About James Potter

My day job is Director of Technology at one of the UK's leading independent schools. I'm on a daily mission to use, and learn to use technology in the most creative, innovative and transformational ways. The iPad ticks all of these boxes. My geekery also extends to a passion for cricket, amateur astronomy, video gaming and bad guitar playing. You can contact me on Twitter with the link to the left.

Brainfeed for iPad: Paying for free content

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Apps like Brainfeed frustrate me somewhat. It’s a great looking app, but it has some content issues. The idea behind Brainfeed is that it serves up educational videos in a variety of topics, some of which are free to view, but most of the videos require an in-app purchase in a variety of tiers, the cheapest being $15 for a yearly subscription. However, (you can probably guess where this is going) a 20 second check of YouTube revealed that the videos were easily available here. Fair enough, I thought, the free videos on Brainfeed are available on YouTube. What would be interesting though is are any of the paid videos available? The short answer is yes. The app doesn’t give you the titles for the locked videos, only screenshots, but it is easy to find the locked videos on YouTube with a quick search of videos from the video creator’s channels. To give an example, one of the locked videos was by ‘Stuff of Genius’. I dialed up their YouTube channel and the locked video was there to watch for free. [click to continue reading…]

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Stick Around for iPad: Powerful App for Educators

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Stick Around – Nothing to do with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator….

When teaching, one of the great practical ways to inspire discussion, debate and higher order thinking skills is by categorisation/card sort exercises, ideally where a student can decide to put things in a certain order, and change their mind by moving their idea about depending on the discussion. Back in the ‘good old days’ (pre-iPad), I would spend ages making a card sort exercise – writing it out in Word, printing it, maybe laminating it (or if I was feeling lazy not bothering), cutting out all the cards and placing them in envelopes with paper clips on so they didn’t get lost. I’d then repeat this for however many sets I needed for the class. I’d feel my life force drain away in front of my eyes as I repeated this tortuous process for each of my classes, with the realisation that I still had a ton of stuff to mark and plan, but knowing that it would generate a good lesson of discussion, argument and discovery. [click to continue reading…]

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Football Manager 2014 for iPad: Review

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When I was at school, anyone who was anyone played football. Even if you weren’t especially good at it, as long as you got stuck in, maybe with a “Toepunt Ted” pounding it up to the hogger who was actually quite good, (but never passed it) you would get a bit of kudos which as a school kid with little or no talent for football was a great thing. The next step was to gain an encyclopaedic knowledge of the teams and their players. Enter Premier Manager on the Amiga. What a great game. You could bang through a season quickly, not worrying too much about micromanaging. Fast forward 20 years and football management sims have become too complicated for the likes of me, someone with very little time to devote to tweaking all aspects of my club. All of this is a far cry from the Premier Manager days. Is Football Manager Handheld 2014 the tonic to all of this? [click to continue reading…]

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Review: Otus Learning Environment for iPad

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Otus positions itself as a learning environment for teachers and students who use iPads in school. There are two separate apps, a teacher app and a student app. The teacher app allows you to set up classes, log achievements or behavioural issues, take registers, set assignments and coming soon will be the ability to write blogs and have teacher led slide shows. [click to continue reading…]

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Review: Shakespeare at Play for iPad

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Shakespeare. A word that can strike terror, or delight into a person. For me, mainly terror as I endure flashbacks of my A-level English Literature teacher screaming “Potter! How is Caliban portrayed as evil?!” as I sat there looking shifty trying to adjust my Kurt Cobain style curtains (hair, not material).

The app Shakespeare at Play is an effort to use the strengths of the iPad to combine various types of media into one package to further the study of the Bard. The app comes with the text of several well known plays, and has the option to make an in-app purchase to upgrade to a video edition, and/or a notes edition, the latter containing lots of annotation which goes into depth with the text of the play. More on the in-app purchase issue later. [click to continue reading…]

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Review: StopMo Studio for iPad

Back in those halcyon days of long summer holidays (now sadly gone, oh wait, I’m a teacher!) I used to love remaking summer blockbuster movies with my Dad’s state of the art, 5 kilogram camcorder. One particular summer, I roped my Sister, Mum and dog/velociraptor into re-making Jurassic Park. For the T-Rex attack scene we [...]

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Speaky for iPad: Review

Speaky is an app which highlights why the iPad is so cool. Very simply, all the app does is read webpages and text to you. However, the way the app is designed, makes the whole process completely streamlined. I am a big fan of apps which help workflow and make your life easier, and Speaky [...]

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Review: Tocomail for iPad – Kid Safe Email

Do you remember Clippy? He was a chipper guy, who when I first saw him in Windows as a spotty teen I thought “that’s cool, an interactive comic character who will help me use Office 97!”. Clippy was great, and then 2 minutes later I learned how to use Office properly and he quickly became [...]

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iPad Tips: iOS 7 Gesture Guide

Let’s be honest, sometimes it can look a bit weird to the uninitiated outsider when they see you magically waving your fingers in different ways all over your shiny iPad (things look even weirder if you start talking to it via Siri too). However, from a user’s point of view, gestures on the iPad can [...]

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