Category Archives: Tools

ePub Support in iBooks 2

This video focuses on the text display options for ePub documents in iBooks 2, including text size, font, and background.


5 Ideas for using iBooks Author and iBooks 2


When the original iPad first arrived there was buzz about how this device could change education. Schools began adopting iPad programs.  The iPad is an informational consumption device through which a learner can consume massive amounts of information through their ear and eye channels.  Learners could even customize the information slightly, a tenet of UDL.  If a learner needed larger text they could pinch and zoom with their hands and of course turn up or down any audio.  The iPad is very portable when compared to laptops and is really easy to use; which makes it a great tool to use with younger children or other learners who may be uncomfortable using a computer.  PDF readers became big apps in higher education and finding the next big content specific app became the big thing in elementary and secondary education as evident by the numerous app rating and apps for education sites.  It was not easy for educators to create their own relevant content for their classroom.  Most of the subject specific apps available were not adaptable to specific classroom content needs.  Now with iBooks Author educators can create content that is specific to their classroom needs.  Students now also have an exciting way to show off some of their creative genius on one of the most popular devices to date.

Student Produced Lessons

Female child creating a book on a silver iMac

The big buzz right now about Apple’s new iBooks 2 and iBooks Author app is the interactivity textbook publishers can bring to the classroom.  While that may be fine and dandy, imagine how you can unlock and display the creativity of students and teachers with this tool.  With iBooks Author being a free download, students and teachers now have the ability to produce high quality self-contained content for the iPad without having to know a lot about programming.  Here is one way I can see this being used with students:  During the late 90’s and early 2000’s some teachers used webquests as a tool to teach a topic a topic to their students by having the students research online resources that have been provided to them from their teacher.  The webquests usually ends in the students creating a report, video, or presentation.  Now with iBooks Author students can take their video, report, and presentation and create a beautifully crafted lesson on any topic while honing their digital content creation skills.  iBooks Author’s easy to use interface allows students to focus more on the content they are learning and creating and less on learning a program to create content that has a steep learning curve.

iBooks Author Book on iMac and iPad

Inclusive Design Awareness

What is really great about iBooks Author is the upfront approach to accessibility.  Not only does supplying the accessibility options help individuals who are born with or have developed certain disabilities, it also helps individuals as they age whose sensory functions may be beginning to fade.  As educators, we can help change the idea of the “burden” to provide accessible options by showing students (future generations) how easy it actually is to provide other means of accessing information when you think about including everyone from the outset.   With iBooks Author students and teachers can easily create content that takes advantage of the iPad’s accessibility features.

iBooks Author Accessiblity options are included in the inspector window.

Digital Storytelling Enhancement

Digital Storytelling has been around for a while now in classroom education.  Many times restricting students to one format, not because of an  inability to create multiple types of media, but because of the lack of one easy presentation of multiple media.   Just as a good storyteller makes you feel as if you are there with their voice and mannerisms, iBooks author allows students to create a world in a book and unveil their imaginations to others.

Supplement your classroom Teaching

Choose from various templates Apple provides for iBooks Author

Teachers can create an iBook of course materials that can easily be updated and distributed to students.   While this can be done a myriad of ways, imagine if you are the teacher of a face-to-face classroom of students who regularly miss class due to reasons necessary to their role in life (i.e. student-athletes, other students who travel for the university such as chorales or student government, etc.).  You could place much of the classroom materials in an iBook that is uploaded to your iTunes U collection.  Students would need the Internet once to download the book or chapter for the week.  Students could download the lesson before boarding a bus or plane where they would no longer have Internet connection most likely yet still be able to review and study the content for class.  The iBook is more than just a PDF that a student could download.  The iBook is better than having students download multiple videos and PDFs and then having to remember to read and watch everything.  The iBook acts as a guide through out the course materials for the week.  Students will have a  table of contents in front of them showing them everything they have to review for the week.  With iBooks you can even provide a self-check section to help students realize what information is seeking in and what information they still need to review.

Easily Drag and drop content from Pages or Microsoft word into iBooks Author

Final Project Portfolio

In some classrooms students are required to put together a final portfolio project.  In an interactive media class where students would learn about creating graphics, photography, video creation, and audio editing, iBooks author provides an easy packaging system for students to quickly drag and drop their projects from that semester into a neat, clean and fun iBook that can be easily presented on their iPad.

