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TMCNet:  Almost anything's possible with an iPad

[November 20, 2012]

Almost anything's possible with an iPad

Nov 20, 2012 (Clay Center Dispatch - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- There's an app for everything, but you can do a lot for free, Garfield Elementary principal Jaclyn Pfizenmaier told community members in showing them how to use iPads in a Chamber-sponsored class Monday night.

The first thing someone getting an iPad should do is to set up an Apple or iTunes ID, otherwise there's not a lot than an iPad owner can do with their iPad, Pfizenmaier said. An Apple ID enables iPad owners to buy and download songs, apps, videos, TV shows, etc., through the Apple store.

An Apple ID can be set up without a credit card and there are lots of free apps and services that an iPad user can access "and not have a penny invested," Pfizenmaier said.

Should there be something you want to purchase to improve your iPad, you don't have to do it through credit cards, Pfizenmaier said. Many iPad services can be purchased through iTunes cards.

There's even an app to help you buy apps, and that app is free, she said.

Pfizenmaier added that everything on the iPads that Garfield students use is free. The student-downloaded iPads includes a range of free apps for music and video, apps they used for classroom assignments, apps to access the Web, and a slew of entertainment apps and games like PacMan.

One woman sorting through a student iPad noted "You can really tell this is a kid's computer." To demonstrate how easy it is to use an iPad, Pfizenmaier showed videos of a 100-year-old learning to send her first e-mail on an iPad and a 2-and-half-year-old watching a movie with an iPad.

Community members were encouraged to "play with" the iPads Garfield students use. Pfizenmaier showed them how to turn them on, how to get on the Web, how to take photos, how to send texts and how to video chat.

To demonstrate how "there really is an app for everything" Pfizenmaier showed how to turn an Ipad into a mirror. She said she has used these feature when she was traveling and couldn't find a mirror.

Pfizenmaier also demonstrated how the students use the iPads to complete an assignment. Often they are assigned to find something on the Web, or sometimes to complete a math problem. In both cases, the students take a "screen shot" on their iPad after they are done with the assignment and e-mail it to the teacher.

"They learn how to spell Pfizenmaier really fast," she said. "We had a lot of discussion about how an e-mail is not a text and to use proper English, grammar and spelling. It's been a good experience for them because it's not texting." Students also use the camera on the iPad to scan in a square code that takes them directly to a Web site. This feature is used often to go to "Wonderopolis," a Web site that has a new wonder on it each day.

At the high school, the iPads have helped cut down on discipline issues because it gives kids something to do when they are done with an assignment. The high school kids are "very proud and protective of everything they have on their iPad," Pfizenmaier said.

One community member said she was there because her daughter has an iPad provided by USD-379 and told her she couldn't get on it until she knew how to use it. The mother said she was worried she might unintentionally mess up an assignment in learning how to use her daughter's iPad.

But there are a lot of built-in safety features that make it hard to mess up anything on an iPad, Pfizenmaier said. For example, she showed the class how to delete, remove and group apps on the desktop. Even an app that is deleted remains on the Apple ID account, and because of that, it can put back on the iPad through that account, Pfizenmaier said.

"There's really nothing you can mess up, so even if you play on it, you aren't going to mess it up," assistant superintendent Sherri Edmundson assured the concerned mother Pfizenmaier also demonstrated how to text and video chat through an app called "Face Time." The iPads that Garfield students can't text or video chat to each-other because they are all on the same account. But the high school students can and do use these features because they each have their own Apple ID.

"Remember when we were kids and they talked about video telephone This is what that is," Chamber director Andy Contreras said about Face Time.

Pfizenmaier said for the month she was out of school, she stayed in contact with kids and teachers through Face Time and texts on the iPad.

"This is how I stayed connected," she said.

Contreras, who has used an iPad for a couple of years, also showed a feature on his iPad that recognizes what he writes on it with a rubber-tipped pen. The program recognizes print and cursive writing, but it's not a free app, he said. At first the program mis-interpreted his writing -- putting an f where he wrote a t, but the more he uses it, the more it recognizes his writing, Contreras said. He added this feature works better if you take the time to "write properly." A wireless keyboard is also a popular accessory because the pop-up keyboard on the iPad takes up a lot of screen space. However, Contreras said he doesn't use his wireless keyboard as much as he thought he would, and uses his finger on the touch screen to do most things.

Other neat features students use on the iPad are an app that splits a keyboard into two so that they can type with their thumbs, a calendar app with a built-in alarm, a Facebook-like environment designed for education called Edmodo and a feature that can make the iPad "talk" by typing in words.

When Connie Frigon had a procedure which didn't allow her to speak for awhile, she used her iPad to talk to grandchildren through that feature, Pfizenmaier said.

It's also possible to download TV shows and movies to play on your iPad, though those tend to take up a lot of space, Pfizenmaier said. A friend she knew downloaded a season of "Sons of Anarchy" so she would have it to watch on a flight overseas, but removed it after she was done watching the series. However, Pizenmaier's 32-gigabyte iPad has enough space for seasons of Growning Pains and The Facts of Life.

She said she found the 16-gigabyte iPads the students use to not have quite enough space to do everything she wants to do on her iPad. These iPads are also a couple years old with a camera that has a lower resolution.

And while Garfield Elementary uses iPads to do a lot of things, the students don't learn exclusively on iPads, Pfizenmaier said.

"It's part of being a 21st Century learner, but it's not everything," she said.

Contreras advised new owners to start with the basics.

"Don't be afraid to not learn everything," Contreras said, explaining there is so much possible on an iPad that you can't possibly do it all. "Just stick to your basic interest and download what you're interested in." At times, teachers have had to let the kids take the lead and teach them how to use the iPads, Pfizenmeier said. That's also good advice for other adults learning to use an iPad, she said. Garfield's iPad class is held from 8:30 to 10:15 a.m. on Friday, and new iPad users are welcome to join them, Pfizenmaier siad.

The Chamber of Commerce is also planning a couple more iPad classes in December and January: Because the first iPad 101 class was completely full Monday, the Chamber of Commerce has scheduled a second iPad 101 Class for Monday, Dec. 10. This session is designed for people who do not own an iPad but are interested in learning more. The class will get chance to use an iPad. Only a few people have signed up for this class of 15.

Session 2: iPad Family will be held Jan. 21, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Garfield Elementary Library. This session is designed for people who own an iPad and are wanting to learn what they can do in a family environment including photos, videos, Facetime, messages, etc. Nine seats are available for this class of 20.

Session 3: iPad Business will be held Jan. 21, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Garfield Elementary Library. This session is designed for business owners/managers who own an iPad and want to learn what they can do to enhance their business including, forms, organization, QR Codes, Facetime, and much more. Thirteen seats are available for this class of 20.

___ (c)2012 the Clay Center Dispatch (Clay Center, Kan.) Visit the Clay Center Dispatch (Clay Center, Kan.) at www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm brd=1160 Distributed by MCT Information Services

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