Octagon 4D+ apps and cards review

This week I was lucky to be able to try out the Octagon 4D set of apps and cards. As a massive fan of augmented reality I was eager to try these after spotting them at #BETT2017.

Shipping only took a couple of days and there was a good deal if you ordered the full set of cards.

The set I got included Dinosaurs, Space, occupation, and animal themed cards. The animal cards also featured the letters A-7 so would be perfect in a pre-K classroom.

The cards came with a great selection. The dinosaur pack includes lots of different types of dinosaurs and each card features interesting facts, interactivity and audio features. The animal pack was pretty good with some of the cards interacting with food such as the monkey who eats bananas if you put the two cards together.

My favourite set is the occupation set which features a set of jobs again lettered A-Z and each of them have different interactivity features. The X-Ray technician is probably my favourite.

Although I don’t teach K12 or Pre-K the cards were also a big hit with my class of adults who used the cards as inspiration to create some of their own AR card ideas.

Cards can be bought online from Octagon Studio. 

Some of the cards in the series.

My top 10 assessment apps.

Preparing for an iPad 1:1 classroom means trying to decide what apps to use. I have tried loads, some great, some awful and some I can see myself using for years to come. Below are my top 10 apps (in no particular order).

1. Socrative – iOS, web-based and free. Quiz based app

2. Verso – iOS, web-based and free. Great for peer reviews.

3. Adobe Spark – iOS, web-based and free. Great for video creation.

4. Genial.ly – web-based. Good for creating interactive CVs or posters.

5.  Seesaw – iOS, web-based. Great for student portfolios.

6. Padlet – iOS, web-based, free. Great for brainstorming.

7. Noteshelf – iOS. Note-taking app.

8. iTunes U – iOS. Portfolios, assessment hand-in.

9. Kahoot – iOS and web-based. Free. Quiz based app.

10. Post-it plus. iOS. Free. Brainstorming and note taking.

Course 2 – Creating a Class Blog.

Below is the second of a set of 8 courses that feature both on this blog and also over on The EDtech Portal.

These screencasts will talk you through how to create a class blog.

For a full list of available courses check out our list here

Note: If you want certification for this course you can take it over on The EDtech Portal. Upon completing the course activities you will receive a certificate and there are also lots of opportunities to engage with other course takers. If not you can just watch the screencasts in the playlist below.

Course 1 – Create an iBook in iBooks Author course.

Below is the first of a set of 8 courses that feature both on this blog and also over on The EDtech Portal.

These screencasts will talk you through how to create a simple iBook for use in a classroom.

Note: If you want certification for this course you can take it over on The EDtech Portal. Upon completing the course activities you will receive a certificate and there are also lots of opportunities to engage with other course takers. If not you can just watch the screencasts in the playlist below.

For a full list of available courses check out our list here

Creating multi-touch books with students.

Teaching a digital media course has been an endless exciting journey of app exploration. The module is so vague you can make most apps work and change the content around depending on an individual class group.
As part of the module descriptor there is an option for students to create iBooks/eBooks. For the first couple of years I avoided this simply because the tech wasn’t available for us to easily create this. However, this past year students have created iBooks using Book Creator and/or iBooks Author and they really enjoyed it. They even suggested that I run a course that is solely based on iBooks creation. Hopefully their requests can become a reality this year.

For their assignments, I allow them to create books on literally anything they want to. This has resulted in a wide range of books being created from a student who created a wonderful tribute book to his grandfather which included a poem and song and short story, a student who created a vegan cookbook and then to a student who created a kids book about a dinosaur his imaginary character encountered on his travels.

Creating books gives students to opportunity to explore their creativity. Students who before would have never written a story and many who came in with the attitude of ‘I hate creative writing’ simply because it was never fun before.

This coming year there will be more of a focus on Book authoring. Into this we will encorporate Six Word Stories and Nanowrimo

The apps and sites we will use are listed below.




Using iTunes U courses to create multimedia CV portfolios for educators

Ok so I don’t know about the rest of you but I have an tons of different content that I have created over the last number of years.