Hands touching iPad displaying science book made in iBooks Author

While it is great that Apple and textbook publishers are now able to offer interactive textbooks on the iPad (similar apps on the iPad have been attempting this: Kno and Inkling apps), it is even more exciting that now students and teachers have a very easy to use multimedia publishing tool to create content for the iPad.  Maybe one day creating high quality multimedia content for tablet devices will be as universal and as easy as word processing.

iPhone 4s Camera and VoiceOver together

In this video Luis shows off using the iPhone 4s VoiceOver feature and Camera App together.  Being able to use VoiceOver with the Camera app can aid an individual with a visual impairment take pictures without cutting off the subjects head.  This is because face recognition feature of the camera app comes into play allowing VoiceOver to announce how many faces are in the shot.  It also tells the photographer where in the frame the faces are located (I.E. “Top Left”, “One Face”…etc..).

Two free apps to turn your iPad into an interactive Smartboard

At the iteach lounge at the University of South Florida, we are always looking for easy to use apps for iPads that allow teachers to quickly and easily create educational content. Two apps we have recently compared are ScreenChomp by TechSmith and ShowMe app by Easel. Both are essentially doodling apps that allow the student/teacher to record their voice. After recording your drawing and voice the individual to upload their to the “cloud”. Each app has its own cloud type storage service that will generate a link to be shared with other students, teachers family and friends. ShowMe requires the individual to create an account prior to being able to upload the video to the cloud.

ScreenChomp has a few more sharing options by harnessing the Facebook and Twitter networks from within the app as well as providing in app email and open in Safari app support.

ScreenChomp also does not require a login to allow students or teachers to begin making videos and sharing them online. This also means your videos are open to the public provided they have the link. ShowMe app provides a “private” upload, but this just means the video is not listed in it’s website directory. I will say that once you are on, you can share that link to Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, email, and webpage embed.

Another feature of Screenchomp is that it allows you to download the video as a MPEG-4 file. Now you can add this to your iTunes,, or other podcasting service.

Both of these apps could be used by students or teachers to explain certain visual concepts or tasks such as math or science equations. Students can also use these apps for think aloud exercises. Both apps also allow the individual to add a picture from their photo library, allowing one to annotate over a picture or diagram.

Have you used these apps? What do you think of these apps or other interactive whiteboard apps for tablet pcs (iPad, zoom, tab, etc.) in education?

iPad Apps for Researching, Organizing, and Writing Papers

Streamlining your learning with technology makes education work seamlessly from any of your devices whether it is an iPhone, iPod, iPad, or the computer.  There are an overwhelming number of apps available for students to try as part of their work process.

Some resources that are valuable and worthwhile whether you are a freshman or working on your doctorate that we recommend are:

1.  GoodReader for iPad:  GoodReader is a mulit-tasking tool that supports large text and PDF files, syncs with remote servers, and works with .doc, .ppt, .xls, iWork, HTML and Safari webarchives, high resolution images, and audio and video.  This app, also allows you the opportunity to annotate your documents or PDF’s, manage the files, transfer files, sync files and folders, zoom, do a text search, and do a quick hyperlink search in your PDF’s.  Cost: $4.99

2.  Tap-Dictionary:  Works with the Safari web browser and gets dictionary definitions with the tap of a finger.  This app will not make you switch applications to find the definition.  It instantly finds the definition while you browse the web.  Tap-dictionary will pronounce the word in 56 different languages.  Cost: $.99

3.  Remember the Milk:  This utility app lets you take your to do list anywhere.  There are a variety of versions for the iPod, iPhone,and iPad.  The app also works with your online version that you sync with your calendars at  This app lets you add and complete tasks on the go, sync with your online version, organize priorities, due dates, search, receive reminders by email SMS and IM and much more.  Cost: Free

4.  Dropbox:  Once you download this feature to your computer and purchase the app on your iPad or iPhone you have the ability to save and open or share documents, photos, or videos anywhere  and at anytime.  The best thing about the dropbox account is that you can save, share, or email anything from or to the dropbox account at any time.  Cost: Free

5.  Dropvox:  Dropvox records audio and sends it directly to your dropbox account.    It can be used to capture any audio (e.g. interviews, memos, or lectures, ets.) In addition, you can set the audio to start recording immediately when dropvox is launched or continue recording in the background.    Cost: $1.99

Taken from Dr. Blog, PhD., this site shares information about apps for research with a focus on obtaining a PhD., but has many apps that are valid for everyone.

