The people who purchase iPads for schools get fed marketing messages that say the role of digital devices in classrooms looks like this: 

Same old learning mindset, but with a shiny LCD screen. When you have a set of iPads, they should give you the ability to do things you couldn't before. Right now, 100% of classrooms can give students problems to look at. Let's look at something simple that makes a far more interesting use case. 

Last week in Pre Cal we spent some time (a lot of time), exploring some modeling scenarios.  I had done the project last year, but wanted some better results. Specifically, I wanted students to be able to video a tennis ball toss, create a theoretical model, and compare the model to the picture.

Students are digital natives, so every one of them should know how to create an image with a 50% transparent graph on a second layer, right? Yeah, no. 

Prior to filming, we had a tutorial about expectations for the final product. Since I had used the basketball 3ACT as part of the introduction, we went through the process of analyzing a still from the videos. Students were told to envision this process when examining their own videos the next day in class.

Graph your supposed model in Desmos (the legwork for this was done prior to tutorial time): 

Photo Oct 13, 8 43 47 PM.png

Open Sketchbook Express and create a new image from a photo: 

Photo Oct 13, 8 44 20 PM.png

Tap the layers button in the upper right, tap the plus in the lower left to add a layer:

Photo Oct 13, 8 44 43 PM.png

Inser the graph screenshot into this new layer:

Photo Oct 13, 8 44 55 PM.png

Adjust the opacity to your liking:

Photo Oct 13, 8 45 10 PM.png

It seems like a lot of steps. But in practice it takes less than 5 minutes. Explicitly running through this tutorial turned out to be a good move. While not every student was going to be generating an overlay, teaching the entire table would help me out if someone forgot a step. The analysis portion of their videos did have some headaches (related to student understanding and some bad assumptions by me, not really the tech), once I got a given group over the math hurdles, they could generate these images with ease. Thanks to the bottom dropping out of the color laser printer market (seriously, CHEAP) and the "just works" phenomenon of AirPrint (see Supporting Player in my Planets project), we got some good output.

To be fair, this functionality is native to the TI-Nspire iPad apps. You could argue the results are better as once you set the scale appropriately you can edit the graph still. 

Photo Oct 13, 8 27 15 PM.png

The only problem I find with this is the outmoded export options you have. You can take a screenshot of your result and print from within Photos, but you'll have to chop out all the UI surrounding the image. Official export options are Send to iTunes (assumption is that each iPad syncs with a computer, a concept relevant in 2005, but not now) and E-mail. If you have an education app and your export solution is e-mail, you blew it. 

You CAN sync a Dropbox account, but it serves only as a way to save Nspire document files. You can't view the file from within Dropbox to attempt to print it. Nspire desktop software might read these. But my experience with TI desktop software is not pleasant. 

The process I described is pretty easy and once shown, students had no trouble with it, but hopefully somewhere in their secret lab Desmos is integrating photo overlay. 

AuthorJonathan Claydon