Tech for Teach

“HopTo”: A free 3rd party solution for Microsoft Office on the iPad.

Let’s face it, Apple’s recent attempt to “harmonize” the iWork user experience

HopTo: an app for managing Microsoft Office files on the iPad

across all devices is nothing short of a digital disaster.  Just read the Apple Support Communities message boards and you’ll learn very quickly that dumbing down Pages (Apple’s answer to Word) and Numbers (supposed to be like Excel) and Keynote (Powerpoint) not only enraged power users of iWork but has reminded us why Microsoft has been and will continue to be the industry standard for office software.

While iWork’s recent growing pains have given Microsoft shareholders much to cheer about, Skydrive’s monthly payment plan to use Microsoft office in the cloud has not taken off as expected. It just feels like a money grab (which might explain why Apple released iWorks for free). With Steve Ballmer stepping down rumours are flying about that Microsoft Office may yet be made available for the iPad. Until that day happens (if ever) there is a free cloud-base alternative to managing your Microsoft Office PC/Mac documents on your iPad. If you’re interested, read on.  Continue reading ““HopTo”: A free 3rd party solution for Microsoft Office on the iPad.”

Tech for Teach

DROPitTOme: a convenient alternative for the “Cloudless” hitchhiker.

Of all the emerging technologies that are revolutionizing the way we approach teaching and learning, which would you say is your number one tool that has the greatest impact on your day-to-day teaching now? Would it be MOOCs? Tablet computing?  Or even the smartphone?  Well, being an iPad fanatic myself, I would be really tempted to choose tablets over any other technology out there.  However, an iPad is only as good at the apps that are installed on it.  And for every model I pick up, the first couple of apps I install are Dropbox and Evernote.  And what do those two apps have in common? – Cloud Computing.  In fact, when I had my iPhone 4s “knicked” at a public square in Phnom Penh this year, not only was it a good excuse to get the iPhone 5, but I realized all I really lost was the hardware (and a touch of pride).  After all, everything I really needed was already “backed up” in some “cloud” somewhere.

Although there are a plethora of cloud services to choose from such as Google Drive, Apple’s iCloud, SugarSync and the more recent Copy, the one API that most apps sync their services to seems to be Dropbox, which is a testament to its popularity if not it’s usefulness.  Even though, I have used Dropbox for what seems like forever, I am still a little surprised to find out that roughly 70% of my students in my university classes in Japan are not even familiar with it.  Inevitably any assignment I receive from a student gets backed up in Dropbox.  In the past semester, I have been taking advantage of creating shared folders with my writing classes.  However, there are those kind of classes where I don’t feel it’s necessary to do that. Yet, there is the odd file the needs to be handed in. For example, in my speaking class each student had to produce a PowerPoint presentation.  I’ll be honest, there is a learning curve with setting up shared folders in Dropbox that I don’t feel is worth going through for just one or two files.  Yet, the alternative method of having students email me the file makes me shudder when I think of all the work that it entails (i.e. weeding out the student’s email from my other mail and then downloading/moving each file to a Dropbox folder. Continue reading “DROPitTOme: a convenient alternative for the “Cloudless” hitchhiker.”