One of the most difficult things you can do academically is to get a PhD degree. There are a lot of tough tasks you have to complete in order to be awarded this high degree — including writing research papers. Indeed, anyone on a Ph.D. track knows that it is impossible to get through your schooling without writing several papers. And, of course, a Ph.D. dissertation is a research paper on a massive scale.

If you are looking for ways to improve your ability to write research papers, you are in luck. Technology makes it simple to get help with research papers. If you have an iPad, you can get help writing your research paper.” –from

The link for this site is:

USF, iPad and the Cloud

The college of education at the University of South Florida recently launched an initiative to advance pre-service teachers knowledge of emerging technologies in the classroom. The iteach initiative recently focusing on Apple products, has provided it’s students with workshops from Apple certified educators focusing on multimedia creation and optimizing lessons for consumption on the iPad. Workshops provided hands on experience using Apple’s iLife suite and Dashcode as well as other educational technologies. At the university level USF has made decisions to benefit the students as a whole but also benefits students who are iPad users or are thinking of buying an iPad.

One of these changes that USF IT has made is providing students access to an apps portal. Now students can access a wide array of popular programs such as Adobe CS5 Master Collection, Atlas T.I., Maya 2010, Mathimatica 7 and many others from any computer with an Internet connection. The university uses a citrix system that students can connect to by pointing their web browser to

Directions to connect to the Apps Portal

A benefit of using the apps portal, besides access to expensive software, students can begin working on projects on a machine on campus and still access their same project at home on their personal machines. Imagine you begin building a website for your communications class while on a campus machine and being able to finish your project at home. Or say you begin qualitative analysis project in Atlas T.I., which you couldn’t afford to buy, you can finish it anywhere anytime you are connected to the apps portal.

All of the applications available on the USF Apps Portal can also be accessed on the students iPad. Click the link below to configure your iPad to use the apps portal.

How to connect your iPad to the USF Portal

Some applications do not lend themselves to working nicely on the iPad. You may not want to create complex vector graphics in Adobe Illustrator thru the portal, but you can easily edit your documents, write programs, or analyze data on the iPad.

The apps portal is essentially just allowing students the ability to screen share to a server to access the applications. You will want to have a reliable and fast Internet connection to use the portal. The university provides storage space for students to save their files on the server. Students can have up to 4GB of storage space to save their files and create websites. USF has also been a Google University for the past few years. Now that Google has opened up Google Docs to editing on the iPad, this also provides students another avenue to create and share content on their iPad.

WordPress and OnSwipe change the way you view blogs on your iPad

Until recently if you wanted your wordpress blog to have a different design for mobile devices you had to download a mobile plugin such as WPTouch. WordPress and OnSwipe have worked together to make all 18 million blogs on look more app like when viewed on the iPad. promises to make it easy for all publishers content appear more app like.


This new design reminds me of the FlipBoard app or Zite app available in the iTunes app store. Publishers who host their own blogs can go to and sign up for the beta.

Will this make reading blogs online more enjoyable? The iPad does provide a different reading experience than reading from your computer. And it looks like this most popular design for reading magazine type or content of short articles being adopted or at least getting the most buzz. But should that be the standard or default design or user experience for viewing Rss feed stories on the iPad?

Search Google Scholar Effectively

How many times have you searched endlessly for scholarly resources and found your searches inadequate?  Did you know that Google Scholar is a great tool and a useful enhancement to other searches in Proquest, Eric, and any of the other journal sites or databases?    Google Scholar is a separate tool in Google and is meant to be a place to research peer-reviewed journal articles, court decisions, magazine articles, books, patents, editorials, and other similar written publications.  Be aware that it will find books and articles that may or may not be peer reviewed.

Google Search

More  Scholar

In order to start your search in Google:

  1. Open the main search page and locate the upper left hand corner where it says more and click onthe down arrow to the right of it.
  2. Click on Scholar.
  3. Once you click on the link, Google Scholar is opened up.


Remember that it may be an additional resource to the other databases provided within the library research database for your school. Ask your school librarian if this resource is available to you.  There are times when you will look up an article or book that takes you to an outside resource that requires a fee for access.  Make sure you have accessed the information for Google Scholar through your library research database and if this continues to occur, speak to your Librarian as they may have a way to obtain the resource through your school library.

