On Thursday evening I was lucky enough to be in conversation with Gillian Penny, Dan Bowen, John Johnston and Fraser Speirs as part of the Edutalkr series. Iain Hallahan kept the conversation organised as chairperson and David Noble did the background tech.

You can hear the discussion on Edutalk:

EDUtalkr online panel discussions about Scottish education #7: The practicalities of using iPods and iPads in the classroom – EDUtalk

The practicalities of using iPods and iPads in classrooms. 


  •   Iain Hallahan (@don_iain) 


     1. Fraser Speirs @fraserspeirs

     2. John Johnston @johnjohnston

     3. Gillian Penny @gillpenny

     4. Dan Bowen @dan_bowen  –  tbc

Areas for discussion:

  1. Network connectivity & IT support   
  2. iTunes account management & licensing issues 
  3. Authority/Department/Cluster/School policies on usage
  4. Is there a way to suggest changes to Apple? What might these suggestions be?  

This week I’ll be taking part in this online audio panel. Thanks to Iain Hallahan (@don_iain) for putting me forward. I am looking forward to hearing what the other panellists will be saying.

Blogsy is a new iPad blog editor that has a lot of useful features. It allow you to blog photos from Flickr and a couple of other photo sites, video from YouTube and also to load a webpage and drag images into the post.

You type in a code view:

And then swipe to a preview combined with some text formatting and the drag and drop interface. You swipe again to go back to the code view. The text formatting works in both views.

You can also use the built in browser to add links to as well as photos from other sites.

A wee problem is that the app doesn’t upload photos to your blog but hotlinks the ones dragged in. This might give problems if the image is removed and also does not attribute the images in any way.

Blogsy works with wordpress.com, self hosted wordpress blogs and blogger ones. I could not get it to work with my pivot blog although pivot supports the MetaWeblogAPI. 

I am going to try to post this to a wordpress and blogger blogs using the settings (a couple of test blogs). I got an error trying to post to blogger. Since the HTML links to images and is nice & clean I’ll post it to My World Wide Wall Display blog by copying the HTML and pasting into Safari. Pivot’s mobile interface is nice

If Glow blogs get the metaweblogAPI sorted out this could be a useful app for class blogging in Scotland.

Update: pasting works in a glow blog too, but the wordpress backend is not optimised for mobile (at least in the glow version) as pivot is.

For historical reasons and to give myself some sort of illusion of control I tend to write blog posts in html. I use TextMate and its blogging bundle which does all sorts of nice things to simplify the process: for example dragging an image onto TextMate’s window, uploads the image to the blog and inserts the html code to put it in the post. What is even nicer is that you can drag images from ImageWell after a quick resize or edit without saving it.

I also use SafariStand which added copy html tag to the contextual menu when right clicking on a link and to Safari’s toolbar:


I also save the TextMate files to my dropbox so that I can edit the posts on different boxes.

On the iPad

I am not hoping for the power of TextMate for editing html but wanted to do some blogging from an iPad. I’ve managed ok using the Notes app, and using dragon dictation to ‘write text’ but hadn’t found a solution to some other features. After a bit of testing I’ve now got a fairly useful toolkit.

Dropbox integration, html editing: Textastic allows you to open and save to dropbox, does syntax highlighting and to easily type various characters that are normally buried in the iOS keyboard.


Images, there is not a way to upload images to the blog that fits in with html editing, but it is easy to upload images with the flickr app to flickr. Unfortunately neither the Flickr App or the mobile version of Flickr do not provide the html code. however toy can switch to the full site which works fine on the ipad. This can be pasted into Textastic. That makes posting images simple if a little long winded: Screenshot, edit in an app, save to camera roll. Open flickr app and upload, open Safari and grab html code, switch to Texttastic and paste.