When going to job interviews or talking to people a CV is great but sometimes it doesn’t really do enough to show off us ‘creative types’.

At the EMEIA institute I spoke about how my students create eportfolios to showcase their work and I thought why don’t we do the same?

I have an upcoming interview during which I may be asked for literally anything I have done over the last few years so it got me thinking. Yes of course it is all on my laptop but it’s not all in one place and how about I do what my students are doing an structure it within a course.

So that is exactly what I have done (well I’m still working on it!)

I gave myself a basic outline as demonstrated below. This can obviously vary depending on someones background.



Taking a little bit of a closer look into a section this is how I decided to showcase my iBooks. They would of course all be pre-downloaded before going into an interview.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 11.20.47 p.m.


You can also have sub sections. For example the ADE section. Within each section I can put in the relevant multimedia content.



It is also good if you did some research papers or a MA or Degree. For mine I was able to put in the briefs we were given in my MA and attach my reports.


Obviously it is a private course but I found the structure lends itself perfectly to someone who may have lots of content in various places. Another advantage being if the interview isn’t face to face or if there is some online engagement beforehand you can send the person your course.

Also because of having that little space to type you can easily explain what content is. Something that can’t be done as easily when naming files on a computer.

ADE Institute 2015 EMEIA Reflection



So another institute down and what a great one it was!

I was honoured to be able to attend this one as an alumni and really enjoyed it. I loved being a board member and all the things we had to do.

It was great being able to share my story in the showcase on Monday am grateful for every single person who talked to me after in person or online. Thank you!

Sharing my experience of iTunes U in the workshop was also great. iTunes U has been such a massive part of my life and career for the past four years and it is great to be able to introduce this and all the amazing things it can do. I hope others will consider introducing iTunes U in their colleges and if anyone needs help I am only a PM or email away.

Managing the Sphero section in the STEM playground was also great. I love Sphero and am lucky to have some in my class and I hope everyone had a chance to enjoy playing with them in the playground. (apologies to those who came at the very end when a lot of the Spheros had died!) I also learnt that I really suck at assembling lego robots! Sorry!



Being abe to greet ADEs at registration was also a fantastic opportunity to meet new people. I hope everyone has updated their profiles now!

I have to say a massive thank you to my fellow board members. We are so incredibly lucky to have such a great hard working group and I really hope we get to work together again soon #bestboardever!



Every year I try to bring something home from institute. The first year it was paperless classrooms, then eportfolios. This year what really hit me was the positivity that everyone had. So many of us are alone in our schools and struggling to justify our use of technology to our schools leaders but together at institute we are amongst family, people who know and understand what we are doing and people who give us that reassurance that we are actually doing something right. So this year as well as a few great ideas I picked up I want to bring that home. It is not always easy when there are job cuts and budget cuts but this year I want my classroom and my college to be a happier place to work. Thank you to the ADE community for being so enthusiastic and positive everyone is truly amazing.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 11.53.11 p.m.


I was also impressed by my PLN this year. Such an amazing group of people who are working hard to train teachers. I wish I had such teachers when I was in college! They have a fantastic group project lined up that I am very excited to see.

I am also excited about my community engagement project. It is an amazing opportunity to put my skills to good use and help my community. Thank you to whoever came up with that idea.

Finally a massive thanks to the Apple Team. None of this would be possible without the hard work of everyone who made this happen. Enjoy Singapore and then some rest.

Remember the world is our classroom and we can reach out for help from fellow experts making anything possible!

Using iTunes U for eportfolios

I have had a lot of messages about this recently and I’m sure those going to the Netherlands will hear more but I want to just explain how I used iTunes U for portfolios this year.

Previously i had problems that some might remember where an external examiner did not like receiving work digitally (via dropbox) because he couldn’t figure out how to view / download the work. Well this solved all those problems. This was how I got around this.