Search tips in Google

There are a variety of tips for searching the site that applies for any searches.  These shortcuts  work with many other search engines that are available in your university library and other search engines.

There are a number of little tricks that can be used to help create a better search.  The table below gives a number of the best tips that are useful. 

Modifier What it does What to type What you will get
“ ” searches for an exact phrase “assistive technology in education” results that include exact phrase “assistive technology in education”
excludes search results with a particular word or phrase bass -fishing results about bass that are not related to fishing
~ searches for a word and all its synonyms ~mobile phone results with the word “phone,” as well as, “cell,” “cellular,” etc.
OR searches for webpages that include either word vacation London OR Paris results with the word “vacation” and either “London” or “Paris”
searches for a range of numbers Willie Mays 1950…1960 results about Willie Mays during this time period
define: define a word or phrase define: plethora links to definitions of the word “plethora”
site: searches only particular websites global warming site:edu references to global warming found on .edu websites
link: searches for webpages that link to a particular website websites that link to the University of South Florida website
1+1 basic calculator functions 4+7, 30% of 55, 20^2, sqrt(4), etc. the answer
cm in foot converts unit of measure cm in foot, 28C in F, $ in pound, days in fortnight, miles in league, mph in speed of light, etc. the converted answer

For more search tips to use in Google Scholar, follow this link

There are many posters that librarians or teachers can post in the classroom or library to remind students of the various methods of searching the database and finding the specific information for a research project or paper. One is linked below.

8.5″x11″ Poster

Google Scholar Email Alerts

Email alerts are a tool that can be used to continue receiving information as it becomes available.  Once you are inside a search, click on the envelope icon on the green bar that says create email alert and a new window opens where you can place any email or your Gmail address.  Once this is done, any new papers, articles, or other items that fit into the search parameters is published, the information will be sent to the specified email.

Special Education Apps in the App Store

For educators in special education, perusing the apple app store for relevant applications to use with students can be a time consuming task.  While the app store has an Education section to the app store, it does not have a Special Education category listed.  Many special education educators have begun creating their own recommended lists of special education apps. These apps span across multiple categories in the iTunes App store.  Apple has finally heard the needs of special educators and in its commitment to special education, it has created a Special Education section in the iTunes App store.  It is not yet a main category in the app store, nor is it a subcategory of Education.  This may be because the apps in Special Education currently bridge multiple categories in the App Store.  The list currently contains 30+ apps.   If you would like to learn about more apps for special education, you should visit Mobile Learning for Special Needs.   They review apps, accessories and resources for special needs and mobile learning.  They currently have listed 60+ apps, accessories, links, and discussions.

Mobile Learning for Special Needs:

Special Education in iTunes:

iTunes Special Education Apps

Embedding Audio into your Blog is a wonderful service. It allows you to upload images and documents for use in your blog.  Embedding audio is non existent for users you upgrade to a premium account. For many k-12 educators this may present an issue in the school systems.  One alternative is to sign up for an account on Podbean to host your entire blog or just your media files (audio and videos). Podcast hosting, Social subscribingPodbean is built off of a WordPress framework. It offers its users blogging tools aimed at podcasters. It makes it easy to embed audio files into each page and post. Since the backbone of is similar to, there is a short code to embed the audio player directly into your blog.  Below are the steps for embedding audio into your blog.

  1. Create an account at
  2. Enter your dashboard to manage/admin your new blog. (this can be done by adding “/admin” at the end of your url.
  3. Once you have logged in, you Upload Linkcan upload your media files to using the Upload link. This will place you in the “Media Manager”.
  4. Click the upload button.Upload Button
  5. Click browse to upload a file from your computer. Uploader
  6. Click the Upload button to begin uploading your file. You will see a progress bar telling you how much of the file has been processed.
  7. After your file is uploaded, find it in the Current Media files section and click on it.Click on the file name
  8. A pop-up box will appear with the url to your audio file. Copy this link.PopUp
  9. Now you can login to your blog if you arent already.
  10. In a page or post type in the text editor.

Now you have successfully embedded an audio file into your blog. You can now type other content around the player.
Example below.

Example: The Bald Man and the Fly

Courtesy of the Florida Center for Instructional Technology and their Lit2Go project.

Example in

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