Getting links, was the last piece of the jigsaw, as well as grabbing html link tags from Safari Stand or CoLT in FireFox, in TextMate you can select some text and press command-control-shift-L and TextMate will use google to provide a link, not always the right one but very useful. Getting links on the iPad was a bit tedious, switching between Safari and Textastic and typing the code, pasting in the url. I did a bit of a google and came up with nothing. I’ve now come up with a simple, if crude, system. I’ve created a bookmarklet that adds a bit onto the top of a webpage with a text box in it, the textbox contains the html tag to link to the page:


The bookmarklet link has the following code:

javascript: (function(){document.body.appendChild(document.createElement('script') ).src='http://www.littlefishsw.co.uk/link.js';})();

I added the bookmarklet to Safari on my desktop which syncs with my iPad. The bookmarklet uses this JavaScript File, if you care about JavaScript I would not look at it;-) I just kept changing things till it worked for me. I can now add a link to Textastic by switching to safari, loading the page and clicking the linkHTML link on Safari’s toolbar. The switch back to Textastic and paste. As I mention the code is not exactly slick, I couldn’t get mobile Safari to pre select the link (it works in a desktop browser) which would save a couple of clicks but it does work well enough to use if I want to blog but only have an iPad.

FeeddlerRSS icon

I’ve been neglecting this blog again for the last wee while. Not because I’ve nothing to blog about but due to lack of time.

I’ve also been neglecting most online activity, twitter, my rss reader and am just about keeping up with email.In a, possible vain, attempt to keep it going I though I’d post links to a couple of interesting things I’ve seen recently.


Interesting things


purpos/ed is a great source of ideas to think about.

We’re a non-partisan, location-independent organization aiming to kickstart a debate around the question: What’s the purpose of education? With a 3-year plan, a series of campaigns, and a weekly newsletter we aim to empower people to get involved and make a difference in their neighbourhood, area and country.

There are already a ton of thought provoking posts giving individual views of the purpose of education and I’ve not read half of the ones published so far. Coincidently as I am typing this I got a link to purpos/ed Summit for Instigators chaired by Josie Fraser this looks like a really exciting event. If you are thinking of going please consider contributing to EDUtalk  while you are there.

Another thing I missed was the Game To Learn Conference. I did see a fair bit of tweeting around the conference, Twitter / Search – #gametolearn,  and hope to catch up with some of the videos and presentations from the two days. some I have seen are #gametolearn – Playful Learning: Geocaching Workshop and a couple of prezi’s Nintendogs – Game to Learn by Anna Rossvoll on Prezi &2011-03-18 GameToLearn by Charlie Love on Prezi both of which make you want to have been at the presentation. As a side effect made me sort of see the point of prezi, always made me a bit seasick before, it fits well with gaming meme.

As well as bring invoved in Game To Learn Charlie Love had time to put together Computing Teachers? Time to wake up which has gathered a great deal of positive comment, interesting read even if you are not a computing teacher.

Other than that I’ve mostly been iOSing


We had news of the new iPad and some new iOS software, I’ve downloaded garageband and iMovie, I had hoped to write a post comparing iMovie to reelDirector but didn’t get past the screenshots: iOS Move Editors – a set on Flickr.

I’ve written most of this short post on the iPad, testing Edhita a free html editor, not quite what I am looking for. There are quite a few html editors for the iPad, I put a question on Qura and am now finishing this post using Textastic, textastic has a nice top row added to the keyboard and it does syntax highlighting and previewing. Texttastic links to my dropbox account and to ftp servers. I use dropbox to store blog posts while I write them so it should fit in nicly with my workflow.

i hope to manage a slightly more coherent post soon but in the mean time I think I’ve managed  to put in links to far better things than i could produce.

iPad stand by tim_d
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

I was pretty impressed with the iPad 2 which was launched this week. Some nice new features and the speed bumps especially in JavaScript sound good.

I’ve continued to test an iPad and this week I spent a wee bit of time using it to access glow. I’ve talked to a few pupils who access glow at home using an ipod touch, and have occasionally used my iPhone, but find it a bit of a strain on the eyes (The pupils I’ve talked to don’t seem to have the same problem).

On an iPad Glow works pretty well. The iPads limitation on now allowing file (picture) uploads in the browser is a bit of a draw back but a lot of the other feature are fine. Editing webparts works as well as it does on Safari on a mac. The text editor continues to frustrate me but I am resigned to avoiding it use by now.

