative in the classroom. Plus, all my computers (office, home, laptop) are now perfectly synced!

2)   In small class settings (upper-level undergraduate classes, graduate seminars, etc.), the ability to be able to pass around the iPad, as you would a photo or a scientific paper, is a major plus. A large number of my photos and the majority of my collection of digital scientific papers are on my iPad. No longer, when posed a question do I have to say something like “I am sure that there is a paper that I have read on this topic – it has a great figure.” Now I always have that with me, and it is easily shared around the room. This has also been true of items such as field photos. I should also add that the iPad is now my default medium for reading scientific papers.

3)   When doing fieldwork with students, the ability to use the 3G connection to pull up applications such as Google Earth has been a major plus. I can now show students where we are on the map. We can now more easily find the best location for an instrument–“There is a field behind that stand of trees.” The ability to easily do, and share, initial data analysis in the field is also a major plus. This gives students a much greater sense of understanding and ownership of geophysical field data. I am starting to explore and make use of GIS apps on the iPad. I am certain that these will be very valuable.

-Andrew Goodliffe is an associate professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at The University of Alabama. Andrew’s specialty is exploration geophysics. This area of research involves a significant amount of fieldwork throughout the globe, with emphasis on the southwest Pacific, Australia, Egypt, and Greece. Most recently his research has focused on the geological evolution of the Gulf of Mexico and geological carbon sequestration in Walker County, Alabama. Before arriving at UA, Andrew was on the faculty at the University of Hawai’i. Andrew received his PhD from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, MS from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, and BSc from the University of Plymouth in the UK.