Thursday, February 02, 2012

Google+ Hangouts on Air

I was lucky enough to score early-adopter status for the new Google+ Hangouts on Air and just gave it a try! (Here are the directions for joining a Hangouts on Air session.)

When hosting a Hangout on Air, the first step is to make sure your log-in to YouTube is the same as your log-in to Google+. Once the Hangout on Air is over, a private recording is sent up to your YouTube account automatically. It took about 15 minutes for the 13 minute Hangout to process and show up on YouTube. Once it is up in YouTube, you can make it public or give access to specific users, change the licensing, set up moderation privileges, and so on. The Hangout recording as showcased on YouTube is embedded below. 

I posted the info about the Hangout on Air to both my Twitter feed and within Google+. It was early (8:30am ET), so it took a bit for someone to join.

Screenshot from video of a Google+ stream
I only had one participant join the actual hangout, but others were viewing it in their Google+ stream. (I received comments and questions from them later in my Google+ stream.) I could not see that, since I was the host, but my participant screenshared what that looked like. Here is a screencapture of his Google+ stream.

The set-up of the Hangout on Air was simple, the resolution of the screensharing was AWESOME, and those that were able to watch the broadcast live had good things to say. I was a little disappointed that the chat area within the Hangout and the chat among the Hangout participants does not show up in video, but you could overcome that with a screenshare of a tool such as or Wallwisher if you wanted to capture the "chatter" and gather feedback.

If you have any other great ideas for the use of this tool, add a comment! I am thinking that I could easily stream my presentations from conferences if I wanted to. It would be a virtual presentation and a permanent recording all in one!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

PhatPad review

I received a review copy of PhatPad for iPad a while back, and have spent some time showcasing it at conferences and in small group sessions. 

The PhatWare Web site states: "PhatPad turns your iPad into an advanced brainstorming tool. Draw, write, and type your ideas then instantly share them via email, WiFi sync, Dropbox, or presentation mode. PhatPad’s digital ink technology and handwriting recognition engine allows you to scribble handwritten notes and drawings and convert them into digital text, or perfect geometrical shapes." You can also export the document out to a printer, to Google Docs and to Evernote!

PhatPad 2.0 came out earlier this week ($4.99 in the iTunes App Store), and it is optimized for iOS 5 as well as including handwriting recognition for English, German, French, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. (There is also an Android version of PhatPad, but it only recognizes English at this time.)

Rather than give you an overview of what it can do, please view the video below to find out its main capabilities, which, by the way, are awesome! Following the video I will share some discoveries and thoughts I have for the use of PhatPad for the iPad in the classroom.


So, now that you know the basics of what PhatPad can do, let me share some of my discoveries! First, once you convert a word to text, you can tap and hold the word and show the definition of the word. This is one way for students to verify that the handwriting-to-text conversion produced the correct word!


In addition, as you saw in the video, you can insert your own image from your Photo Library or take a new picture with the iPad's camera, but PhatPad comes with a TON of clipart, too! There are 28 categories including computers, communications, construction, database, education, emotions, food, fun and toys, medical, music and instruments, networking, transportation, and more! The clipart can save a lot of time with student projects, since they do not have to go out on the Web for images, check the Creative Commons licensing, get it into the Photo Library on the iPad, and then add it to the document. They can simply look through the included clipart and pick something appropriate!


As I was playing around with the clipart, I realized that PhatPad can be used as a layer-based image creation, tool, too! That means the clipart, text, and images can be "piled" on top of one another. I started making a rudimentary infographic, and realized that PhatPad could be used for this purpose, even if just to create the first draft of an infographic a student is creating as an assessment. (More details about using the infographic as an assessment may be found here.)


There are additional features that would be useful in a classroom setting, too. First, there is the ability to create multiple pages and use a presentation mode to move through the pages. In addition, a student can create voice notes to go along with the pages and even create an automatically-running presentation with the voices notes by setting up the slide timings. You can read about all of the features in the PhatPad for iPad 1.5 User Guide


After spending time reading the manual and experimenting with PhatPad for iPad, I am amazed at the number of features it contains! Creative teachers and students could come up with many ways to use this software to support teaching and learning. Are you already an educator or student using PhatPad? If so, please leave a comment and share the ways you use it personally and professionally.