When students sign up for classes the first thing we always do is get them an email address (if they don’t have one already) sign them up to the relevant iTunes U course and set them up some form of cloud storage (in the past this was iCloud or Dropbox). We did all that this year but we also set them up an iTunes U course each. This course was created using their own Apple IDs and I was added as a contributor to each course.

I used the exact same outline for their portfolio course as the associated iTunes U course had so they were able to become familiar with both.

In the case of one class there were 8 sections in the outline

1. Research Project – this contained a researched project students completed on the evolution of digital media. It was a pages document.

2. Websites – studens had to create a wordpress and/or wix website so this had a link to this website.

3. Facebook – this contained a link to the students business page.

4. QR codes & digital marketing – this contained student made QR codes, and an ezine.

5. iBook – this contained books that students had made using iBooks Author

6. Movies – this section contained movies they had created using Animoto, Powtoon and FCPX

7. Photo-editing – this section contained photos they had edited using Fotor

8. Assessment – this section contained their end of year exam which was taken and graded using Socrative. I just downloaded it as a PDF for them to insert.

Students had no problems at all doing this. What I liked most was that I could keep an eye on their progress because I was a collaborator on the course. My students are all adults but in a k-12 environment this would mean that you could also allow parents access.

What I also liked is because the student work was added as assessments they had the post section to give more info. For example on their movies they were able to explain more about the movie if they wanted to. Something which isn’t readily possible in iCloud / Dropbox.

The way the assignments appear like a checklist is also great because it meant that I could check them off to make sure they were all there.

This has given me the power to go totally paperless. The examiner at the end of the year just needs an iPad. It means no unnecessary downloading of student work and it means everything is accessible. iTunes U also accepts all file formats that we use so it’s great.

Edited to add. A massive benefit some of my students have had is that when they were going for interviews for jobs or other courses they were able to send links to the potential employer or bring the course along to interview.



Release of Socrative iTunes U course.

Many of us use Socrative in our classrooms. I have been encouraging colleagues to try and use it too but they are often reluctant figuring it is complicated. I was recently encourages to create this course and iBook by teachers who did take my word for it being easy and ended up trying it and loving it.

It just goes through the very basics but it’s enough to get teachers interested enough to try more!





App Review – Socrative

Today’s App Review is Socrative by Socrative. I teach many different subjects but the lower level IT subjects are always the most challenging to teach as the curriculum is detailed and requires students to complete a fairly extensive portfolio. The portfolio consists of worksheets. The first time I taught the subject my class was made up of students who had various special needs including literacy difficulties and physical difficulties with writing. To combat this I created a website where instead of students writing out worksheets they were able to fill these in online.
To do this I use a WordPress plugin called WPSQT which was good and worked wonderfully from a students point of view but from a teachers side required a lot of maintenance and results weren’t instant.
Many of my class that year had iOS devices and I only wish I had discovered Socrative then but am lucky to have it this year.

Socrative allows teachers to set up a database of multiple choice, true/false and short answer questions so students can be tested. Once the questions are set students can then login from internet enabled devices or from laptops and access the questions and answer them. The teacher gets the feedback right away. I like the App because unlike the WordPress plugin the hardwork is over once you create the questions. What I really like about the App is that is is inclusive for all students. While many of mine now have access to devices those who don’t can access them on their computers.

Asides from the regular question based quizzes there is also a fun inbuilt game which challenges students to complete questions as fast as they can to get a rocket across the screen and the person or team to get it across first wins.

There are two types of Apps one specifically for students and one for teachers both are free. Each quiz is limited to 50 participants so not ideal for larger conferences but this could probably be resolved by using groups.

I have tried the App out in a few classes with no issues so far and I think I will definitely be leaving the old WordPress Plugin behind and making the switch. The only thing I would like though is that right now any reports of quiz results are sent as .xls documents I have to convert these and would like an option to have them as pdf/word documents also

Apps have definitely made these classes more fun and I can certainly say that gone are the days where students used pen and paper worksheets.

To visit Socrative online visit HERE
To get the Teacher App click HERE
To get the Student App click HERE