I successfully posted to my glow blog: iPad Glow blogging without trouble. Again I could not upload photos, but it is easy to workaround using flickr, I used my flickr CC search toy which did the job and sorted the attribution.

The WYSIWYG editor did not work, but I was please to see that the html editor respected line breaks, adding paragraphs. typing <p> with an iPad is a bit slow.

I also tried using the iPad to edit a wiki page. Again WYSIWYG was turned off and this time there was no auto paragraphing. Again I could paste in the embed code for a flickr photo. The font size was a wee bit small for me, but would be fine for most youngsters.

What it would be nice to see would be support for the MetaWeblog API in glow blogs, this would allow the use of various apps to post to a glow blog. I guess it is hard to enable this due to the way glow accounts are matched to wordpress ones through shibboleth, if RM can manage this it would be make glow blogs a powerful tool for mobile learning.


rusty chain by shoothead
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

It has been a relatively long time since I posted here so I though I’d share some interesting looking things:


is a hardware/software platform for creating cubic-inch sensor peripherals for the mobile phone. HiJack devices harvest power and use bandwidth from the mobile phone’s headset interface. The HiJack platform enables a new class of small and cheap phone-centric sensor peripherals that support plug-and-play operation. HiJack has been tested with the iPhone 3G/3GS/4G, iPod Touch, and iPad devices.

So it looks like this could be useful for all sorts of data collection on an iPod Touch or iPad.

29/365 (IPAD) by Jesus Belzunce
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

Fraser Speirs – Blog – How the iPad Wants to be Used Fraiser speaks with a ton of authority:

The iPad is an intensely personal device. In its design intent it is, truly, much more like a “big iPhone” than a “small laptop”. The iPad isn’t something you pass around. It’s not really designed to be a “resource” that many people take advantage of. It’s designed to be owned, configured to your taste, invested in and curated.

and I suspect he has hit this and many other nails on the head, but perhaps there are other models of use that are worth exploring. Certainly the iPad I am testing at work is an easy thing for my wife or daughter to grab for a quick wikipedia search. iPads also seem to me quite happy to be used for communal reading/watching. Given current economic climates I think we need to keep looking at these devices even if we are not in a position to implement cultural and institutional change. Although the optimal use of iPads may be as a personal device we need to keep our eyes open for other possibilities.

Locally the Glencairn iPod touch trial from last session got a nice write up in Nice touch: iPod device educates pupils subtly – Primary – TES Connect Update 2018 broken link, but found here.

I like the look of the iRig Mic which was posted to the UK ADE mail list. Not for sale yet.

I now seem to have downloaded well over 300 apps for iphone/ipod touch/iPad and need t ostart really thinking about what I want to carry in my pocket. But I just keep seeing things I want to try. The latest iPad App I’ve downloaded in Logo Draw. A free, add supported app for simple Logo programming on the iPad.

Logo Draw

I’ve always had a soft spot for Logo, even trying to make my own teaching toy. This one seems pretty straightforward, the sort of thing I can imagine a small group of children working on?

This is a ‘mac’ post not really aimed at education except in so far as a lot of educationalists seem to be using Dropbox. Dropbox is of course a cloud storage & synchronisation application. Basically dropbox sets up a dropbox folder on your computer and syncs it with one online. You can set up dropbox on several computers and they are all kept in sync. This is extremely useful if you use different computers in different locations. I have my home mac, desktop at work, work laptop, iPhone and the iPad I am typing this part of the post on, all with the same files seamlessly synced. What makes drop box different is that on a computer it’s just another folder you do not need to do anything special to keep it in sync.

If you want to get a dropbox account & give me more storage on dropbox Get Dropbox.

I’ve been using drop box as a working directory for sometime now, as week as a way to view files on my phone and the iPad as well as being able to work on files at home and at work without worrying about taking them back and forward. Recently I’ve started using in a couple of slightly more sophisticated ways.


Dropbox Fastscripts

One of my favourite utilities is FastScripts, this is a menubar application that allows you quickly run AppleScripts (it also does shell and other scripts) these can be given keyboard shortcuts and are sorted into application specific lists.

