Category Archives: iPad

Microphone options for your iPad

I love the quality of the video that my iPad takes… but I’m running into problems with the audio.  The built-in mic just isn’t enough to get quality audio.  What are some easy options for adding a better quality microphone to my iPad?

First… before you add any microphone, you must add a special cable to allow a microphone to connect.  Many times, we hear from staff that just plug a microphone into the headphone jack of the iPad and are expecting that to work.  Sorry, you’ll need the following connector (or something comparable), we recommend….

connectorSescom iPhone/iPod/iPad 3.mm TRRS to 3.5mm Mic
It’s available on Amazon.com for around $25.   One end plugs into the iPad headphone jack and then there are two other ends: one for the microphone of your choice, and the other jack is optional and is for headphones so that you can listen in or monitor the quality of the audio.

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wiredmicOption #1:  Wired Mic
Again, you’ll need the connector cable listed above first, then add the Audio-Technica ATR-3550 Lavalier Mic.  It’s also easily found on Amazon.com, typically for around $19.   What I really like about this mic  - it comes with a really long cable, about 20 feet.   In most cases, if your subject is further than 20 feet away, your going to want to record with something other than an iPad anyway.  It’s also small lavalier mic that most folks wire up through  the inside of a jacket or clothing and the end result is that no one can tell its a wired mic.  It does require a small battery, but that’s included with the mic.

Here’s what the final product will look like when your iPad has the special connector and the lavalier wired mic…. total cost: $30 for connector, $19 for lavalier mic: total is around $49

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sonyOption #2:  Wireless Mic
Even when looking for wireless mic option – you still need the special connector listed above, so that’s your first item needed.  Then we recommend the Sony ECM-AW3 Wireless Mic, also available on Amazon.com, costs around $156.   The mic comes with two seperate components, the receiver (which plugs into the special connector/iPad) and the microphone, which is wireless and sends to receiver via bluetooth.  The mic has a range of 150 feet – which effectively means that its way outside the range that the iPad can actually take video.

Here’s what the final picture looks like with iPad, special connector, and the wireless mic setup.  Cost is:  $30 for connector + $156 for wireless mic = $186 total.

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As tech director, my favorite iPad apps.

This summer we ran several optional tech training sessions for administrators including some sessions on iPads.  During the sessions, we each shared the various apps we were using related to work.  Serving as the Director of Technology, my iPad usage is more organizational/productivity than instructional with students – but nonetheless, I am frequently asked what apps I use for various tasks.  So here’s my list…

For note taking….

google drive

Google Drive [free]
For anyone in our district, I would highly recommend Google Drive.  You can use your district @wdmcs.org Google Apps account which will enable you to share your notes and create collaborative documents with others.  It’s accessible by your iPad, iPhone, laptop, or other devices and everything is stored to the cloud automatically so you don’t have worry about backing anything up.

evernoteEvernote [free]
I’ve used Evernote for quite a while and its another great note taking tool.  Although you can share notes with others – you must share them publicly or they must have an Evernote account of their own.  Since everyone in the district has a Google Account, I think its easier to just use Google Drive for your notes, since it lends itself well to sharing and collaboration.  

penultimatePenultimate [free]
If you like using a stylus for handwritten notes on the iPad, then Penultimate is your tool.  However, I would really encourage you to also get an Evernote account, since Penultimate needs to be tied to an Evernote account in order to have your written notes automatically backed up.

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What do you use to organize and manage projects?

trelloTrello [free]
Recently, I’ve been messing around with Trello, which is an easy to use, on-line project management tools.  You create “boards” and then “lists” for each board and then “cards” or projects for each list.  For example, I have a board for Infinite Campus (or student information system) and there’s three lists….  “things we want to do”  “things we are doing”  and “things that are done”.   Each individual card or project can have notes, checklists, or even pictures.  Each card can then by physically moved from one list to another or removed from the board all together. The information is stored on their website – not on the app, which means its always backed up.  It also means I can access the same information on any laptop or computer.

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For reading and personalized magazines

ziteZite [free]
After selecting your favorite topics and categories, Zite offers you up a personalized magazine. It’s a clean interface that removes all the ads and other garage off the screen show that you can see just the article that’s of interest.  Use the thumbs up or thumbs down to help Zite learn your reading preferences.  There’s also easy access to share an article via email, twitter or other avenues. Zite collects article from a wide range of sources, including teacher/educator created blogs.

flipboardFlipBoard [free]
If you don’t like that Zite collects articles from teacher/educator blogs, and you only want articles from known, specific sources… the FlipBoard is probably the best tool for you.  FlipBoard allows you to select by source(s).  Perhaps you want to read just articles written by certain educators or news sources, then FlipBoard will help you do just that.   FlipBoard is also a popular tool for browsing through twitter -as it turns your twitter feed into a “magazine style” display, which is easier to browse.

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How do you back up your photos and videos?

dropboxDropbox [free]
Most folks use DropBox to store all of their files and documents – but I’m a little different, I use DropBox solely for one purpose –  to backup my photos and videos.  I’ve found that iCloud just isn’t realiable or convenient enough for me. I have DropBox installed on both my iPad and my iPhone, and they are set up to automatically backup all pictures/videos right away.  I also have DropBox installed on my laptop – which means that right after a picture is taken on my iPad, a copy of it is available on my laptop.

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How to add text to a photo?

phontoPhonto [free]
Want to add text to a photo?  Try Phonto… really simple and easy to use.

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What weather apps do you like best?

weather channelWeather Channel [free]
Schools typically make decisions about recess from temperature and wind chill –  which makes this the perfect app for that situation.

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my radarMy Radar [free]
Each time you open it, it displays the weather radar for the entire country… that’s it.  But I love it anyways, because most of the time, I just want to see the radar to see what might be coming.