iPad iOS 7 Update

For staff who use the iPads I have updated the iOS operating system on them during the holidays to the latest iOS 7. This is a major iOS update. I have updated the iOS operating system previously but no one would have noticed, this time you will notice. The most obvious change is the formatting. Colours and fonts have changed and the Apple supplied apps like notes, photos, contacts, settings etc icons have all changed. Other less obvious changes (but frustrating if you don’t know) include:

1. The search function is not in the same place – put your finger on the screen and swipe down and the search bar will appear.

2. The Control Centre is at the bottom of the screen. Place your finger at base of iPad and swipe up to access music player, volume, airplane mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, lock screen clock camera and brightness. AirDrop (see below) and AirPlay are also accessed in the Control Centre.

3. The photos app is much more organised than it used to be and can sort photos by date or by year.

4. Closing apps. On the old version of iOS you could double click the home button and hold down apps which appeared at the bottom of the screen until they wobbled and then closed them. On the new iOS 7 you still double click the home button which makes all the apps that are running in the background on your iPad appear but in a different format to the previous iOS. To close the app using the new iOS place your finger on the open apps screen (this will make sense when you see it) and swipe up.

5. AirDrop – this is new to iOS 7 and is a great feature. You can now transfer files including photos, video and written documents simply and quickly between devices running AirDrop. If you want an image on one iPad to be put across many iPads you can do this easily and quickly. You may want to collect a piece of written work off a students iPad, this can also be done quickly using AirDrop. Transfer using AirDrop can be done across iPhone, Mac computers and iPads.

(Really looking forward to see how AirDrop can help with transfer of documents (created in Pages and Keynote) between student MacBooks and teacher iPads/MacBooks and vice versa when we get our 1:1 MacBook program up and running)

Check out the video below demonstrating AirDrop. A quick tip is that both devices must have AirDrop enabled for the process to work.


These are some basic but important changes to know and if you are using the iPads with students. Hopefully this information will assist you to help the students when they first experience the new iOS 7 on the school iPads.

Educational Apps Part 12 – Visual Arts

I have always enjoyed art and drawing in particular. The iPad has provided the ability for artists of all ages to practice and create art works using a wide variety of mediums without the expense of have to purchase art supplies. Don’t get me wrong, there is no iPad app out there that can replace using the real thing whether that be a lead pencil, oil paints or water colours. And while I don’t think that an iPad should replace traditional materials I do think there is a place for using an iPad in art. My reasons are:

1. There are times when we do not have time to get out messy materials which we have to clean and pack up.

2. There are times when we do not have the space to spread out art materials for a whole class.

3. If we can do more art, because the iPad affords us more time i.e. less mess and setting /packing up then all the better for our students.

4. Students can use the iPads to plan out a piece of artwork that can then be done with traditional materials.

5. Use apps that are instructional (like ‘How to Draw’). Sit the iPad alongside the pencil and paper and use video to help students learn drawing techniques.

A final recommendation would be that while all art works in these apps can be produced with fingers controlling  the brush, pencil etc it is much more effective to use a stylus allowing for a more traditional feel of having a brush or pencil in the hand.


Brushes (free)





This is a great free app. You can upgrade the app for $2.99 which allows you to produce layers allowing for more control and detailed art work. I have used this app without the layers function and found it excellent. The app allows for colour selection, undo, redo, erase, adjust brush width as well as a huge range of brush techniques that can all be individually adjusted. Adjustments that can be made to the type of brush stroke include density and intensity among others. The art work can be enlarged so that fine details can be painted.  Another great feature once an art work is completed is being able to play back a video of the art work as it was created step by step. Below is a painting that I created using the free version of brushes while below that is a video demonstrating how the app plays back the step by step creation of a painting.











Art Set ($0.99)





This app also allows students to create detailed art works. Unlike brushes which is purely a painting app Art Set has a range of mediums including crayon, oil paints, coloured pencil, oil pastel and texta. Art Set also allows the artist to enlarge the image to create detailed drawings. There are some limitations to this app which include only a certain number of undos and brush strokes are limited to one size.


Draw Free (free!)





This is more of a fun app than a serious drawing app like Brushes or Art Set. It has a large number of backgrounds including holiday themes, famous people, colour selections, styles plus you can add your own photos. Backgrounds can be coloured and drawn over and then removed leaving the drawing and colouring done by the student. Students can also draw freely in the app using a brush, pencil or crayon. The app allows for the widths of these to be adjusted and there is a rubber function. Students can also apply stickers to their art works from the 40 available within the app.

The image below is of the ‘Elvis’ background which I painted using the Fill (bucket) function.










How to Draw

How to Draw is a free app that has a collection of You Tube videos in it teaching students how to draw using pencil. Videos cover shading techniques, cartoon faces, eyes, perspective, faces and more. If this app cost money I would not recommend it but as it is free it is a starting point for using video to assist students to draw. There are a huge range of how to draw videos on You tube and there is nothing to stop you from getting students to find their own how to videos. The ones in this app are just a small selection.