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 below.

Explain Everything for iPad Review: The 21st Century way to present

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We’ve all done it before. Sitting in a classroom on a hot, hazy afternoon, the teacher explaining something to the class in great depth, only for your mind to wander to the latest cricket score, what you’re going to have for dinner or what time you’re meeting your mates for an after school kick around. Suddenly, it’s work time and the teacher asks you to apply this knowledge they have so painstakingly imparted and you haven’t listened to a thing they have just said. So, the teacher will either have to patiently explain it to you again, or say “weren’t you listening to anything I just said?” and you have to desperately ask your mates for an explanation. Either way it’s not an effective use of either student or teacher’s time. As a teacher and student, I’ve been there on both sides of this situation and if Explain Everything was around in the 90s, I wouldn’t have had to worry about my mind wandering during lesson time. [click to continue reading…]

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Screens VNC for iPad review: Ideal for Productivity and Pranking!

Mac on your iPad

Mac on your iPad

In my first teaching job, my school at the time had a remote desktop system going where I could use my dodgy old computer at home to remotely connect to a desktop at school which gave me access to all of the programs I needed to prepare my lessons. I remember thinking it was almost like witchcraft – having more than one computer on your computer! It actually worked pretty well in the early days of broadband (despite having to set it to 16 colour mode!). This was a feature that I sorely missed when I moved schools. Jump in the DeLoren and get to 88.8 mph and fast forward to today. Fast connectivity and mobility everywhere means that we don’t have to rely on a meaty central server at a place of work to provide these connections, you can do it yourself at a fraction of the price. This is where Edovia’s Screens software comes in. [click to continue reading…]

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My Incredible Body iPad Review: Like Innerspace but Educational!

If only Dennis Quad had this app in 1987.

If only Dennis Quaid had this app in 1987.

Back in primary school I remember learning about the internals of the human body by constructing a digestive system out of toilet rolls. Needless to say, that summer I probably used more toilet tissue than I needed too in an effort to get enough toilet rolls together. The results were awesome though. I plonked a marble through the cardboard oesophagus and proudly demonstrated to my parents the wonders of the human digestive system. I’m assuming my model had the equivalent of the runs as my marble got through in about 5 seconds. Now, the days of such eco-unfriendly learning are behind us and Zybright have released a great app called My Incredible Body, which I would say is aimed at ages 4-13. [click to continue reading…]

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iTunes U 2.0 iPad Review: Education for Everyone?

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Being a teacher and a die hard geek, I’ve long been searching for a way to take my courses online in a meaningful way where students can engage in their work in Martini fashion (anytime, anywhere, not drunk). There have been lots of, what we might call ‘Virtual Learning Environments’ over the last ten years, some terrible (I’m naming no names here) and some pretty good. There has always, however, been the stumbling block that the student still has to go somewhere to get hold of course materials, ie to a computer. What I have long been after is a medium where the work goes seamlessly to the student, and likewise, the teacher can create courses in an effective, time efficient way. We might just have found this with iTunes U 2.0 which has been recently updated by Apple. [click to continue reading…]

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6 Things I’d like to see from the iWatch

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Having followed and used Apple and Google products for a while now, the generalisation seems to be that Google is the risk taking young tearaway, often coming up with awesome ideas, but implementing them in a slightly haphazard manner and Apple takes these ideas, refines them like a wise old hand and releases something that works pretty flawlessly. Take the classic Android vs iPhone. Many of the features that Android has have been around ages before Apple implemented them on the iPhone. For example, Android implemented face unlock a while back, which was fun, not that secure and was more hassle than putting in a PIN. Apple refined that idea of using a part of your body to unlock your device with Touch ID, which by all accounts works pretty flawlessly. Fingerprint ID, is of course nothing new, it’s just no one had implemented it in such a refined way until the iPhone 5s. Other people come up with the ideas, Apple converts them into something the everyday consumer can find useful.

This is how I’m feeling about the upcoming iWatch (assuming the rumours are true, and I’ll call it iWatch for the duration of the article). Tech on your wrist is nothing new. Dick Tracy started it, Pebble took it to the next level, Samsung took it back a few steps with Gear, Android Wear seems interesting but underwhelming currently (although Google asserting control over the OS is a positive thing). This all makes the iWatch an interesting prospect because I’d like to think that if Apple do release such a product, they will do so without compromise in it’s function.

So, this is what I would love to see in a possible iWatch device, in no particular order:

1 – The main emphasis on fitness. 

There is talk that the device will have up to 10 sensors which will monitor a variety of things during your day and night. Apple’s trump card for this would surely be firstly, accurate sensing, and secondly some kind of sensor that is completely different to anything else out there. Maybe something that would provide analyses of your sweat – or even urine? OK, maybe I wouldn’t want to take that step, especially if the device is expensive. I wonder if you can get insurance for that sort of thing….

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Green Screen for iPad review

As a young wannabe film maker (or nerd as it’s more commonly referred to) in the early 90s, I used to love grabbing the family camcorder and knocking up some quality Hollywood remakes. My greatest hits included remakes of Jurassic Park, Ghostbusters and the criminally underrated original production “That Army Bloke II”. I’m still waiting […]

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5 iPad Apps for Amateur Astronomers

I’ve always been interested in space and a couple of years ago, my other half bought me a telescope for my birthday. It was a rather left-field sort of present, but she knew it would appeal because firstly, I like space, and secondly it was computer controlled, which would appeal to my inner and outer geek. […]

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