Fox example I often use tiny url to shorten urls so have a script that takes the current URL from safari and puts a URL onto the clipboard. This script has a shortcut of Apple-ALT-control-U.

FastScripts list scripts stored in the Scripts folder in either the mac’s or user’s Library. Inside that folder it organises the different applications scripts inside an Application folder folders:

Fastscript libs

In this case you can see that the Applications folder is an alias. What I did was to move the applications folder to my dropbox folder, I then dragged it back, but with the command and alt keys held down. This left the folder in my dropbox but creates an alias in the Scripts folder, FastScripts sees the files in my dropbox. I can then create the alias in my other macs Scripts folder replaces the one already there. Now when I make a new script on any of the macs it is shared with the other ones and available through FastScripts.

TextMate, Droptext

I find that I use plain text files more and more, I write blogs posts, todo list, web pages and first drafts in TextMate. TextMate has some amazing features that are way above my head but I find it a must have application. Some of the files I use often I keep in a folder _notes in dropbox. Also in dropbox is a textMate project. A textMate project is just a easy way to see all of the files inside the _notes folder and its subfolder (power users can do a lot more with projects).

Textmate Project

What is great is I can access and edit these files from any of the computers I use and view them through the dropbox app on an iPhone or iPad. I can also use a 59p app droptext to edit these files on the iPad.

I have never really been one for productivity systems, I’ve always like 43 Folders but mainly as a distraction. However, I do like automating repetitive tasks and things that work automagically Dropbox, FastScripts & TextMate fit that bill.

Strip designer

This week I have added five new apps to my iPad and thought I’d post them here. 

The whole post was made on the iPad all text ‘written’ with Dragon Dictation.

The first is BBC News and this is just a translation of the BBC’s new site for the iPad that it works very nicely. It’s pretty slick there is a series of all news feeds on the left and you could see the articles on the right. You can customise the feeds so I’ve already remove sport and added the Scottish news  it seems very iPad friendly and like quite a few  designed read and access media in an attractive way.

Another media viewer I’ve  installed is FlipBoard which has been getting a lot of attention on the Internet and on twitter. This app pulls information from different sources, Facebook or twitter and from collections and about different things, say technology or entertainment.the app presents these streams in an attractive way.   You can to flip through the pages with some pretty effects.   What I think is really impressive that is with the tweets from your twitter stream it doesn’t just to show the tweets, if a tweet has an article linked it will present some of the article, with a photograph that will present the photograph.  FlipBoard has been a little controversial as it is pulling in content by scraping rather than they’re getting it from RSS feeds. To me this doesn’t seem too much of a problem most of the longer articles are shortened so you need to display the source along with any adverts and branding to read the whole thing. This viewing is done in the app rather than in safari. 

The next  app is regexecutioner which is an app  to help learn about regular expressions.   I do occasionally attempting to learn and to  use snippets of regular expressions. Hopefully this may  get me up to speed.  It is a pretty straightforward app were you can see  examples and you can take a regular expression and  a text block instantly see it’s result.

StripDesigner  is more of a creative app.  You can see from the screen shots that are  illustrating  this post that I have used it to present and annotate some screenshots of these application.  It’s a really nice ComicLife clone.  I tried on the iPhone first there the screen space is a wee bit limited but on the iPad and it just works very nicely indeed.  You can choose different layouts of up to five pictures.  You can add texts and the other things, adjusting fonts, text size and drop shadows in an easy and intuitive way.  I think it would be a great application to use in a classroom and I imagine I’ll be using it quite a lot.

The final application I’ve installed this week is Dragon Dictation which is an amazing application.  I have recorded all of this post and it turned into text using Dragon Dictation  it is very straightforward to use: you press a record button, you talk, you hit the Screen to stop.  Dragon  then analyses this (I imagine it sens the audio to a server) and brings back the text. You can quickly clean up and edit the text.   I tried it first on my iPhone you can tweet straight from Speech.  I then they tried on the iPad  and had one crash so made sure  to a copy of each section of this post as i  recorded six different sections. I had to do a little cleaning up, but given my accent and the fact that there is no training period make this application seem like magic.