Category Archives: tools

iPads in Maths

NOTE: This post builds on the Base ICT in Maths post. 
iPads are often thought of as a device that is somewhat restricted but the tool sets that they bring make them a very worthwhile tool.

There are still some limitations in relation to iPads but the positives are certainly starting to outweigh the negatives.

This post is meant as an initial overview of some of the genuine uses of the iPad for learning. Further posts go into greater use for deeper learning.

Firstly – Limitations of iPads:

It is good to be aware of the limitations of iPads. We will look at alternatives and we can talk of how it SHOULD be but . . …

Flash: Hmmm! there are still many sites that are flash dependant and this causes much grief. Luckily there are alternatives in many cases and we will hopefully compile a number of “all device” friendly tools and sites.
Spreadsheets: Trying to work on a spreadsheet on an iPad is still a massively lesser experience as you can not fill down or across yet. We can work on spreadsheets on an iPad in numbers, google docs and other apps but the experience is still poor and hopefully we will see this change.
Document access and storage: This is often thought of as a limitation with iPads but in actual fact the updates to iCloud along with amazing cloud services like Google Drive, Box, Dropbox etc have meant that it no longer needs to be a problem and in fact you are better off to have access to all of your documents on all of your devices as well as the web.
No USB drive: there is no doubt that it would be nice to have a USB but without one we just have to use services that share folders and files.

What iPads Enable!:

There are so many features of iPads that make them very powerful devices, even to the extent that you may find it to be your tool of choice.
Genuine mobility: The obvious one!? Mobility trumps portability!
Camera/video camera: the most useful tool?
Books and Documents: books and documents with you.
Access to Information and Tools: via the web or apps, tools like (review to come) which works across all devices or which is renewed and SUPER. (Our review is here) and amazing apps like Wolfram Alpha and Geogebra.
Note taking: creating written notes and accessing them across multiple devices is a game breaker for maths. see our post on written notes on the ICT blog.
Movie Making: iMovie app is now a VERY powerful tool.
Convergence: many devices and tools in the one device!

And the Biggie – CONTENT CREATION!

iPads came out with everyone saying they were “content consumption” devices and the early use was just that. Now though, things are excitingly VERY different. The ability to create content on an iPad today is ridiculous! This is already a big feature of the NEW ICT blog within the “iPads” category

Content Creation on iPads:

Content creation takes many forms but we will focus on a couple for the maths blog.

Good Maths Notes: you want to write notes as well as type and have graphics and websites? Notability App is the one we have chosen to be the most powerful of the note taking apps and also it can do the work of many pdf annotation apps as well.?
Check out our ICT blog post on: Notability for note taking where hand written content is required.

Creating Videos: iMovie is now a truly amazing app (updated tutorial very soon, Stay tuned!) But for maths the use of explain everything along with screen shots from websites or notability (or PowerPoints or documents or pdfs or …… . . . ) opened in explain everything app and narrated and annotated if need be can create amazing results.
Check out:
Explain Everything: review and tutorial on our ICT Blog
Using Notability with Explain Everything to create videos.

and then from sites like

Final Say:

Hopefully this has helped in highlighting some of the power of iPads, especially as a content creation device. If content creation is not your thing then you can always rest on the iPad features of mobility, simplicity and convergence!


Create “Flipped Learning” videos

It is important to realise that as an educator, you already use “flipped learning”, and have done so for years. Anytime we ask our students to do some work outside of the classroom prior to our lesson, you have just “flipped it”.

It is certainly a concept to explore for further learning. Essentially being able to spend more time working through problems in class as opposed to being stuck at home without help. This concept often relies on a good set of resources that can be set as home activities to work towards an understanding of a concept before coming to class. Being able to easily create your own content certainly is an added advantage as a teacher as the content can be tailored as you like and made more relevant to your students.

Easily Creating Screencasts:

Being able to easily create screen recordings is highly useful as a teacher or student. We will look at a few tips and then tools for creating content.
FIRSTLY here are a few tips for any created content:
– keep it concise (short if you can!)
– have a well thought out script
– have your resources ready to roll

On an iPad: (or Android tablet)

There have been apps that record everything on your iPad screen but they are short lived on the iTunes store! So you can replicate this in a way that is in fact actually better as you can edit it easier. There are a number of apps like educreations that record your interactions and upload your recording to their servers so you can view or embed it.

This is very useful, but  often it is usually more useful when you can have the video yourself and edit it or upload it as you like! The Explain Everything app (iTunes and Google Play) does exactly this and a whole lot more! It is truly amazing and can often be the most powerful and versatile of any option. If you make a mistake on little part then just fix that bit.

