Friday 7 October 2011

Can you replace your IWB with a $10 dollar app?

Idea Flight Enterprise is a new idea that makes a first attempt at using iPads to replace both the expensive IWB and the data projectors in your classroom.

In many ways it's a great idea that centres around using a $10 (£7)  iPad (Pilot) app to share materials and interact with a classroom full of students.

Students will also need iPads and to download a free (passenger) app so that they can view the lesson materials and make notes on them.

The 'pilot' or teacher can open their PDF course materials and take students through them page by page in step allowing students to make notes on the materials as they go. They can also 'unlock' the materials which will allow students to move backwards or forwards through the materials independently at their own pace.

The Idea Flight Enterprise app ensures that the teacher and students are all seeing the same materials and so this negates the necessity for both IWB and data projector (Though it is possible to plug the iPad into a data projector too if you require that)

The app runs through either the wireless connection (with up to 14 students) or through connecting the iPads by Bluetooth (with up to 3 students).

This looks like it could be a really good product for schools with small classes / classrooms, especially those teaching business English or very modern schools who want to experiment with class sets of iPads.

What I like about Idea Flight
  • Assuming that students already have iPads, buying a $10 app could save you the price of both a data projector and an IWB.
  • It would be ideal for teaching small classes or one to one classes off-site, especially when there is no internet connection as you can connect through bluetooth.
  • It synchronizes with your DropBox public folder so it's easy to upload your materials if you have a free account.
  • It allows schools to create their own course materials using PPT, Keynote or Word and publish them as eBooks in PDF format for their students.
  • Students can make notes on the materials and then store their own copy.
  • Running materials through iPads rather than desktop or laptops enables your students to still be pretty mobile within the classroom, so you can still easily move them around and regroup them for discussion and human interaction within the classroom.
  • The app has 'Linkedin' integration so new students can see each others profiles etc and find out about one another more easily, so this also makes it a great networking tool.

What I wasn't so sure about
  • In the PDF materials I used in the app, all the hyperlinks were dead, so it would be nice if linking out to other materials were possible through the app.
  • The app only runs on iPad which makes it a bit restrictive. It would be nice to see integration with the web, so that students with laptops or other tablets could also be included in the same class.
  • I didn't try the app with video embedded into PDF so it would be nice to know if that worked, but I'm assuming it's unlikely.
  • Classes of 15 students on wireless or 3 on bluetooth, make the use of this app pretty much restricted to private or very privileged classrooms, so it would be nice to see greater numbers of students made possible.
  • It would be really good if a broader range of formats could be imported into the app. At present, any animations or effects that can be created with presentation software are lost when the materials are exported to PDF.

Despite some of the weaknesses of this Idea Flight Enterprise, I still think it's a massive step in the right direction towards enabling greater use of these kinds of devices in the classroom and, at $10, making that step an economical choice and one that is a better fit for an interactive communicative classroom than something like and IWB and data projector.

If you are thinking of introducing iPads within your school environment, and especially if you are developing your courses and course materials in-house, then I definitely think Idea Flight Enterprise is worth investigating.

Here's their short promotional video showing how it works.

This is an independent review that was written at the request of one of my sponsors - Idea Flight Enterprise - What I have written was in no way influenced or edited by them.

I hope you find it useful.

Related Links:

Nik Peachey


Alexander said...

This looks like a very good idea. My only worry is that a dozen or so pads won't be useful in most educational contexts. As an app, it's great, and if that aspect were to be fixed, I can really see the benefit.

I know that right now, for my students, I just post the .pdf's online, and they can browse through them as they wish as class goes on.

Martin Sketchley said...

I enjoyed reading your blog post but my only concern is that an iPad is required. Thus, the real cost for this App would be the purchase of an iPad for each student as well the cost of the App. For a class with up to 12 students in UK British Council Accredited schools, this would not be viable. Still it is an interesting concept and would be appropriate for selected schools.

Nik Peachey said...

Yes, In a world where all students turn up to class with their own iPads, this wold seem like the ideal app, but if you have to provide them then that's very different.

If they were to make it a bit ore platform independent so that it opperated on a wider range of devices thought they might find a lot more take up.



Elizabeth Hanson-Smith said...

Use of the app also seems to require that all students turn up with their full attention focused on the class content, eh?
Although you can see who is logged in, could they be off playing games on their iPad while the presentation goes on?
There is also the pedagogical question of whether an IWB-type presentation is the best use for what can be highly individualized tablet learning.
Appreciate the info, however!