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.