Here is a post on our ICT blog that really gets into the nitty gritty of Explain Everything.

A Combo of Apps: Now to really get it going! If you use a combination like that of Notability and Explain Everything  you can get a pretty special experience!  Here are some resources we created that may help get it all going!
Our Notability Review and Tutorial
Our Explain Everything review and Tutorial
Using the apps together to make SUPER tutorials easily and quickly Shorter version coming soon!

Screencasts on a Computer:

There are a heap of tools for recording all, or part of your screen. There are great paid options like Screencast-o-matic and Camtasia, as well as a myriad of free options (or free versions) like Jing or Snagit.
NOTE: Further posts will highlight how to do this along with tips, techniques and pitfalls!

Some tips for now though!:
If you are recording part of your screen: then make sure you select a 16:9 ratio so that you can upload it correctly if need be. having a graphic that is already in this ratio and aligning your content in the same window is a good method for doing this.
If you record your whole screen: make sure you are comfortable with everything that will be seen!  Also be aware of your end user and what they can see. changing your resolution to the lowest resolution before recording is a good method to ensure end users can see all the content.

Sharing your videos:

So you have created your video but now you need to share it! The obvious is to upload to a provider like Youtube or Vimeo but you can also save it to a Google Drive folder or Dropbox and set it so that it can be seen publicly (if you want). Uploading to Google Drive also allows embedding (nice!)

Credits, Comments, corrections, additions!?

Written collaboratively by Gary Maxwell and Rolfe Kolbe Newington College (with updates to come!)

Hopefully we have helped somewhat! If you have better options then please comment below and share and we will amend the post with acknowledgement to you. Revisit again to hopefully see some updates!


A good Tool?!!:

There has been a lot of debate about resources like Khan Academy and similar sites and whether or not they are good for learning. An explore of the updated site would no doubt make anyone think though with a range of options for learning or practising maths (and other subjects!!!!)

The refreshed site has interaction and tailoring for learners with feedback, hints and help as exercise are done. As a teacher/mentor the “coach” area also allows tasks to be set for those who have signed up for your classes AND you can see the interactions of those in your classes including exactly what was done, how long was taken on each area, what other resources were used, when the question was completed etc etc. More on the coach section soon!

Khanacademy has moved past being a series of lecture style videos to now be an interactive, engaging tool that is enjoyable to use with powerful feedback.

The real-life questions is impressive (always challenging as a Mathematics teacher!) BUT it is the opportunity for a tailored experience help that make it powerful, especially for the student that will not ask for help! There is no judgement as students can watch video help as many times as they like.

A good measure is always how learners engage and so far the uptake has been superb and the tailored feedback and recommendations seem to be valuable.

Alright, the question has probably been answered! YES this tool is worthwhile (and certainly worth the money as it is free!)

OK so let’s get into it:

It is free and can be used without an account BUT having an account allows you to track your progress and earn rewards. You can easily create an account with an email OR you can sign in with Facebook or Google. The latter allows us to create accounts without having to remember another username and password. If your school has a google apps for education account then this is very cool as it means you can use the same username and password as for other school log ins, #whoohoo

Setting up an account:

You can set up an account with an email address or Facebook or Google. Setting up with Google is ideal for schools with Google Apps for Education accounts, the instructions are as follows:
– Make sure you are logged in to your correct account. (Ie. your school account!)
– Go to and hit the “sign in with google account” button.
– It is best if students go into their setting as and make their viewable name to be their actual name for feedback and follow up!

The pretest!

An initial pretest gives the user a starting point and recommend tasks to be done next. It is worth doing the pretest well without any help and also tick the box to say if the work has not been done before.

Coach and/or be coached!:

Now the cool bit! CLASSES! you can set up a class and track all the activity and progress of your students!
Become a coach:
* Go to “coach” in the top menu
* then “manage students” > “create class”
* it gives a code that students can use to sign up to a class!
Join a class!
Students can be added in manually by their coach OR they go to main menu>coaches>add a coach and drop a code in! VOILA!!!!

Other Notes:

– it works splendidly on iPads too including the “scratchpad” where you can write on the screen!
– students can keep their account through to uni as it covers content from year 6 to University!!!

We will also follow up with a post on the “coach area” and tools and also a post on the coding options that run in parallel in the computer science area. Hopefully you have great experiences with KhanAcademy as we have. Please comment below to share your experiences.