I’ve rarely been so jazzed by a piece of software that I felt compelled to write a review of it. There’s plenty of folks doing that, so I figured there was no need for me to wander into that competitive field. Then I encountered the iPad Air Sketch app (versions: free and $9.99 paid) last Monday and have been actively using in all of my classes since.
Here’s my synopsis of the benefits of Air Sketch after using it for one week:
–Rather than simply projecting my computer onto a single screen in the room, I had every student in my room tap into the local web page created by Air Sketch. Projection was no longer just my machine showing on the wall; it was on every student machine in the room. Working with some colleagues, we got the screen projections on iPhones, iPads, and computers. I haven’t projected onto Windows machines, but can’t think of a reason in the world why that wouldn’t happen.
–In my last class Friday, I also figured out that I could project some math software using my computer while maintaining Air Sketch notes on my kids’ computers. No more screen flipping or shrunken windows when I need to flip between my note-taking projection software and other software!
–When a student had a cool idea, I handed my iPad to her, and her work projected live onto every machine in the room. About half of my students in some classes have now had an opportunity to drive class live.
–This is really cool: One of my students was out of country this past week on an athletic trip, so he Skyped into class. Air Sketch’s Web page is local, so he couldn’t see the notes directly, but his buddy got around that by sharing his computer screen within Skype. The result: my student half way around the globe got real-time audio and visual of my class.
–This works only in the paid version: We reviewed a quiz much the way you would in Smart Notebook—opened a pdf in Air Sketch and marked it live—but with the advantage of me being able to zoom in as needed without altering the student views.
–Finally, because the kids can take screen shots whenever they want, they grabbed portions of the Air Sketch notes only when they needed them. My students are using laptops with easily defined screen shot capture areas, but iPad users could easily use Skitch to edit down images.
–Admittedly, other apps give smoother writing, but none of them (that I know) project. Air Sketch is absolutely good enough if you don’t rush.
Big down side: When you import a multi-page pdf, you can scroll multiple pages, but when creating notes, I’m restricted to a single page. I give my students a 10-15 second warning when I’m about to clear a screen so that any who want cant take a screen shot. It would be annoying to have to save multiple pages during a class and find a way to fuse all those pdfs into one document before posting. The ad on the Air Sketch site was (TO ME) a bit misleading when it showed multiple pages being scrolled. As far as I can tell, that happened on a pdf. Perhaps it’s my bad, but I assumed that could happen when I was inking regular notes. Give me this, and I’ll drop Smart Notebook forever. Admittedly, SN has some features that Air Sketch doesn’t but I’m willing to work around those.
Overall, this is a GREAT app, and my students were raving about it last week. I’ll certainly be using it all of my future presentations.