Monday 9 January 2012

Could Doceri be the IWB killer?

Just before Xmas I reviewed a potential IWB killer app called Idea Flight. This was the first of a batch of iPad apps that I have found which attempt to replace the need for an IWB. Idea Flight attempted this by enabling the networking of groups of iPads and one of the primary criticisms that readers pointed out with this system is that it was limited to contexts  in which students all had iPads.

Doceri takes a very different approach though. Doceri requires that you have a data projector with either a laptop or desktop attached, but using a small app on the iPad and a small piece of software on the computer, it enables you to take control of the main computer with all it’s installed software, and Flash functionality, directly from your iPad.

The iPad app has all the normal software installed that would expect with your IWB, so you can use different modes such as a whiteboard mode that enables you to write on the board from your iPad using your finger or an additional stylus, or surf the internet and interact with the computer native software, or you can mix the two modes and annotate over web pages or software based applications. The app records your annotations too so that you can play them back as video animations.

Here are just a few of the features of the Doceri app shown as iPad screen grabs.

You see the computer desktop on your iPad and can access all the computer's software through the interface.

You can access files images and different whiteboard backgrounds through the app's folders.

You can manipulate the computer software, click your way through websites or presentations and point out different features by using two fingers on your iPad screen.

You can get left mouse clicks or right click menus by using two fingers on the iPad
You can call up an onscreen keyboard for text input.

You can annotate over software applications or web pages using a range of pen types and record the annotations to play back later.

The board can be used as a normal whiteboard and you can write and draw from it and hand the iPad  around to students to let them control the space.

You can find more detail about the app features on the Doceri website at: How to use Doceri Features or watch this video to see the basic features.

Recently, I’ve started using Doceri at conferences to control my laptop during presentations, and although it took a little bit of getting used to at first I’m starting to find the ability to control presentations and switch between presentation, interacting with live web and software applications without having to keep going back and fiddling with my laptop pretty handy.

What I like about Doceri
  • It’s not free ($50) but it’s much cheaper than an IWB.
  • It’s great to be able to control the whiteboard from where ever you are in the room.
  • You can pass the iPad around and give students control of the board
  • It’s wireless so no fuss with leads.
  • Easy to switch between modes.
  • I love that you can record and play back annotations etc.
  • It’s great that it’s portable so you can use the app on any computer in any room as long as it has the software installed (The computer part is free) So it’s great for schools who are supplying teachers with iPads (and they should be).
  • You can store all your lesson documents on the iPad and access them from where ever you are.
  • It’s possible to make surprisingly accurate mouse gestures using your fingers on the iPad
  • You never need to have your back to the class and can maintain eye contact much more easily.

What I’m not so sure about
  • Writing reasonably sized letters with your finger is a bit tricky, so I think the Doceri Good Point Stylus is a must buy ($39).
  • The app software doesn’t come with as many fancy tools and library objects as an IWB, but that could be an advantage when it comes to training and teachers will want to build up their own library of images and docs etc to use.
  • It would be good to have a couple more tools that enable you to draw shapes and tables without having to do them freehand. I also miss some of my favorite IWB tools like the spotlight function and the curtain for slow reveal.
  • It takes a little bit of time to get used to manipulating the left and right click using the fingers of one hand, especially if you are used to walking around and are hanging onto your tablet with the other hand, especially if like me you tend to gesticulate a lot with your hands.
  • Teachers are generally more comfortable with a pen in their hand.

As I said before Doceri isn’t free, though there is a 1 month free trial If you want to try it out. At $50 and considering you need to get the software installed on any computers you want to use it with, this probably isn’t going to be a purchase for the average teacher, though it might be something you try to get your school to invest in instead of IWBs.

For someone like me though, who does a lot of work in different schools and a lot of presenting at conferences, Doceri is well worth the investment as I can turn up anywhere with my laptop and iPad and know that I’ll have IWB functionality and that’s certainly worth the $50.

So, what do you think? Could Doceri be the IWB killer? 

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Nik Peachey


Rob said...

Hi Nik, While I don't consider myself qualified to say whether this will oust the IWB, I will pas this along to my partner, who has an iPad and often gives presentations. I really like the drawing navigator (?) feature and imagine the ability to repeat or review annotations could be helpful to language learners.

Thanks for the post.


Anonymous said...

Is this really about the lack of understanding of the iwb? This appears to be a remote control of a presentation tool rather than the key feature of the iwb being an interactive tool.

I think that the two tools will work together, there is stilla need to interact with the board, in essence this interacts like a remote presentation.

Nik Peachey said...

Hi Techagogy

No this isn't the case. I think you've failed to understand the full potential of the tool. It can do pretty much anything that the IWB can do (though with a few less features at present) the only real difference is that you interact with the surface of the pad instead of the surface of the whiteboard.



FlTeach said...

Hello. I came across your blog while looking for others to support my claim that our school needs this program/app. Our school purchased 12 iPads for teachers to pilot last year. I found this software and was out-voted for "Reflection" software. This year, our PTSO purchased enough iPads to provide one for every teacher. However, even after we have "piloted" Reflection for the past year, and most of do not care for it, I again have been outvoted. So frustrating. I am considering just purchasing this for my personal iPad and going that route. In regards to "Smart Files". If you have them on your desktop/laptop, you can use Smart Notebook Express to still use the files, while controling the screen with Doceri. In that case, you have the same functions as the IWB, but with a lot more options. :-) Just my 2 cents.