AppleAppsTablets

iPad Student Diaries #3: Air Sketch special

airsketch - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

I was watching the weekly episode of iPad Today just now and they showed a video message from a viewer. The guy in the video was a teacher, and he talked about an iPad app that is one of those apps that are complete game changers for the kind of people that would use it.

Air Sketch (On sale for $7.99) is basically smartNote for teachers: it has the same ability to draw/write on blank pages, images or PDF files as well as several different pen types and highlighters, but it adds a feature that makes all the difference: it transmits everything live to a computer, which can then be connected to a projector. What’s even more, it requires no computer-side software other than an HTML5 capable browser.

The possibilities here are endless, but the reason I’m writing this article as part of the Student Diaries series is that this is perfect for teachers- like the teacher in the video. Using the app he is able to walk around the classroom with his iPad strapped to his hand (using a case with a hand strap) and at the same time write on his iPad for all the students to see. It is quite simply a wireless, digital blackboard that is instantly compatible with any room that has a computer connected to a projector.

The college where I did my BBA had a full range of tech at their disposal, including touch screen computers allowing them to write on a screen and display it live with a projector. My current college however is a dump, at least the part of it that we’re in- there’s a computer an a projector, but that’s it (aside from an overhead projector). With an iPad and this app, a teacher would suddenly have the same capabilities as a teacher at the other college, and also walk around the classroom at the same time. The downside is that writing on a capacitive screen isn’t as accurate as writing on a screen with an active digitizer, but a little bit of practice with pan/zoom and it wouldn’t be an issue. For things like math formulas and graphs you might not even need to do that, since you can utilize the entire screen. You can instantly clear the screen, so no need to save space.

I haven’t downloaded the app myself as I’m not a teacher, but from looking at how it works and seeing videos of it in use I have to say that it’s probably one of the apps that I’m the most impressed by on the iPad, ever. It’s apps like this that show that tablets do not need to be toys- the only thing stopping them from being productivity devices is software.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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19 thoughts on “iPad Student Diaries #3: Air Sketch special

  • Avatar of Barto

    So how does the browser work? Does it access the ipad as a sort of quasi web-server? I can’t wrap my mind around how this would work. And it does seem like a bummer to not be able to use a pen for something like this.

    Reply
    • You can use a stylus, as long as it’s a capacitive one. The browser integration is via HTML5

      Reply
      • Avatar of Barto

        There’s still a missing link though.
        So I open my browser on my desktop, I need to enter some URL. I’ve done a bit of searching but can’t find specifics on it. The way I figure I have one of two options. I can either enter http://ip address of the iPad, or if Air Sketch hosts some sort of connection brokering service, I would enter http://airsketch.com/mysecretsessioncode. Or something like that.

        If it were the latter, you may end up with some serious privacy concerns. If it is the former, I’d be just a tiny bit worried about the security of the iPad because in the back of my mind I wonder who in the world may have been able to connect to my iPad web server session, and pray there are no security flaws in the app that they can exploit. Of course that is more of a worry if you’re connected via 3G.

        Reply
  • Avatar of Relyt

    I don’t totally understand this. The whole thing is HTML5 based?

    Reply
  • Avatar of Relyt

    Upon further inspection, this feels like a better version of those smart-board things. My school has them in all classrooms but they seem very useless and redundant. They do little and aren’t even good at what they do. Using a tablet as a redefined method of accomplishing the same goal seems beneficial and progressive.

    Reply
  • Avatar of sideways

    Well this could be a good way of syncing your notes for a student?

    Reply
    • Not really, you’d need to capture it somehow on the other end, which is more work than in smartNote where you just export to a PDF and upload to Dropbox

      Reply
      • Avatar of sideways

        Good to know. Will keep that in mind.

        Reply
  • Yes, yes, but how can a student use his iDevice for cheating? ;)

    Reply
    • Avatar of macilaci457

      Dont cheat.

      Reply
      • …which you can do with any device, too! Better solution. :)

        Reply
  • meh. give me my whiteboard.

    Reply
    • Avatar of Relyt

      Whiteboard? Psh. Blackboards are where it’s at.

      Reply
  • This really is a fascinating series of articles.
    Maybe this sort of technology will replace the expensive digital whiteboards they’ve been putting in schools recently.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Matthew B.

    It probably depends on what the teacher was teaching. Did he say what subjects?

    I’m in science, and no matter what subject, nothing can beat a good black board and chock. Especially for math. (seriously, can you imagine teaching honours differential calculus on an ipad? it just won’t work.. :D )

    Reply
  • Avatar of JosephM

    The funnest part of this is doodling with your fingers :)

    Reply
  • I use AirSketch often..trying to daily. I import the worksheet I have created, so we can fill in the answers, I also have imported the pages from the text, so I can quickly switch back and forth real quick from anywhere in the room.

    What I plan to do is create a PDF for each lesson that includes the worksheet, pages and any other material and then I can annotate while walking around, quickly switching from a blank screen, back to the pdf. I can save images of completed work, or whatever I life for later use or pondering.

    There are limitations, the browser doesnt take up the whole entire screen, cant scroll or zoom in the computer screen. Also, when you want to go from PDF to blank page and back, you lose the annotations. Like ALL iPad apps, it is a work in progress, but it is an awesome one.

    I am attempting to get some of the things I am doing in my class with the iPad written down on.. http://www.killercatfish.com/iPad

    I am getting a classroom set next year and am working on a way to quickly switch between different AirSketch servers (though it appears they only say a few will run simultaneously. A cool part is since it runs on html5, the students can be viewing on their iPad.

    Oh yea, I teach 6-8 middle school math. I find the hardest parts are me getting use to it and those few kids that take any opportunity to become distracted.

    Reply

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